The Chairman of the Ashanti Region Council of Elders of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) Mr. Apenteng Appiah-Menkah, has pointed out that one of the conventions, adopted at the time of drafting the party's constitution makes the Vice President an automatic runner in the presidential race of the party.
Mr. Appiah-Menkah's revelation follows the controversy generated by the omission of the name of Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, in the list of people identified by President J. A. Kufuor as those whose turn it was to take up the leadership mantle of the party during his rally speech at the Koforidua Jackson Park on Saturday, January 6.
The NPP icon and industrialist made the constitutional revelation in a statement released exclusively to this paper, in which he registered his protest against what he saw as the increasing rate of ethnocentric comments by a section of the populace and the trumpeting of such comments by the media since the omission of Aliu's name, and highlighted the possible devastating consequences of such ethnocentric tendencies.
“For the last week or so, the expressions of such despicable racial hatred or sentiments have occupied the headlines of some press and the airwaves media. This arose out of the president's categorization of the Presidential aspirants of the NPP and his omission of the Vice President, His Excellency Alhaji Aliu Mahama,” he said.
He made it clear that he was not holding brief for the President or the Vice President but for those who originated and drafted the constitution of the NPP. He named such people as B.J. da Rocha, Prof. Folson, Stephen Krakue, Dr. Amoako Tuffuor, Dr. Wayo Seini, he himself and two others he left out because they are presidential aspirants in the party.
In providing clues to why the president might have left out the name of his vice in his list, Mr. Appiah-Menkah said in drawing the party's constitution, the drafters were guided by two main principles of first, the supremacy of the party and second, the democratization of all the institutions, organizational structures, officers and personalities of the party whether in or out of government.
“We considered both the written American Constitution and the Unwritten British Constitution and their conventions. One of such conventions we adopted and modeled for our local need was the automatic inclusion of the Vice President in the party's presidential race in case the party is offered the opportunity by the electorate to run the country for three continuous terms when the President is compelled to step down by the constitution of the Republic,” he revealed. The NPP regional Council Chairman reiterated that by, “this convention of the party's constitution, the Vice president is an automatic runner in the race to be joined by outsider(s) within or outside the Executive as long as that person considers himself as a credible party personality.”
He continued that President Kufuor and the party were aware of the convention and as such, “it was not necessary for him to repeat the obvious in a time-constrained NPP congress at Koforidua.” “It is very unfortunate that this aspect of the convention of the party's constitution for what the president said or did not say is being wrongly interpreted on tribal lines by those not conversant with the spirit and conventions of the NPP constitution,” the NPP top man lamented.
He emphasized that the unity, peace and development of the nation was more important than any “despicable publication in any press or media,” for the purpose of attracting some party political advantage in any part of the land. Mr. Appiah-Menkah said it was important for the Ghanaian media to always be mindful of the fact that it was just a terse but an unguided statement on an FM radio station that led to the unprecedented Rwandan genocide.
In further condemning the increasing spate of tribal comments that seemed to have engulfed political analysis particularly with regard to the Vice President, he said, “The media should not forget that the same genocide involving hundreds of thousands of human lives now occurring in Dafur in Southern Sudan arose out of some insignificant racial conflict. The ongoing civil war in neighbouring Ivory Coast also has some undertones of ethnic conflicts,” he stressed.
He emphasized the need for media freedom in entrenching democracy but pointed out that the freedom should not be abused by anyone for his or her personal or selfish political gains, emphasizing that the right-thinking people of this nation should ostracize any paper that would want to perpetrate tribalism in the country.