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Opinions of Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Columnist: Agyemang, Frank

Why NPP should not reject Nana Akufo-Addo

First of all let me state that I am a Mr. Nobody when it comes to politics and national discourse and so I really don’t expect much audience. Readers should therefore consider this as an opinion from one of the over 20 million Ghanaians. I am neither a member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) nor National Democratic Congress (NDC). I don’t belong to any of the political parties, be it CPP or PNC. In fact, in the last election, that’s the 2007 general election, I was the Campaign Strategist for the independent presidential candidate Kwesi Amoafo-Yeboah. The rest I guess is history.

I have always prayed and hoped for a third force in our politics when it comes to governing this country. I believe we need a credible third force to bring together all the good people from the two major political parties to play their roles in our national development. I believe this can be realised when an independent presidential candidate wins a presidential election in this country. Call me a dreamer and you wouldn’t be wrong because when Martin Luther King Jnr. made known his dream several years ago, his contemporaries thought he was crazy. His famous “I have a dream speech” was delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Hear Martin Luther King Jnr, “ I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” Obama’s presidency happened 44 years after this speech. So you see? I’ll keep dreaming in that direction and hold on to the belief that one day Ghana will have an independent president.

From the above, I believe one can recognise that I’m not fully into politics and have no affiliation with any political party. Prior to the last election, that is, the 2007, what I did during voting was to punish ruling parties for their deceits and arrogance with my vote. I have always believed that political parties are all the same because their perceptions on issues change based on where they find themselves – in opposition or in government. I enjoy seeing ruling parties go into opposition to be humbled enough to return to power. That’s been my stance. You can call me a floating voter or a punishing voter. Now that you know my opinion on Ghana’s politics, I believe I can now state reasons I think Nana Akufo-Addo should be maintained by the NPP as their flag bearer or presidential candidate. First of all, as an outsider (not a member of the party), I can confidently say that in terms of marketing a candidate to us Ghanaians, especially those not aligned to any of the political parties, Nana is far ahead of the other candidates. In politics, numbers count a lot and these numbers are not automatic but based on how wide a candidate was able to convey his message. This is the most difficult part in politics. Having conveyed the message and identity of a presidential candidate, the next is how to convince the people that that presidential candidate will serve their utmost interest. Result of the last general election is a testimony of Nana’s performance in that respect. I am not saying that the other NPP presidential candidates can’t do likewise but in branding, anyone will agree that once a brand is good it’s worth maintaining it and building on it.

I don’t believe that NPP delegates will not take the issue of branding into consideration bearing in mind that there’s an already existing brand out there. It becomes easier to campaign for the same candidate not to mention the cost element and other issues that could come up during campaign. What are the issues that could be used against Nana when it comes to campaigning for the presidency? That Nana is arrogant? That Nana takes Cocaine? What again? These are already in the public domain and it has become obvious with time that those issues were raised mainly for campaign purposes. As to whether they have been clearly dealt with by the NPP is another matter.

Perceptions in politics are as real as hard facts. They have the capability to affect and influence views and opinions. Any new person put out by the NPP as its presidential candidate will certainly be faced with myriads of allegations. By the time that persons is done clearing his name and image, time will be up for the D-day. We are all not saints, and even saints will be scared to venture into politics and so everyone has a secret. Will the NPP pick a fresh presidential candidate and spend much more time to combat allegations instead of conveying their message? Bear in mind that representing the party as its presidential candidate is different from having contested within the party for that position. Dirt will certainly be thrown at you, some will stick whiles others will just be a brush off but in all this, watch the timing.

What is it that was not said about Professor Mills when he was contesting against Ex-President Kufuor? We heard all kind of things like, “Professor Mill is not his own man”, “Prof. Mills is a poodle”, “Prof. Mills is a sick person”, “A vote for Professor Mills is a vote for Rawlings” among others. Honestly, it got to a point where all the tags associated with Prof. Mills became absolutely meaningless to non-partisan Ghanaians. What the then ruling NPP failed to realise was that those views or perceptions faded with time but only relevant to the propagandists.

All the aspiring presidential candidates of the NPP are fantastic. They are professionals and self-made and it’s obvious they all have laudable ideas and initiatives. I like Alan Kyeremanten because I see him as one person who represents us the youth and can focus on creating more job opportunities. After all, as a youth, that’s what I want. He seems to be passionate about that and from the little background checks I did, I think Alan has demonstrated that. Professor Frimpong Boateng is one person I also admire a lot. In fact, he has redefined Ghana’s politics in his own unique way by paving way for professionals to venture into that terrain. A heart surgeon I believe understands how mistakes could ruin one’s life and I believe when that same appreciation is made of national issues, then he is also the right person.

Despite this, I don’t think NPP delegates should be confused because Nana Akufo-Addo also has his uniqueness notwithstanding the fact that he’s already been marketed and this makes the whole campaign a lot easier. Apart from the fact that Nana is easier to market to Ghanaians, he is also popular. Marketing an already popular service or product is whole lot easier than a new one. As to whether he is more marketable or popular for the wrong or right reasons, the results of the last general elections should give us some indications. NPP delegates, over to you!

By: Frank Agyemang Former Campaign Director for Independent Presidential Candidate, Kwesi Amoafo-Yeboah E-mail: agyemangfrank@gmail.com