In just under two years in opposition, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) appears to be the most confused, acrimonious and disorganised political party in Ghana today.
The elephants were chased into the bush in the 2008 elections (as Arthur K. puts it) and instead of fighting their way back to the city centre (regaining power), they have rather chosen to fight and destroy each other while in the bush. In the process, the party is failing to take care of itself, it is unable to deal with its internal rancour and incapable of preventing existing cracks from deepening. This is the distressed state of Ghana’s biggest opposition party.
In fact, the situation is so terrible that today, the NPP’s biggest political opponent is the NPP itself, rather than the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) or any other political party.
Some leaders of the party have attempted to defend the rather dreadful divisions in the party by arguing that it is normal for differences to exist in any large social group and especially, in political parties. This is absolutely true. But it is also true that such differences are helpful only when they are based on issues and ideological positions and not on personalities.
What is happening in the NPP today is politics of personalities in which we now have “AlanPP” and “NanaPP,” instead of a united NPP that is ready to market itself to the people of Ghana in order to regain political power.
Candidates in the party’s local, constituency and regional congresses contested for positions not necessarily as party members who have the commitment, determination and passion to work for the return of the NPP but did so as candidates of Alan or Nana.
Interestingly, when supporters of both Alan and Nana are asked why they think the one they support is a better presidential material, they usually respond not by stating the qualities of their preferred candidate but by giving reasons why the one they oppose would not be a good presidential candidate.
The inability of supporters to trumpet the qualities of Nana or Alan is not an indication that the two do not have some presidential qualities. It points to two things. Firstly, it is a manifestation of the hatred that has ensued between supporters of the two camps. Secondly, it demonstrates how the handlers, strategists and supporters of the two, have concentrated on attacking each other, planting stories about each other in the media and engaging in trivialities rather than marketing the qualities of their preferred candidate to party folks and Ghanaians.
Many have suggested that Nana lost to Professor Mills in the last elections partly because the handlers of then candidate Mills did a better job in marketing his personal qualities. For example, after successfully branding the Prof as a man of peace (Asomdwehene), the NDC strategists went on to promote candidate Mills as a trustworthy person. In entrusting the destiny of this country to an individual, that person must be someone who can be trusted. The NDC got it right and branded candidate Mills as, “a president you can trust.”
What did Nana’s men do? They kept on telling Ghanaians about his long-standing involvement in Ghanaian politics from his socialist student days through the dictatorial PNDC era and Fourth Republican democratic politics. They found it prudent to trumpet his pro-human rights records and activities, and crowned it with an “I believe in Ghana,” slogan. These were useful but not entirely helpful. After all, who says ones extensive involvement in a country’s politics culminates in making one a good president. And again, who does not believe in Ghana?
So instead of fighting and destroying each other, this is the right time for presidential hopefuls of the NPP to let party members and Ghanaians know the shining qualities they possess; why they think they have what it takes to be a good president of Dr. Nkrumah’s Ghana. Any such demonstrable qualities should be the basis for one to support Alan Kyeremanten or Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo or any other candidate.
As it is now, most members of the NPP (at least over 80% of delegates from the last congress) support either Alan or Nana for the sake of just supporting someone. Some are supporting a candidate for financial reasons, while others do so for some sectional interests including those as ridiculous as tribal affiliations.
Task before the NPP
The immediate task before the NPP is how to surmount the rancorous internal cracks that started developing from the flagbearership race and got deepened by Lord Commey’s orchestrated attack on Paul Afoko at the party’s 2007 congress held at the University of Ghana, Legon. At the moment, the cracks in the party are as deep as volcanic craters and can only be filled not by mere verbal proclamations of unity but by sacrifice and a true commitment to unity by all party folks.
In the face of the party’s difficult moments, it is heart-warming to have people like Dr. Nyaho Tamakloe, a key supporter of Nana, calling for party unity and urging former President John Kufuor, to remain neutral. The move by Dr. Tamakloe can only be seen as gratifying. But it is also important to remind Dr. Tamakloe and all others like him who are known to support one aspirant or the other, that the success or otherwise of any intervention by former president Kufuor, would, to a large extent, depend on how party bigwigs like him, conduct themselves in the race for the party’s flagbearership.
If the NPP cannot work to achieve the much-desired party unity, then the party should stop wasting our ears and should also forget about 2012, whether the Prof. Mills government performs well or not.
No credible opposition, NDC gets field day
As the largest opposition party “goes on leave” to deal with its internal matters, the ruling NDC continues to utilise the opportunity gained from the lack of a strong opposition, to force some bitter pills down the throats of Ghanaians, without a clear explanation of the societal ills that are intended to be cured.
Just last week, road tolls were astronomically increased. In some cases, the increase was close to a 1000 per cent The fees for company registration at the Registrar General’s Department, has gone up by over 100 per cent just a couple of weeks ago and the story is the same at the Lands Commission, Land Title Registry and other state institutions. Insensitive government? Yes, but also, they have their way to push these down our throats because there is no watchful opposition!
On the first day of the increases in road tolls, I listened to Hon. Joe Gidisu, the Roads and Highways Minister, on a number of radio stations. He failed woefully in his attempt to justify the increase. The following day, I listened to the Chief Director of the Ministry also trying to let Ghanaians know why the increase was necessary. He also failed to convince anybody (may be except those who say they are NDC and everything NDC is good).
It is important for government officials to appreciate the fact that they were not voted into power because they were considered the wisest men and women in Ghana, whose thinking and decisions are automatically good for the wellbeing of citizens. When decisions are taken or policies implemented and the supposed beneficiaries of such decisions or policies cannot see, feel or be told in clear terms how those interventions will enure to their benefit, then the shortfall in the planning processes as far as communications is concerned, becomes manifest and worrying.
Please, Messrs Gidisu and Chief Director, we need to know how much you expect to generate from the road tolls in a year and what projects you have earmarked to be carried out with the money realised. Please tell us, so that we can hold you accountable. It is not enough to say our roads are not good and so the increase in road tolls will help generate more revenue to improve them. If we judiciously use the resources we already have, we won’t need to go back to the poor Ghanaian to ask for more through increased tariffs etc.
I know governments will always use their honeymoon period to implement the most unpopular and harsh policies. But did the NDC have any honeymoon or goodwill period? I find the NDC government to be too daring sometimes at its own peril. This is a government that has continuously failed to let Ghanaians appreciate what it says was a messed-up economy bequeathed it by the NPP government. The same government has successfully failed to properly communicate its achievements (no matter how small or big) to the citizenry.
Well, I think the idea is that: “let us do it now and by 2012, Ghanaians would have forgotten every difficulty they may have gone through.” Good strategy! But, citizens of the land will forget only if the harsh policies they endure today result in development and improved living standards for the ordinary people.
Source: By Sulemana Braimah ([email protected])
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