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Opinions of Thursday, 22 November 2007

Columnist: Abdul

The politics of tribalism, nepotism, and deceit.


Larry King once asked former United States president Clinton what it takes to select a vice president. He enumerated exactly what informed the famous Rawlings Swadru declaration. Clinton argued that in selecting a running mate the presidential candidate is selecting an individual who could be president when he, the president, drop dead or becomes incapacitate in performing his duties as the leader of government business. By implication Clinton is telling presidential candidate to select running that they believe could be president apart from them. I strongly agree with Mr. Clinton, and the constitution of United States agrees, so is the constitution. This explains why it is enshrined in both the constitutions of the United States and that Ghana that the vice president is second in command. It is also constitutionally stated that the vice president, and no one else assumes the office of the president should the later become incapacitated to perform his/her duties. The vice is the second most powerful person in the republic, and he assumes the all-important function of chairing cabinet meetings in the absence of the president. In almost all presidential democracies, there is no question of who will succeed a sitting president and run on their party?s ticket as the presidential candidate, if there is a willing and capable vice president. Except in cases when the President loses election in his second term. Fellow readers, I present a short history of succession of American presidents. I choose the United States because it is a master piece of presidential democracy, and very much similar to that of Ghana

1. Vice President Harry Truman succeeded Franklin Roosevelt, and became president

2. Vice President Richard Nixon succeeded Dwight Eisenhower, but lost to John Kennedy.

3. Vice President Lyndon Johnson succeeded John Kennedy, and became president.

4. Vice President Hubert Humphrey succeeded Lyndon Johnson, but lost to Richard Nixon.

5. Vice President Gerald Ford succeeded Richard Nixon, and became president. President Ford served one term and lost to Jimmy Carter, and also Carter served one term lost to Reagan. In both cases their vice presidents have not benefited from succession.

6. Vice President George H. W. Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan and become President. He served one term and lost to Clinton, so his vice did not have that opportunity.

7. Vice President Albert Gore succeeded Bill Clinton, but mysteriously lost to George W. Bush. Vice President Richard Cheney refused to seek the republican nomination. Hence he is not running for president come 2008 when American go to poll again to elected their president.

It is important to state that even before the periods I selected for consideration, it is an established convention in the United States that vice presidents always succeed the incumbent. When our legendary Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest sons of Africa, was leaving office and retiring from active politics, he named no other person but his vice president, Thabo Mbeki, to succeed him as president. This is not only because of the power and the cloud that surround that all-important office, but also the belief that vice presidents are confidants of the sitting president. Beside, the vice president?s name, just as that of the president was on ballot when both were running for the election. Therefore, we will argue, Rawlings?s endorsement of Mills in 2000 is not counter democratic as the NPP and their media allies would want us to belief. It is an established convention proved and test in most all advanced democracies. He selected the man to partner him in the his election because he believed in his competence and capabilities, and when he is retiring from the President endorsed the man he believe, pure and simple.

Why then is Mr. Kufour shying away from his vice president? A man he nominated to be his second in command, a man who had taken the same oath of office as him, to defend and do good to all manner of people. The man he had always entrusted the security of nation in order to embark on his numerous travels. Why is president kufour supporting Alan at the expense of his own vice president who is also seeking the party?s nomination to lead it in next year?s election? The answers to this question lie in the character of the NPP itself. The party may claim to be the most democratic, and even more democratic than parties in the United States and else where with an established tract record of intra party democracy. But no serious minded person will buy this complete mischief from a party that is deeply rooted in tribalism and nepotism. If the NPP is running on the success of the Kufour legacy, then the selection of anyone else apart from party?s second in command, who is also an integral part of so-called legacy, would be a big joke. Who would continue the legacy of president than his vice president?

Aliu Mahama will not be endorsed by the president for two simply reasons, both of which the NPP and its media allies would very much prefer to be swept under carpet in the name of their so-called, and much trumpeted internal democracy. First he is not an NPP insider and for matter does not hold any constituency within the party, second and most importantly, he is not an Akan. The selection of Aliu Mahama to partner in 2000 was not because Mr. Kufour believed in the competency of Aliu, but an act of opportunism aimed at exploiting northern votes and diffusing the proverbial stein of tribalism attached to the NPP and its traditional brand since their inception in the 1950s. It is a fact that if Vice Aliu Mahama were an Akan, he would in actual fact succeeded President and no one would have competed against him and if anyone ventures, the party would have impressed on such a person to withdraw their nomination.

Among the arguments the party concocted to defend this ill motive or malice was that NPP has no such tradition or precedence. But wait a minute, who competed against Mr. Kufour when he contested for re-election in 2004? Didn?t the party impressed on Dr. Apreku to withdraw his nomination to contest the 2004 congress in name of incumbency? What principle was NPP using in 2004 when they unilaterally endorsed Mr. Kufour unopposed? Why wouldn?t they use the same principle for an incumbent vice president? Answers to these questions are simple, the NPP is an Akan party and they prefer it to say that way for a long time come. I urge readers to peruse through NPP appointments and party structures, and the reason why Aliu, a sitting vice president, is competing against 18 other ministers will stare you on the face.

I rest my case.

Abdul Welland, Ontario Canada

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