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16.04.2009 Feature Article

Countri People, I troway Salute!

Countri People, I troway Salute!
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Patriotic members of the New Patriotic Party, I salute you for your resilience, commitment and dedication to the ideals of the founding founders of our noble tradition. On this occasion of the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I enjoin you all not to lose hope in the face of attempts by our political opponents to “drive us into the sea”. I enjoin you all to remain focused and keep faith with the hopes and aspirations of our Great and noble Tradition. If there is rainfall today, there is bound to be sunshine the next day. Jesus died and there was the hope and belief that He would resurrect on the third day and he did!

Why then do you weep and gnash your teeth? Jesus death was a necessary end. So was our defeat at the December, 2008 elections. It was for a purpose.

I, an ordinary but committed activist of the Dankwa-Busia-Dombo Tradition, am appealing to you and encouraging you to put the past behind you. Personally, I have felt the pinch even while our party was in power. I have been insulted, vilified, called many imprintable names and even threatened for my stance on many issues as they affect our party. But I have not relented in my efforts to ensure that the positive aspects of the party are propagated through my numerous columns both in the newspapers and some web sites.

We have been there before. But with tenacity of purpose and determination in our united crusade, we were able to rise up from the doldrums to take our rightful place amongst the comity of parties. Great men and women of a Great Party, it is time to put on smiling faces. So get up and do what you know best – Spreading the good tidings of the good things the Elephants did for Ghanaians and would do it again if voted back to power.

I am sorry I could not submit any script during the Easter Break. I had to travel to my Holy village to see the folks back home. You see, we cannot severe the links with our roots. We are indeed moving forward and we must be seen to carry along the folks back home. My trip back to my source brought back a great lesson which I will recount in the course of this write-up.

I) Re-invigorating the NPP – The way forward. I recommend the putting up of structures to ensure that the New Patriotic Party is firmly rooted on the ground. To this end, I am once again making a strong case for the appointment of Mr. Kwame Pianim as Sole Administrator of the party. His major task will be to come up with modalities for the selection/election of our National Executives and our candidate for the 2112 Presidential Elections.

It is quite obvious that the National Executive, as presently constituted, cannot supervise a well-organized National Congress where a popular, acceptable and winnable candidate would emerge. We therefore have to look elsewhere for someone who is endowned with sterling qualities to undertake this onerous task. And which person is better qualified to undertake this patriotic duty than the Great Patriot, Kwame Pianim himself?

Yes, it is true that Kwame Pianim renounced his interest in partisan politics sometime ago. But that in itself does not make him apolitical. His objective analysis of national issues, his actions and utterances since the said declaration make one believe that if the right approach is made to him, he might reconsider his decision. He is the best person for the job at this crucial time when the party is fighting its greatest battle for the survival of its soul.

There is one great quality about this great man of History which should not be overlooked. He has the knack of building bridges across the political divide. His wisdom, probity and determination to succeed in all the tasks assigned to him coupled with his belief in the principle of creating a level-playing field for all contenders under the party ticket will endear him to all and make the New Patriotic Party the cynosure of all eyes. Yes, this is the man the party needs at this time.

You see, History has a way of foisting one Great man of destiny upon a group of people at a particular period in time. And when the time comes, no earthly power can prevent that person from assuming his/her rightful position that nature has entrusted upon him. The New Patriotic Party is now in a similar situation. The people are saying, “Give us Kwame Pianim” What do you say to that. As Sole Administrator of the Party in an interim capacity, he would appoint his own team to undertake this onerous task by putting in place the relevant structures to ensure that the party comes out of its Congress and Primaries unscathed.

Difficult situations demand drastic solutions. There must be a surgical operation in the party to give birth to the child we all are expecting. You see, at the crucial stage in the life of the Israelites, God brought out Jehu to undertake his Prophetic Revolution. The party deserves a similar fate.

How could the National Executive supervise an election where some members are contestants? For fairness to prevail, the National Executive should dissolve itself and grant power to a Sole Administrator to take the party to its El-dorado.

At the moment, we don't have any women's Organizer for the one we have, Rita Asobayire, exists only on paper and in name. Yet the National Executives have kept quiet about it. This is a very sensitive position for the success of an effective party organization. When this position is mentioned, one's mind gets to the NDC which is blessed with names like Francis Essiam, Ama Benyiwa Doe and a host of others. We need people from the grassroots who can take the message to those in the creeks, nooks and cranny. These are the places where a large number of women are waiting to hear the glad tidings of our party. Who is to mobilize them?

Please, I have no ulterior motive for advocating for the appointment of a Sole Administrator for the party. My stance is buoyed by love and passion for the success of the party. Our party's adherence to the principles of democracy comes to question when viewed against the background that it will be undemocratic for the national executives to supervise an election in which one or more of the candidates are contestants. When Rawlings decided to contest the Presidency of Ghana under the NDC, did we not make the preposition that he resigns as Head of the PNDC? We reasoned at that time that it was undemocratic and would give an unfair advantage to him as the incumbent to contest against the other candidates. When President Mills scored his administration 80% during his first 100 days in office, are we not faulting his assessment? - that it is not right to set your own questions, write your own marking scheme and use the scheme to mark your own work. Our democratic credentials are under threat and we need to find a way out of this quagmire.

I am appealing to party men and women to treat these recommendations/suggestions with all the seriousness they deserve so as to position the party at its apogee to surmount the challenges that affect political parties in the 21st Century.

ii)Banning of Clubs/Associations/Friends in support of Presidential Aspirants.

Of late, there have been calls by some members of the party that friends, associations and groups canvassing for the election of their candidates as our party Flag bearer should be banned. Such people base their argument on the fact that the party's constitution makes no room for the formation or existence of such clubs/associations/unions.

But what such people forget is that these friends, associations, or clubs being formed are not official organs of the party. These are formed mainly to propagate the good qualities of such aspirants with the aim of lobbying other party men and women to throw their weight behind their respective candidates.

Ordinary members have the rights and freedom to organize themselves into such “pressure groups” to articulate the support/preference for particular candidates. If a group believes that the selection of a particular candidate will help enhance the fortunes of the party, why not? Why should the party place obstacles on its path. We need these groups to engage in a healthy discussions and debates devoid of rancour and bitterness, with a view at selecting the best and winnable candidate for the party.

What we should frown at are attempts by one particular group or support base to paint another candidate in a negative manner with the sole purpose of “shooting down the wings or plumage” of that candidate. This will be anathema to the interest of the party. Let supporters of the various aspirants highlight the good qualities of their preferred candidates. We need constructive and healthy debates and discussions now.

Attempts to ban any support group or base of any candidate will backfire. We should not enact laws that cannot be enforced. What happens if the party asks for those groups to be dissolved but the organizers refuse? Is the party going to sack those members? I personally believe in the formation of such clubs and feel ordinary members also toe a similar line.

iii) Protests over appointment of D/MCEs: Initially, I was of the opinion that since I am not as member of the NDC, I should not comment on the issue. But on reflection, I realized that my silence will negatively impact on the lives of Ghanaians. I have therefore decided to break my silence and speak. Let me re-iterate here that I am doing so with the best of intentions.

Sometime in 2006 or thereabout, the founder of the NDC, ex-President Rawlings went to Nima to campaign for a “daughter of the soil” for the position of women organizer in the constituency. The daughter of the soil's only rival was a certain Hajia Hawawu. Ex President Rawlings openly identified himself with the aspiration of the “daughter of the soil” with the explanation that if northerners wanted positions in the party, they should go to the North where they come from. The daughter of the soil won the election and ex-President Rawlings attempts at mending fences with Hajia Hawawu were rebuffed by her supporters. He next went to Kumasi and told the gathering during the election of Regional Executives that the party is not popular in the Region because they always elect non-Ashantis as their executives. His message gained grounds and that ushered in Ohene Agyekum as Chairman of the Regional Executives.

Ex President Rawlings took his crusade to Akwatia, where he openly campaigned against the parliamentary bid of Baba Jamal with the excuse that he, Baba Jamal was a serial loser and also a stranger in the constituency. He single handedly proposed the nomination of a nephew to the Akwatiahene. Unfortunately for the ex-President, his bid was shot down and Baba Jamal won the nomination.

So the agitation and rumblings over the nomination of District and Municipal Chief Executives have not come as a surprise to some of us. The protestors and agitators are rehearsing a well-orchestrated script to ensure that true sons and daughters of the land actually get nominated for those positions.

And this was exactly what I wrote against in one of my pieces a few weeks ago. But those who deliberately read my script upside down felt I had done the unthinkable and called me names. Personally, I had taken a vocal stand against a candidate from my town who was contesting the constituency slot during the party primaries. I supported the “stranger” and earned some nasty names from people of my town. The record of my stand is there for all to read. And this is exactly the way I believe things should be done.

However, I see a lot of sense in what the agitators/protestors are asking for. They have my tacit support. These agitators are grass-root supporters of the party. They expect to see as District and Municipal Chiefs Executives, people who have identified with them in the course of their struggles. They want to see as D/MCEs people they can conveniently walk up to with the problems of their Districts or Communities. They do not want to see as District/ Municipal Chief Executives strangers or new Pharaohs who might not know Joseph. Since these “strangers” were not part of the struggles but owe their positions to some god-fathers who recommended them, the agitators reason that they might not get a fair deal from them. They believe such “strangers” might close their doors to them when the people get there with genuine problems.

Even if the new D/MCE s had not lived among the people, their actions before their nominations would determine the sort of reaction the people would accord them when their nominations were announced. If a person identifies himself with the genuine aspirations of the people by participating in the programmes or initiating programmes and projects in the districts the people in the community would accept him as one of their own. They might even clamour for his/her appointment even though he/she might not be resident in the community.

What the people are kicking against is the imposition of nominees who have no grassroots connections with the communities/Districts that they are being sent to as District/ Municipal Chief Executives. How do you bring somebody the people do not know as a party member to hold such a position? And if he is not a true party man or women how would he carry out the programmes of the party? How do you nominate somebody as D/MCE somebody who is part of the problem but not of the solution?

No, the people deserve to have as D/MCEs people they can trust and relate very well with They need to have as their District or Municipal Chief Executives, those who will share in their problems and give them their shoulders they could lean on and cry with them when the situation warrants it.

Government should listen to the cries of the people. The statement that if the people do not like the appointees, they should lobby their respective Assemblies to vote against them should be the last thing we should hear from a Government which promised to be a listening one. How realistic is this when Government nominates almost one third of the Assembly members? And have we forgotten what the influence of money could do during the voting process?

I was also not happy to hear Mills Administration saying the agitations are coming from less than ten Districts/Municipalities. It has therefore scores itself very high on this. We should not forget Jesus advice not to neglect any one person who is in need of salvation. He illustrated this in a parable. He asked which shepherds would take a hundred sheep out and brings home ninety nine without making conscious efforts to locate the missing sheep? If he realizes that one is missing, does he not put the ninety nine in the barn and go and search for the missing one? This is exactly what the masses want the Government to do. Even though problems have arisen in a few Districts/Municipalities, we must not lose sight of the fact that these seemingly seething problems could escalate beyond the proportions of what we envisage. When such a thing happens, the whole country will be affected. The number of lives that will be lost and the amount of money that will be spent to bring situation under control are what should agitate the mind of this administration when taking action on such protests and agitations. We cannot treat the Dagbon crisis in isolation. The whole country is equally affected.

The fact that a Committee was put in place to go round the country to interview the aspirants does not make the exercise hitch-free. A candidate might come tops at the end of the exercise, but is he/she familiar with the terrain he is being sent to as the District or Municipal Chief Executives? Certain areas and Communities need different type of leadership and approach to tackling problems. The Americans and the French, in spite of all the sophisticated weapons they possessed could not defeat the Viet-Congs. They could not cross the Ho-Ching Mingh Trail. The Americans sent their marines to Somali and got “trashed” by the Somali warlords.

Thus, my appeal to President Mills and the NDC administration is to tread cautiously on the appointment of District and Municipal Chief Executives. Let Government adopt a holistic approach to this issue. Let Government get all the stakeholders together and discuss the issues in a frank manner, so that in the end, an amicable solution could be found to it. Let Government not adopt a “buga-buga” tactics and ride roughshod over the genuine grievances of the agitators. That should be the last thing we should expect from a Government which professes to be a listening one. Let the Government not act like it did during the nomination and approval of Ministers. Let it not be said that President Mills does not listen to the yearnings of ordinary people.

Mr. President, the people say they do not want the some of the people you have nominated as District and Municipal Chief Executives. What do you say to that? Do you withdraw those nominations or tell the people to go to hell?

Before ending this piece, I want to state that, withdrawal is not a sign of weakness. It is similar to taking one step backwards in order to move two steps forward.

Daniel Danquah Damptey.
E-mail : - [email protected]

Tel: 0243715297.

Daniel Damptey Danquah
Daniel Damptey Danquah, © 2009

The author has 286 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: DanielDampteyDanquah

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