Petronius Arbiter, a 1st Century Roman satirist, once remarked that, "We tend to meet any new situation in life by reorganizing".
For the NPP, the period beginning with the messy selection of parliamentary candidates to the aftermath of election 2004 has been, in a sense, a new situation in our lives. Tine was when we had to talk people into contesting on our ticket.
Now there is an overabundance of people furiously contesting for that single slot with money reportedly changing hands furiously. This new situation has hurried us to the rafters with reorganization as the sole intension.
The party has hurriedly and almost quietly called for an emergency congress, which has been postponed twice already due to a lack of preparation and in this last instance, due to "Circumstances beyond our control".
The hastily propagated concept, which is said to be the main item on the agenda is to change the constitutional provisions for the selection of future parliamentary and presidential candidates of the party.
The observation and the resulting idea here is that a smaller electoral college is easier to bribe than a bigger one.
The proposition is as simple as it is false. On the one hand, what it could simply mean is that the contest will now simply be narrowed down to become the playground of only the very wealthy who can afford larger sums in bribe money, regardless of their bona fides.
On the other hand, if bribery is so inherent to the process, then it will mean that members of the electoral colleges will now have to contend themselves with and take home smaller sums in bribe money.
For a party with such strong liberal democratic credentials, it is almost alarming how little consultations have taken place on the subject, which is about to be voted upon. One would have expected the current party leadership to ask for observations and ideas from the constituency level up through the regional level as a way of ensuring a wider participation in and ownership of whatever the outcome may be. Our elders say, "Ti koro nnko agyina".
With the same kind of indecent hurry, we have stampeded and changed the party's constitution more than four times already. This is certainly not in the true tradition of this party.
As we rush to this "emergency" congress, we must not create an illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization. Here are some pointers as my penny's worth of a contribution.
· Better late than never. The party must immediately publish the planks for discussion. The party leadership at the constituency and regional levels must be actively recruited into the process and their comments genuinely solicited and factored in.
· A major contributor to this problem is how we qualify individuals to become aspirants and candidates. We ought to move away from that posture that "walk-ins" are accepted.
· Spelling out a constitutional provision without the accompanying regulations always proves to be an exercise in futility.
If we decide that the electoral college to select a parliamentary candidate should be expanded to include all polling station executives, we must first create a uniformity of offices at the polling station level across all constituencies so that if we have 5 officers for a polling station, it is 5 across the board.
Secondly, we must have standard regulations on low the polling station executives come to be qualified and elected in the first place.
· Once constituted, we must have a broadly agreed upon and acceptable method and means of protecting the integrity of the electoral colleges as we would a voters' register and must promptly display their names and credentials for all to see.
· The methodology and processes must also apply to the selection of a presidential candidate and all other office holders of the party.
At the end of the day, what we are all striving for is to put in place a system, process and procedures that will lead to the selection if the most deserving amongst us, possess the necessary integrity and reflect the best in us and our tradition.
I know the men and women of this party and the native impulses that activate us. Left unfettered by selfish maneuverings they will always rise to the occasion.