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Rejoinder: The Next NPP Leader Must Be a Northerner – Nana Obiri Boahen

Feature Article Rejoinder: The Next NPP Leader Must Be a Northerner – Nana Obiri Boahen
DEC 7, 2021 LISTEN

Dear Nana Obiri Boahen,

I bring you warm greetings from Dwen Hwe Kan Krom. I trust you are keeping safe, as Omicron hits town I pray you make time to get the hang of my little epistle. Lest I forget, kindly extend my warm greetings to your boss, JB.

In recent times, the sun has been very hostile to me and the venerable people of Dwen Hwe Kan Krom, making it unbearable, but for the broad leaves of an old wisdom tree in front of our 29 years old building, providing the needed shade and fresh air for relaxation.

Talking about relaxation, I think you would agree with me that we all need it, following all the chaotic 'walkouts and walkins' that characterized the naming ceremony of Wofa Momo's 1.75 kilos newborn baby, on 137/138 Parl Avenue, opposite Dubai travelling agent’s office.

On the flip side, you, and a few other like minds, seem really confused as to the difference between electing a national chairman and electing a presidential candidate. All the things you said in that interview are only fitting for someone wanting to be national chairman of the party.

I will take the pain to refresh your memory. While a national chairman is elected to operate within the confines of the party, a presidential candidate when elected is sold on a wider political market for votes (the currency of democracy). It is therefore suicidal to consider the potentials of a presidential candidate without taking into consideration the wider political market.

Nana, kindly be reminded that the NPP doesn’t need a presidential candidate just to satisfy a particular tribe or group of people in the party. Neither do we need a candidate to let Ghanaians know that we are not an 'Akan-party'. No! We need a candidate to win the 2024 election.

We can decide to rotate our national chairman position in response of the short sighted claim, albeit within our exclusive purview. However, with the election of presidential candidate, such ill-fated claims DO NOT hold.

This is because, no singular political party can solely determine who becomes the president. A candidate must be able to secure the interest and support of the wider political market in order to be elected.

No prudent producer would attempt to sell pork in a community or market of over 70% Jewish people, unless that producer is not in business to make profit.

In this critical times, the NPP needs a candidate who would be able to bring in the numbers from the various communities within the political market to win power, after unifying the party. We simply can’t afford to sacrifice the hen that has lain four golden eggs, on the altar of tribal or ethnic consideration, when such consideration would not produce significant numbers for victory.

I have always said that, until the NDC presents a non-Christian presidential candidate, the NPP should maintain its current Christian-Muslim strategy that has won the party four elections. Turning the current strategy upside down at this time would mean pouring our fortunes away cheaply to the NDC.

Well, I chanced upon some statements purported to have been made by you regarding the selection of the next NPP presidential candidate. In the said write-up, you were quoted to have categorically said that the next NPP presidential candidate must be a Northerner, without adducing any convincing reasons or arguments to back such politically sensitive proposition.

Nana, you were quoted to have said these: “I think many of our party members will side with me that, the time for a northerner to lead the NPP into elections is now,” “So, I am going to devote a lot of my energy and resources to go round the nation to ensure that not only a party member from five regions of the north becomes our presidential candidate for 2024 but also goes ahead to win the presidential election.”

Are you this powerful? Wow! You would go round the country to ensure that your candidate becomes the president. Nana Obiri Boahen, you do all.

Perhaps, it is only in the NPP that you can find a virtually-nonexistent Deputy General Secretary being this powerful. Opanyin, my little advice is that if you really have the energy and resources, as you claim, kindly use it for something good for yourself. Don’t waste resources on a mission that is overly impossible. Not even your boss, JB, can do it.

After reading what you are purported to have said, my conclusion was that this man has lost touch with the current happenings in the party. Nana, quite honestly, you don’t seem to know what is currently happening in the party and have no idea the rage at the grassroots. But I don’t blame you. I blame your boss for making you virtually redundant over the years.

It’s quite disheartening when a national officer like you, who ought to understand politics better, makes such categorical statement without any convincing arguments to back it. What if someone also comes out to say the next leader must be a Ga person because the highest position the Gas have had in the party is Speaker of Parliament.

Or haply, someone else advocates for the next presidential candidate to be native of the Bono Region because, unlike the Northerners and the Gas, who have enjoyed the Vice President and Speakership positions under Kufuor and Nana Addo, the Bonos have had no significant position in the party, even though Busia was a Bono. With this kind of politics, we may be plunging our party into a stream of bedlam.

That’s why in selecting a candidate, we should do away with emotional sentiments and other tangential issues, and allow our strategy to be informed by these two important questions: First, where are we going to have the massive numbers from? Second, how are we going to have the massive numbers to win? After all, when this is all said and done, it is the party or candidate with the highest number of votes in the election that would emerge victorious and not who is well represented. So, every argument should be situated on the numbers-factor.

The only argument you seem to ride on for your candidate is the Dombo argument which has already been shot down in the face of your preferred candidate. You see, the Dombo argument, as a standalone argument, is a fantastic argument. However, it loses its value completely when it is made for Alhaji Bawumia. The complement to this political disposition is definitely immature.

Nana, won’t you agree with me that any true Dombo person at Alhaji Bawumia’s age, would have joined the NPP in 1992 when the party was formed? I tell you no lie, if Dombo himself were to be alive today, on a matter of principle, he would have stopped Dr. Bawmia from riding on his name.

Nana, if I ask you to tell me which political party your preferred candidate voted for from 1992 to 2004, would you be able to tell me? I know you won’t be able, yet you are talking about a tradition, when you know that the NPP tradition didn’t start some 13 years ago. Please, if you want your candidate to be elected on the ticket of the NPP, tell us what he can bring to the table in terms of numbers (votes) and stop this dry tribal politics you have been contracted for.

The late Alhaji Aliu Mahama, may his humble and gentle soul rest in peace, was a true party man from the North. He joined the party in 1992 and was a major financier, yet this Dombo argument, being made now, could not be made for him. Isn’t it rather ironic that, the Dombo argument, is now being made for someone who, until joining the party in 2008, had never contributed a pesewa to the party? So, which tradition were you talking about? If it’s the NPP tradition you were talking about, then per our tradition, which would always stand, your candidate is the last in line.

For me, it would be politically imprudent to present a candidate who is doubly disadvantaged in terms of numbers relative to religion and tribe. John Mahama was only disadvantaged in terms of tribe but made gains on the terms of religion, as he belongs to the 71.2% Christian Community. Dr. Limann was also only disadvantaged in terms of tribe, not religion. These may have contributed significantly to winning election as Northerners.

However, when it comes to Dr. Bawumia, he is doubly disadvantaged in terms of tribe and religion. If truth be told, the numbers would greatly be against him. Frankly speaking, presenting him would amount to a needless risk that can only lead to pains, tears and regrets.

We can’t be sensitive to the issue of religion and tribe when it comes parliamentary candidates and decide to ignore same when it comes to presidential candidate. Nana, why do we present Muslim candidates in overly Muslim-dominated communities and Christian candidates in overly Christian-dominated communities? If we really believe that one’s tribe and religion play no role in election, let’s present a Hindu or Christian candidate in Tamale Central or Yendi against the NDC’s Muslim candidate and see the outcome.

You see, self-deception is the most dangerous poison any system can inject into itself. Let’s stop deceiving ourselves. Dr Bawumia, however good he might be as a person, would be a very bad product for the political market today. Mind you, a good and profitable product is determined relative to market.

Besides, your preferred candidate, apart from the aforementioned factors, has personally made contradictory, disputable and unfulfilled statements and promises, that can really cost the NPP a great deal of political fortune in 2024. I don’t know whether you have seen those worrying videos making rounds on social media. Regardless of who becomes the candidate, those statements and promises would cost the party some fortunes. Even worst, should he (Dr. Bawumia) be made the candidate.

Politics, as you're aware, is a game of numbers. Therefore, any factor that can negatively affect our numbers should be taken seriously. Our dear party respects all religious groups permissible by the constitution and would not commit any act of discrimination now or ever.

However, as a political party, while respecting the various groups, will not be swayed or blinded by the antics of a few individuals, such as yourself, into opposition. We would continue to love each other, but would present a candidate who can bring in the numbers for our victory. And, when the victory is won, we will all sit happily around the table of power and eat from the same bowl. This is political wisdom. Power first!

Shalom shalom!

E. G. Buckman

[email protected]

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