Ghana: Will the rebuilding of the NPP be done any soon? (Part I)
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
The NPP certainly has huge problems to solve if it seeks to change its fortunes in future general elections. Despite the vehement protestations against the outcome of Election 2012 and the filing of a lawsuit by the NPP, some of us strongly believe that the elections were transparent, fair, and free and that Akufo-Addo lost the elections because he did not connect effectively with the voters to win their trust and confidence.
The party itself wasn’t properly packaged and sold to the people. We are of the opinion that many inadequacies combined to make the party and its Akufo-Addo unappealing, which calls for better strategies to rebuild the party and re-position it for future elections.
Sadly, events characterizing the party’s post-election posture are further deepening the party’s woes. For as long as the party leaders refuse to see themselves and their poor electioneering campaign efforts as the cause of their defeat, nothing new will happen to the party.
For as long as they continue pointing accusing and gossipping fingers at the Electoral Commission and President Mahama/NDC instead of taking prompt steps to revitalize their party, they shouldn’t expect anything better in the future.
The party has provoked enough to worry many segments of the society, especially from the millions of Ghanaians who want to put the elections behind them and move on with their lives but can’t do so because of the dust that the NPP has raised. The party is at the crossroads now and stands to lose favour from floating voters, especially if it loses its case at the Supreme Court. Comments indicating that the party will be consigned to the opposition for long are serious enough to ponder.
Rebuilding the party to make it more appealing is a must. For one thing, the party’s main problem is not the lack of structures or logistics because evidence confirms how much the party has in the various nooks and crannies of the country to project itself. Rebuilding it should start from its leadership at all the levels—national, regional, constituency, and what not.
One undeniable fact is that the current crop of leaders have failed the party and must be weeded out as soon as the dust settles for the party to know that it is still in the opposition and must do what its fate implies. These leaders must be replaced with those who can handle the responsibilities of rebuilding the party to move it a notch higher and reduce the negative perceptions that have harmed its interests.
These perceptions are serious limitations to be tackled, not deflected with insults against those raising them in the discourse.
We have hazarded guesses based on Akufo-Addo’s “Yen Akanfuo” mantra to portray the NPP for what it is and incurred the displeasure of the party’s followers, sympathizers, and apologists. Yet, that’s a reality the party will have to work on as it seeks to actualize its Danquah-Busia-Dombo ideology of inclusiveness. Real action, not mere incendiary rhetoric, is needed to achieve this goal.
We have been given to know that what we label as “Ma te me ho” (apparently in direct reference to the NPP) didn’t start off as one homogeneous entity based in the Ashanti Region. It virtually had a national appeal and included diverse political elements and groupings from many parts of the country, namely, the Northern People’s Party, the Anlo Youth Organization, the Togoland Congress, the Muslim Association Party, etc., that willingly joined forces with the NLM to oppose Nkrumah.
As my friend has explained, today’s NPP is reminiscent of the then UGCC (United Gold Coast Convention) and not the NLM (National Liberation Movement) and UP (United Party). In the UGCC, we had Edward Akufo-Addo, Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey, Kwame Nkrumah, J.B. Danquah, William Ofori-Atta, and Arko Adjei (portraying ethnic diversity?).
Today’s NPP consists of their descendants—Akuffo Addo (son of Edward Akuffo Addo and the Nephew of William Ofori Atta and J.B. Dankwa) and Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey (son of Emmanuel Obsetsebi Lamptey), among others, whose forebears founded the UGCC. My friend mentioned Sekou Nkrumah (son of Kwame Nkrumah) as a member, which I have very serious doubts about because I consider him a liability wherever he goes. He could be one of the repellents in the NPP to flush out.
As my friend put it, Ewes, Northerners, Akans, etc. supported the “Matemeho” movement until Nkrumah banned it. Disaffected members of the CPP defected and partnered Baffour Osei Akoto to form the NLM in 1954. The Twi translation for the DEFECTION is “MATEMEHO.” All they were saying was that they were no longer members of the CPP. The goal was to promote federalism as the most effective way of checking the abuse of power and dictatorship.
Of course, despite this so-called national appeal, the “Matemeho” group couldn’t stand the force of Nkrumah’s CPP. But we can tell the extent to which it spread its tentacles, which today’s NPP needs to learn from as it seeks to expand its scope. We might, then, conclude that the political base was really wide in those days for today’s NPP to capitalize on.
So, what went wrong where for the NPP to shrink in people’s estimation to become the winner of only two out of 10 regions in Ghana? That’s the overarching question to motivate any rebuilding efforts of the party.
Much water has already passed under the bridge; and they are continuing to muddy the political waters all the more by resorting to intemperate language, needless of boycott of official engagements, and intra-party heckling. Is it not pathetic that the party’s youth banded together into the Young Patriots would threaten physical action against former President Kufuor or for those in Kumasi to threaten to “shoe” him for deigning to attend the swearing-in ceremony of President Mahama, contrary to the consensus that the NPP members should boycott the ceremony?
More trouble is looming because the Kumasi-based supporters have threatened to do all they can to “collapse” the party as a result of Kufuor’s singular decision.
These developments and many others won’t help the party regain its composure. But it must be brought back on an even keel to face future challenges. That is why I will analyze issues with the view to pointing out what the NPP can do to help itself. Some may quickly dismiss me as an irritant, based on perceptions that I am an ardent critic of the NPP. I care less.
For all they may care to know, the NPP’s contributions are relevant, whether in opposition or government; but probably better now in opposition, judging from its claim that its lawsuit aims at adding value to our democracy. It can’t do so without being rebuilt to carry the burden it has imposed on itself.
While some of us may be easily identified as knowingly, directly, consciously, and purposefully writing to undermine the NPP’s interests and turn voters against it, have those condemning us paid any attention to the harm that those writers perceived as the party’s sympathizers purporting to be promoting its interests have rather ended up doing to harm the party instead?
Take, for instance, all those writing opinion pieces for the online media who can easily be recognized as pro-NPP. I have in mind the Daniel Damptey Danquahs, Abeiku Newton-Offeis, Rockson Adofos, Justice Sarpongs, and Okoampah-Ahoofes. These are characters who, to me, have done a lot to alienate the NPP from uncommitted voters and reinforced the dislike that pro-NDC elements have for that party.
Their writings have done more harm than good for the NPP because they overtly portrayed the party in a very bad light either by their intemperate language use or construction of other ethnicities as inferior to what they see as the core base of the NPP. Once alienated, these targets of such acrimony won’t gravitate toward the NPP in any way.
Just do a quick reading of their numerous texts to see things for yourself. Okoampah-Ahoofe, for instance, shot himself into over-drive with his persistent “Trokosi” acridity and ended up intensifying the ethnic canker that couldn’t be said to have favoured the NPP. Let’s remember that he continues to see Akufo-Addo as his Akyem kinsman and in all that he does, he invariably ends up provoking revulsion instead of goodwill for his sacred cow.
Then, take the pro-NPP FM radio stations like Kennedy Agyapong’s OMAN Fm and the private print media like Daily Guide, which have in several ways done much harm to the NPP’s interests even though they thought their strident personal attacks and revulsive references to ethnic sentiments and differences were genuine efforts to explain problems. At the end of the day, these people have combined to add more vitriol to the situation with their incendiary rhetoric that didn’t help the NPP. Rebuilding the party must involve such perspectives too.
I shall return…
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