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Politics of Friday, 29 December 2006

Source: Samuel Asamoah for GYe nyame concord

NPP's constitutional rumpus

Ex-Chairman joins Debate

Former National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Samuel Odoi Sykes, has cautioned against the timing of calls in the party for the General Secretary position in the party to be scrapped in favour of an Executive Chairman.

According to the NPP kingpin, the timing of the call by a section of the party?s leadership to revise the party?s Constitution to make way for an Executive Chairmanship is simply not right.

In the view of Odoi Sykes, what matters most is the need to make the Chairmanship in the NPP attractive since unlike the General Secretary; the post does not attract much remuneration.

He said administratively, the General Secretary is expected to work as chief executive at the office of the national executives and that ?if you have a secretary who will cooperate, then there would be no problem?.

?Apart from that I think if they find anything wrong with the Constitution at present, the answer is that the legal committee must sit and take the right measures?, noted Odoi Sykes, who is Ghana?s immediate past High Commissioner to Canada in an interview with the Gye Nyame Concord last Friday.

Mr Odoi Sykes said as the NPP Constitution stands now, the Chairman is the head of the party with the General Secretary and other executives serving under him, stressing that the responsibilities assigned to the Chairman and General Secretary must not bring conflict unless they are politicking.

He said it is only in such situations that you hear the General Secretary and his National Chairman make contradictory statements on matters that concern the party; something he said could be embarrassing.

?From my own experience I never had any problem with my General Secretary?, he pointed out, saying that the party?s structure sometimes makes the Chairman and the General Secretary talk at cross purposes or make statements irrespective of what other opinions may be expressed by other party members.

The former NPP Chairman noted that ideally, the party should have an elected Chairman who should have all powers like a chief executive of a company to look after the party and take responsibilities for what happens in the party.

He explained that per the present NPP constitution, nobody would pick on the General Secretary if anything should happen in the party, maintaining that it is the Chairman who should run the party.

The ongoing debate on the position of Executive Chairmanship is that it would provide for more hands-on executive powers to run the party.

But according to Odoi Sykes, if anything at all, the General Secretary should not be an elective position. Rather it should be somebody who would be appointed by the national council or executives of the party.

He said the position could be advertised and interviews conducted to appoint somebody with the requisite qualifications to serve as the secretary to the national executives, and not an elected General Secretary who makes pronouncements on his own without reference to the National Chairman.

?We have practiced with this Constitution since 1992 and if these are some of the problems that have been unearthed through the operations of the Constitution, I think the legal committee should look at this problem?, he said.

As long as the Chairman is answerable, he should be in charge and if he should be in charge, he should have a secretary who should work under him and not a secretary who can go out and make statements in the name of the party because he is the executive head, Mr Odoi Sykes maintained.

"We tried with this love and hate situation all along, but nobody made issue out of it when we were in opposition", he noted, adding that I agree that we should take a second look at the relationship between the General Secretary and the National Chairman.

For him, this could be done to make the General Secretary answerable to the Chairman whereby, like the Chief Director of any administration, the General Secretary could not go about expressing his own opinions about how things must be run without clearance from the Chairman.

"We have this situation because those who drafted the constitution did so to fit the practical structures which were on the ground at that time".

"For four years I was not earning any income because I wanted to do the work well and most of the time I was not in Accra. I went over all the regions with my own resources but it was a sacrifice I enjoyed making because I was determined to succeed and by the grace of god I succeeded", he noted.

He said if there should be an Executive Chairman "then you have to pay him because he has to give up his job to help the party win elections".