Fifty seven years ago, an obscure black African country in the western sub-region fired the name of black Africa into orbit. The euphoria electrified the whole world like a power grid. The achievement rubbed off on many African countries. It was still fresh in living memory when I came to England in the early nineties. I met an elderly Nigerian lady who told me, at the time, they used to walk around in London shoulders high with Ghanaian identity. That was the nationality they gave when they were in the company of other nationals. She said: it was like magic at the mere mention of Ghana as your nationality. Sadly, within less than a decade the magic was gone never to return. Ghana is now only a name romanticised by the classic fanatic students of Pan African socialism in Africa.
In 1992, after more than two decades of interrupted military rule, which made us a pariah state, we gained back some of the lost respect. We came out of the self imposed darkness into the marvellous light of democracy. Though, the old horses were still in control, it was better than nothing. In the year 2000, Ghana had a rebirth. Our democratic credentials were cemented, and Rawlings handed over power on 07/01/2001. As far as I am concerned, it is the only achievement worth mentioning, and I am prepared to lift my hat in absolute admiration.
For a period of eight years, it appeared Ghana was on course to benefit from the fruits of democracy. The gains of Kufuor's exemplary tenure were everywhere to see by 2008. A booming economy and a feel good factor – Ghanaians, were at ease with themselves. The icing on that celebrated two terms, comparatively, was the 2007 oil find. The big price of the 2008 elections seems to be already in the bag of NPP. However, I was really surprised when Nana Addo lost it to no other party than the brain child of a party that kept them poor for nearly two decades. I took comfort from the fact that such punctuation in our democratic odyssey will strengthen our quest for the soul of democracy. I felt the experience will prepare us psychologically to the realm where the idea of winning and losing becomes our second nature. Of course, why not, it is an integral part of every democracy.
2012 should have been an easy win for Nana Addo due to the blatant corruption and outright stealing of the ruling NDC party. Yet, he lost again, and he invoked the silly mantra of all political losers 'we was robbed'. The eight months that Ghanaians got riveted on the Supreme Court election petition was his costly bid for a third time lucky. The rational was clear; if he was cheated then it was not his fault.
However, anyone with eyes and grey matter should know that it is Nana Addo and no one else that ruined the chances of NPP. Can anybody in his right mind tell me that he was cheated in 2008 when they had all the resources of state to secure a free and fair election? If someone can logically convince me otherwise I will give up my quest. The majority of Ghanaians simply don't like him. There is no doubt, the hardcore rightwing NPP supporters love him to death, and they wouldn't hesitate to spill their entrails for him. On the other hand, presidential elections are not decided on the rightwing NPP votes. Elections are won and lost on the middle ground where the floating voters are.
The internecine struggle tearing the soul of the NPP party can be laid, squarely, at the door steps of one person – Nana Addo. He is the personification of NPP's internal problems. It is heart breaking even writing about it. Human inertia is a very powerful thing. Most people fear change, and they are always comfortable with the status quo. The saying that the devil you know is better than the angel you don't know is a sinister balm. The hardcore NPP supporters may harbour such atavistic fear for the unknown, so will the general population rationalise when it comes to the ruling NDC government. After all, most Ghanaians don't trust politicians of all hue and colour.
I would like to correct this erroneous notion about the opposition. The opposition party's desire to win power is what keeps the government on its toes. Some people see it as hunger for power, which may well be. But in reality, it is the heartbeat of democracy. There is no way any functioning democracy can deliver without a vibrant and strong opposition. It was due to the diligence of the opposition, which exposed criminals like Woyome. There is a battle for the heart and soul of the nation. And currently, NPP should have been throwing incendiary materials at the government, because it is their job. This is what they get paid for. Sadly, their attention is distracted away from the battle field. The question is how can they fulfil their raison d'être? And it's all because of one person's stubborn desire to become the president of Ghana.
A lot of cool heads within the NPP fraternity seriously believe he is damaged goods. I wouldn't waste my time to join these words if his bid is smooth sailing. It is actually destroying NPP before our eyes. Politics can be dirty; but it is also a gentleman's pursuit. When John Major lost the 1997 election to the Labour party, he quickly resigned honourably. And he was replaced by the witty Yorkshire man William Hague. He also could not make any serious dent in the fortunes of the labour party and resigned immediately after the 2001 election. Iain Duncan Smith took over and his poll numbers were so bad he was not even allowed to contest a general election in his own right. He resigned, and his place was taken by Michael Howard. Howard also lost the 2005 general election and he swiftly accepted responsibility and threw in the towel – making way for David Cameron, the current British Prime Minister.
Similar trends occurred in America from 2000 onwards. When Al Gore lost to George Bush, though his claim of 'I was robbed' had serious legitimacy, he did not seek the Democratic nomination again. John Kerry took a shot in 2004 and lost again to Bush and he also did not come back. Similar demeanour was displayed by John McCain. Why is it so different in Ghana? This is the fundamental flaw in our psychic, which translates into the difficulty we have in our developmental efforts. It is not only the police man who takes bribe or the corrupt government minister that is destroying us, but this stubborn attitude encapsulates all these vices. Ghanaians don't owe anybody the presidency. Mr Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, you have tried your best; however, it was not good enough. Just give way for someone else. It is an honourable thing to do if you love NPP and your country Ghana. Your lingering presence is becoming fatal to NPP and Ghana in general. This is the time the party needs to counter all the hogwash excuses being offered by the government, which the voters in the villages strangely believe. Kindly do the honourable thing. Throw in the towel to save NPP and Ghana from the voracious appetite of this gangster government.
Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr