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Opinions of Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Columnist: Sarfo, Samuel Adjei

Time to Iron Out Some Issues Within the NPP

By Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo

Attorney and Counselor at Law

If we were to sit down and imagine that everything is all right within the NPP, we would be behaving like an ostrich, the proverbial bird that stuck its head in the sand at high noon and pretended that nature was at peace with itself. The party is in serious trouble as the elections approach. And what is distressing is that the trouble confronting this party is nothing but a contest of egos. The first simple question to be asked is what at all is inherent in an ordinary steering committee meeting that it must be a cause for national furor? And why must procedure trump any common sense or efficiency in any organization that has the potential to lead any nation?

My two questions are grounded on this recent confusion that arose as a result of a steering committee meeting organized by the vice chairman of the NPP in the absence of both the substantive chairman and the general secretary. The chairman, Mr. Afoko had traveled outside the country and therefore could not have attended the meeting. But we can presume that Mr. Kwabena Agyepong, the General Secretary, was in contact with him and would therefore have spoken to him about the meeting. We can also presume that at least Kwabena Agyepong knew about the meeting and had firmly decided that it could not come off. Interestingly, Nana Addo, the flag bearer of the party, attended the meeting.

In the face of this non eventful scenario, what could possibly be the cause of any furor?

Let us assume arguendo that the party Vice Chairman is not authorized by the constitution to convene a meeting. Does this fact alone amount to anything if he were to organize a meeting? And let us assume that what the meeting deliberated upon were issues of vital interest for the progress of the party; does failure to adhere to strict protocol or procedure derogate the importance of the issues discussed? In short, what is in the best interest of the party? And how is this interest promoted or undermined by the simple fact that there was a meeting held to debate the modalities of the vetting process? And if the party’s interest was not undermined in any way, then why should it even constitute an issue that the party chairman or secretary should be physically present before a meeting could take place? If those that met had the goodwill and intention, was it not possible at all to have included the disgruntled officials through phone conference or skype or many of the numerous technologies that have made the physical presence of individuals at a meeting unnecessary? And could these two officers not have suggested same?

So if all the officials involved in this matter have one set objective, that of seeing the NPP ascend to power come 2016, the very idea of bickering over who has the right to convene a meeting will become moot, and we should rather be devoting our time in discussing the content of the meeting itself, and how to bring its objectives to fruition. And sensible men will not now be debating procedure over simple commonsense just to engage in a contest of egos.

But the reason why we are in the present shouting match is that there are serious issues of ill will and mistrust which have not yet been resolved, despite that it has been several months since Nana Addo was elected to lead the party. Before then, serious fissures arising out of the campaign for the flag bearer position existed in the party. But Nana Ado was given the mandate to lead the party, and lead he must, if he has his sights set indeed on the Flagstaff House. And in doing this, he must have the unflinching support and loyalty of the membership of the executive committee whose authority must be subservient to his. While it might not be explicitly written in the constitution, his leadership and authority must count within the National Executive Committee itself whose sole objective should be to work with him to ensure that the NPP wins the elections. So as long as Nana Addo is not patently undermining his own interest by patently undermining the party’s interest, we should all align ourselves with his objectives and vision so as to achieve the greater goal of ensuring that there is an NPP administration in 2016 with Nana Addo as President.

And anything done in the interim, as long as it clearly advances our collective objective, should be accommodated by every NPP loving individual. That is why the steering committee meeting organized by the Vice President should have been supported and endorsed by both Afoko and Agyepong, especially where the party leader was part of it. This is because as far as we know, nothing in the discussions that were had threatened the aims and goals of the party in anyway. And if anything at all did, the right approach would be to bring it up for debate. In this instance, if they had shown respect and consideration for the party’s elected candidate, they would have found a way to align themselves to the decisions taken, or asked for a review of such decisions, and we would not have found ourselves in the awkward position where many are wondering how we are going to govern a country if we cannot govern a meeting.

And here is where Nana himself must show true leadership. It is understandable that he has his own trusted allies within his camp. But those trusted allies will not win him the presidency. It is Nana’s own ability to unite the party and move forward to the campaign phase to unite the people in the country to vote for him. And as president, he will be leading the whole country which will include his bitterest enemies and critics. And here too, the success of his government will be based on how he builds consensus among people of divergent and even diametrically opposed views. And whether his self-appointed allies and advisors will be signaling to him to select and deselect whose wise counsel should be taken and whose should be ostracized will not be the point, because in the end, the buck always stops at the leader’s desk, and he is the one who will be put on the spot if anything goes wrong. So Nana must put his feet down and take his own counsel, although suggestions will fly at him from all angles.

It is troubling to note that deep-seated divisions remain in the ranks of the NPP. And it is even possible for enemies of the party to allege that there are important members of the party working against election victory in 2016. And to dismiss this belief as preposterous will be to ignore the harsh and incisive criticisms coming from within. Sometimes I worry about the fact that the hatred some members within the NPP have displayed for other members far exceeds that which they can ever harbor for any NDC member. But it begs the question as to whether this is even important to debate. In the end, the failure of the NPP to unite will be Nana’s loss as an individual, and the party’s loss as a political entity with the goal to lead Ghana. It will also be Ghana’s loss since the country will be deprived of a better leadership alternative.

Nana must therefore establish strong leadership principles aimed at achieving a strong united front for the party. And the executive and general membership must extinguish their individual loyalties and agendas to support Nana. They must now come on board and cease their campaign against Nana because he is the chosen candidate, and there will not be any other, at least not for this term. And if anybody harbors the illusion that Nana’s failure will offer any political advantage to anybody, such a person must think twice because as Nana goes, so goes the NPP. The party could even implode if it were to stay in opposition for another four years.

Thus, the NPP must demonstrate its ability to resolve its internal wrangling in order to govern, and this demonstration will be evidenced by extreme cohesion and discipline and democratic sense. Conversely, it will be undermined by bickering over irrelevant issues and in fighting. While the ship of state is sinking, the only issue of our time should be how to rescue it. This is no time for anyone to embark on ego tourism.

Samuel Adjei Sarfo is a practicing attorney in Austin, Texas, USA. He writes the weekly Ghana New Statesman column “Thoughts of a Native Son”. You can email him at