17.04.2014 Feature Article

Afoko, The Whiz Kid

Afoko, The Whiz Kid
17.04.2014 LISTEN

Where shall I hide my forehead and my eyes?

For now I see the true old times are dead,

When every morning brought a noble chance,

And every chance brought out a noble knight,…

And I, the last, go forth companionless,
And the days darken round me, and the years,

Among new men, strange faces, other minds
King Arthur: '… The old order changeth, yielding place to new,

And God fulfils Himself in many ways
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world,

Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done

May He within Himself make pure! But thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer

Than this world dreams of.  Wherefore let thy voice

Rise like in a fountain for me night and day.

For what are men better than sheep or goats

That nourish a blind life within the brain,

If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer

Both for themselves and those who call them friend?

For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God

But now farewell. I am going a long way
With these thou seest - if indeed I go'
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round-table

CALL IT A 'TSUNAMI' or a 'Wind of Change', or a 'blitz', or a 'quake'. Whatever one chooses to call it, the choice of Paul Afoko the Sandema -born, handsome, respectful, soft - spoken businessman as the Chairman of the New Patriotic Party was as episodic as it was cataclysmic and pungent.

Days before the D -Day, a faceless saboteur had smuggled a letter to the Vetting Committee accusing Afoko of having been incarcerated in Great Britain for drug offences. The case of the NPP's former MP for Bawku Central informed the decision of the Vetting Committee to play its cards carefully. Adamu Dramani Sakande was jailed two years for forgery in July, 2012, leading to a bye-election which was won by a CPP candidate it took a bold, audacious person of the character and strength of Afoko to challenge this accusation. The waters had been muddied and nobody could foretell what the tango with the Vetting Committee could lead to. True to his middle name, 'Awintami' (God is my protector), he sallied forth with the theme song 'Onward Christian soldiers' marched to Tamale Stadium affectionately dubbed, Aliu Mahama Stadium, and he won the coveted position of National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party. With a clean sweep of 2034 votes, he cast the incumbent Jake Okanta Obetsebi - Lamptey reeling with 66 votes, Fred Oware clinching 1135 votes and once - favourite Stephen Ntim clipping 1,500 votes off the total votes cast. The image of all the former executives had further been dented by accusations of misapplication of funds, typically by Kennedy Agyapong, who had earlier threatened to form his own party if the old executives were retained in power.

Another high-profile election was that of the General Secretary. This was comfortably won by Kwabena Adjei Agyapong with 2,529 votes. Despite the accident that he had got on the Accra-Nsawam Road, his wife peppered him to leave the hospital bed and go to Tamale, his left hand in a sling.

His victory as an engineer, had shattered the dreams of the other three contestants who were all lawyers: the maverick Kwadwo Owusu - Afriyie (Sir John) (1,990 votes), baby-faced Yaw Buabeng Asamoah (181 votes) Captain (retired) Nkrabeah Effah - Dartey (46 votes). Yaw Buabeng Asamoah still has a future ahead of him, but it is doubtful if my classmate, Effah-Darteh, would dare NPP delegates again.

One could not rule out 'sympathy votes' going the way of Kwabena Agyapong-for the accident he had had, but having once been the spokesperson of President J. A. Kufour, he must have been familiar with the political terrain, with the tutelage he must have received from the veteran politician, Kufuor.

The pack was spiced with the election of the transmogrified former CPP loyalist and former Member of Parliament for Ellembelle Constituency, Freddie Blay. It would have been disastrous for NPP if they had discarded this gem of a politician. (I remember his SRC Presidency days in the mid 1970s when he would advise students: 'The advice is not to… if you do it, and anything happens, don't blame Blay,' he would say in alliteration).

Placing first in the Vice-Chairmanship race with 2,933, he beat former Greater Accra Chairman Sammy Crabbe (with 2358) to second place and FF Anto, a former Ashanti Regional Chairman to third place. John Boadu, a former National Youth Organiser had a cool ride to oust the incumbent National Organiser, Alhaji Muktar Bamba. The former clipped the wings of the latter with 3,279 votes as against a humble 476. Otiko Afisa Djaba was the only incumbent who retained her position as a National Women's Organiser.

The 'boys abre' man, Sammy Awuku won the National Youth Organiser with 471 votes, beating six other contestants. Saihu Yahaya was elected the National Nasara Coordinator with 539 votes, beating Abubakar Suleiman. Kwabena Abankwa Yeboah won the National Treasurer position with 2488 votes beating the incumbent, Esther Ofori who had 503 votes.

Security at the Tamale Stadium was very tight. The shooting incident at Aboabo had wizened up the security chaps and theirs was a good job well done. The solidarity messages from the National Democratic  Congress, the People's Progressive Party, the Convention People's Party, the People's National Convention and the National Democratic Party had one significant trend: 'The whole world was watching us and the NPP conference could be a yard stick for measuring Ghana's movement up or down the ladder in the democratic dispensation.'

The reaction of people after the election, apart from a few, depicted satisfaction. Stephen Ntim who spoke for the losing candidates set the tone when he noted: 'Ntim has gone for election three times, and has lost three times, but the party has won'.

Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, the former National Chairman has maintained a measured silence, but his Secretary - General has not closed his lips. He doubts the integrity of 'delegates' whom, he asserts, one should fear besides ghosts. The 'delegates' would dance with you, smile with you … but would vote against you. And the music man, Daddy Lumba would sing: 'Ye ne wo resre kwa…('They are merely sharing pleasantries with you- they can stab you in the back).

There is, to a lot of people, no reason why people should be sour about the election. To have got the opportunity to serve the party for four years should satisfy the losers for the chance. There are others, equally qualified to contest the various positions, save that they are either biding their time or have decided to let the chance pass. Success cannot be achieved without effort.

The whiz-kid (or, the whiz – man) has spoken: '… NPP, we want power … Victory is certain, …go home and prepare for government in 2016'. In a statement to the party faithful, Nana Akufo Addo, the 2012 flagbearer, reminded them; '…Internal party contests are not about winners and losers. They are about the party winning. We should all, in the true spirit of our party's tradition, rally behind our new national officers to strengthen our resolve and singleness of purpose to capture power in 2016. In this regard, I also urge our new national officers to reach out and bring on board their fellow competitors who were not victorious on the day. This is the only way we can forge ahead, as a limited party, in our quest to restore hope to Ghanaians.

I reiterate, once again, my appeal to all former executives to stay engaged in the activities of the Party? Need one say more?

Africanus Owusu Ansah
[email protected]