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Opinions of Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Columnist: Nyamekye, Kwabena

Why Ghana needs the Ghana National Party?

The birth of another political party (Ghana National Party) in Ghana’s democratic dispensation is a welcome one because the major opposition party in Ghana (NDC) has woefully failed to present any policy alternatives to present itself as an alternative government to the NPP. In his state of the nation address, President Kufuor outlined his government’s achievements and programmes. There was the expectation that an NDC response would emphasize policy details on job creation and improvement in services delivery (water, electricity, sanitation etc.); areas that the NPP has failed to deliver despite all the talk of improving economic conditions. The NPP talk of macro-economic improvement is meaningless if the people cannot get jobs and do not have well resourced hospitals to cater for their health needs.

It seems that being in opposition in Ghana means criticizing for the sake of doing so because the NDC has not capitalized on the weakness of the NPP to convince the electorate that they will perform better than the NPP. All we read and hear from NDC functionaries is the suffering of Ghanaians but they don’t outline what they can do to alleviate the sufferings. How does their record in government compare to that of the NPP? With the “ghost” of castle hair-cuts and human rights violations haunting the NDC, the party resorted to a parliamentary boycott to support one of its members who has been pronounced guilty by a court of law. While the NPP is riding high on the back of a weak opposition that has misread the mood of Ghanaians, its commitment to the fight against corruption is questionable and a change in government is likely to lead to investigations that may unearth various corrupt practices and financial losses to the State and land some NPP functionaries in jail.

Ghana needs a viable opposition that can present policies while putting the ruling government on its toes and ensuring that the corrupt ones in the government are duly prosecuted in the courts and not only those in opposition. There is the need for wider choices of political parties that are serious to lead in the delivery of services and tackle corruption. While the Ghana National Party may fill this vacuum, it has also started on the wrong footing by describing itself as the “diaspora party” (ref: Ghana National Party gets certificate on Feb. 20, Ghanaweb February 17). Rather than highlighting its diaspora credentials, the party should be adopting an “all inclusive” approach that markets the party as a Ghanaian based party and not one that is remote managed from overseas especially at a time when some overseas-based Ghanaians who joined the government have added to concerns that they are no different. Some have used monetary influence to jump ahead of local Ghanaians in parliamentary selection and ministerial positions only to be caught in embarrassing fraud cases and a display of “appetite” to join in the looting of the country’s coffers. There is also a perception in Ghana that many overseas-based Ghanaians had their education at taxpayer’s expense and decided to use their knowledge and skills for foreign governments and have only decided to come home when others have stayed behind to fight the Rawlings dictatorship that characterized most of the 1980s and 1990s. Those expressing these sentiments fail to realise that there was a huge pressure build up against the Rawlings dictatorship from some overseas-based Ghanaians. Professor Ayittey and some overseas based Ghanaians engaged in a crusade to mount pressure on the Rawlings regime using international media outlets and Ghanaian newspapers.

If the Ghana National Party is serious, its first duty is to ensure that all its founders and executives are resident in Ghana and taking part in the political process on the ground and not remote managing the party from overseas. The party should start marketing their team to the electorate to give the Ghanaian Press and electorate ample time to verify their backgrounds and their capability to handle the numerous problems facing Ghanaians. In fact discussions on Ghanaweb’s comments section indicate that some who claim to know the founders of the party have concerns about their ability to manage Ghana’s economy and solve the numerous problems facing the country. But before demoralizing the Ghana National Party, Ghanaians should welcome the party in the political fold and allow it to prove itself even if in opposition. The Executive Chairman of the Ghana National Party, Mr. Ofori Ampofo has assured Ghanaians that the party was not formed to merely add to the existing political parties but to wrestle power from the ruling NPP. The challenge is to assemble competent and corrupt free individuals who are willing to make personal and financial sacrifices. The key question is how many of them are willing to settle permanently in Ghana if they don’t win the elections?

While welcoming the Ghana National Party to the political process, the party should be realistic in its assumptions that beating the NPP and NDC will be a huge task that is going to require tremendous financial and human resources. Capturing about 20% of the total vote will be a “big win” for the party and they can build on it to wrestle power in future elections. The expertise to liberate Ghana from its economic problems can be gained through participation in local Ghanaian politics and hence the need for our overseas based brothers and sisters to come home and participate in Ghana’s democratic process. Welcome GNP.



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