Intra-party feud in NPP turns fatal
by Kwabena Opong
The death of Upper East Regional Chairman of Ghana’s main opposition party New Patriotic Party (NPP) sounds an unfortunate warning to the Danquah/Busia tradition that it has gone too far with the feuds and distrust that has engulfed the party. Mr. Adams Mahama was killed May 21 when an assailant spilled a powerful acid on him while he was driving home in the evening. According to several unaccountable claims, the victim was able to drive to the nearest hospital and named his assailants before giving up the ghost.
Within the party itself, accusations are being lobbed against Chairman Paul Afoko and General Secretary Kwabena Agyei Agyepong as behind the dastardly incident. They have both denied any knowledge or involvement but were prevented from attending the funeral on Saturday May 23: nerves are raw and among those in the party who claim detractors of presidential hopeful and party leader Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo are responsible for Mahama’s death there is extreme anger. Marverick politician Kennedy Ohene Agyepong even went a step further to name Afoko and Kwabena Agyepong and accused former Chief of Staff Kwadwo Mpiani among other leading members of the party.
The NPP as a party is facing some internal troubles and ever since the election of Paul Afoko and Kwabena Agyei Agyepong as chairman and general secretary respectively last year, distrust and factionalism have continued to tear the party apart. It all started with the general secretary’s dismissal of some employees at the party’s head office in Accra. Since then the bad blood that was generated among the factions has spread killing camaraderie and solidarity in the party. There have been physical scuffles and verbal insults and open accusations among party members and Kwabena Agyepong on his part has been vocal in his condemnation of some events.
In a politically polarized country like Ghana the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) cannot but use Mahama’s death as a weapon against the opposition. In politics as in war, everything is fair game. President John Mahama, on the other hand has been gracious in commiserating with the NPP saying justice would be served. Some leaders of the NDC among them, National Organizer Kofi Adams look at the event as scandalizing and characterize the NPP as a violent party. NDC press commentators have not relented in their condemnation of the NPP as violent and intolerable. The unfortunate event has become a tool for score setting among the opposition, but no less a person as General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketiah has been even more gracious. He condemned the killing as worrying and scandalizing of Ghanaian politics. It is a setback to the progress the country has been making in its democratic dispensation, he added.
The NDC cannot use Mahama’s death against the NPP as the NDC is not immune from such violence. Such incidents are not uncommon in the party: the NDC does not have the moral courage, the NPP says, to describe the NPP as a violent party considering its own violent past. The District Chief Executive of Nkwanta in the Volta Region was murdered allegedly by a fellow NDC member but was not as politicized as it is being played out in the nation’s media. The gunman is yet to be identified. Matter of fact a similar acid attack on a NPP man in Techiman in the Brong Ahafo region was allegedly imputed to a member of the NDC in the area. No arrests were made and no charges laid. The NPP had to send the victim abroad for treatment at their own cost. Once again the media hypocritically decided it was not news worthy. There are indeed several such cases in the NDC that received very little or no press at all.
The NDC has been disappointing in the six years since it assumed office. It has mismanaged the economy and once again the nation’s debt stock is rising out of proportion to its gross national product (GDP). Corruption is institutionalized while ineptitude and incompetence rule the day. All the social intervention programs established by the NPP administration including the national health insurance scheme and the school feeding programs are better scuttled. Worse still is the erratic supply of electricity in the country.
Ghanaians cannot wait for change. It is only NDC diehards who believe the NDC still has a chance in 2016. And they may be right if the NPP continues to hide its head in the sand and pretend as if all is well with their party. Political infiltration even in the best of democracies is a common occurrence. Remember Watergate? President Nixon had to resign in lieu of impeachment for his part in the burgling of the Democratic Party at its headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. In a very competitive political climate anything is possible. It is important for the NPP to thoroughly investigate the troubling issues that are tearing the party apart and flush out any moles from the NDC.
It is gratifying that Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo has spoken. He has called for ceasefire among the warring factions and asked that the party structures be allowed to operate. The temperature in the party after Nana’s press conference has cooled considerably. He reminded the party of the impending elections in 2016 and asked that the party focuses on its fight to win.
Asking for the resignation or impeaching the chairman and the general secretary would not solve the problems in the party. Resorting to any form of intimidation and recrimination would only add fuel to the flaming embers of anger and rancor and must be stopped. And rightly and maturely, Nana Addo has asked that Chairman Afoko and Gen. Sec. Kwabena Agyepong be allowed free entry into their offices to work without any harassment. “Having heard so many people, my first call on all party members and supporters is to cease fire. The finger pointing, the name calling, the insults, the lies, the denigrating of past and current leaders must stop. They are to be roundly condemned,” he said.
Party leaders should ensure that the family of the martyr is well catered for while investigations go on. His death must not be in vain and if anything, Adams Mahama’s death should be a force for the good of the party.
Ghanaians would never forgive the NPP for failing to resolve its internal problems. It is nobody’s responsibility but the NPP’s to ensure that it converts rancor and disunity into success in 2016. And that would mean forgiving and forgetting in the interest of peace and harmony recognizing the strength of the NDC and working to replace it next year. Ghana’s democracy deserves better than a fragmented NPP.
The writer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Amandla. He is also a Director of the Center for Media & Peace Initiatives (CMPI)