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16.12.2005 NPP News

An open letter to the NPP

By Statesman
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Party must counter negative propaganda – YOU seem to be missing the import of what you rather dismissively refer to as the National Democratic Congress propaganda, dear NPP. Allow me to fill you in. You must know that the consistently bad press the NDC had when it was in power played a crucial role in its defeat in 2000, and that the NDC, recognising this fact, set out to mend its fences with the press in 2001 in the hope that they could become partners in opposition to your government. You know that, to their bafflement and the entire satisfaction of all the anti-NDC forces, this strategy failed. What you don't seem to know or appreciate is the fact that the NDC accepted their failure, recognised that they had a problem, and set out to solve it.

And how did they do that? They began to set up as many newspapers as they could not just to counterbalance the perceived pro-NPP papers but to outmatch them. They already had two. Now they have eight, and the list is still growing. They have found that they can put out a newspaper at any time without the need to comply with the law or observe the ethics of journalism. Thus, some of the papers they already have on the stands have no fixed address, some are not registered at the Post Office, and the editors of some of them operate under pseudonyms, which, like their addresses, are changed at will. The majority of them are each less of a newspaper than a flyer, with a single mission: to seek and destroy your government.

With the criminal libel law gone, they can rake up any muck and throw it at the President or any of his ministers. The notion of balanced reporting, factual accuracy, fairness, or human decency is alien to them. The end justifies the means. And although their own means are very limited, in the sense that they have very limited circulation, there are more than one hundred radio stations dotted all over the country and three TV stations that they can rely on to spread the muck. All that they have to do is rake up the muck and sit back and watch as the electronic media pick it up with wild abandon and do the real damage.

To all this, you have no answer. The perceived pro-NPP papers are not owned, or financed, by you. They oppose the NDC because they are appalled by NDC's politics. They cannot undo every bit of damage the NDC inflicts on you as a party and on the country. And in any case they are now overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what you yourselves call the “NDC propaganda”. A few of you (Lord Commey and Ken Agyepong, in particular) have been saying that you are in power, but not in control, and that is not far from the truth.

The Police, the Judiciary (including the Attorney General's Office), the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, the Ghana Journalists Association, the National Media Commission, all seem to have been petrified by the NDC through propaganda, by issuing threats, or by putting them on the defensive. Remember the “party police” fiction; the trumpeted allegation of NDC persecution by the Government and the “martyrdom” of Kwame Peprah and Victor Selormey; Rawlings's letters to Obasanjo and Bill Clinton complaining about the alleged persecution; the threat, issued by no less a person than Professor Evans Atta Mills, that they will retaliate when they come back to power; the constant disparagement of the Judiciary, CHRAJ and the Serious Fraud Office; “stomach politics” accusations against the GJA and the NMC? Repeatedly accuse a state institution of being a tool of the government's until it takes the bait and comes out to protest its independence, at which point the onus is on it to prove it. So if the Police say they are not party police, then what better way to prove it than to leave the NDC thugs alone and go after the NPP ones whenever there is a confrontation between two such groups? Did the Acting Chairman of CHRAJ not compromise the Commission when she responded to the NDC charge that it was not competent or independent enough to handle any case involving members of government? By protesting CHRAJ's competence and independence, instead of hauling those who were making the disparaging remarks before the Commission for contempt, she left herself no option but to prove her assertions to the satisfaction of the NDC. And she has started to do that, hasn't she? She has of late been making unguarded anti-Government statements, statements totally unbecoming of a public servant. And of course the result of the preliminary investigation of Dr Anane is satisfactory to the detractors. So far, so very good with CHRAJ. And so it can be with the SFO. Uncle Fiifi says it is not capable of investigating Esseku's allegations. Theophilus Cudjoe says it can. Well, the good old Professor and the NDC are waiting! He can expect a good verbal thrashing if he does not deliver.

Yes, if one doesn't want to be at the receiving end of their insults, then one must do what will please them. Look at the GJA. Do you remember the alacrity with which its president came out to condemn the brief detention of a camera crew at the President's private house? How do you contrast that with her deafening silence on the yellow journalism being practiced by Komla Dumor and Joy FM News?

So you are in power, but to all intents and purposes not in charge. The mealy-mouthed gentlemen (and gentlewomen) that you are, you said nothing about the re-nomination and re-election of Dan Abodakpi. He is innocent until he is proved guilty; but Eric Amoateng is guilty until he proves himself innocent. Alban Bagbin, a man who has been accused of abuse of office, calls press conferences and throws unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against you – and you don't answer back. The Acting Chairman of CHRAJ proclaims that we have lost the battle against corruption, and she is still the acting chairman. Radio Gold is a palpable hotbed of subversion, and you dignify it by accepting invitations to participate in its programmes. Being an agent of a foreign organisation, and knowing that bad news about Africa sells abroad, Daniel Batidam, together with his corroborators, gets the whole country talking about corruption and then goes out and makes a survey of the people's perception of it, and you accept the fraudulent and bogus results.

Things are really going haywire. Too many nattering nabobs of negativism and cynicism; too many people not knowing the difference between freedom and chaos. I am writing you this open letter because you are going to elect new party officials tomorrow. You need to be reminded that the Party is in the doldrums, and that you must elect officers who can rejuvenate it. We want officers who can take the NDC on, who can stop that vile propaganda of theirs which is distracting the nation and creating false brave men. We want officers who can drum into the heads of the NDC faithful that when we remind them of their sordid past, we are not going back to history because they are not history, but the same people who want to return to power and repeat the same misdeeds; that comparisons with their past is not playing the blame game, but reminding them of their incompetence. We want officers who can convincingly tell the success stories of the NPP. And you know there are many success stories.

Take the case of corruption. They can first tell the NDC its own story, which is as follows: In March 1999 the cedi—dollar exchange rate was about ¢2500 to the dollar. The cocoa price on the world market was about $850, or ¢2.1 million, per ton – lower than what the cocoa farmers were paid (about ¢2.2 million per ton) in the 1998/99 main crop season. Obviously, the Government could not continue to pay the farmers the old price so either it asked the farmers to agree to a 30 percent or so reduction in the price or it devalued the cedi.

With the tacit consent, apparently, of the World Bank and the IMF, it chose the latter option and engineered the free fall of the currency. Now if it was just to have enough cedis to pay the farmers, it could have stabilised the currency at about ¢3500 to the dollar. But what did it do? It permitted the free fall to continue beyond that point, thus allowing it to print money for the party hacks and activists, for inflation of contract values, for payment of work not done, for bribing the electorate in the 2000 elections.

That, the new officers can tell Professor Evans Atta Mills and his NDC, is the reason why they left us with an inflation rate of 40 percent. They can then proceed to explain to uncle Fiifi and his party that inflation has been low under this government because there is no cheap money around. The NPP is not doling out money to its members, contract values are not being inflated, nobody is being paid for work not done, and no cheap money went to the electorate in the 2004 elections. In short, the NPP is not practising the “lootocracy” the NDC practised.

The new officers must understand that, with the prospect of the poor being cushioned by the National Insurance Scheme, the capitation grants and the school feeding scheme (another success story), it is only Batidam's contrived increase in the perception of corruption that can give the NDC a handle to use against the party in the 2008 elections. They must therefore be ready to take on all the purveyors of misinformation on the problem and set the record straight.

The people want to see the NDC hoist with its own petard come 2008. Your mission is to provide the right officers to ensure that happens. Have a successful congress.