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Opinions of Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Columnist: Mienza, Ebby

What Akufo-Addo Needs to Learn from Kufour

NPP and CPP Historic Feud: What Akufo-Addo Needs to Learn from Kufour

Former President Agyekum Kufour won both the 2000 and 2004 elections with the help of an alliance that he forged with the CPP. After losing to former President Rawlings in the 1996 presidential election, he realized that it made strategic sense to join forces with other opposition parties in order to defeat the NDC. He won the presidency at his second attempt when he carefully wooed the CPP and other opposition party leaders to join his campaign. In fact, ninety-percent of swing votes in presidential elections come from the fragmented Nkrumaist parties namely; CPP, PNC, PPP, EGLE, GCPP etc.

Ideologically, many Nkrumaists are aligned with Rawlings’ NDC and tend to vote massively for that party. However, in the 2000 and 2004 elections, ex-President John Atta Mills, failed to garner the necessary CPP swing votes needed to win the elections when he contested President Kufour. Kufour’s smart and strategic dealings with the CPP, especially in the Western and Central Regions, made immense differences in both of his presidential election victories.

Therefore, on the 50th anniversary of the death of J.B. Danquah in detention I was bewildered by comments from some leaders of the NPP, including Nana Akufo-Addo, which reopened old wounds between the NPP and the CCP barely a year before the presidential election. I am not suggesting that Dr. J. B. Danquah should not be eulogized for his contributions towards the founding and development of Ghana; however, the timing some of these comments, such as pardoning the family of President Nkrumah and the CPP for the detention and demise of Dr. Danquah, lacked political savviness. I thought these issues were resolved when Kufour’s government established the Truth and Reconciliation Committee in 2002. Also, it seemed quite contradictory that Akufo-Addo who claimed be a CPP member during the period his uncle, J. B. Danquah, died in detention has now become “the forgiver” of an offense committed by his “former party”.

We all must admit that the historic roles of Danquah and Nkrumah are already entrenched in the annals of Ghana’s history and therefore cannot be changed so easily by any amount of spin from their followers. Hence, many Ghanaians, including Nkrumaists, would agree that despite his good intentions, President John Atta-Mills erred by creating the so-called “Founder’s Day” to exclusively honour our first President. These unfortunate acts of sidelining the contributions of the Big Six and others, including, Komla Gbedemah, divide rather than unite the nation. In fact, Gbedemah led the CPP and tirelessly campaigned for Nkrumah to be elected president while he was in jail. Likewise, Danquah’s role in history should not be embellished by his followers. For example, the claim by some Danquah followers that he contributed to the construction of the Akosombo dam is an unnecessary propaganda that can potentially boomerang and scar his hard-won legacy.

I expected Mr. Akufo-Addo to seize the opportunity on 50th anniversary of the death of J.B. Danquah and offer an olive branch to the “Kufour-CCP” voters, who had deserted him and possibly contributed to his three presidential elections losses, to join his campaign this time around. In his speech, he should have stressed more on the common issues that unite rather than divide the Danquah and Nkrumah group. If he were to scrutinize Kufour’s winning formula he would quickly discover that winning elections, especially closely contested ones, is simply a matter of addition and not subtraction.

At this crucial juncture, Akufo-Addo should distance himself from some members of his entourage who have sworn to keep CPP and Nkrumah as their mortal foes. For example, on August 22nd 2013, one of such guys by the name of Mr. Mike Ocquaye rejected Samia Nkrumah’s “olive branch” and subjected her to probably one of the longest and vilest lectures of her life when she joined the NPP to celebrate their 21st anniversary. During his speech marking the 21st anniversary of the founding of his party on August 22nd, Mr. Ocquaye spent over an hour comparing the achievements of Danquah and Nkrumah. And in his attempt to set the so called “record” straight, he spent a chunk of his speech criticizing Nkrumah at the forum that was attended by Samia. (http://www.thestatesmanonline .com/index.php/politics/656-the-establishment-and-deepening-of-the-democratic-culture-and-practice-in-ghana-hon-prof-mike-oquaye).

One would ask: Why would Samia attend a forum organized by a party that some of its members have sworn to be her father’s mortal enemies? I am still not sure why, but I presume she was there as chairwoman of the CPP to symbolically extend an olive branch to the NPP as they celebrated their anniversary. At a vital time in the history of Ghana when there is the need for unity and love, I applaud Samia for attending the NPP forum. However, Mr. Ocquaye cared less about her presence! And as if to say “to hell with your olive branch”, he consistently spat in her face by subjecting her to hours of lethal lecture filled with hate and untruths relating to her father’s past while she sat in the crowd. Many would say, Samia had herself to blame for venturing into an obvious “lion’s den”. It was therefore not a surprise that some members of the party whose ancestors played a leading role in the bloody overthrow of her father mauled her on their anniversary night. As she sat in the crowd, NPP party members cheered on as her father was being humiliated by Mr. Ocquaye.

On August 22, 2013, a day after attending NPP’s 21st anniversary, Samia posted the following on her Facebook wall:

“Why are we engaging in this diversionary argument at this point in time when our people don't have basic needs? We have our different political policies and views, but I want to see the day when the descendants of the Busia-Danquah tradition and those like me of the Nkrumaist tradition bury the hostility and focus on finding consensus to solve the many problems ordinary Ghanaians face on a daily basis: portable water, power supply, free, compulsory and quality education, basic access to safe healthcare and so forth. These are human and genuine democratic rights that all political parties must first address and facilitate 56 years after our independence” ( 283611).

I’m not sure if Nana Addo had prior knowledge of what Mr. Ocquaye planned to say in his speech, however, he again missed the opportunity when he failed to join Samia in fostering harmony instead of discord between the two c amps. Tactically, Akufo-Addo needs Samia and the Nkrumaists more than they need him. If he intends to become President then he needs stay clear from old sore losers such as Mr. Ocquaye (who may be interested in selling his book) and rather focus on creating a winning coalition.

Actually, in the midst of “Dumsor”, many Ghanaians don’t give a damn about the historic feud between Danquah and Nkrumah. They are rather more concerned about their blur future under the current Mahama administration. Ghanaians are yearning for a bold and decisive leader who would not only solve the electricity problem, but also tackle the blatant panoply of corrupt that seems to engulf the nation. If Nana Akufo-Addo plays his cards well, voters wouldn’t hesitate to give him the nod in 2016.

Ebby Mienza

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