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Opinions of Thursday, 4 June 2009

Columnist: Haruna, Mahama

Why Jake is my NPP Chairman- Part II

In the first part of this feature I advanced reasons why Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey is the best to occupy the NPP chair. Some newspapers notably, the Statesman, a very credible newspaper by all standards has been speculating on some of the names likely to contest the position of National Chaiman of the NPP. Names of other NPP gurus like Mr Peter Mac manu, Mr Stephen Ntim, Mr Andrew Kwame Pianim and Madam Ama Busia has been mentioned as interested in the position. Without any prejudice to any of these names, I would like to throw some searchlight on them and also try to explain why they cannot occupy the NPP chair.

Mr Peter Mac-Manu, the 56 year old current National Chairman of NPP was

the most formidable of all the contestants during the last executive election. He enjoyed so much good will. I vividly remember many NPP activists supported him. I staunchly backed Mac manu and even mobilised 15 articulate boys from the Ghana Institute of Journalism to talk to delegates to vote for him and other friends like Lord Commey and John Boadu at the Legon grounds where the election took place. Clearly, Mac manu towered above the rest, in terms of his business and fund raising acumen, team and coalition building skills, excellent media and public relations, inspirational speeches as well as long service a vast wealth of political experience (spanning from polling station agent through constituency executive to Regional Chairman) .

Notwithstanding this and if only Mac manu will heed the sentiments and views of thousands of NPP members across the country, then he should better throw in the towel to avoid any disappointment from the party's kingmakers. The voices critical of his stewardship are becoming louder.

For instance an NPP member and a great writer Daniel Danquah said, Mac manu and his team were elected into office to perform a specific task and to give us a positive sense of leadership and direction but failed to do so. "They were elected into office to ensure that we kept our parliamentary majority. They were elected into office to ensure that the Presidency was retained by the party. But alas, what did we see? We looked on helplessly as both the Presidency and our Parliamentary Majority slipped off our hands." he lamented.

He explained that, on being voted into the National Executive Council of the party, the expectations and challenges of NPP members were very high and so they had no reason not to deliver for the atmosphere was just right. We were in control of the Central Government and the morale of party men and women was very high. The goodwill of Ghanaians and that of the international community for the party was at its apogee. But due to the ineptitude of the leadership, the party has found itself in disarray, staggering like a herd of cattle without shepherd. Isn’t it time to look elsewhere for a much vibrant and vision-oriented National Executive which will take into consideration the views and feelings of its members?" he questioned.

He also said that, the National Executive Committee of the New Patriotic Party led by Mr. Peter Mac Manu, having exhibited gross signs of ineffective leadership and communication skills and ability to restore hope to a large member of the party whose morale is at its lowest ebb should consider that their continuous clinging to their positions is inimical and detrimental to the common good of the party and should relinquish their positions.

Another loyal, committed, dedicated and die-hard member of the NPP Iddrisu Musah Superior said Mac manu should be condemned in stronger terms for our painful defeat – a defeat we could have avoided if they provided some kind of direction.

According to the Founder of the once vibrant Young Elephants Club of NPP, Mac manu should be condemned in stronger terms for our painful defeat. According to him Mac and his teams selfishness, arrogance, disrespect and pursuit of money rather power ought to be discussed for hard lessons to be learnt as we zealously match towards December, 2012.

"It is more evident that we lost the election because Mr. Mac Manu and his team failed to put in place a comprehensive, consistent and firm strategy since they were elected into office in 2005 to consolidate our support base and bring undecided voters to our fold. In fact, they are the most incompetent National Officers ever in the history of our tradition." he explained.

The history of the performance of all the past chairmen of NPP has also raised questions over Mac manu's stewardship. When B.J da Rocha became Chairman in 1992, the party boycotted the Parliamentary elections and so the party had no seat in Parliament. In 1996, the late Peter Ala Adjetey, as chairman of the party, moved us from zero seating in Parliament of 1993-1996 to 61 seats. After him came Mr. Samuel Odoi Sykes who worked hard to move us from 61 seats in the 1996-2000 Parliament to 102 in the 2001-2004Â Parliament and gave us the Presidency as well.

Mr. Harruna Esseku, who was an “Octogenarian” and the most controversial of the chairmen, worked diligently to increase our seats to 128 by end of 2004 elections as well as winning the Presidency one touch. But when a relatively younger man in the person of Mr. Peter Mac-Manu mounted the throne, our seats in Parliament reduced from 128 to 109.  Â

Stephen Ayesu Ntim widely seen as a good organiser and a party man with modern ideas, and international experience is in the race. After his failed attempt to become NPP National Chairman in the last executive elections many hold the view that it is now time for him to become the Chairman.

In the last executive election, the odds had favoured Mr. Stephen Ntim as the person most likely to clinch the party’s Chairmanship because of his assistance to the party in terms of logistics in all constituencies. However the the hawks in the party ganged up at the last minute and that changed the permutations. Mr Ntim was alleged to be the handpicked candidate of ex-President Kufour who was very unpopular within the NPP at that time hence the situation.

To me Ntim can not lead a united NPP. He played a crucial role for Alan Kyeramaten during the last Presidential Primaries of NPP and so is seen as an epitome of the factionalism within NPP. I have a strong conviction the NPP will be plunged into serious problems if he is made the chairman.

Mr Andrew Kwame Pianim's name also has cropped up as a likely contestant for the NPP Chairmanship. Many Ghanaians remember the fact that he was clearly going to win the NPP’s flagbearership contest for the 1996 election, until Rosemary Ekwam, another party member invoked the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for the interpretation of the issue of whether or not someone who has served a jail term could take up an executive position in a party or even go on to contest the Presidency in what is now known in Ghana law as Ekwam Vrs. Pianim. He was later handed a last minute pardon by formerPresident Rawlings before he left office on January 7, 2001; thus clearing him to run for President and any other political office if he so wishes.

His decision to quit the NPP as was contained in a letter he wrote to the national leadership of the party dated January 20, 2000 is a great minus. Many are asking questions about his loyalty to the NPP. He is also seen as too controversial to be Chairman of NPP.

Madam Ama Busia, sister of the late Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia and a former Vice- Chairman of the NPP is another committed member of the NPP and an adroit politician. She served Ghana so well that she was honoured with the Companion of the Order of the Volta by the NPP government before leaving office. Her record in NPP is well documented. Madam Ama Busia was a member of the Women’s Committee of the NPP from 1993 to 1995. In 1995, she was elected third Vice Chairman of the party. For her meritorious services to the NPP, Madam Ama Busia was elected as First National Vice Chairman of the party during the NPP’s congress in 1998. She also held various positions at the University of Ghana and rose through the ranks to become Principal Domestic Bursar of the Commonwealth Hall of the University.

Although she is said to enjoy some powerful patronage within the NPP, I will prefer that she becomes a member of the Council of Elders due to her age and the fact that she has served as a member of Ghana's Council of State. I do not think she can withstand the pressure and all the troubles associated with the position of chairman of a big party like the NPP. Moreover now that Ama Busia's son Obeng Gyan Busia is touted to be the one likely to step into the shoes of his uncle Busia in terms of his political astuteness, it would be better the mother takes a back stage and allow her son to take his rightful place in the NPP.

 With the track record of Jake whom I discussed at length in the first part of this feature, there is no doubt he will be a fantastic Chairman. His strategic mind is unquestioned. Some say the only problem with him is when he attempted to purchase a government house, before the last election. I believe that blunder and blot cannot erase his real strengths as a party stalwart, strategist and organiser. Let us unite as a party and make him, the chairman.

 Most importantly since the NPP has been striving to erase a perception of 'Akan-ness', I believe the selection of an Akan would feed deep into that perception. All the names I discussed above are Akans. All things being equal the flag bearer position will remain with the Akans. The Gas, an important ethnic group in the politics of this country should be given the Chairmanship with Voltarians and Northerners and others taking other National executive positions in order to defeat the Akan tag on NPP.

A Jake chairmanship I believe will totally erase this perception as happened when when Mr Peter Ala Adjetey and Mr Odoi Sykes became chairmen at a time.

The analysis will continue. Many will agree with me and many will disagree with me. But I once again I totally agree with what a leading member of the party said: even though our party has always welcomed competition for office as a bedrock principle, well-meaning Ghanaians and the overwhelming majority of our rank and file hope that this time around the competition will be conducted in a way that will facilitate reconciliation among competitors and their supporters, thereby reinforcing the unity of our party. Ghanaians want to see a strong united front amongst us so that we can offer them the vibrant, energetic and visionary leadership they are yearning for returning our party to government in 2012.

By Mahama Haruna.

maharun1@yahoo.com 0243-313-113.

The writer holds a B. A. Degree in Communication Studies (with Specialisation in Journalism) from the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ). He was a former Secretary of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS). He was also a former NPP Secretary for Bole-Bamboi Constituency.