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FEATURE: Controversy Unlimited: The Spirit of 2000 (II)
 
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30-Nov-2009  
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Calus Von Brazi

Last week, we began discussing herein, the issue of the changes, permutations and realities of the quest for political power by the New Patriotic Party (NPP), vis-à-vis the changes that took place at its Conference at Trade Fair Center, which in turn resulted in an expanded electoral college for its internal contests.

We also took a cursory glance at the reasons for the invocation of the names of certain people within the highest echelons of the NPP by contestants for various party positions and briefly touched on the popularity index of personalities within the party. As was promised in the write up of last week, we now delve into the intricacies of the NPP and institutionalized (mis) conceptions about aspirants, the 1979 imbroglio and thereafter, attempt to provide a very likely “casualty list” as far as the next elections for National Officers of the party are concerned.

Intricacies

Without doubt, elections of any kind within the NPP are occasions that test both the resolve of the individuals concerned on one hand, and the capacity of the party as an organization that provides a level playing field for its members on the other. The ongoing constituency elections are no different as seen in the results being produced at various centers. While some are taking solace in court, with the expectations that a speedy ruling on their grievances will allow elections to take place, others are also waiting patiently for the court processes to end and thereafter teach those who went to court in the first instance, a lesson on how not to go to court until all internal measures for remedy have been exhausted.

The party’s constitution is amazingly clear on that score: you do not take any matter to court until and unless all avenues for redress have been thoroughly exhausted without still arriving at any solution. Thus, if sheer misguided or parochial ambition to jump the gun deceives one, the gun will be patiently waiting to jump the appellant as the case may be. It is as simple as that, for the real import of the expansion that took place at Trade Fair was to show that the old ways cannot thrust the NPP into political power if they are not effectively done away with. Articles 3 and 4 of the Amended Party Constitution clearly spell that out in both letter and spirit.

Specifically, the amended Article 3 D (viii) states that a member shall “Not initiate, commence or prosecute any legal proceedings whatsoever against the party or any other member of the Party relating to party affairs, without first having exhausted the grievance procedure laid down in this Constitution in respect of grievances against the Party or any other member”. Now if any member violates this principle and expects that those who pushed for this position to be inserted will allow him or her to have his or her way during elections, I strongly recommend a visit to Pantang. Frankly many are those who are yet to come to full grips with the true import of the amendments. Simply put, in the minds of the expanded and “no nonsense” delegates from the polling station, you cannot hold them to ransom at court and return to ask for their votes: anybody who heads for court should therefore kiss his or her ambitions goodbye, with the sole exception of an outrageous occurrence or a collective decision by the very electoral college to tread that path, otherwise, such an action is nothing but a politically suicidal move.

Misconceptions

Closely related to the above is the issue of misconceptions about aspirants for various positions at the national level of the party. As has been discussed above, droves of people still mistakenly think that the old schemes and measures that propelled them to power can once again be used to hoodwink the expanded electorate. I have bad news for those who think that way. Anybody who has taken pains to check any of the lists of polling station executives will not fail to notice that the elected officials are astute people, smart in their outlook and extremely hungry for power.

Unlike the case in the past where those who took up party positions when the NPP was in power happened to be people of questionable ability and clout, the NPP has recorded an amazing rush for positions at the lowest strata of its organization by highly trained persons in most cases, despite being firmly confined in temporary opposition. Thus, for anybody to dream of going to ran rough shod over the expanded electorate is to court self-defeat. What the electorate is looking for includes (i) the ability to deliver, (ii) a proven track record, (iii) proven support for party activists and activities especially during the past 8 years, (iv) a likelihood of building consensus in times of difficulty, (v) an understanding of the difficulty we are in and a plan of action to get us out of it, (vi) resourcefulness in mobilizing both funds and sympathizers and finally (vii) loyalty to the party.

Unlike the case prior to the amendments where loyalty ranked first on all counts, delegates are openly pointing to people with very little known loyalty but who demonstrated an amazing commitment to the tenets of the NPP better than the self-proclaimed apostles of Danquah-Busiasm. This is why some people will have month-long diarrhea after the closing of polls in December 2009.

The 1979 Imbroglio

One core issue that has arisen in the run up to the National Executive elections of December is the return to the ghosts of 1979. Some of our compatriots from the Mesozoic era, operating under the sponsorship of their sponsors in Nhyiaeso and surrounding areas have started spewing forth the vile old propaganda and worn out issue of who was a United National Convention (UNC) member and who stood by the defunct Popular Front Party (PFP) with the late Victor Owusu. You can be sure that anytime this issue is mentioned, it is directed at questioning the credibility of the leadership credentials of Nana Akufo-Addo.

Sometimes I feel sorry for him, not because he is a sorry case, but because in his quest to let sleeping dogs lie, detractors and malcontents alike have chosen to have him for a field day. It is for this reason and another that I have taken pains to research what really happened in 1979, leading up to the split in the Danquah-Busia tradition. One key witness who sat in the meeting, which saw the late William Ofori-Atta walking out to birth the UNC states inter alia “…the debate should not have gotten there. In fact it was a small matter between the words “progress” and “popular” and copious doses of ego-flaunting that sent us down that road”. When asked further of another retired politician, he claimed that Dr. Jones Ofori-Atta, physically restrained his senior brother Paa Willie from leaving by holding his waist to no avail.

Jones Ofori-Atta did not follow his brother to the UNC but rather stayed and won the Begoro seat on the ticket of the PFP. What about Nana Akufo-Addo at the time? He simply stayed out of the entire confusion and did not take part in that election. Having worked closely with the likes of the late Johnny Hanson, Kwesi Pratt, K.A. Gbedemah, Okatakyie A.A. Afrifa, Sam Okudzeto, Dr Agama, G.W. Amarteifio, Dr. Obed Asamoah and Professor Adu Boahen on the Peoples Movement for Freedom and Justice (PMFJ), they had come to the conclusion that the rallying of the democratic forces, irrespective of their political ideology to put pressure on the military dictatorships, was to be sustained by ensuring that the tenets for which they challenged the military regimes of the time were upheld.

As partisan politics failed to glue the major players together, he left the shores of Ghana. How then does anybody blame him for the UNC/PFP split that he was never a part of? But that is Ghana, where giving a dog a bad name to hang it is some people’s claim to fame. In any case, when the Danquah-Busia Club was being transformed into the NPP, the core driving force behind the move was to ensure that never again was the tradition ever going to be divided to create such costly impacts in the future. This is why anybody who has ever broken off from the NPP has never succeeded in taking a chunk of its members away: anybody who breaks off will go alone as history has shown, compared to the National Reform Party or the Democratic Freedom Party for instance that all broke away from the NDC with core members of that party. It is therefore clear that those who pathetically try to invoke the ghosts of 1979 do so for mischief, which thankfully, the good people of the NPP understand and for which reason the compromises of 1991-92 were made.

Casualty List

Within the context of the spirit of 2000, I did also state in the previous article that Nana Akufo-Addo shall win the next contest for the position of flag bearer so massively that it will take many years for anyone to equal his record. I take that position not as a supporter of his bid, but based on findings conducted in the immediate aftermath of the expansion conference. To give one indication, there was a strong perception that the man was openly in support of the expansion of the Electoral College, which did endear him massively to those who stood to benefit from it.

Thus, if most of these people have found themselves as delegates, what better reward to give him than to show that they are coming together with him in good company for the battle ahead? Many are those who have likened Akufo-Addo to a pilot who as captain, is not the preparer of the plane: they the ground crew (polling station executives) will prepare the aircraft (party) before the captain (Akufo-Addo) comes to read the checklist to assess ailerons, landing gear, fuel, etc. prior to taxiing and take off to a known destination. I shall not discuss the other reasons for strategic and tactical purposes. What I will do to end this article is to state what is likely to happen at the next congress if voting were held today:

Anthony Karbo will win the position of National Youth Organizer. This is notwithstanding the fact that another competitor has been trying desperately to assert that Karbo supported Vice President Aliu Mahama when he sought the NPP’s mandate to lead it as flag bearer in December 2007. Nothing could be further from the truth. Aside from holding several strategic meetings with Akufo-Addo in London during the period when both he and I were studying for Masters Degrees at the University of Birmingham, Anthony Karbo it was who replaced me on the dais as agent for Nana Akufo-Addo when the votes were being counted. How can anyone in his rightful mind make this dubious claim if not for mischievous reasons? For me, it only shows how desperation has set in for some.

Karbo will win for three main reasons that unfortunately, I shall not disclose. Otiko Afisa Djaba, contrary to expectations, will very massively sweep the position of National Women’s Organizer. The one person who would have blown her away is the one and only Ursula Owusu, fiery lady extraordinaire, endowed with an amazing intellect and who is loved for her “stand up and be counted” attitude across the NPP rank and file. Unfortunately, Ursula, for reasons best known to herself has decided not to contest for the position that she would have taken on a golden platter, thereby leaving Otiko with a virtual “no contest”. Otiko, truth be told, has managed to worm herself into the hearts and minds of both NPP and non-NPP sympathizers alike with her demeanor and conciliatory vibes.

Some groups of delegates claim she has a certain non-pretentious genuineness about her. Those who have today turned against her after bringing her into the political limelight have forgotten that at the very conference that expanded the electoral college, Otiko showed what a servant/woman organizer should be seen doing. While some were posing for the cameras, the woman was worming her way into expanded and enhanced relevance and has continued to do so as part of the party’s communicators. As in the case of Karbo but simultaneously different, she will sweep the votes for three strong and unbeatable reasons that I will keep to myself.

The position of General Secretary will be retained by Nana Ohene Ntow, despite his rather irritating habit of neither picking his phone calls nor returning them when serious issues need his input from the rank and file. Ohene Ntow would have lost his position if Nana Obiri Boahen had contested. As a result of his outstanding private and political legal work in the northern regions, including the acquittal and discharge of 15 party activists framed by members of the ruling party just last week among other reasons, Obiri Boahen comes across as one who is really prepared to “die for the party” under the most abject of conditions, thereby fulfilling the most important criteria of the expanded electorate for any seeker of party position.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the self-same Obiri Boahen appears to be eyeing the Running Mate slot under the aegis and influence of some very powerful forces in Canada and the USA, thus giving Ohene Ntow a huge sigh of relief. The position of National Organizer remains hazy, for while Isaac Edumadze and Moctar Bamba are criss crossing the country canvassing for support, it is widely expected that the old fox, Lord Oblitey Commey might contest again. Now if he does contest, he will slip through, the same way Ohene Ntow will, despite reservations held by many against him. Lord Commey wears the unenviable cloak of being a Houdini, with an amazing ability to organize even if he is also suspected of many unprintable things. For both Ohene Ntow and Lord Commey, there is a widespread belief that it may be wise to have a mix of very old hands, relatively newer hands and completely new hands at the national level, hence the likelihood of them retaining their positions, given that most of the known executives have publicly stated their intentions not to re-contest.

Until approximately a month ago, the race for the position of National Chairman was a straight fight between Stephen Ayesu Ntim and Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, with Steve Ntim having a really huge edge over Jake, having started his campaign while the NPP was rallying support for its 2008 election bid. Ntim retained his edge until both Sammy Crabbe and Charles Wereko-Brobby joined the race and changed everything. The platform on which both Crabbe and Wereko-Brobby are campaigning is truly frightening, cutting across all the old shenanigans and bringing very novel ideas of mobilization, campaigning and strategizing.

Notwithstanding one’s inclinations or beliefs, you cannot fail to appreciate the programmes and platforms they are championing, having removed any semblance of voodoo planning and “if we get lucky” antics. Wereko-Brobby for example has done a thorough forensic audit of the party, the 2008 elections and confidently states what he believes must be done to regain power with such amazing conviction that even his most ardent critics applaud him for his diagnoses and consequent solutions.

If elections are held today for the position of National Chairman, it shall certainly be tight, for not only would it be that nobody would win massively with an unassailable lead, but the results would be so close that the eventual winner can and will only win through a “photo finish”. The first casualty would be Felix Owusu Agyepong; he won’t survive the fight even at this early stage and will get something very close to what he got during his bid for the flag bearer position. What the NPP must start bracing itself for however, is the increasingly possible possibility of a Wereko-Brobby, Ntim or Crabbe Chairmanship in that order.

Something about Jake is just not there; several people have claimed that his “fire” is gone: I am not so sure about that but frankly what Wereko-Brobby, Ntim and Crabbe are selling is worth one’s while. When delegates tell you that they want a “Shege” Chairman, they are saying in effect that they want a decisive, bold and resolute driving force at the helm of the party’s affairs and not a flip-flopping lapdog to anyone. This finding is one of the many reasons why I stated in the first part of this piece that the results of the National Officer’s election will require dexterous handling and camaraderie as the “unexpected” can seriously be expected this time around.

I must state in conclusion that the above positions on the aspirants are based on what I have discovered as of November 20, 2009. There is still time for a ‘swinging safari’. How the aspirants go about it, are their business, but until something unique or dramatic takes place, I am afraid readers of the column can be sure of those whose bids will be rejected next month. Jehovah-Rohi shepherd you in these times of worrisome political anxiety.
 
 
 
Source: Calus Von Brazi
 
 

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