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Opinions of Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Columnist: Kwamena, Ato

To The NPP Delegates, I Write

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Friend, our beloved country is at the crossroads of her journey towards prosperity. We’ve come a long way, thanks being to God Almighty and the God-fearing, humble, and tolerant President he gave us in John Agyekum Kufuor. Democracy is strong and thriving. Our economy is robust. In the battle against poverty and ignorance, I’m delighted to tell you that we are winning! Our standing in the world is as good as it gets; especially for a country thrust in such a retrogressive sub-region. Yes, Ghana is on course!

And this good course we must continue on, else we start retrogressing as before. We are a nation fraught with many a “had I knowns” in our history. Many years after Busia was overthrown, we looked back at his achievements and plans for the nation with nostalgia and remain convinced that Ghana would have moved forward, had his administration been allowed to serve. Similar thing happened to Dr. Limann’s administration. Today, we all wonder where Ghana would have been if his administration had not been overthrown and democracy had been groomed and nurtured. For sure, the 20 years of brutality, butchery, incivility, barbarism, kleptomania, and socio-economic stagnation coupled with the sheer thievery of the people’s resources ala the deliberate collapse and transfer of State-owned corporations to cronies, as happened under the dictatorship of Jerry Rawlings and his P/NDC illegality would not have been visited on this country.

So now here we are on the brink of success! But are we going to – in the words of Chinua Achebe – “snatch defeat from the jaws of success”? Or will we for once move forward as a nation? I am convinced – beyond all shadow of doubt – that the onerous task in deciding which direction this country of ours move in, has been entrusted to the hands of the delegates who would be nominating the presidential candidate of the NPP come December. Therefore, it is important, albeit crucial, for you as a delegate to appreciate the solemnity of the task that God has given you. In your hands, you have the power to move this country forward or to stagnate it – nay, retrogress this country back to the years of barbarism and devilish instincts. The destiny of mother Ghana is in your hands, dear delegate. Hence, it is important and imperative for you to look at the big picture, even as you decide which candidate to support and cast your vote for.

Good friend, firstly, we must understand that beyond nominating a candidate, you are going to decide the future of our beloved party and for that matter our country. Let there remain no iota of doubt in anyone’s mind that the NPP’s ideology is the best ideology for Ghana. Ours is founded on the respect of human rights. We also believe that if one Ghanaian citizen progresses in life that success is to the benefit of us all as a people. For that successful citizen may one day start a business, and employ another citizen, who will then be able to better cater for his or her children. Citizens make a nation, not the other way round. If the citizens are progressing the nation would. So if you win, I win! Hence, we don’t condone the bulldozing of a fully furbished Ghanaian-owned hotel or business, especially without a court order. So all in all, let me assure you that you are in the right party. Continue to believe in the ideology, for it is a winning one.

In this election you have the opportunity to reposition the NPP party beyond the 2008 elections. Just think of this, ‘wouldn’t it be better for Ghana if the NPP were to steer the affairs of this country not only in the years 2008-2012 but for the next 20+ years?’ So friend, let’s not get too fixated on the 2008 elections. Yes! It is important we win the 2008 elections. But beyond 2008 . . . then what? Why don’t we start repositioning our party? If we’ll be honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that one of the Achilles heels of our party is its Akan-centric nature. And this has been used by our detractors against our party. It may not be an accurate description, but have you never heard the saying “there’s no smoke without fire?” No matter what you and I may believe, this perception of our party is truly held by many of our citizens. It is therefore incumbent on you and I to change it. And change we must, if we are to move the NPP forward! Politics is about numbers. If we truly want to keep power for a long time, let us not focus too much on today, or get too fixated on the 2008 elections and in so doing lose sight of the big picture. But let’s build bridges towards the future. We need to spread our tentacles as a party. We need to bring in as many people as we can to the NPP fold. A huge chunk of Ghana’s floating voters are based in the North. They are floating voters, because if you look at Ghana’s elections since 1993 you can tell that they are not as ideologically or as ethnocentrically based as, say, those in the Volta or Ashanti regions.

To make this 2008 election a “One Touch” one, we ought to slash into the 53% of Upper East votes, the 56.7% of Upper West votes, and the 57% of Northern votes that the NDC won in the 2004 elections. Part of the reason why we didn’t do as well as we did in the 2000 elections was because of the regicide that happened in Dagbon for which the NDC exploited for political purposes. But in 2008 and beyond we have the opportunity to send a clear message to all, and to refute the perception that the NPP is Akan-based by electing a candidate who can win majority of the Northern votes. We need to swing these nothing regions into the NPP fold in 2008 and beyond. But there’s no doubt in my mind that an Aliu Presidential candidacy will still capture the Southern votes, just like any of the other NPP candidates would. The question is ‘how bad do we want to avoid a second-round elections’? If we want to avoid having to go for a run-off at all cost, our sure bet is Aliu Mahama. He will not cost us any votes in the South. In fact, he stands a good chance of winning or at least splitting votes in the Zongo Communities. Our Moslem brothers would love to have their own at the helm of Ghana’s affairs too. I am a Christian, and like many other Christians, I do not feel threatened in any way or fashion by having Aliu Mahama as my President. Aliu cuts across religious lines. You and I have heard him so many times at church congregations talking to our people, and we can all testify that this man is someone who is not a bigot. So in the Southern part of Ghana, he can only be a plus for us. If you go up North, he will win or split the votes with the NDC. So for this 2008 elections, Aliu Mahama is the only “One Touch” Candidate. No one else can claim that, unless they choose to concoct their own statistics and spin it to ‘miseducate’ you.

So dear friend, as you go and choose a candidate for our party, keep that in mind. If you want a “One Touch” candidate: it is Aliu Mahama. For me, it very important that we keep an NPP in power more than to choose someone based on sentiments or old allegiances. The NDC will no doubt give us a good run for our money come 2008. They know that if they lose the 2008 elections, their party will be in deep trouble. So they are moving heaven and earth to fight this ‘battle’. And for sure, the last kick of a dying horse is powerful and full of its might. If we hold our fort, they will capitulate, and the true democratic opposition in our country, the CPP, will rise in their place and take over that position of minority or opposition party, which the NDC has so far managed incompetently. Aliu guarantees victory. And if you put up Aliu for the President with Akuffo-Addo for vice, then this is sure banker to victory in ‘08! Fiifi Mills can go from bedroom to bedroom through the length and breadth of Ghana and still remain a poodle! There’s no way he can beat an Aliu-Akuffo-Addo ticket. As a Vice-President for two terms, it will be an insult to all Ghanaians, to yours truly, to our Northern folks, and to all other patriotic citizens to put up a Vice-President as the number 2 man again on any ticket. Hence, there’s no way we should even contemplate an Akuffo-Addo – Aliu ticket. That would be disastrous. So the surest bet is an Aliu for President and Akuffo-Addo for vice-President ticket.

But again, dear delegate, the most important point is repositioning the party. You’ll be surprised by how many people of Northern extraction would be drawn to the NPP if Aliu is the main man. And trust me, when they come, they will stay. When they come they’ll know the philosophy of the NPP and they will believe in it. Because inherent in us all is a goodness that the Almighty has placed in our hearts. Decent people do not like to see others abused or to face abuse themselves. As a party that respects human rights and all the other rights that go with it, they’ll love it when they come and see true democracy in action in a party, just as you and I do. The only thing is that, we need to give them the opportunity to see what you and I have seen in the NPP. We need to let them learn of our philosophy, and they’ll choose peaceful coexistence and respect for human rights, above the thuggery and buffoonery that the opposition NDC parade as bravery.

Friend, a further reason why you must needs choose Aliu Mahama is the unity that he’ll bring to this country. As patriots we all know that the country has not been united as it could be. The fault is not with us, for sure. It’s because we have an opposition party which was born from dictatorship and so has no idea how multi-party democracy should be run. They still live by the “it’s my way or the highway” principle. They have no idea what an opposition party should be about so oppose they will – anything! Propose a health insurance to replace their infamous cash-and-carry system, and they’ll oppose; propose to emancipate all Ghanaians irrespective of where they live, and they’ll oppose; propose to enroll Ghana in a program that will slash our debts and make money available for infrastructural investment and oppose they will. They are the opposition party so they see it as their job to oppose every single thing that the government proposes. Nevertheless, an Aliu Presidency will not incite the visceral and irrational emotional response that others, especially of Akan or Ashanti extraction incite, amongst our citizens who have been misinformed by the evil propaganda of yesteryear’s communists who today parade as the NDC. Aliu will unite this country.

In terms, of continuing the progressive reforming policies of President Kufuor, who better than our own Vice President. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: Aliu is in the mould of President Kufuor in terms of humility, gentility, courage, and tenacity to succeed. He will provide Servant-leadership to this country. He will move this country forward. Like Kufuor, he will assemble a team of competent citizens, irrespective of political affiliation. With Akuffo-Addo as vice-president Ghana will definitely move forward and push Ghana’s interest beyond our shores; just as Kufuor did in making sure that Dr. Ibn Chambas, though a member of the NDC got to head ECOWAS, because he was a competent GHANAIAN, and Spio-Garbrah headed the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organization (CTO) even though he opposes the NPP administration. National interest will triumph partisan politics.

So dear friend, when you go into the booth to choose who will steer the affairs of this country, chew on these. Think of the NPP in 2008, but beyond that think of the future of the NPP and of our country. Ask yourself, which of these candidates can best position this party to win more popular votes and make it more likely for the NPP to keep power for many, many years to come? Which of these candidates can best unite Ghana? Which of these candidates will provide Servant-leadership, with humility in the mould of President Kufuor? Which of these candidates can inspire many of our citizens especially of Northern extraction who unfortunately have been ‘left behind’ in the socio-economic development of our country? Which of these candidates will be able to help heal the inherent distrust that exists amongst our citizens of the North which makes them resort to violence against their brothers and sisters? Trust me, when President Aliu Mahama tells our people of the North in their own language to keep the peace, eschew violence, and resort to dialogue to solve their misunderstandings, they will listen! Our people of the North venerate their leaders. They listen to them. That’s why then they have bad leaders they are moved to do wrong. With a good leader in Aliu, he’ll change the course of history there. We should also ask ourselves, which of the candidates can seriously attack the unacceptable poverty levels that plague our people in the North? Poverty moves in tandem with ignorance. Any successful attack on poverty will succeed in eradicating ignorance. No one is better to change the course of history in the North and for that matter the rest of our country than Aliu Mahama. Aliu is the sure bet against a Presidential run-off in the 2008 elections. Aliu is the “One-Touch” Candidate. Add Akuffo-Addo as Vice-Presidential Candidate and NDC will be toast!

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