When my last feature article under the caption “Predicting a Difficult Election for the NPP in 2008” appeared on Ghanaweb a couple of weeks ago, it generated quite a lot of comments. Some took pains to write to me personally. A good number including those who commented on it in Ghanaweb agreed with the views expressed but also I received flak from a few self described NPP hatchet men including one Kofi Afriyie of London (does the name sound familiar, the same guy busted in connection with the drug MP's case) who thought I was too critical of the NPP.
As a party born out of the oldest political tradition in the country, the NPP has many followers but that following is not cast in iron. The numbers can dwindle if after being in power for the longest stretch of time in its political history it fails to live up to expectation : the highest standards of political integrity expected from a party born out of the Danquah-Busia tradition. A greater number of the Ghanaian voting public now is made up of the youth who have no strong attachment to any political tradition, they are the swing voters. They are ever ready or even impatient to vent their anger and frustration on a government that fails to deliver by voting it out of office. The NPP victories of 2000 and 2004 were largely due to this swing vote.
Today, the party of Paa Grant, Danquah , and Busia stands in the cross roads. It needs a critical self examination and appraisal of its stewardship. This needs to be done with clear open mindedness devoid of arrogance. The NPP is now committing the same mistakes it condemned the NDC of when in opposition and even more. Big government filled with relatives, too frequent presidential trips abroad with large entourage, ostentatious and flamboyant lifestyles of government appointees, arrogant display of power and wealth by those in government, corruption in all sectors and levels of government, breakdown of law and order with armed robbers having a field day, outrageously high levels of unemployment and under employment, shamefully high levels of poverty among the populace and the government's seemingly inability to address any of them. Corruption is destroying the confidence the people had in the government and the integrity of the party.
As if all these were not enough, came the news that a sitting MP and member of the government has been busted on drug peddling in New York. Perhaps, this is the worst thing ever to happen to the image of the country, the government, and the ruling party. How come such a person with questionable character and background came to assume such a leading role in the party? Is drug peddling the stock in trade of many Ghanaian politicians? If that is the case then the country has gone to the dogs. Is there no effective and transparent way of vetting and selecting parliamentary and other candidates for party positions? I am tempted to believe that the present process of selecting and vetting candidates has given rise to a situation where incompetent illiterates with questionable background but deep pockets and can afford to throw money around to be selected for top party and state positions. The drug MP I learned since he was elected to parliament has never made a contribution on the House floor. Why did he run for public office if he had no ideas to contribute to national debate? Now look at the shame he has brought upon the nation and himself. Governance is not a tea party. People who seek political office must have a first rate mind, capable of commanding policy debates on which the fortunes of our nation rest. It takes a man of vision to lead. Not every one who rides a horse is a jockey. Let those with conscience heed the wisdom and the advice of the wise, and let the stupid and the arrogant follow in their paths of stupidity to self destruction.
Unless the NPP bites the bullet and carries out internal reforms in a determined way with new faces and people who are not tainted in any way, they are not going to regain voter confidence. Voters are disgusted with the political establishment. If you ask anyone how are things going for the NPP, the short answer unfortunately is not very well. There is considerable hope that things might change for the better, but on balance there is more reason for worry than optimism right now. There are huge negatives for the party now and I am afraid its electoral prospects have dwindled further since my last article appeared.
Ben Ofosu-Appiah The author is a political and social analyst and also a corporate trainer based in Tokyo, Japan. He welcomes your views, comments and criticisms. He has written extensively on politics, society and economics in Africa. Check the archives for some of his old articles. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.