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Opinions of Saturday, 23 August 2014

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.

Matters arising as the NPP continues to teeter and totter…

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Folks, some NPP friends have expressed optimism that the current rumpus in the party is just a “fad” and that it will help know the weaknesses and strengthen the party for Election 2012. They have been quick to compare the crisis to what befell the NDC when Jerry Rawlings’ stranglehold was being fought against. To them, then, if the NDC could withstand that internal conflict and even go ahead to win the 2012 elections, there was no reason why the NPP can’t. They are certain that the current happenings will open new doors for the NPP leaders and members to rebuild the party and prepare it for an electoral victory at Election 2016. I disagree with them and laugh them to scorn.
What is happening in the NPP has taken a different direction altogether that makes it difficult to equate its fate to that of the NDC. In this sense, the NPP is really facing a more serious crisis than the NDC did before springing the surprising victory at Election 2008 that confounded the so-called political pundits and nay-sayers.
In the case of the NDC, there was only one trajectory—the determined and purposeful effort by those not supporting the status of Rawlings as the founder and father of the party that he seemed to have wrapped under his armpit to reinforce his insistence on calling the shots. Thus, he was the sole target to be divested of that hegemonistic role. And the conflict was so unidirectional as not to impact the party too negatively.
After all, when Rawlings was “toppled”, he accepted his fate and allowed Nature to take its own course. Instead of fighting tooth-and-nail to remain what he had been all along, he tactically took on the new power brokers and divided his house into two: half-heartedly sympathizing with his wife’s National Democratic Party but refusing to desert the NDC. He became a man of many parts, playing his cards carefully to win favour from both the NDC and the NDP. He still remains a strong pillar in the NDC. Call it a masterful display of political maturity!
Not so for the NPP. In the crisis situation facing it, the NPP is on a self-destructive mission because of deep-seated animosity that can be explained at several levels: a morbid personal over-ambition on the part of Akufo-Addo to remain as the party’s potentate even though those opposed to him are doing all they can to undercut him; a subtle infusion of ethnicity into the party’s dynamics, creating the impression that the two main antagonistic factions are Akyem (rooting for Akufo-Addo) and Asante (rooting for Alan Kyerematen).
This particular ethnic element has serious implications. Then also is the role of the new executive officers of the party, especially the national chairman (Paul Afoko) and General Secretary (Kwabena Agyepong) whose actions and utterances have precipitated much to worry the party’s lovers and bank rollers. These two have been known as supporters of Kyerematen and the allegations indicating that they have an “Agenda 2020” that works against Akufo-Addo aren’t helping the NPP. Clearly, Afoko and Agyepong stood the elections and won, apparently because of the huge discontent that had built up against the former national leadership headed by Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey and Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie.
The acts of omission and commission by Obetsebi-Lamptey and Owuisu Afriyie cannot be recalled here for emphasis but they were the major factors that their opponents (especially Kennedy Agyapong, MP for Assin Central) used to prevail over the party’s delegates to vote them down. They have accepted their fate and remained ardent supporters of Akufo-Addo. Interestingly, Kennedy Agyapong is quiet now, even though his singular efforts to put Kwabena Agyepong and Afoko in office can be cited as a contributory element to the powers that Afoko and Agyepong are exercising to cause so much anguish, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, not to mention the hooliganism that their opponents have resorted to.
]\So, we are not sure how the NPP will manage to stay afloat. In explaining issues, though, we can say that the peculiar problem facing it today is not similar to that of the NDC because its case is that of abuse of power (as allegations against Afoko and Agyepong suggest) or plain inexperience in the handling of “explosive” issues regarding the party. As Afoko and Agyepong seek to “professionalize” the operations of the NPP, they will step on toes (toes apparently seen as supporting Akufo-Addo).
The snag here—which makes a huge difference between the rumpus in the NPP and what afflicted the NDC in the years gone by—is that Jerry Rawlings and his supporters accepted whatever fate befell Rawlings and didn’t push any button for the party to implode. Those who couldn’t accept defeat defected to form the NDP while others gravitated toward Obed Asamoah’s Democratic Freedom Party. But at the end of the day, they found their way back into the NDC. Not so for the NPP.
What is happening now suggests that those against whom Afoko and Agyepong have taken action are not willing to accept their fate. Opare Hammond won’t accept the fact that he has been divested of his position as the one in charge of finance nor will Perry Okudzeto accept his removal as the Acting Communications Director. Opare Hammond has threatened a “Rambo-style” operation to return to post, which I consider to be a mere statement of derring-do. He will go there at his own peril because he has already lost the turf war. In any case, if he gets support from any of those who matter in the party, then, he will add more fuel to the crisis. Is that what the NPP needs in its bid to persuade the electorate that it can outdo the NDC and should, therefore, be voted into office?
Folks, at this stage, there is a lot happening in the NPP that cannot be paralleled to what faced the NDC as efforts were made to clip Rawlings’ wings. The party has survived ever since, surprising everybody by winning the 2012 elections when least expected to do so. As for the NPP, the current rumpus seems to be just the tip of the iceberg of confusion and factionalism that will manifest over time.
The conclusion? Such a party will find it difficult to persuade the electorate that it is ready to govern Ghana and must, therefore, be given the mandate. I suspect that there is more happening than meet the eyes and will keep an eagle’s eye watch over happenings. In truth, what is unfolding is just an inkling. Very soon, the real stuff will emerge for us to know why the NPP remains unattractive to many people who see it as purely Akan-based, limited to only two of the 10 Regions of Ghana. Such a party will more easily cross the Rubicon than enter the Flagstaff House.
At this stage, I am particularly laughing my heart out at what is happening in this cabal. I wonder why Kennedy Agyapong has kept mute all this while, especially when the very people that he fought hard to put in office have turned out to be the undertakers preparing the party for burial. What next for the NPP, a party of so-called “liberal democrats” with a specific agenda of property-grabbing?
Clearly, unlike what befell the NDC and how it withstood the pressure to grow from strength to strength, what we see emerging at the NPP front has the huge potential to destroy the party. An implosion is imminent unless something drastically miraculous happens to calm nerves. The clock is ticking toward the moment of decision when the flagbearer of the party will be chosen. That is yet another milestone for them to be wary of. In the final analysis, the lesson is clear: those who cannot put their small house in order should not expect to be given a big house of more serious problems (Ghana ) to manage!!
I shall return…
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