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Opinions of Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Columnist: Nelson, Ekow

This is madness!

I am appalled at the recent spate of attacks on the Convention People’s Party (CPP) leadership and in particular on the Flag Bearer Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom. I am even more disappointed that calls for Dr. Nduom to resign are coming from some who are highly regarded in the party but doubly so because of the spurious basis – the publicly articulated ones at least - upon which these calls are based. The CPP is once again engaged in its best-loved sport since 1966 – tearing each other apart in a contest of who is most like Nkrumah. With six months to go to the next general elections this can only be madness!

According to a Ghanaian Times report (“Nduom Is Not Fit To Be Flag-Bearer”, 19th June 2008 – available http://www.modernghana.com/news/170596/1/nduom-is-not-fit-to-be-flag-bearer-bright.html) Mr Bright Akwetey, former presidential aspirant for the CPP is said to have attacked his party's presidential nominee while claiming “he is not undermining the effort of the party’s Flag Bearer, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, to win the December election, he is against his candidature.” Not only does this kind of double-speak betray a tendency among politicians to dissemble, it assumes the electorate and reading public are not astute enough to realise that Mr. Akwetey is doing precisely what he is denying. With that statement he has blown away any modicum of credibility he might have had and shown himself to be a sour loser - unfit to be the leader of the CPP or indeed any political party. Even the Clintons showed some grace (a few days later) after they lost their coveted nomination to a previously unknown quantity in the US Democratic Party.

Mr. Akwetey’s statement followed on from an earlier press conference held by a former member of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and member of the Council of Elders Ms Lucy Anin, who called for thorough investigations into allegations in relation to consulting services the current CPP Flag Bearer rendered to State Enterprises Commission (SEC). According to Ms Anin "[t]here is the need for Dr. Nduom and the party as a whole to test the report and clear his name before anything happens which would affect the party during the general election." It was imperative, she argued, for the party leadership to “to purge itself of all doubts and negatives that undermined the party and maintain discipline.”

This was followed by a statement from one of the few remaining party stalwarts and member of the national executive committee Mr. F.A. Jantuah (see “Jantuah calls for removal of Nduom as CPP Flag Bearer” available at http://www.modernghana.com/news2/169973/1/jantuah-calls-for-removal-of-nduom-as-cpp-flag-bea.html) calling for “the immediate removal of Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom as the Party's Flag Bearer to enable him to seek clearance in court on the outcome of the investigation conducted by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) on his activities at the State Enterprises Commission (SEC)”. Like Ms. Anin, Mr. Jantuah argued “it was important that the Party asked Dr Nduom to clear his name” if the CPP was unwilling to contest the so-called ‘SFO report’ on his previous engagements with the SEC.

Some may view the actions of Ms. Anin, Mr. Jantuah and Mr. Akwetey as independent of one another and not as part of any conspiracy. After all, they will point to Ms Anin's call back in July 2006 for the resignation of Mr. Kwesi Pratt and former executives of the party including Dr. Edmund Delle and Prof. Nii Noi Dowuna (see Kwesi Pratt Should Resign", available at http://www.modernghana.com/news/101529/1/kwesi-pratt-should-resign-lucy-anin.html) as testimony of her willingness to stand-up to leaders of whatever shade of opinion. Whether or not there is a co-ordinated and concerted effort to drive Dr. Nduom out of office, however, is not important at this stage. What I wish to do is to examine the merits of the arguments and the potential impact of the suggested actions more closely.

All three individuals concede that there are no outstanding charges of impropriety against Dr. Nduom. All we have are allegations, speculation and rumour. So, on what charges exactly should Dr. Nduom seek to clear his name and from whom should such clearance be sought? The father of our party the great Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was on various occasions accused falsely by his detractors of smuggling gold bars out of the country and I don’t remember Mr. F.A. Jantuah or Ms. Anin asking him to clear his name in relation to these allegations before the 1964 elections. We are told that there is a damning tape in existence that shows Michelle Obama with Louis Farrakhan on stage mouthing the word ‘whitey’. If such a tape surfaces, it could indeed be damaging to Senator Obama and the Democrats. Does that mean the Senator should resign and clear his wife’s name? This is absurd and ridiculous.

The only logic behind the calls must be to ruin the CPP’s chances in the forthcoming elections and it is why Mr. Akwetey’s claim of not undermining the party sounds hollow and disingenuous. Let us for a moment follow the logic through. If Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom agrees and is somehow able to embark on the implausible course of action suggested, what happens next? Will the party continue its campaign with six months to the general election without a Flag Bearer while the case is being heard? If not, will the party seek a replacement? If so how and when?

The proper constitutional process for selecting a party Flag Bearer is to convene a national congress. Does the party have the resources for such an exercise and is it worth the effort? Will this not divert the limited resources of the party away from the presidential and parliamentary campaigns? And, when will such a congress be held? How many weeks and months and how long will that leave whoever is elected as Dr. Nduom’s replacement to establish him/herself with the electorate, heal the wounds and divisions in the party and then go on the campaign trail? Make no mistake about it: any attempt to install an alternative candidate by any other means will be met with legal challenges and injunctions, fought fiercely in the courts and the whole issue will descend into a farce.

And what of the party’s message? While this is going on the media will, quite rightly, not focus on the party’s messages or manifesto, but feast on the pointless internecine war and revel at another episode of internal CPP self-destruction. This is not only a distraction, it is madness, madness!

Let’s just say we survive it all and the party has a new Flag Bearer but somehow too, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom is able to clear his name against the phantom charges that have not been made and are not being pursued by any prosecuting authorities. What happens next? Does the party rescind the election of the new leader as natural justice will demand? Will it convene yet another congress for the two to slug it out? I

As the questions I have raised above demonstrate, going down this path will not help the party; it will generate untold confusion and the ultimate consequence of yielding to the demands of Messrs. Akwetey, Jantuah and Anin will be to scupper the chances of the CPP at the next general election. The real winners here will be the NDC and the NPP. Is that the real intention of those making these demands? Of course I do not indulge in conspiracy theories so I will desist.

The fact is, the demands of Messrs. Akwetey, Jantuah and Anin are tantamount to a request for the CPP to commit electoral suicide and impale itself on the sword of the personal ambitions of those whose interests these individual serve and the party must not stand for it. Those who support the CPP and /or want an alternative to the NPP and NDC must not stand for it either. It is time for the silent majority to stand up and say No! to Ms. Anin; No! to Mr. Akwetey; and with all due respect, No! to Mr. Jantuah. An end to this madness!

© Ekow Nelson, London
Email: kwawnelson@yahoo.co.uk