I see a lot parallels between the Republican Party of the US (GOP) and the the NPP of Ghana. Both parties have lost successive elections and are finding it difficult to connect with the larger electorate beyond its narrow base. The GOP lost the midterm elections, lost control of Congress to the Democrats, and again lost the Presidential elections to President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. The NPP on the other hand lost Odododiodoo bye election, Asawase bye election, and the last general elections, both Parliamentary and Presidential elections.
There is a struggle for the soul and spirit of both parties now among various factions within the parties. With no clear national leader now emerging to lead both parties, various wings are struggling to fill the leadership void. In the GOP highly unpopular figures like Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney seem to have become the spokesmen of the party from its conservative base while moderates like Colin Powell and Tom Ridge argue for broadening the base to include minorities and women. In the NPP, lack of a national leader after the defeat of its flagbearer in the last elections has led to various people in the party all claiming to speak on behalf of the party. People like Atta Akyea, Asamoah Boateng, Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Akuffo-Addo, Nana Akomeah etc, etc, too numerous to count here.
If the GOP wants to succeed and make itself attractive, it has to braoden its base beyond its core conservative leaning Southern white male voters. Its message must appeal to Blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and women of all races. Like the GOP, the NPP has to expand its base beyond the Ashanti and Eastern regions. Losing eight out of ten regions in the last elections should be extremely worrying to any political strategist worth his salt. The party (NPP) has to make itself appealing to Ewes, Northerners, Gas,
Fantis, Nzemas, Bonos, and all. Rightly or wrongly, the party was percieved as an Akan party, even though it has since lost clout in some Akan areas. It is now become known as the Asante-Akyem party, which doesn't help its image.
Broadening a party's base goes hand in hand with braodening the message and making it relevant to the times.The GOP is stucked in its pro gun and anti abortion posture even when people are losing their jobs, when health care has become unaffordable for many, and safety nets are tearing apart. The NPP on the other hand talks of a property owning democracy in a country where the unemployment rate among its able bodied and youthful citizens is over 50%, where about 40% of the people still live on $1.00 a day and over 60% less than $2.00 a day. In a country where malaria continues to kill infants and adults on daily basis, where school children study under trees,have no textbooks and no libraries, where many lack access to good drinking water and electricity, a country where our roads are death traps and hospitals have turned into graveyards etc. Meanwhile, people who served in government became fabulously rich in no time, lived extravagantly,became insensitive to the plight of the poor, and arrogantly displayed their wealth. Theirs was a property owning democracy so NPP functionaries had to acquire properties through legal and illegal means, fair or foul means, and by hook or crook. They didn't care about the roads they would drive all those cars on to their multiple houses. All these happened in the NPP administration. What's worse, they have failed to account for their stewardship in government.
The GOP and the NPP are both out of touch with the people and as a result are suffering a serious credibility gap with the electorate. The politics of their countries and the mood of the people have both passed them by. They are stucked in the past and if they don't refine their message and change their attitudes,they will never be able to reconnect with the electorate.I heard that the NPP was planning to hit the streets to demonstrate against what they percieve as political persecution by the ruling NDC. If calling on them to account for their stewardship as any government will do is political persecution so be it. Their intended demonstration only go to show how narrow minded and self serving they are. They are out to protect their interest alone. Their actions will have a huge backlash in the population and the people will be content to watch them self destruct. A party that throws the principles of accountability, fairness and justice to the dogs does not desrve the people's mandate to rule.
I couldn't believe the NPP as a party would defend such indefensible, abhorrent misdeeds like stripping bare the furnishings of an official residence you occupy as the former speaker did. Didn't Sekyi Hughes know that his actions amounted to stealing? Even my four year old daughter knows that taking sometime that doesn't belong to you is wrong. How about all those former ministers who took home government vehicles that didn't belong to them? This is the party that defended the likes of Amoateng and continued to pay his salaries even while he was languishinh in US jail house for cocaine trafficking.The more I listened to the arrogant defence being put up by these NPP guys to defend these and many other extremely disgusting and abhorrent corrupt deals they hatched in office without shame, the more convinced I become that these guys are back in opposition for good. Unless, we see more anti corruption crusaders like Hon. P.C. Ofori Appiah take helm of the party and weed the thieves and cocaine dealers out, the NPP's return to opposition will last longer this time than the last time they found themselves there. The public is outraged by the corruption and acts of indiscretion that have been uncovered in the Kuffour administration and call for appropriate response to them. The concept and practice of accountability should be instilled in our national life once again.
The author is a senior social and political analyst and policy strategist based in Tokyo.