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Opinions of Friday, 4 January 2008

Columnist: Antwi, William

Unraveling Akuffo Addo's Tribal And Polarizing Politics!

The real campaign to win the presidency of our dear country has not begun in earnest but already Nana Akuffo Addo is in deep, deep trouble with a large chunk of his contentious electoral mandate. In fact, wickedly whacking Allan Kyeremateng, his main political rival, with that devious, divisive political sledge hammer oftentimes dubbed the "tribal card" and Lord Commey's devastating and perfectly delivered low blow at that crucial time of voting in the NPP's militarized congress at Legon were a poor and unpresidential choice of political strategy. Well, now he is feeling the heat. Any wonder he rushed to see the Asantehene to beg for forgiveness! Nana Akuffo Addo has nobody to blame but his divisive, win-by-hook-or-crook, scorched earth political tactics. As a seasoned politician with a checkered political past, he should have been wise not to deploy that cold, calculated political ploy on Allan Kyeremateng.

Before I am misinterpreted, let me make this simple observation: I am not embarking on this exercise out of any political animus towards Nana Akuffo Addo. Rather, it is out of respect for the integrity of our electoral process and the unity of our country. Democracy, it must be emphasized, is always the winner when there is real competition among all stakeholders. For example, the NDC showed the way when Alhaji Iddrisu Mahama, Mr. Eddie Annan and Dr. Spio Garbah gave Prof Mills a good run for his political money. Likewise, the NPP flagbearership race where Allan and the rest of the field put up a fierce fight against Nana Akuffo Addo, notwithstanding the obscene nature of how the candidates splashed money around - money nobody knows where it came from! However, real competition does not mean deploying destabilizing weapons against one's political opponent just to win a leadership position. Such abhorrent conduct undermines pluralism and effective nation building. It is in this wise that we must condemn in no uncertain terms the underhanded political tactics shamelessly employed by Nana Akuffo Addo and his rabid supporters in that furious electoral fight that won them the NPP's presidential ticket. But the question is: At what expense?

In the lead-up to the NPP's obscene and corruption-driven campaign, we all hailed Nana Akuffo Addo for bemoaning tribal politics. How we were hookwinked! When he realized that the race was too close for his comfort, he unleashed his rabid Akyem tribalists. What did they do? They held the whole elephant party to ransom by gracelessly threatening to break away from the NPP as they did in 1979 if Nana Akuffo Addo was not "anointed" as the presidential candidate. If this is not a clear case of political extortion, then I don't know what that is! Why should the topmost position of the NPP be reserved for an individual with an Akyem twang? Why, then, should the NPP organize the congress to elect their presidential candidate if the tribal lineage is the sole qualifying benchmark? Why really stopped them from forming their own tribal party? It is worth recalling here that in 1979, this same Nana Akuffo Addo together with others broke away from the Popular Front Party of the Danquah-Busia tradition, when they realized that the late Mr. Victor Owusu - an Asante - had the inside track to that party's presidential ticket instead of Paa Willie - an Akyem. The rest is history. Mr. Victor Owusu was humiliated at the polls by a political novice named Dr. Hilla Limann of blessed memory. Fortunately for Akuffo Addo - but unfortunately for true lovers of democracy - this political extortion worked! The threat resonated well among the delegates!

Isn't it wonderfully ironic that the same person who decried tribal politics, was deafeningly silent when his Akyem supporters issued that credible threat? Playing the Akyems against the Asantes was the worst kind of political tactics? That was downright distasteful! Didn't Nana Akuffo Addo know that by foolishly and fraudulently using the tribal card, he was sacrificing the integrity of the electoral process and the unity of not only his party, but that of the nation for his own selfish political ends? Does he have any sense of history at all? And, importantly, does he appreciate the devastation tribal politics is doing to many countries on our wretched continent? No great and responsible leader would ever allow the use of such a destabilizing weapon in his pursuit of the presidency! Why should the electorate entrust him with such awesome political power if he is ever prepared to divide his people just to secure a political victory? Won't that be suicidal?

Now let's take Akuffo Addo's dark hypocrisy in stride: What did he say to Lord Commey's outrageous allegation against Paul Afoko, a prominent member of the Allan Kyeremateng's team? Did Lord Commey have any shred of evidence to buttress his atrocious allegation against a member of his own party? Of course, Nana Akuffo Addo said nothing because Lord Commey who happens to be the organizing secretary of the NPP doubles up as one of his key supporters! Shouldn't he have been at the forefront to condemn that senseless allegation of electoral fraud that threw the whole congress into a state of pandemonium and disrepute? What is really unsettling is that Paul Afoko - who was allegedly assaulted - could easily have lost his life had it not been for the timely intervention of well-armed policemen! How far can Nana Akuffo Addo and his bullying team go to deploy such reckless and malicious political tactics just to win political power? Can we imagine what they are going to do to win the presidency? Alarming, huh?

Also, why was he loudly accusing Allan Kyeremateng of using "dirty" and "presidential" money to buy votes? Gallingly, he was also using "dirty" money to buy delegates' votes! Helloooooooooooo! Does hypocrisy have a name? No wonder, he is now crawling all over the place on his stomach begging for forgiveness!

All in all, if we want to build a very endurable society, we must be able to rise up against such tribal, divisive and underhanded political tactics no matter who is involved. Some of us firmly believe that our nation must not be subjected to such dangerous political machinations. Leaders like Nana Akuffo Addo can do better than that!

For now, let Nana Akuffo Addo "enjoy" his pyrrhic victory but the object lessons should not be lost on any fair-minded and well-meaning Ghanaian.
Down with tribal politics!

Down with malicious politics!

Our dear nation deserves better!


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