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Opinions of Monday, 23 December 2013

Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku

Unravelling the Mystery Behind NPP's Electoral Defeats

Whilst the fundamental aim of a political party in any democratic country is to win political power, it seems the NPP is deviating from this core objective, judging by the actions of the party's leadership. For unknown reasons, the NPP has undeservedly moved from a ruling party to an opposition party in the past 5 years. The party that used to capture six (6) regions of both presidential and parliamentary elections is now struggling to even maintain just two (2) regions.

On paper, the NPP can be said to be blessed with one of the finest politicians as its presidential candidate. Nana Akufo-Addo arguably remains the most popular and experienced politician of our time. Therefore, having used more than six (6) years for campaigning, coupled with a better Campaign Message of free quality secondary education, it is a mystery that the NPP is on the wrong side of the political divide. In fact, if we were tempted to add the electoral reforms that took place within the NPP in 2010, the abysmal economic performance of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in government, as well as the death of a sitting president six (6) months into a crucial election, it beggars belief why the NPP has found its way into opposition not once, but twice on the trot.

Adding the NPP's impressive economic record in government between 2001 and 2009, where Ghanaians were made to feel and see programmes like free maternal care, NHIS, and school feeding, it remains a mystery for NPP's predicament. Talk about competent personnel and intellectuals, better manifesto among others, it's still difficult to explain how the NPP had to surrender over 28 parliamentary seats to the NDC in the last elections.

Though no investigative team has been set up to find the causes of this negative trend as a political party, all that we are being told is that, both the 2008 and 2012 general elections were rigged by the Electoral Commission for the National Democratic Congress (NDC). "Rigging"? If this allegation was true, then as a party, how do we employ the right "watchmen" to police our ballots so that we don't come back after 2016 to say that we have been robbed off victory for the third consecutive time?

A look at the NPP's ongoing internal elections paints a different picture. One aspirant tries to undo the other using any "democratic foul means" all because they want to be part of the executive from the polling station to the national level. Regrettably, when it comes to what matters most, that is, a contest between NPP and NDC, they are found wanting. Instead of an NPP Candidate marshalling forces to beat an NDC candidate in an election, the former would be more interested in fighting and victimising his fellow NPP competitor. As a result, engagements, consensus building, team work, and sharing of political ideas are thrown away. Apathy then sets in and the effect is that an NPP member could vote against the party's own candidate.

The "winner takes all" mentality has sidelined several NPP members. The composition of the 2012 NPP Campaign Team says it all. Today, the NPP is gradually being built around personalities - Kufuor, Akufo-Addo, Alan etc, yet they were the first to kick against Rawlings' "Swedru Declaration" that imposed Atta Mills on the NDC in 1998. The current NPP leadership is not interested in consulting former president Kufuor to know more about his secrets for the victory over a sitting Vice President, John Atta Mills in 2000. What interests them most is this unusual "sycophantic endorsements" of their preferred candidates with the view to perpetuating themselves in power. Are they doing Nana Addo any good? Certainly not!

The current NPP leadership is getting everything wrong. My advice to them is that, they should use every technique to identify people within our ranks who can easily win political power for us. For, it is not everybody that has the expertise in the field of politics. Yes, one may be a lawyer or medical doctor to win every case in court or perform any complicated surgery on patients, but when it comes to slaughtering an animal or preparing the land for farming, the person would have to leave that for the butcher and the farmer respectively. The fact that some people call themselves politicians does not mean that they can solicit votes for their parties. Admittedly, there are politicians who can manage ministries, departments, and agencies very well, but they may not have the magic wand to garner votes at the grass root level or protect the ballot paper.

As a party, we got so many things wrong in the last elections. Instead of assigning people to different roles in the Campaign structure, we relied on the same faces. How could somebody who has no knowledge in fishing or farming be asked to solicit votes from fishermen and farmers? For instance, somebody like Dr. Bawumia could attract votes from Muslims and intellectuals such as lecturers and economists. Therefore, in any competitive elections, his role should be limited exclusively to people with higher academic backgrounds. Similarly, Mr. Alan Kyerematen, whose demeanour, stature, and beauty could easily win the hearts of Ghanaian women, especially those at market centres, could have been assigned a specific role to entice the women folk. Also, the NPP could have selected the likes of Messrs Kwabena Agyapong and Andrew Awuni to deal with the media personnel. At the grassroots, no member of the NPP could woe the votes of the ordinary Ghanaian than one Mr. Donkor Fordjour, a former NPP Chairman in the Brong-Ahafo Region. This man I can confidently say, is the brain behind Kufuor's two victories. So the question is: how were the expertise of the above-named personalities utilised? They were sidelined all because of "factionalism" and mistrust.

Our National Communication Team was based in Accra, though there were regional and constituency appointees. Could it have been better to have moved Nana Akomeah's team to the hinterlands on occasional basis? It would have been a memorable day for rural folks, if they had shaken hands with the Akomeas, Awukus, Quarteys etc. This is one of the tricks used by Candidate John Agyekum Kufuor in 2000. At times, he got out of his car, walked through the principal streets of some villages, and shook hands with people, with less resistance from his security personnel. I remember in one village, he could not resist the temptation of drinking some water in a calabash served by the "Odikro" (chief) in that village. But, with the assurance by his personal doctor, he drank it and was later given medication. How many politicians will leave their air-conditioned cars, walk, and shake hands with farmers, drunkards, traders, dog chain sellers, labourers, and potters to let them know that they are like them? Remember, these are the very people who possess majority of the votes.

One school of thought argues that "floating voters" hold the key to NPP's Victory 2016. How then could the NPP identify these "floating voters" and convince them to vote for the party? By December 2016, the current JHS students would attain 18 years. How do we get such young guys to vote for the NPP? Can we use teachers in this regard? Who are the most convincing communicators in the NPP to talk to driver unions, hairdressers, butchers, students among others? These are some of the petty things we need to do as a party. Mounting big campaign platforms, where the same faces are seen to be speaking on behalf of the party, wearing big suits, and speaking big English are not the most effective way to go. We need to devise the means to get the votes and protect them with our might.

In conclusion, I would like the NPP delegates to look at the bigger picture. We need power and nothing else for now. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah insisted on "Self-government now", though there were a few graduates and expertise to man the various ministries. Let's look for winnable candidates and not marketed candidates. There are uncountable good men within the NPP, but not all good men could become presidents. Dr. J.B. Danquah, Victor Owusu, Prof. Adu Boahen, John Kerry were all potential good presidents, but the odds did not favour them. It is very unfortunate, but what can we do? The NPP is not a party that lacks quality personnel to lead the party to victory. It's time to use scientific method to find out why Nana Akufo-Addo has failed to beat two different political opponents - Mills & Mahama in presidential elections. Is the fault from the NPP's Presidential Candidate, the Party, EC, or the Ghanaian voter? This is the mystery we need to unravel. People using "sympathy votes" to justify Nana's 3rd term bid should tell us where those votes would come from - the NPP, NDC, or CPP? NPP members "abr3; foot soldiers "abr3"; "Ghanafoo abr3". Let's tolerate opposing views, especially those from Dr. Arthur Kennedy, and make use of them, for that is the only way the NPP could win power.

God bless Ghana! God bless the NPP!! God bless Kufuor!!!

Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Asante Bekwai-Asakyiri

(Free SHS Ambassador) Official blog: (www.katakyie.com) katakyienpp@yahoo.co.uk 0202471070 : 0264931361 : 0547851100