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Opinions of Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Columnist: Damptey, Daniel Danquah

Please ensure I get a decent burial.

“I will give up everything for the survival of democracy in Ghana and the New Patriotic Party. But please ensure that I get a decent burial when I die.” These were the very words of an active and die-hard supporter of the NPP during a heated debate on whether or not the party was worth dying for, some time last week.

Today, I have decided to go a little bit of roller-skating. You should therefore not expect me to be taking some political jabs at the NDC. It is these jabs which make the political terrain very interesting. I am therefore asking readers to bear with me for disappointing them this time around. But that does not mean I will not be going down memory lane if I feel compelled to do so. You see, in real life, one has to do a little bit of introspection to find out whether one is really sound in body, mind and spirit. After all, are we not told that “mens sana in corpora sano” means a sound mind in a sound body? It will therefore not be out of place if I do a little exercise with my brain.

The story is told of a very great General in the British army who went to the academy under very strange circumstances. A member of the aristocratic class, he was driven to school during his elementary days and deposited at the entrance of the school gate by the chauffeur. One day the parents received a call from the Principal of the school. “Your child has been tardy and absenting himself from classes. Could you please come to my office for discussion on Friday?”

The parents decided to arm themselves with readily made answers before their encounter with the school authority on the said date. Unknown to the child that he was being trailed, the parents surreptitiously followed him after the chauffeur had left him at the school gate. When the bell was rung for classes to begin, surprise registered on their faces as they watched their only son heading for the school garden.

Once in the garden and with a stick in his hand, the boy started giving commands to the fruits, trees and whatever thing that was in the garden. Hey, you there! Move left… Turn right … Stand there….About turn … Stand at ease, Shoulder arms … Present arms…. Dress up! Holding the stick the way Moses held his rod, he struck it at and orange tree or an apple tree and anything that came his way. A gesture here and there, the child could easily have passed for an officer giving command at a military parade.

The puzzle was thus solved. The military was the true career for this young chap. Their meeting with the school authorities was a mere formality. It was to endorse their decision. And that was how the child entered the military academy at a very tender age and he became one of the best Generals that Britain ever produced.

The time has now come for committed members of the Dankwa-Busia-Dombo tradition and true believers of Democracy to find answers/solutions to some of the mind-bogging issues affecting our party. And we could only do so if we asked certain pertinent questions as to the whys and hows certain things were done. In doing so, I wish to restate the fact that I shall never do anything to derail or rock our boat, and so my action should not be construed as an anti-party act. And as I always do when I do a critical and objective analysis of any act of commission or omission by the party, I, like the colleague I had referred to at the beginning of the write up, will put in everything to ensure the success of the New Patriotic Party and if in the process I lose my life, so be it. It will be my contribution towards the survival or sustenance of democracy in the country. I love my party so much. Nothing could be far from the truth. I cherish the ideals and principles of the founders of our noble tradition. There could have been no other tradition for me and many others who think like me. In fact the love I have for the New Patriotic Party is just like what one of the “honourables” from the honourable law making chamber admitted that indeed” the cedi is appreciating the dollar” and indeed it was true! Yes, like a suitor stalking his lover, the cedi has indeed fallen in love with the dollar. But the love is a one way-affair. It is not reciprocal and that is why the dollar has left the cedi several yards behind. Indeed, it is time the cedi appreciates against the dollar and not the former appreciating the dollar – a new theory propounded by our honourable member from the honourable law-making chamber. I know some party members at times question the rationale behind my challenging some decisions of the elders of the NPP. Some will call and tell me that certain issues were no go areas and so I should stay clear of them. But my yearning spirit knows no bounds and will have none of such advice. It cannot be caged. And so I go about doing what I know best with the belief that the end justifies the means and the stone which the builders reject will one day be the cornerstone. Some will question why we should wash our dirty linen in public. Such people will tell me doing so is tantamount to providing ammunition for our enemies. My answer to such people is that there are times that the only solution to a problem lies in bringing such a problem into the public domain. Se woton wo yaree a na wonya ano aduro. 9It is only when you tell people about your sickness that you can get a cure for it) And I have tried, since I started my features in the media to criticize the party with circumspection. I will never reveal our secrets to our enemies. No, Daniel Danquah Damptey will never do that. I am not a traitor.

This write-up has offered me the opportunity to state my misgivings about the party and I believe party members and the executives will take them in good faith. The party embraces all those who cherish the true tenets of democracy. But it is also a party which attempts to throw away the bathing water with the baby. The party easily forgets its own members. It does not reward them. Very many people, ordinary members inclusive sacrificed a lot to bring the party to power. But what did we see? The ordinary members were soon forgotten during the time the party was in power and in came on board those who had played no visible role to bring the party to power. Strangers were brought in and sons and daughters of the land were relegated to the background. Even when it came to appointments to the various Boards, one person could be put on three separate Boards whiles other staunch members had none. People who had not made any meaningful contributions to the party were given party cards and appointed District/Municipal and Metropolitan Chief Executives’. It became easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a party man/woman to get a party card.

But go through the appointments so far made by the Mills administration and you will see that all those who played significant roles in the coming to power of the NDC including those who used lies and deceit have been rewarded. The only person worth mentioning here is Dr Nyaho Tamakloe, our immediate Ambassador to Yugoslavia. He gave appointment to an activist in his constituency in far away Belgrade. The appointee at the end of his first year outside the country remitted $1000, 000 to his constituency as his contribution towards rebuilding the party at that level. I commend Dr Nyaho Tamakloe for that gesture.

As a result of our indifference to the plight of others, we lost some members who were in our camp to the opposition NDC. Brigadier Nunoo Mensah had contested one of the Parliamentary seats in the Central Region on the ticket of the NPP and lost. That was the end of his relationship with the party. The party made no effort to bring him into our fold, neither did we enquire about his warfare. And since hunger is not something all of us can cope with, he had to cave in when the enticement came from the founder of the NDC. After all, who will not lick a candy thrown into his/her mouth? The offers came in many forms. Promises of juicy offers were made to him and the man accepted. And see where it had landed him! National Security Advisor!! A plush office and a position he is using to intimidate his erstwhile colleagues in the Great Osono Fraternity. The Brigadier could not resist the temptation of taking a bite of the delicious apple that was dangled before his very eyes. And so we lost the man we had thought was in our camp.

Nest comes in the notorious Chuck Kofi Wayo. He was also in our camp for he had contested one of the parliamentary seats on our ticket and was cheated out. He had alleged that what endeared him to the New Patriotic Party was the fact that the then candidate Kufuor who eventually became the President gave him audience whereas his numerous attempts to see the then Head of State, President Rawlings were rebuffed. He wanted a part of TOR which the then Government of President Kufuor felt he did not deserve. Shouldn’t we have kept quiet over the matter? But no, we wanted to demonize him and so came out with some damning revelations about the man. Couldn’t we have made him a Board member of either TOR or the Energy Commission and see whether the man could utilize his so-called talent/expertise to solve some of our energy problems? No, we did not! Our revelation incensed the wayo of a man who has since joined forces with our political enemies and like the drowning man that he is, began to fabricate very negative stories with grave consequences for our party.

The saddest aspect of the whole show was that we did not have the men and women to counter the lies, and fabrications he spewed forth in the media and the various websites. But one thing we seem to forget is that a notorious Kofi Wayo in our party is better than a notorious Kofi Way outside our party. And this Wayo of a man has some following among some gullible Ghanaians. So all the lies peddled by Kofi Wayo has stuck to the party to this day. Why did we have to allow this to happen when all that was needed was a little enticement to this troubleshooter? Some will say good riddance to Kofi Wayo, but the NPP needs men like Kofi Wayo to survive in the present day politics.

We should not forget the way we treated one of our own Chairmen, the late Honourable Peter Ala Adjetey. Truth is biter but we have to say it to prevent a repetition of such a thing in future. He was the Speaker of the Third Parliament of the Fourth Republic. He had indicated his interest to continue occupying the same position in the next Parliament. Alas, it was not to be. The Government decided that somebody else occupied the position, but Uncle Peter was interested and that was why he allowed the opposition to nominate him for the same position. The opposition, by nominating him lost its bid to have the Second Deputy Speaker position. Honourable Peter Ala Adjetey lost out and we saw the repercussion of that act during the December 2008 elections. The party fell lack a pack of cards in the Greater Accra Region. Places which used to be ‘no go areas’ to the opposition now wholeheartedly embraced NDC like the way the Cedi was appreciating the dollar, courtesy of one of the ‘honourables’.

It is now the turn of our own Kwesi Pratt. He was a member of the Great Alliance and contested on the ticket of the Alliance in one of the constituencies in the Greater Accra. However the NPP presented Sheikh I.C.Quaye as its candidate in the same constituency which the latter won. And that was the end of Kwesi Pratt. No recognition, no acknowledgement, no ex-gratia, no nothing. Kwesi Pratt was left to fend for himself. Forget the fact that some members of the Alliance alleged that he was a mole planted by the NDC. That will be an issue for another day. But conditions were becoming unbearable with the passing of each day. Then came the end of the year and he received an invitation from ex-President Rawlings to an end of year get-together. Kwesi debated within himself whether he should go or not. Well, having seen hunger staring at his face for a long time, why should he not jump at the opportunity? Quickly, an emissary was dispatched to the office and residence of ex-President Rawlings. Content of the message: Please, include Pratt on the list of invitees. Thank you. Yours obedient servant, Kwesi Pratt (Jnr).

And so it was that our own Kwesi Pratt, who had then cut a niche for himself as the friend of the friendless and oppressed found himself among the bourgeoisie who in this case constituted the shakers and movers of society in ex-President Rawlings’ residence. I learnt, at the initial stages, our Pratt of a man found himself not comfortable in the midst of the gatherings but after some bottles had gone down his belly with some promises from ex-President Rawlings, he became his usual vivacious self and danced till the wee hours of the morning. I also learnt he was given an undisclosed sum of money as ex-gratia to severe his link with members in the newly installed Kufuor administration. But please don’t say I told you so, because I do not have dear good old Kwesi Pratt’s permission to divulge intimate personal secrets. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the story whether or not he was given some form of ex-gratia. He has personally come out to deny the fact that money had changed hands. But on thing we all know is that he was ‘pensioned’ from his association with the Great Alliance. But the point I am trying to make here is that a little bit of back-patting could have kept Kwesi Pratt permanently in our fold.

There is however one great deserter from our fold which I will term good riddance of excess baggage and that has to do with Yamoah Ponko. He did a great deal of negative work to ensure that the party remained dis-united. Had it not been the eagle watchfulness of our regional executives he would have plunged the party further down the pit of destruction. And if one were to judge the confusion his tenure as executive member of Kumasi Asante Kotoko brought to the club, one would be quick enough to say that yes, indeed Yamoah Ponko should have been sacked from the party a long time ago.

I have been compelled to bring out these issues so that there will be some sort of social contract between the person who emerges as our Presidential candidate to sit down with the masses of the party and assure the qualified ones amongst them that they would not be forgotten when it comes to the sharing of the national cake. Infact, a man deserves a reward for the services he renders. The NDC members have decided to take their destinies into their own hands by taking over some toilets, lorry stations and many other facilities to compensate themselves for the sacrifices they have made for the party. But we, members of the NPP will never resort to violence. We shall sit down peacefully to negotiate who gets what portion of the national cake.

It is also regrettable that the party seems helpless to offer assistance to its committed members who are bearing the brunt of physical attacks meted out to them as a result of their membership of the New Patriotic Party. Those people are suffering as a result of their unalloyed support for the New Patriotic Party. For example, our numerous supporters who were compelled by the lack of protection from various security outfits to relocate from Agbogbloshie to their home regions have been left to their fate. The perpetrators of those dastardly acts have been left to roam the streets of Accra as free men and women. What also happened to our members who were arrested in the wake of the fracas which erupted at Gushiegu and its environs? My information is that Nana Obiri Boahene is the one defending those people and that apart from a few visits from some top members of the party, notable among them is that of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, our immediate flag-bearer of the party, nothing so far has come from the party headquarters. What is the party doing about the fate of these people? I wouldn’t have been bothered too much but my sources tell me that almost all the NDC members who were arrested with their NPP counterparts have been released. And that is where my worry begins.

What about the various election petitions filed before the courts in various parts of the country? What is happening to the Akwatia Constituency issue? It appears the whole burden is on the shoulders of the candidate, Dr Asare. Is he the one to engage his own lawyer and pay the charges? What is the party doing about it? If we don’t treat the issue with the seriousness it deserves, the case will drag on to the end of the tenure of this Parliament. The issue is no longer that of Dr Asare vrs. Baba Jamal. The party should be involved in the matter as if the very existence of the party depends on the outcome of the verdict. We also have that of Asuogyaman, Tain and the Asutifi South pending in the courts. What is happening to all those petitions? Have they been thrown out by the courts? If they have not, what arrangements has the party put in place to ensure success at the various tribunals? Do the petitioners or respondents have to foot their own legal bill? What about the numerous lawyers within the rank and file of the New Patriotic Party? Can’t the party put together a team of lawyers to assist our candidates in their legal battles to claim what actually belongs to them? The time has come for the New Patriotic Party to exhibit its many aces for all to realize that the party is alive but not moribund.

Is the party in short of money to enable it prosecute her legal battles? If it is we should be told and we shall levy ourselves to ensure that we get the justice which has eluded the party for a long time. But we should also be told of how the huge amount levied on our many presidential aspirants was expended. We are also aware that during the course of the last election, monies were given to some people to prosecute our election battles but such people did not use the monies for that purpose. We would like to know the efforts the National Executives have put in place to retrieve such monies. This issue should not be regarded as one of the no-go areas. Our people need money to fight their legal battles. Some of our members have also been displaced and need to be resettled. We should also not forget our members who were molested, harassed, intimidated and beaten up and injured during the last election. One, Dr Ohene, the brother of Elizabeth Ohene is among such people. We need such monies to enable the party prosecute such a well-meaning and thought–of winnable agenda.

The New Patriotic Party is a party of love. We care for one another including those who do not believe in our ideology and tradition. And that was the reason why we gave some portions of the national cake to the likes of Dr. Paa Kwesi-Nduom, Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah, Dr Ibn Chambas, Mr Freddie Blay, Mr P.V.Obeng, Professor Hagan and many others. Now is the time to give succor to our own. Let us come and reason together as to the best way to assist these brethren of ours. Do not forget that the comfort of your sufferings lies in having others who share in your calamity.

Let us rise above our parochial interests and sing in unison what the Negroes of America sang during those days of harassment, persecutions, intimidations and discrimination.

We shall overcome

We shall overcome someday

O deep in my heart

I do believe

We shall overcome someday.

That will be the day when Ghanaians from all walks of life, from various tribes, colour and beliefs will join hands together and shout: “Yes, this is indeed the Ghana our fore fathers fought for!” That will be the day all Ghanaians, irrespective of creed, religion and tribal affiliations will go to their workplaces and enter their various offices without anybody telling them that the keys to their locked-up offices have been taken away to the Castle, the seat of power. It is only then that we will regard ourselves as citizens of the land of our birth.

But for a start, let us assist the needy and the defenceless in the New Patriotic Party. We owe them that responsibility.

Daniel Danquah Damptey.

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Telephone Number: 0243715297.