Over the course of the past decade, I spent most of my time fiercely and furiously campaigning to get then-Candidate Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo elected President of the Sovereign Democratic Republic of Ghana. So, I did not have the temporal luxury to study the work and managerial styles of the individual National Chairpersons of the New Patriotic Party intimately and/or critically as well as I would have liked to, except for the fact of being well aware of the fact that there have appeared on the scene and gloriously passed from or off the scene, as it were, several National Chairpersons, actually Chairmen, of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), among them, Mr. B J Da Rocha, more widely and popularly known as Joe Da Rocha; Mr. Samuel Odoi-Sykes, later named Ghana’s Chief Diplomat or High Commissioner to Canada; Mr. Peter Ala Adjetey, if memory serves yours truly accurately; Mr. Peter Mac Manu; Mr. Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey; Mr. Paul Awentami Afoko; Mr. Harona Esseku and, presently, Mr. Stephen Ayensu Ntim.
I have also not bothered to count the number of party stalwarts who have served as National Chairpersons of the New Patriotic Party because, for the most part, but for the landmark and historic, as well as the watershed elections of then-Candidates John Agyekum-Kufuor and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for two consecutive presidential tenures each and, respectively, between 2001 and 2009 and 2017 and 2025, for the most part, the institutional establishment of the New Patriotic Party has been on the margins of opposition political culture. As well, the New Patriotic Party, for most of the period under review, which would be from 1992 to the present, the key operatives of the so-called Danquah-Busia-inspired political and ideological establishment have been fiercely engaged in factional power struggle and other internecine and centrifugal forms of infighting and petty personality squabbles. Perhaps in a bid to making the party healthily appear to reflect the entire gamut of all the ethnic groups and polities in the country, sometime between 2007 and 2010, a brash and gangly street-brawling much younger Akufo-Addo relative by the name of Mr. Gabriel “Gabby” Asare Otchere-Darko decided to give the party a “Northern Edge” or facelift, by suavely and strategically adding the name of Mr. S D Dombo, the legendary leader of the Northern People’s Party – which some party pundits have dubbed as the “Original NPP” – to the Danquah-Busia Equation or Tradition.
Needless to say, this cosmetic strategy seems to have worked some magical wonders, although the party continues to struggle to gain a critical mass of members, supporters and sympathizers across the northern half of the country. This apparently perennial and seemingly intractable handicap has been fundamentally perceived as such because, unlike the country’s main opposition political party establishment, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the NPP has tended to be fairly accurately perceived to be a hermetically Akan Political Party. This bid to progressively diffusing the ethnocentric image and reputation of both the membership and the leadership of the New Patriotic Party may very well explain the adamant decision by Candidate Akufo-Addo to gun for the Presidency on three consecutive occasions with the Mamprugu native and northern-descended Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia as his running-mate or vice-presidential candidate. This strategy does not appear to have significantly hurt the presidential run of Nana Akufo-Addo, but it has also clearly not registered or garnered the desired and/or expected crossover shift of a critical mass of northern-descended voters from the National Democratic Congress into the fold of the New Patriotic Party.
With the creation of the North-East Region, the ethno-cultural and political stronghold of Vice-President Bawumia, out of the Old Northern Region, by President Akufo-Addo, however, for the first time in the 2020 General Election, the New Patriotic Party registered some significant gains in the so-called Five Northern Regions, including the Akufo-Addo-created Savannah Region, which is also the ethno-political stronghold of his immediate predecessor, namely, former President John “European Airbus Payola” Dramani Mahama. Interestingly, the election of Mr. Paul Awentami Afoko, a northern-descended businessman, politician and party stalwart from the Upper-East Regional Capital of Bolgatanga, as the National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party, seems to have originally been intended to balance up the power-sharing formula and/or equation within the New Patriotic Party in the leadup to the 2016 General Election. But it soon became disturbingly and uncomfortably obvious that Mr. Afoko’s fiercely fought election had been intended as a strategic move by the Kufuor-Mpiani Faction of the New Patriotic Party that was squarely and intensely geared towards the effective neutralization of the strongest presidential-candidate material in the immediate post-Kufuor era, to the inescapable benefit of the putative favorite presidential candidate of the lame-duck President John “Kofi Diawuo” Agyekum-Kufuor, namely, Mr. Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen.
It would take nearly two protracted years and considerable internal bloodletting, literally speaking, to ensure a clean victory for the former fierce rival of Mr. Kufuor and the latter’s cabinet appointee to the temporally respective portfolios of Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Integration of the ECOWAS Subregion. Now, this is where the deft and inimitable genius of Mr. Frederick “Freddie” Worsemao Armah Blay, at the time of the Afoko ouster by the kingmakers of the New Patriotic Party, the First Vice-Chairman of the latter political establishment, comes in. Now, what makes Mr. Blay handily the greatest National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party in Ghana’s Fourth Republic primarily inheres in the fact of the Publisher and Managing-Director of the prestigious and passionately pro-NPP Daily Guide newspaper’s having literally inherited his New Patriotic Party’s topmost position at a time of acute crisis and unprecedented political infighting, when the party was on the inescapable verge of imminent and, perhaps, effective collapse as well.
It is the latter subject that we intend to take up and more extensively detail and discuss in a near-future segment of this column on the great legacy of this Convention People’s Party’s crossover legal luminary and political giant. Interestingly and ironically, Mr. Blay is quick to point out that his pedigree dates from his legendary paternal uncle, Mr. R S Blay, a distinguished Gold Coast lawyer and a founding member of the United Gold Coast Convention, with staunch and unwavering leanings towards both Dr. J B Danquah and Mr. George Alfred “Paa” Grant (1878-1956).
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
August 12, 2022
E-mail: [email protected]