What are the NPP chances in 2016?

By Kwabena Opong
Despite the obvious failures of the ruling NDC, the corruption attending to a flailing economy and the generally poor administration, Ghanaians seem to be gradually growing disenchanted with the opposition New Patriotic Party. It is the only viable alternative but the party is bedeviled by internal strife and there does not seem to be an end to it. As at the time of going to press, the impasse of the suspension imposed on national chairman Paul Afoko has added to the confusion. If there is any hope for the NPP it is coming from the flag bearer Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo. He goes about his campaign and stays above the fray as he continues to encourage unity and focus on the larger prize in 2016. However, more is expected of him to help stem the internal strife and foster cooperation and party unity.
The events that culminated in the suspension of Paul Afoko have hardly died away, and players who were perceived to be fanning the embers of confusion in the party have not faded away either. Those suspected of harboring the so-called 2020 agenda have now openly emerged and among them are the suspended national chairman and General Secretary Kwabena Agyapong. They have openly questioned the legality of the suspension of Paul Afoko and still consider him the substantive chairman of the party. Kwabena Agyapong refuses to attend meetings called by the acting chairman Freddy Blay and openly defies his instructions and those of the National Executive Committee as well as the Council of Elders. Is it that the general secretary is seeking to join the company of Paul Afoko in suspension, and for what reason would he want to stake his political career on such path? Looks like he is setting himself up for suspension or even rustication. A latest report says that Paul Afoko has warned NPP execs against attending a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, saying it is unconstitutional. In a statement issued by his personal assistant, Nana Yaw Osei, “ Mr. Afoko wishes to state that he has not called any meeting neither has the General Secretary, Mr. Kwabena Agyei Agyapong, issued any notice inviting members to attend any meeting.
Let all members of the National Executive Committee and/or National Council take notice that notice of an interim injunction has been served on the party restraining the party and Mr. Freddie Blay from holding any meetings and also holding himself out as the acting national chairman, until the substantive motion is heard and disposed of.” The Courts have thrown out the injunction filed by Mr. Paul Afoko.
Another group within the party led by one Baah Achamfuor is believed to have written a letter to the International Democratic Union warning the organization against Nana Addo’s possible moves to obtain funds from it. The chicken are now coming home to roost. The party’s rank and file now know who the enemy is. It was the same Baah Achamfuor who reported to police that a financial malfeasance was going on in the party sometime ago.
Until Afoko emerged as the flag bearer’s nemesis, what little recalcitrance within the party was limited to adherents to the Alan Kyeremateng’s wing of the party. And it could be understood: Kyeremateng after all, was the major challenger of Nana Addo for the flagbearership. But events after the primary elections have shown that that political competition that existed between the two men has eventually given way to cooperation as seen in Kyeremateng’s role in the Arise and Build tour quite recently.
It is often said that there are no permanent alliances in politics, but permanent interests. Afoko’s and Kwabena Agyapong’s attitude is clearly prejudicial to peace in the NPP.
The NPP’s most important figure contemporarily is the flag bearer. Once elected he automatically assumes the leadership of the party. He is the figure who embodies all the party’s fortunes and aspirations. The party’s executives are obliged to rally around him for the imminent prize: winning the general elections. And in the case of the NPP next year is pivotal in the history of the party to snatch power from the ruling NDC. It therefore becomes strange that any executive member of the party let alone the chairman and the general secretary would openly harbor animosity towards the presidential candidate if they do not harbor any differing agenda from the party’s leader. Seems like the election of the two men was a big mistake. Afoko should have quit the moment his brother was implicated in the murder of Chairman Mahama Adams.
It is not known what must have occasioned the current goings on the NPP but certainly the incidence of various power blocs and poles in the party has contributed largely to the disloyalty that is bedeviling the party. While the flag bearer is on the campaign trail, the responsibility of keeping the party together falls on the party executives. One does not expect the leader to wear the hat meant for the executives.
Some key members of the NPP admit that the two executives are disloyal and deserve to be punished. The impression gathered by this writer in the presence of the flag bearer and the party faithful indicates that Afoko and Agyapong do not really have any support in the majority of the party. Neither do the party faithful consider the party’s internal wrangling as an impediment to success in 2016. It is a section of the media whose continuous hammering of the NPP on their platforms that is creating misgivings about the party’s chances next year. This is not the first time any political party has been so afflicted.
What is happening in the NPP is not a strange phenomenon in politics. Infighting in political parties is a common feature. As far as winning elections are concerned, a party in opposition is under obligation to assure voters that it has the wherewithal to deliver what voters want from it. In the case of the NPP it is stability, unity and loyalty in its membership. Out of power the NPP might have a hard time convincing floating voters of its readiness for power. And especially at this time, barely a year to the next election, the party must work twice as hard as the ruling NDC to grab power.
Right now the NPP has a couple of issues to deal with: It has only been in office for eight out of the NDC’s 28 years. It does not as much possess the level of loyalty existing in the NDC. Money becomes an issue if a party stays on the sidelines much longer. A party in opposition is not attractive to the business world and it has to work several times as much to be considered for any worthy donation. Thirdly, the media can be quite apathetic to a party in opposition and particularly to the NPP, having lost two consecutive times, it loses its allure and it could become an object for ridicule. Case in point: NPP’s claims of a bloated voter register was on the verge of being dismissed until the UNDP discovered the inconsistencies. Floating voters are not likely to consider an opposition party that is in the throes of confusion.
The aforementioned notwithstanding, the NPP has a few things going in its favor. Ghanaian floating voters are sympathetic towards a candidate who exhibits the wiles to stay in the game. It worked for John Atta Mills in 2008. The Ghanaian media are weak kneed and largely unprincipled and could be pliable. But even more so the state of Ghana now makes the NPP needed more than ever. Nana Addo fills the gap, and with Bawumia by his side having proven to Ghanaians and the world the profligacy of the Mahama administration, the NPP with a little more effort can bring on board a support base that could include those who in the past shunned it.
The NPP has the chance and it must work toward it. The negative baggage of the ruling NDC is too weighty if carefully and tactfully exposed by the NPP. No assumptions are warranted here. The facts are there for all to see. Bawumia has already proven that the economy is badly and inefficiently run. Nothing works and the IMF involvement in the economy is hurting everybody. The list is endless.
It is only the flag bearer who seems to be dismissing the Afoko-Agyapong farce. His demeanor and attitude see nothing but the bigger prize waiting in 2016. The rest of the party need not see anywhere else for direction.
Let no one fool himself or herself, Afoko and Agyapong have the support of some once powerful party apparatchiks but they do not command the power of the people’s votes. The way things are they do not have any clout in the party any longer.

Opaning Kwabena Opong is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Amandla. He is also the Africa Bureau Chief for the Center for Media and Peace Initiative, a New York Media Think Tank.

Posted by on Nov 16 2015. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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