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Breaking the impasse: a time to call the NPP house to order

THERE'S NO doubt that the politics in the NPP today, in as far as the selection of a Flag bearer is concerned, is one that poses significant challenge to party sympathisers. I believe that we should not refrain from this grave challenge, we must welcome it.

I write this contribution, coming from a theoretical background that conflict is not necessarily evil and dysfunctional, it can be a catalyst for positive social change and innovation. I am motivated to write this piece by the increasing media speculation about the potential contest between Nana Akufo Addo and his closest 'rival', Mr. Alan Kyerematen that seems to be cracking the party. From polling station, through constituency, regional to national executive elections in the party, the campaign, however concealed it might be, have revolved around the so-called Nana Addo and Alan camps.

The ongoing impasse in Ashanti region in particular stands out. Without denying this reality and the potential danger it poses to the party's desire to wrestle power from the NDC, the time has come for pragmatism to prevail over tradition, humility over pride and collective interest over individual ambitions.

I see two schools of political thoughts at work, and in the midst of the confusion. The first is a tradition that respects long and enduring service to the party and the need to consider 'seniors', so to speak, in election of officers and Presidential candidates. From this view point, Nana Addo has been given some points over Alan, especially, given the extent to which the 2008 elections offered opportunity for Nana to be marketed as a flag bearer. He may earn praise as a 'true party man' -'yenim no firi tete' and so on.

The second school of thought says we must recognise that such attributes propounded in the former are not as important as the marketability and social appeal of a candidate, taking into consideration the current dynamics in the political market. It has been argued that that true NPP faithful and sympathizers will vote for the party irrespective of the candidate it elects.

Of course, I make this statement with the assumption that other reasonable attributes and expectations, such as the sanity and maturity of the person are met. In that respect, there are many who think that Alan may have an upper hand appealing to floating voters, even though I haven't yet read and assessed the scientific justification for such claims.

There is no doubt that Alan has demonstrated capacity to market himself within limited time space and he seems to appeal to many non-NPP members. What makes these paradigms interesting for political analysis is the fact that there are die-hard adherents to them; a reality that has divided the party and can cause grave damage to the fortunes of the NPP?

The question that follows is -'are Nana Addo and Alan the only personalities that can lead these two traditions? I do not believe it is exactly so, but I do admit that over the past few years, these two gentlemen seem to have gained some enviable status and perhaps credibility as the idols of the traditions. If this assertion is true, then one is tempted to conclude that these two men, at least, at the moment, hold the key to 'destroy' or unite the party.

Of course, if the NPP can be bold to sideline the two and select an equally formidable candidate, then there may not be much problem.

Unfortunately, politics doesn't work with that logic and anybody thinking along that line might be underestimating the significance of popularity and personality factors in political equations. But putting all the factors together, between now and 2012, is such a short period, politically thinking, that the NPP may not have the courage to take that risk.

If that is the case, then Nana Addo and Alan become almost 'indispensable' and these men have to do something about the situation. The easiest compromise will be for one to step down for the other, but who will offer himself for such a sacrifice? That is the question that set the debate in a circular motion because an attempt to answer goes back to which paradigm should be followed, and the opinion is divided again.

In the face of this reality, or call it 'conflict', there is increasing call by concerned party faithful that the two gentlemen must meet face-to-face and talk as true party men. Both have to realise that it is time to 'de-crowd' their corridors and silence those behind them; and whispering 'don't give up' in their ears and take a bold step to directly engage each other. There is emerging suggestion for the two to be paired and bring their individual strengths to bear, and to unite the party for the 2012 campaign.

Even though some have quickly raised the north-south, Christian-Moslem pairing factor, there are people who believe that at least Prof. Mills broke the Christian-Moslem convention and still won in 2008. It will be up to the party think-tanks to do their permutations well and strategise to diminish any potential negative impact.

Whatever, the specific option will be, NPP members should not deceive themselves that the current cracks in the party is not dangerous, and that it can be effectively managed without the two men taking a sacred responsibility to dialogue or manage their camps. So, let those who have camped around these men and are preventing dialogue revise their notes.

I have intentionally left the former President, Mr. Kufuor, out of my discussion, but nobody should make a mistake to underestimate the Kufuor factor in any possible NPP victory in 2012. Any Presidential candidate of NPP will need him to succeed; I have no doubt about that.

Therefore, he must be given the opportunity to have some steering or brokering functions in the party. Again, it is unfortunate that he has some perceived attachment to one candidate, something that I find to be natural and should not be stretched too far.

It is very important to remind all NPP members that the party has some beliefs and values that distinguish it from others. Particularly, the NPP often boast itself as a democratic party that believes in development in freedom and rule of law. I don't think that by and large, the party has deviated from these ideals. Certainly, I admit that the current developments in the party demonstrate that NPP members have a huge challenge to continue to demonstrate its belief. Democracy means pluralism and, therefore, the party must allow every individual who thinks he or she has a potential to contest any position in the party, the opportunity to. There can be nothing like a privileged few who should inherit positions because it suits a certain kind of tradition.

Again, as a party that believes in rule of law, this is the time to allow the constitution of the party to rule peoples' conduct. If the constitution allows open contest for positions, that should be allowed to prevail.

More importantly, what does development in freedom mean in this particular context of party internal politics? In my humble view, it means that the party cannot stick to static tradition but allow for dynamism, even if it brings waves that may blow off the status quo.

It means that the governance system of the party must allow the view of the majority of the party members to prevail. It means that there are no major views and minor views. It means that everybody will be given the opportunity to unearth his God-given potentials and to exercise his right of self-determination.

It means that the good members of the party will be allowed to determine for themselves who leads the party at any moment in time.

These are fundamental values that that the NPP cannot divorce itself from, for in doing so, there will be no justification whatsoever for holding itself as a true democratic party that believes in development in freedom.

The Democratic Party in USA set an example when Barack Obama was proposed as the most strategic candidate who could win the presidential slot for the democrats in 2008. They defied the temptation for racial discrimination and some traditions to elect Obama as their candidate. Indeed, they met a sacred obligation and that was to respond to the will of the party members at the time.

I don't believe that all democrats and perhaps the old conservatives liked the selection of Obama, but at the end of the day, they had to surrender their biases and to allow the enduring virtue of freedom of choice of the majority to prevail. The NPP and indeed all political parties which claim to be democratic must not be allowed to run away from this responsibility. Indeed, all party faithful must allow some order in the body politic of the party and to create space for the true will of the members to prevail upon individual 'selfish' ambitions.

This is a trying moment for the party to live its virtues and to demonstrate its beliefs; NPP cannot fail and must not fail. I call on all well meaning party faithful to stand up against factionalism and acrimony and all executives (at all levels) and MPs to allow the party to develop its structures in freedom. Without that the NPP will have no moral authority to send a development-in-freedom message to Ghanaians in 2012.

Therefore, as a little voice in the wilderness, I invoke these virtues to cry out, order, order, order! Let there be order in the NPP now.

by Dr. E. Marfo - Ghanaian Chronicle

 Posted by: Dr. E. Marfo - Ghanaian Chronicle

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