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21.06.2005 NPP News

Kufuor Causing Collateral damage To NPP -Palaver


Internal NPP Memo

... Does Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko recognize this Memo?

... Who was it addressed to?

Our political arrangement is a crossbreed of the US Presidential and UK Parliamentary systems.

Fortunately both the Americans and British recently went through general elections and there are lessons to be learned from their experiences, which will help us, improve the planning, organization and management of our dear party, the New Patriotic Party.

The current state of the tradition that Dr. J.B. Danquah founded speaks very poorly of a great party of the intelligentsia which even happens to be in power today!

After losing the White House and more seats in both houses of Congress, the democrats in the US appointed as Chairman of the Party Howard Dean, who had been favourite to be the party's presidential nominee, but lost to John Kerry. Dean after his appointment promised an aggressive drive to mobilize voters and rebuild the party "from the grass root up", to focus on state operations, energize the grass root and build an army of small donors similar to the one that supported his presidential bid. "If we want to win nationally, we must win locally", said Dean.

Lessons from the UK also show that despite securing a historic third victory for Labour, some MPs have suggested that Prime Minister Blair should step down within a year to 18 months instead of serving a full third term, with Gordon Brown being tipped as the most likely successor.

Tory leader Michael Howard has also decided to stand aside sooner rather than later to give the next Conservative leader much more time – 4 to 5 years – than the 18 months that he had to prepare the party for government.

The apparent crisis in the NPP is exacerbated by the fact that there is no clear person of light to be seen at the end of the tunnel. It is as if President Kufour's current difficulties are the sum total of the future of the party. This would have been understandable were President Kufuor allowed by the Constitution of the Republic to run a third term.

Those Labour activists upset with Tony Blair draw inspiration from the clear expectation that Gordon Brown is just there, lurking and ready to take over.

But, what do we have here, only lightweight pretenders too concerned about how to consolidate their own intra-party network systems to even notice that the party is on a downward slide and requires some redemption now.

While I welcome the Foreign Minister's bold call for unity (The Statesman, Wednesday, May18), I think he should come out more assertively than that. Clearly, he is the only accomplished politician within the NPP who can guarantee power in December 2008.

While I would agree with the answer that Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo gave at his vetting, to a question about his ambition – that the priority now is to focus on governing the country and not on personal ambitions – I believe the time is right for him to step and ignite the formidable process of his ultimate political ambition and most importantly for the sake of the party's own ambition to hold on to power.

His statement during the vetting was made at a time that President Kufuor's popularity was at its highest, but unfortunately, a lot of changes have occurred in the political and social environment since January, which calls for a review of strategy and tactics for achieving the goals and/or adapt the goals to changes in the environment. One week in politics, as Harold Wilson said, is a very long time.

By the amended Constitution of the NPP, the flag bearer for the 2008 election is to be elected in January 2008, ie. one clear year before the election.

By the same amendment, all those who want to contest the flagbearership must resign their offices one year before the primaries, ie. 18 months from now – which is a very, very long time indeed!!

Prez Kufuor, constitutionally, will not be a candidate in 2008. Unfortunately, most of the attacks from both outside and inside the party are directed at either himself, his family or the government, thereby causing "collateral" damage to the image of the party.

We all cannot sit down and keep our mouths shut, waiting for the 18 month period to pass before we act. It will be too late for both the party and whoever is chosen as the flag bearer, in January 2008, to repair any damages caused by our opponents.

What the party needs, at this crucial time, is: (i) a Gordon Brown to partner the "wounded" Tony Blair (Prez Kufuor) to give hope to the people, and (ii) a respectable, matured, strong, independent-minded person, with a vision, clout, contacts and the ability to raise funds, as Chairman, to rebuild the party.

The NPP does not have the precedence of an incumbent President handing over leadership and power to a Presidential candidate and President from the same party. There are no experiences to learn from, and we therefore have to study (i) the environment, ie. threats/challenges and opportunities, (ii) our internal weaknesses and strengths, and evolve a suitable system or strategies for a new leadership, a more responsive, inspiring and confident image, and project all that with new messages that are in consonance, not necessarily with what we think Ghanaians want, but what Ghanaians know they need. These are the requisites if we are to win comfortably in 2008.

What do we hear coming out of Nigeria? That President Obasanjo is likely not to support his Vice President and might rather throw his weight behind fellow former military leader, ex-President Babaginda to succeed him.

The Nigerian election will be in 2007 but IBB has already started his campaign using a front organisation – Movement for the return of IBB – both within and outside Nigeria. A Ghana Chapter was launched only last week, here in Accra, reasons being that, lessons from both the US and UK show that, to mount an effective campaign, a "fresh" Presidential Candidate or party leader requires more than 18 months.

Time is not on anybody's side and Nana Akufo-Addo should continue with what he has started – to fill that leadership vacuum; energise the party with the knowledge that indeed they have a more than credible successor in the wings.

Results of the 1998 NPP presidential primaries at Sunyani showed that Messrs Kufuor (64.8%) and Nana Addo (31.6%) combined controlled a whopping 96.6% of the party, while the remaining 3.4% was shared between four candidates.

Unlike the US presidential system where there is separation of powers, all those who contested Mr. Kufuor and lost, (with the exception of Lawyer J. K. Kodua), but won their parliamentary seats, were given cabinet ministerial positions.

Factionalism or groupings (left, right, centre, ultras, radicals/hawks, doves, old guard, young Turks, etc), based on principles and not ethnicity/tribe or personality cult is very normal and essential for the development of democratic political organisations. It encourages intelligent debate, promotes competition and healthy rivalry, which in turn helps to bring out the best qualities among its members in terms of leadership, innovations, vision, policies, etc.

But there is a lot of political growing up to do here. It is as if people would rather prefer we all shut up, pretend all is well and wake up after December 8, 2008 and find ourselves out of office.

This party does not grow and die upon the presidency of one man. And those who can help should not be dissuaded by the fear of hurting the feelings of the President.

Ghana and the diaspora is currently overwhelmed with several disenchanted, disaffected, disillusioned and apathetic members, supporters, and sympathisers; and many of them, including a large army of youth on both sides of the political divide, are looking up for a leader to emerge.

It is important this happens for one main reason: The leadership crisis that people perceive right now is not limited to President Kufuor alone. It is the party's vicarious liability and does therefore translate into the apparent failure of the NPP. The only way to stop this from being entrenched as a wider party problem is for a new, pragmatic, visionary leader to emerge – one that would transmit a clear and convincing message that in spite of all the shortcomings, after Kufuor there is a lot to look forward to without risking your vote to bring back Jerry Rawlings and his gang.

As far as the NPP is concerned, President Kufuor's only electoral significance now is to rule in such a way as to help his successor maintain power for the party. He has reached the twilight zone. For the sake of the party, who ever succeeds him must not be constrained by needless niceties.

We cannot afford to do what happened in 2004 that we had to quickly cobble together a team a couple of months before elections to draft a manifesto. The race for 2008 deserves a far greater intellectual appreciation of (i) what has so far been achieved, (ii) what the challenges are (iii) and a new vision that combines continuity and a more radical agenda for progress.

To justify why the electorate must re-elect an NPP candidate three things need to be satisfied: (i) the Kufuor administration should at least not have failed, even if its achievements are conservative (ii) the next candidate must have what Kufuor didn't have – oratory, charisma and the traits of persuasion and motivation and finally (iii) his message must be such that he is seen as offering something persuasively new, yet with the positive policies of his successor.

On the Chairmanship of the party, I am aware that some of the youth (who form 70% + of the electorate) are putting pressure on Kwame (Pianim) to consider the position. I have a gut feeling that some of the elders/old guard (who constitute less than 9% of the electorate) will have some reservations…. because of what happened in 1995.

Yes, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since and we have to move on!! After all Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, was sacked from the Labour Party … but today he is back after being virtually begged to return.

Similarly, today Kwame is the Chairman of the PURC under an NPP government, so why can't he be Chairman of the party?

The Godfather said…. "Do not hate your enemies; it will cloud/affect your judgement". The problem may be that the man may not be interested. He is said to have told close friends that what the party requires is a strong Ga with an intellectual punch for chairman.