Political Parties And Ghanaians In Diaspora, Roles In Deepening Democracy In Ghana (Case Of The NPP -USA Branch)
Diaspora dynamics and transnational practices, various forms of direct cross boarder participation in the politics of countries of origin by migrants, such as voting and supporting political parties ,participating in debate in these countries and overall political processes have received attention by scholars and political scientists worldwide (see Nielsen 2003, George and Gloria Bobmilliar 2013 ). Development initiatives by so-called ‘Diasporas’ have recently attracted increasing interest among policy-makers, scholars, NGOs, and migrants themselves.
Migrants and ‘Diasporas’ are seen as possible agents of development and change. They not only remit money to their countries of origin, but also transfer ideas about political, social andfrd cultural change (Global Commission on International Migration 2005; Kent et al.2004) Ghana is considered significantly as one of the trans nationalized nation and society in sub Saharan Africa. As a diaspora with a long standing tradition, Ghanaians living abroad have established ties with their homeland by continuing practices and customs that keep their family and community bonds alive. In terms of numbers, there are probably at least one million Ghanaians living abroad, 300,000of which are said to be in the U.S. However, there is no valid source for their numbers.
While the 2000 U.S. Census identified 60,000, this figure is relatively small: two money transfer companies alone make more transfers than that number in a U.S. outbound market perceived to be both competitive and to have active informal networks. Similarly, the Ghanaian community in the U.K. is also considered to be of the same size as that of the U.S.or larger, yet official statistics don’t have reliable information for this diaspora. (See orozco 2005)
Migrants transnational practices encompasses a wide range of phenomena such as transnational election campaigns and cross border voting , migrant rallies against injustice in the country of origin . This gives a projection that these migrants belong to political parties in their place of origin.
In Ghana, those living abroad are somewhat members of political parties. Political parties in Ghana as part of their constitutional provisions make extensions for the creation of branches overseas for the effective inclusions of those in diaspora to actively participate in politics. The new patriotic party (NPP), national democratic congress (NDC), convention people’s party (CPP), and other political parties have external branches across the various continents in the world. These political parties have branches in the United States of America, united kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, japan, France, china, Nigeria, south Africa, to mention few. The articles 8 and 6 of both the NPP and the NDC respectively make provisions for the establishment of these external branches.
This study identifies Ghanaian political parties with branches overseas. We then center our focus on the new patriotic party’s overseas branch in the United States of America, brief overview of this external branch. Also we discuss the branches contribution in deepening democracy in Ghana. Finally we draw some conclusions from the study.
THE NEW PATRIOTIC PARTY’S EXTERNAL BRANCH IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Ghanaians in diaspora are somewhat members of political parties in their country of origin. Political parties in Ghana as part of their constitutional provisions make extensions for the creation of branches overseas for the effective inclusions of those in diaspora to actively participate in politics. The new patriotic party (NPP), national democratic congress (NDC), convention people’s party (CPP), and other political parties have external branches across the various continents in the world. These political parties have branches in the United States of America, united kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, japan, France, china, Nigeria, south Africa, to mention few. The article 8 of the NPP constitution makes provisions for the establishment of their external branches. This phase of this paper examines the general overview of the NPP’S branch in the USA.
Formation and general overview of the NPP- USA branch
The forerunner or progenitor of the NPP- USA was north America NPP including Canada that was born at a meeting at Opanin Adu Gyamfi’s residence Virginia USA in the summer of 1992.Among the veterans were Mohammed Idris , Dr Kofi Apraku, Dominic Adu Gyamfi, late lawyer Felix Otchere,Akwasi Prempeh, kwaku Anim Paul Gyau ,Dr Aaron Ohemeng of Chicago,Amo Adjepong and Ken Kofie of NYC.After all day heated deliberation it was decided to form NPP north America to coordinate the activities of NPP groups then springing up in some parts of us. The meeting was held under the chairmanship of of the late Jude Aidoo. Boakye Agyarko was appointed as the first coordinator. The organization played some roles in the 1992 and 1996 elections (sees bob milliar and bob milliar k 2013).
In 2004 at a national conference in Chicago Mohammed Idris was elected as the chairman of the NPP North America branch. At their next biennial conference in Virginia Kofi boating was elected chairman of the national executive committee (NEC). The first national conference under the auspices of NPP- USA was held in Dallas in 2007 whereby dramatic changes were made in the constitutions and byelaws of the organization.as a matter of fact and indeed notably was the creation of separate corporate entity to be known as NPP- USA and with the separation of Canada as NPP Canada branch.
The legal relationship between the NPP -USA and the mother party NPP Ghana is fraternal and serves as one of the representatives of its overseas branches. Even though it adopted some of the principles of Ghana NPP constitution in crafting its constitution. It could not subordinate its independence as a matter of corporate a nonprofit entity created under the laws of the state of New York, to the authority of NPP Ghana. NPP- USA is registered with the electoral commission of Ghana under its own name.
The NPP-USA constitution sets out two layers of membership; article 3 states that in essence one doesn’t have to be a member of two organizations in order to be a member of the NPP- USA. NPP- USA is an organization set to be the umbrella organization for the thirteen or more chapters in us. A unique feature for the the overseas branches even since even sister organizations in Canada , Britain Germany Australia, south Africa don’t have such broad geographical base as exist in NPP -USA. For instance NPP- UK is only based in London with no representations from either from either Manchester or Liverpool. The organization was set up to coordinate the activities of the entire sister chapters of THE NPPUS,to give its bargaining power at table of Ghana’s NPP.
Currently the branch has elected new executives to take the mantle of leadership and administer all the chapters of the organization for the next four years. Nana Agyei Yeboah as the chairman, Mr. Fred Asamoah as the 1st vice chairman, Mr. Augustine Agbenaza as secretary, Collins Nuamah as treasurer.
NPP-USA AND THE DEEPENING OF DEMOCRACY IN GHANA
Since the inception of the fourth republic in 1992, where Ghana transitioned into democracy, there has been sustenance of this political system without any political disturbances as other African states have experienced. That is Ghana’s democracy has been consolidated and deepened and has remained Africa’s beacon of political excellence and democratic freedom. There are several measurable characteristics that underpin what democracy entails, but to define my concept of democratic deepening, I use Almojuela (2012) , she asserts that deepening democracy is way beyond elections ,that is though strengthening electoral systems helps to deepen democracy it’s still not the problem. But the challenge is keeping the population constructively engaged in the political process (political participation).
Engagement of the people in public discourse, constructive criticism and other political behaviours that help to deepen democracy. The NPP-USA since 22 years have engaged in several activities that have helped in the deepening the democracy of Ghana in the long run. Activities ranging from financing the political party back home and the engagement in political discourse.
In the 1992 transition election, the newly formed NPP- USA played important role to help agitate for the institution of democratic political system through several ways.. Even though the NDC regime that supervised the transition to multiparty made it difficult for diasporans to support the opposition parties trough the act 55(14) of the 1992 constitution and the political parties act 547,2000 both forbade foreign contributions to political funding in Ghana, thousands of dollars were mobilized by Ghanaians in the diaspora to support the npps campaign efforts in the transition elections of 1992 according to the African confidential the npp made the 2004 elections Ghana’s most expensive elections to date by laying out some us 30 million from its own coffex. It was plausible that some of these funds came from the diasporan branch NPP- USA. (George and Gloria Bobmilliar 2013)
These funds have ever since made the NPP very strong and thus contributed to the democratic consolidation of the nation.
As civic culture and political participatory helps consolidate democracy, one aspect of significance of democratic deepening in ghna by this branch has been their political rights thus their voting rights . the npp government in relation to the diaspora was the extension of voting rights in national elections under the representation of people amendment bill (ROPAB)to Ghanaians in diaspora. The law was passed in 2006 to become the ROPAB act 699 in the republic of Ghana.( George and Gloria Bobmilliar 2013). This law since passed has given the branch the political rights to vote in national elections as part to ensure democratic deepening.
Deepening of democracy demands engagement in political discourse and civil debate of policy that will help shape the nature of the political system. The NPP- USA gave their concerns about the electoral reforms as a means to prevent the problematic nature of elections. They said in order to give validity, and raise elections to a higher pedestal, the IPAC and the entire population should consider proposals aimed at legislation to ensure that security features are enhanced on the pin sheets to make them identifiable to a particular region or constituency.(pace FM online 2012).again the daily guide, also provides us with some agitations by this branch on the alleged voter register that was bloated. They as a results urged all Ghanaian to mount enormous pressure on the electoral commission to reform the electoral system with the preparation of a new register as a major step in the process.
Furthermore for democracy to be deepened and consolidated as a matter of fact several constructive criticisms and checks on the government are very indispensable .NPP -USA raised their voices and expressed their discontent about the notoriety of contracting bad loans for political expediency as it was detrimental to national interest, evident in the vehemently criticized STX housing deal. They said it was prudent they proactively cautioned the NDC government to avoid such detestable and ill-famed vulture funds. They said that these vulture funds may run down the economy of the country. Again the NPP- USA called on to the mills government to fir baba Jamal due to his incompetence and certain behavior he portrayed that was not a mark of a minister of state .
Finally they have contributed to democratic deepening due to the level of democracy in their intra party politics. The hierarchical structure of the organization, their engagement of every member of the organization in decision making.conformig to the patterns of their constitution. International observers pay critical attention to these practices and thus record Ghana as one of the countries whose democracy has deepened as shown in the overseas branches.
The increasing awareness of the diaspora in the development of developing countries has led to a number of global initiatives and responses in order to realize the full benefits of international migration. These global responses include the High Level Dialogue of the United Nations General Assembly on International Migration and Development in September 2006 (Annan, 2006) and also the Global Commission on International Migration, an independent body set up by a number of governments to design a framework for the formulation of a coherent and comprehensive global responses to issues raised by international migration (United Nations, 2006). Regional and sub-regional responses, such as the Migration Dialogue for West Africa and Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa are worth mentioning.
Politically, some Ghanaians in diaspora have forged ties with several political parties in other to provide representation of those living abroad. This paper has set out to establish a case study of the NPP -USA branch, its formation and general overview and the various roles they have played in deepening democracy in Ghana. This study has made clear that this branch has been one of the vibrant branches of the NPP ever since their formation and has contributed a lot to the party and deepening of democracy through proper representation and political participation.
The paper makes clear some of the roles they have played : their vibrancy in the transition election period, amount of financial assistance that was channeled in tor the party to help maintain its strength politically , their engagement in political discourse, political(voting) rights that have helped them to exercise their franchise in national elections. There have been several roles they have played for almost 22 years in helping shape the democracy of the nation Ghana.in his inaugural address of January 7, president john Agyekum Kuffuor acknowledged the various roles played by Ghanaians outside Ghana specifically the NPP USA
Bob milliar GM and Gloria k. Bob milliar (2013) mobilizing the African diaspora for development; the politics of dual citizenship in Ghana.
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Peace FM online; election reforms need more transformation (NPP -USA)
Yaw Owusu W. (GNA) NPP -USA wades into bloated register. Daily guide 22 January 2015.
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OWUSU NSIAH ISAAC B.A HONS(POLITICAL SCIENCE)
KWAME NKRUMAH UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY(K.N.U.S.T) 0501357211 ... [email protected]
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