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24.10.2005 NPP News

NPP searches for a new vision

By Statesman
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Where has that patriotic vision gone? Has it been replaced by a distinct lack of spirit?

OBVIOUSLY, influential support is ebbing but regardless, the NPP is desperate to love its leaders - and the moment they trot up on platforms, the supporters pop up like a theatre of frenzied jack-in-the-boxes. Full of beans and exuberance. This November's congress, an annual jamboree, will be no exception. The party shall lily-paint the town in a flurry of red and blue with the mellowing dash of white! Invariably such a brief encounter is massively oversold beforehand as a defining moment for the party to reinvent its image, replenish its coffers and burnish its ageing institutional machinery. More to the point the party is urged to search for a new mission as reform programs have been left smouldering in the grate. Party congresses are rituals that give key party apparatchiks very brief turns at the podium to declare their undying love and commitment in upholding the Party's vision, to which no one listens or believes. Within a matter of weeks such commitments as survive are long dispelled by a large swathe of the august participants.

Notably, more achievements are expected this time round, but the auguries are hardly propitious. An arrogance of power is widely infesting the skein of the upper echelon of the NPP, where it is casting a deep and long shadow over the affairs of the party. Allied to an air of complacency in the ranks, this malaise is unmistakably throwing the beloved party into ferment, rubbing the hands of its critics in glee. Now eyebrows are being raised as welters of embarrassing incidences cascade but cut no ice with the clans of power. As a bizarre sign of our times they are met with snorts of ridicule.

The ripple effects of hubris and self-aggrandizement are profoundly damaging for the Party and don't wash with most voters. Against this backdrop it is galling but unsurprising for a population of Ghanaians facing a broken mirror of promises, shattered dreams and dysfunctional lives to develop a resentful and avid dependence on the NPP government. Decided breakdowns in family values and discipline have exacerbated the problems, making governance a difficult proposition as it is - even at the best of times.

Our country has become a piquant place, where the citizenry shamelessly lionize the grandees of all parties. A habit of heaping nauseous praise and pining tirelessly for patronage is brazen; more so than an agitation for a better Ghana. As the party nears the end of its fifth year of office (and its titular head canters softly to his mandatory retirement date) leaving a legacy yet to be critically judged, the fawning is bound to assume epic dimensions. To the rising dismay of key supporters; the adulation is fulsome already. And indeed it has sharply multiplied that bloating and lolling of egos in the political firmament. Distractedly that wind is blowing the party off-course. Primarily the party is in a tail spin-tottering and is hankering after a new direction. For all its numerical supremacy, and fetishism of age it seems oddly ill-equipped to impose orderliness and discipline in its midst - leaving it disturbingly marooned, failing to cope with the rampant discontent it has provoked.

At the start, my card is marked as a constructive doubter of some the policies that are too unreasonably tilted in favour of excessive caution. Myself like many others of my generation cannot be cast from our historical NPP moorings. We love and cherish the traditions of the NPP. But, there are nevertheless occasions when, perhaps, our orthodox protestant origins prompt us to be sharply critical of some of its mores and self-serving partisan embellishments. Those, we think, might fundamentally roil the party's agenda or obliterate the simple truth.

Rising from a legacy of divisive cloak and dagger politics of the 80s and 90s, the NPP has commendably penned the National Democratic Congress threat since assuming power. However the party is required to lead the country out of escalating poverty and far-reaching disorder. Fearlessly, it must forge ahead and bring about dramatic changes. Any threat whatsoever to the fledgling democratic principles - the linchpin of the arduous process of nation building - must be vehemently expurgated within the tramlines of the law.

There is a canker- a chronic indecisiveness - eating at the heart of the party, which is mushrooming into a malignancy. Without diligent consultation and follow-up surgery, it will soon become intractable and inoperable. In this hodgepodge it does not take much to tear the tissue-thin divide between order and anarchy. The party needs no reminding; unlike a presidential term (or the obligatory two terms) it has the luxury of perpetuity of power. Provided it craftily maintains the confidence of the voting public and remains true to its orders it will succeed in building an economically buoyant and remarkably stable society. A public that is eager to be constantly instilled with optimism is not too difficult to cajole and connect.

As so often in the past the party's introversion makes it hard for it to pay heed to the cloud of disillusion looming over its horizon. Moreover, an unbridled fear of finding itself regularly pilloried in tabloids has prompted a markedly adverse impact on its image. Making some leading figures more edgy, inordinately timid, and at times, not seeing the wood from the trees. Staggering as it may sound, this is how flustering the picture presents in the NPP polity.

The party also needs a rethink as to how adroitly it manages the media. Journalism looks influenced and exposed to the reporting styles and political attitudes of the West – cynical of authority and sceptical of Government direction. This needs piping down with more discipline and needs to be modelled on our own traditional mores.

The party shies away from the energy and ideas crafted by those with more accomplishment or more youthful charisma than the elected in-situ. Simply asserted; party leaders are nervous of being eclipsed and upstaged. Where visible progress is being made, as in forging elemental infrastructural road networks, one still sees the dark forces of purblind ineptitude undermining the pace. Hence the pure self-serving but growing tendency to cling on to feather-bedded positions, come rain or high water. Even where that competence is impugned - their usefulness long-spent and becoming a danger to the party they hold dear - they still wish to bowl along.

Along with the despair pricking the already sore eyes, the streets of the nation under this NPP administration face the same obstacles and hazards. They are horribly clogged with scorching filth, detritus, indiscipline, and beggary - epitomised by gangs of child-labourers hawking at the coal-face. Access highways radiating from the capital are woefully pot-holed and perilously undulating. Their designs look as if they have been carved out by a knife without blade, adding to the already unacceptably high accident figures. In-trays in Government offices bulge with files discoloured under the weight of stark indecision and oversight.

All the evidence of inaction or cavalier-ness points to failures and shrinking confidence in those bearing the mantle of management in party and government. An inability to firmly seal words with a stamp of authority underpins the debacle. Their backwardation rather highlights their limitations while blaming failings on others and making the future less than bright. It comes as no surprise that the governing party is lethargic in the pursuit of its defined goals. The trust and fund of goodwill normally enjoyed from a relentlessly impatient electorate is effacing like snowflakes, while the present crop of executives quibble - spilling their differences into an open pit and dissipating innovative energy. What a sad spectacle for the nation to see the party unable to extricate itself from a navel of rottenness and invidiousness.

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