NPP Has No Business Being Broke!
On Wednesday, 10 January 2007, the DAILY GUIDE lead story was “NDC Is Broke”. It read: “The largest opposition party, National Democratic Congress (NDC), which is readying itself to take over the mantle of government, has been officially declared broke.
The stunning revelation was made by the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the NDC, Daniel Ohene Agyekum on an Accra-based radio station.
“As a result, the Chairman further revealed that it had been evicted from its office premises and was in dire search of new premises.
Ohene Agyekum confessed additionally that a new landlord was demanding ¢3 million a month, besides the usual demand for an advance payment of ¢100 million, which he said was beyond the party's means.
He said after examining the consequences, all the 39 constituencies in the region pledged to contribute ¢1million each as their widow's mite to offset the rent.”
“Ironically, while the Chairman boasted that the party's membership had increased in the stronghold of the ruling party, he virtually went on his knees and appealed to every listener including the host of the programme, to assist the party. 'Kitiwa biara nswa', he pleaded.”
Today, the NDC has no such worries, transferring that situation to the party that inherited its previous position of being the main opposition party. But, should this really be the case when in 2008, Barrack Obama of the Democratic Party raised far in excess of what the ruling Republican candidate raised?
Can we not learn lessons from the fact that Obama managed to raise millions of dollars from small contributions from 'ordinary' Americans struggling to make ends meet under an economic recession of job losses and dwindling incomes?
How different was it from David Cameron's opposition Conservative Party in the Unted Kingdom raising more money, reportedly, than the incumbent Labour Party? Is something fundamentally wrong with the way we are nurturing our democracy and party politics in Ghana?
On 30TH April 1962, J. B. Danquah, the ideological head of the NPP, mentioned “the seven members [R B Otchere, MP, B F Kusi, MP, B K Adama, MP, Abayifa Karbo, MP, Jato Kaleo, MP, A W Osei, MP, S D Dombo, MP] of the United Party of Ghana with whom I share a common policy to liberate the energies of the people for the growth of a property owning democracy in this land, with right, freedom and justice as the principles to which the Government and the laws of the land should be dedicated in order specifically to enrich the life, property and liberty of each and every citizen.”
He continued, “This policy, subsequently confirmed under the leadership of Prof K. A. Busia, Parliamentary Leader of the United Party of Ghana, is still the kingpin of UP's liberal motivated policy under the present Parliamentary Leader, the Douri-Na, Chief S. D. Dombo, MP.”
Thus, by 1962, the free enterprise ideology of a property-owning democracy had become the doctrine adopted by the Danquah-Dombo-Busia tradition.
As to how 'freedom and justice' were deleted by the NPP in 1992 remains to be explained, but a party that professes capitalism must show to the people it seeks to lead that it knows how to create wealth and capitalize on that wealth resourcefully.
But, what do we see? After eight years in power at a period where Ghana's economy witnessed its most significant consistent growth since independence, we are told that the NPP is broke. It is not as if we are told. It is, indeed, the truth. The party is broke! Pure and simple – broke!
It is not broke because the party had generated a pile of cash which has been abused. It is broke because the party has never gotten into the habit of practicing what it preaches – using the opportunity its position creates to create wealth for its being.
For the best part of its eight years in office, the NPP, like the NDC before it, thrived on a dependency culture where it relied on a few sources of income, the kind of wells that run dry and wet in line with the changing of guards at the Castle.
On June 30, 2010, it was reported, “The New Patriotic Party (NPP) is broke just after 18 months in opposition, making it extremely difficult for the National Executive Committee to manage its affairs, Ghana News Agency (GNA) investigations established on Wednesday.
“The investigations revealed that Mr. Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, National Chairman of the Party, had to mortgage his house to raise the needed funds to pay the salaries of workers and provide logistics to run the administration and to organise the National Delegates Congress scheduled for Saturday, August 7, 2010.”
The party's MPs (about 110, including some three independent MPS) paid GH¢1,000 each for the August 7 contest and another GH¢500 each for Atiwa. Besides, about GH¢200 is taking out of their monthly salary every week for party activities.
What this means is that the NPP Parliamentarians provide the only reliable, regular standard source of income for party activities. We must feel for these MPs. They are carrying both their party and constituents, on top of their families and extra-whatever activities.
But should this be the case? Should the MPs, chairman, flag-bearer, former President and a few others be the main and only cash cows for the party? How sustainable and imaginative is this?
The DAILY GUIDE report on the NDC of 2007 is instructive for two reasons.
It mentioned the irony of a party that boasted of growing in membership yet was broke. It reported the Ashanti Regional chairman as pleading for help with the cliché, little drops of water make a mighty ocean.
Today, the NDC that could not find money for rent is now raising funds to build a new all-purpose headquarters. And, it would find the money for it, without necessarily dipping its hands into the national coffers because business people are happy to be seen to be supporting such a worthy cause of a worthy partner in the agenda for a Better Ghana.
In recent weeks, I have been asking questions from a few party executives, from national to polling station executive levels.
Those at the top appear to be waiting for some BIG money to come and those at the bottom are waiting for the centre to provide. There's a stalemate caused by unrealistic expectations.
Things are not in motion because the party has been conditioned to think that every activity requires money. That may be true in many cases. However, they have also been conditioned to expect much of what is required to do their work from the centre or top.
They have been conditioned not to be proactive and imaginative in raising resources to fund the activities that they want to undertake.
That is certainly not the way of Danquah, Busia and Dombo. It is a counterproductive dependency culture that limits the space of political activity to the very few months of elections – denying the party activists on the ground the opportunity to constructively engage the communities in real social action programmes in the long periods between elections.
Currently, the feeling of support for the party that finished second in that neck-to-neck contest in 2008 appears very strong on the ground. And, this has happened without any actual work by the party – it is by default.
Surely, there must be people, several hundreds of thousands of people who are willing to contribute their kitiwa to the party.
But even if they want to do so, do they know how that so can be done? It is like TV License. Many may be willing to pay but are simply not encouraged by the lack of payment points available.
The next couple of years offer the NPP and other parties, I presume, the opportunity to change the pattern of funding political parties in Ghana, where the size of a party's funding capacity is determined by the occupancy of the presidency.
Is the NPP saying that it cannot task its constituency offices to, on an average, identify 200 persons per each of the 230 constituencies who can contribute GH¢20 for party activities per month? This would translate into GH¢920,000 every month – a regular source of income that the party can really rely on.
For example, 20% of that amount can go to the regional office for its work, 30% to the national office, and the rest remains at the constituency.
The NPP has no business crying poverty and preaching the principles of a property-owning democracy. It is purely shameful!
By Qanawu Gabby
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Daily Guide and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana.