09.09.2004 NPP News

NPP's Primaries Blues - A Case Of "Okoto Nwu Anoma"

By Kobby Fiagbe/Lens
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During a conversation with a friend last week, she expressed surprise that our "Zero Tolerance for Corruption" President is yet to find the need to comment on, let alone condemn, the corrupt tendencies that have characterised the primaries of his party, with aspiring candidates openly accusing each other of vote buying.

Come to think of it, has Mr. Kufuor any moral authority to pontificate to anybody, especially persons in his party, on vote buying? It is said that when you sow the wind you reap a whirlwind.

The obnoxious practise of vote buying is not a peculiarly NPP thing, and, one dares say, it would be with us for a while until people learn to really appreciate the power of their vote. However, until recently, it is something that was done in hiding, underground, because those who dared to venture on the path of vote selling and buying know that when they are found out their reputations would suffer, not to talk of possible sanctions.

The problem today is the impunity with which persons contesting in primaries being conducted by the NPP are going about 'buying' votes of the delegates.

Today, persons contesting in NPP primaries feel emboldened to actually 'quarantine' delegates who would cast votes at the primary, by locking the delegates out of reach of their opponent(s), in order that their opponent(s) would not have access to the delegates, obviously for fear that their opponents might surpass whatever material inducement they might have given or promised the delegates.

Today, persons contesting in NPP primaries feel emboldened to openly distribute pieces of wax prints and other forms of material inducement to buy votes, as if those were the right things to do. Why?

All these things are happening at NPP primaries, obviously because the aspirants have come to see that that is the way people get 'elected' in the NPP, and because they know and believe that the leadership can not say anything about it, having set the examples themselves.

After the NPP's congress at Sunyani in 1998, some of the journalists who covered the event reported the perversion of the democratic process as a result of the massive vote buying that took place at that congress, at which congress Mr. Kufuor topped all the others to emerge as the flagbearer of the NPP.

The reports described how delegates were influenced with huge sums of money to vote for certain individuals in the contest. Indeed, one of the journalists was mistaken for a delegate and was given some of the money, which he brought back to Accra, together with the envelop in which the money was concealed, to prove his story.

Again, in 2001 after another NPP congress, this time at University of Ghana, Legon, to elect the national leadership of the NPP, no mean a person than Mad. Hawa Yakubu, an NPP MP, publicly complained about the vote buying that took place at that congress, and actually called on the party leadership to conduct an investigation into the matter. However to date nothing has been heard from the leadership of the party, either in condemnation of those practices or reprimanding Mad. Yakubu for spreading falsehood, assuming she was wrong.

Having by their own actions shown that vote buying is the way to get elected in the NPP, the leadership now clearly lacks the moral authority to condemn the unbridled perversion of the democratic process, resulting in the size of one's purse, rather than one's qualities, determining whether or not one gets elected in the NPP.

In the end, those whose pockets are not deep enough have had to resort to violence and intimidation, as a means of getting the delegates to vote for them, resulting in brandishing of machetes, fisticuffs, and firing of guns at NPP primaries. As frightening as these violent tendencies being exhibited at NPP primaries are, they are not nearly as frightening as the bomb throwing that occurred amongst NPP executives in the Volta Region a few months ago.

If people are willing to go, and indeed are going, to these extents in intra-party contests, one wonders what they would do when it comes to the larger national contest? Is it not possible that they could resort to maiming or even killing (perhaps a few women, say 34, under the cover of darkness) just to achieve their objective?

What happened to the doctrine of contest of ideas? It is clear that these people are resorting to these crude and illegal methods to get elected because they know that in a contest of ideas they do not stand a chance of emerging victorious. They are bereft of ideas, as well as morally bankrupt.

Thankfully, notwithstanding all the problems of the other political parties in relation to their primaries and internal democracy, they have not shown the inclination to descend to the depraved levels that the NPP's primaries have sunk. This can only be attributed to the kind of leadership the other political parties have.

I hope and pray that the leadership of all the other political parties would jealously guard against these negative tendencies, and would continue to ensure that elections in their respective parties would be based on contest of ideas rather than the size of the purse.

As for the NPP leadership, one only hopes that they have a modicum of morality left in them to enable them see the dangerous precedents they and their followers are setting by their proclivity to resort to these methods to achieve their objectives. It is not too late for them to repudiate these methods and revert to the path of real democracy, based on contest of ideas.

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