NPP Polls: Why my preferred candidate should not be selected – Starsky writes

Alan Kyeremateng [R] and Dr Mahamudu Bawumia

As a center-right political ideologist, I hold a strong conviction in the belief that people who put themselves up for leadership and positions of service should be recognized and rewarded based on their long service, dedication, tradition(s) of the party, topping it all with their level of competence. But in all these, what one cannot, but accept to be the missing puzzle in the quest to elect a winnable standard bearer, capable of seizing political power from the jaws of other opposing parties, is the personality or likability of the person(s) involved – whether they appeal to the electorate or there is an overwhelming mistrust about the individual. Either way it falls, seeking political power requires not just the arrowhead, but the collective effort from a team of dedicated people, who are poised and focused to go the length to ensure that the ultimate is achieved, when finally, power is won!

But before any political party, a conservative one for that matter, “outdoors” its candidate and rally behind him or her as the best bet to lead a country towards achieving its developmental agenda, there is this highly tensed, open, and sometimes uncensored verbal, physical, and all other forms of attacks against contesting candidates. Enemies are created; personalities are disgraced; reputations and images tarnished; information that may not be rife for public consumption are divulged; personal or collective secrets are diabolically exposed; and in the end, the opposing parties and the public are weaponized with truths, untruths, and half-truths, that make the work of whoever emerges the winner so herculean of a task to overcome. The first challenge that confronts the winner, then becomes how to clear all those misconceptions in the public domain, before selling their policies and programs to the people. As to whether there will be enough time to do that before the elections or whether the citizenry would not have made up their minds already and will accept the campaign messages as well as policies and programs of the party, is a matter of common knowledge.

This is the situation that the New Patriotic Party (NPP), a conservative, center-right ideological tradition finds itself once again. I dare say, AGAIN, because the party has lived this historic moment before, in this fourth Republic, when after all the innovative policies and life-changing social intervention programs of the first NPP government, JAK, was left with no option than to bow out of office, gracefully. But the most successful president of the UP tradition, arguably, would want to have his last wish fulfilled, by praying that his government is succeeded by another member from his political party. This, he said openly and gleefully, strongly believing that with the kind of improvements and leadership his administration has offered, the opposition stood no chance of winning the elections. Afterall, it was a verdict on his presidency over the 8 years, their elections to lose and not the opposition’s.

Notwithstanding, the verdict is there for all to see! Ghanaians went to the polls and among the many factors that might have contributed to the loss of the NPP, is the myriad of challenges that emanated from within their own camps. Prominent amongst them was the opulence that the party and its apparatchiks were perceived to be exhibiting. The believability of this assertion seemed to have been reinforced when about 17 people presented themselves to be voted for as the standard bearer for the party… a situation that elicited the infamous “17 thieves parading to elect a chief thief” mantra from the then General Secretary, now, Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

As if this was not damage enough, was the vituperations and personal attacks that became commonplace during the internal campaigns. The level of animosity and hatred that was occasioned because of such acts contributed to the difficulties thereof, when after a standard bearer had been elected, the party needed to come together to face the common “enemy” – the NDC. Inasmuch as one would want to believe that the party of democrats and patriots, the NPP, would have learned great lessons from this experience that sent the elephant into the bush, the few issues that seems to be raising its ugly heads as we gird ourselves up for another crucial internal elections, is a foreshadow of the damage to come…

The truth is that some of these excesses are to be expected wherever and whenever there is a position to be filled through elections. I am yet to see a successful politician without ego, and a strong-willed, determined mindset. This is part of what drives a politician to design innovative policies and programs, and with conviction, see them fulfilled. But it is these same things, that if not managed well, becomes their Achilles hill, leading to their downfall. It was these same egos that deceived some people into thinking that they could win the 2008 NPP primaries, when they should have known that the best, they could do was to secure a solitary one vote! It was these same delusions of self-grandeur that made people jump into the fray to waste their resources, crisscrossing the entire country, yet could not secure fifty votes! And again, it was because of same, that candidates spread falsehood and lies about each other, knowing that there was not a scintilla of truth in them, but said them anyways, and even failed to apologize (as though it was going to make any changes).

Most importantly, it was these same traits that blinded people from seeing the bigger picture should NPP win, but decided to pay back for some lies, untruths, half-truths, secrets, and personal vendetta, for which they decided not to sacrifice their time, resources, energy, etc. to support the campaign. Sadly, it has been asserted that some even campaigned against the candidate of their own party. But how can the NPP make the right moves this time around, to position itself in a way that will avert the happenings of 2008, amid the tensed internal campaigns that stare them in the face? Besides racing against time, and the luminous difficulties that have characterized the second half of the 8 years of this government, including the flaring egos of people parading themselves once again to lead the party, a replicate of the events of 2008, the NPP has the benefit of history and hindsight. This should be their guiding principle and force them to do the right things right, this time around… and that is why my choice of candidate should not be selected!

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The man, John Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, one of the longest serving ministers of the NPP government in the fourth republic, remains a formidable stalwart and candidate to be elected as the standard bearer. Besides his calm demeanor, he also commands a lot of respect across the political divide and amongst majority of Ghanaians. His unconfrontational attitude and disposition, makes it difficult for even his opponents or strongest critics to use unprintable words and vituperations that have been synonymous with politicians, either on his person or his work in public office. In fact, Alan can be easily described or categorized amongst the few politicians who even when they disagree with you on a policy or program, will choose to speak to the issues instead of ad hominem attacks… something that some unrefined Ghanaian politicians think will give them the clout to propel their political career. Well, at least, the media and parties have tagged such people as being excellent communicators and awarded them with positions and quick to invite them to their shows. Do not be mistaken, personality counts a lot in public service and Alan makes the cut!

Dedication and commitment to party and its ideology is a hallmark that is highly rewarded by those who believe in the center-right, conservative ideology. It should be recalled that Mr. Kyerematen has been a dedicated member of the NPP since its inception in 1992 and can be credited as a founding member of the party. The assertion from his political “opponents” especially, those from within, has been that he at one point submitted an intent to resign, contingent on the resolution of some inherent challenges that his followers or supporters were perceived to be facing. But who will dare raise such issues and question his dedication and commitment, when his fiercest and closest rival, whose supporters share such sentiments, was never a member, to begin with.

In fact, there is an “unchallenged” narrative that special arrangements had to be made, with procedures side-stepped, to rope his closest contestant into the party and honor him with the enviable position of many a political class. The NPP Constitution, chapter 12, under election of presidential candidate (p. 58), states that a person nominated for the VP candidate SHALL be someone known and active member for at least, 5 years. Notwithstanding, it is believed that at the time of DMB’s appointment, he did not meet that requirement and the party had to decide to loosen that requirement so he could be considered and accepted. As a conservative minded politician, I will caution that setting such a precedence, once again, poses danger, but can be managed to their advantage if handled with finesse and tact… Alan has been at the forefront of leading the NPP since the days of JAK, but he is said to have been implored upon to bid his turn and allow others supposed to be ahead of him to lead, although it is believed that he was amongst the favorites, tipped to have been able to beat JAK to be the leader.

After his failed attempt at leading the party in 2008, Alan has kept faith with the party, stayed relevant and functional, and has never shelved his intent. Is it by sheer statement after securing the standard bearer position, or a prophetic moment, when the current president said Alan was to succeed him? Or is it because as a center-right, conservative politician, Nana Addo believed in the “line of succession” as people would suggest? Before you insinuate that there are others who have been in the contest since 1992, think about their impact, relevance, role, and commitment to the course of the party afterwards, and convince anyone if they still command the same clout and gravitas as Alan!

Mr. Kyerematen has committed his energy, time, and resources towards advancing the progress of the party and by extension, Ghana. Through these periods, he has held couple of positions including what has become synonymous with him, the Trade and Industry portfolio. Although Ghanaians have hailed his contributions to this sector, his real impact on trade and industry across the sub-region and the world is indelible on the continent and world trade. The presence of automobile giants in Ghana; the confidence and interest of trade partners in Ghana; the establishment of AfCFTA Headquarters in Ghana, among others, speaks to the expertise and confidence that this man brings to bear, should he be in the helm of affairs.

Yes, this is a great man of our political ideology, one who could at anytime and on any platform, be called upon to lead the country. But as the sons of Issachar did, we should know the times we are in… these are not normal times, and we should not make decisions that seem to be the norm. The history of Ghana’s politics is replete with references and examples to warn us that touting one’s policies and programs alone, does not win elections. Especially, if you are the incumbent party and for that matter, the one upon whose head the verdict is directed. If that were the case, JAK would have been succeeded by Nana Addo in 2009. Mr. Kyerematen is without doubt, my candidate, and the candidate of many conservative-believing political class, especially, those of us who staunchly supported Nana Addo’s bid because “yenim no fri tete.”  Alan checks out all what I look for in a candidate, as a conservative but he should not be selected based on the following:

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The period we find ourselves as Ghanaians, is one that requires a candidate who is likely to win not just the standard bearer slot for the party, but someone who can secure the coveted presidency during the general elections. Yes, Alan, and any of the people who have expressed their interest in becoming the standard bearer of the NPP, have the capacity to win against the NDC in any elections… nonetheless, the level of propaganda and its influence on elections in any indigenous society like ours, have proven to be potent and cannot be slighted or taken for granted. The propaganda against the NPP has always been that it is an Akan dominated party, and for that matter, the “king-makers” will never allow a non-Akan to represent them as their presidential candidate. It must be emphasized that out of the two dominant parties in Ghana, it is the NPP that have proven record of always presenting a ticket that has a person from the Northern sector as their vice-presidential candidate, except in one or two occasions. In fact, they have been the party to give a non-Akan more years (about 16) at the presidency in the history of our republic.

Moreover, the NPP happens to be the only party that has almost always presented a Christian-Muslim ticket whenever they have gone into general elections, since 1992. The only time the NDC has tried doing same was in 2004 when the late President Mills presented Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni as his running mate, a ticket that was woefully defeated, winning an abysmal 44.6% of the votes and only 94 out of the total of 230 parliamentary seats. Two years after, Alhaji Mumuni was replaced with a non-Muslim, who will later become the president, Mr. John Mahama. Despite this deliberate political strategy from the NPP, they have been accused of presenting Muslim candidates as only fit to be vice presidential candidates, a propaganda that seems to have stuck with a section of the population, partly because of the level of understanding and appreciation of democratic governance, not to belabor the point about the level of enlightenment of the populace. Otherwise, how could the NDC that has a poor record presenting a Muslim on the ticket, compared to the NPP, have succeeded in pushing such an agenda? And before you undermine the Christian-Muslim (vice-versa) ticket, check the demographics of Ghana, and understand the political dynamics.

Without overemphasizing this point and making it sound like tokenism, this NPP era has seen the level of performance and visibility that the current vice-present, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia, has brought to bear on our governance. Besides being a devout Muslim and a friend of the Christian faith, DMB, as he is affectionately called, has brought a lot of innovations to our democratization, the likes of which cannot be comparable to any VP that has been witnessed in the fourth republic. His appreciation and understanding of modern trends, which keeps reflecting in the kind of technological, digitalization, paperless, and other innovative ideas, laced with his “Walewale Adam Smith” economic mastermind, puts him in a position beyond just being a Muslim, to be the one leading the party this time around. Least I forget, his stint at the presidency for these past 7 years cannot be whisked away!

It is interesting to note that Ghanaians seem to have for the longest, blamed the atrophied developmental standing of Ghana largely on the country’s economic situation, yet, they have never employed the services of an astute and renowned economist to be in the helm of affairs. I am not talking about the “pee-one-ic” economics that we all appreciate daily… it’s about the kind of developmental economics that is relevant to current world situations. It is without equivocation that DMB stands out and tall amongst all the candidates vying for the standard bearer position of the NPP, and by extension the president of Ghana. Inasmuch as DMB has the advantage of being vice for about 7 years, it is the vision and direction of the president that drives the country, as such it is disingenuous to question why he could not implement all the policy options that his followers are saying he will proffer.

There seems to be a new crave for “breaking” of some traditions and long held principles and practices in Ghana, particularly, regarding democracy and governance. The NPP has for some time now, been on a campaign blasting the idea of “breaking the 8” which literally means ensuring the continuity of the government for other term(s) beyond the regular 8 year (2 terms) given to parties to rule, which appears to be a convention since 1992. What we seem to forget is that the NDC is also on a tangent to shuffle the political feathers and break something, by trying to resurrect the political fortunes of a “lame horse” who before losing abysmally, had transmogrified himself into a “dead goat.” What this means is that it will be the first time a one-term president will come back after 8 years to complete another 4 years. Based on the reasons espoused and many others, I am of the conviction and belief that such a continuity should not just be about the same party continuing with the governance, but also the crop of leadership that we elect cannot be better than the man who has not just been an apprentice, but one who’s proven that given the opportunity he will perform creditably. Although all the contestants have had an experience one way or the other, DMB stands tall amongst the lot.

Besides the many accolades and attributes that proponents or promoters of the DMB agenda, just like those in support of all the other proposed candidates including my preferred candidate (if the afore-mentioned conditions did not prevail) would ascribe as being their trump card and strength that can secure them the standard bearer position of NPP, what is most important is not the sterling performance of yet another NPP government, but one who will get them back to the Jubilee house. If it were just about a party’s performance when in government, two things would have happened in Ghana: the NPP would not have lost power in 2008, and the NDC is likely to have been in opposition for a considerable amount of time.

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If the electorates cared so much about succession or sticking to political traditions, then DMB would not have been in this position to begin with. I believe that most of those who opposed his selection as VP (somewhat justified by his standing in the party at the time), have become his biggest supporters because of his exploits and competence. It is this same “sticking to political tradition” that got us support and subsequently, elect Nana Addo ahead of Alan in 2008, because we thought it was Nana’s time… the NPP would have to wait for another 8 years, before Ghanaians will allow them to oversee the country’s governance again. The NPP cannot, and must not repeat the mistakes of the past, this time around! The clamor, and overwhelming support for the DMB brand, is palpable and the NPP kingmakers will ignore it at the peril of their continued stay in government.

Despite the preponderance of information and data in support of DMB, the NPP ought to be circumspect in their dealings. Just as we saw almost all the JAK government appointees whipped in-line to support a certain Alan Kyerematen, which caused the displeasure and wrath of many a NPP members who thought such perceived act was against the dictates of conservatism, we ought to be cautious same is not replicated this time around. But, once again, from the posturing and actions of those closer to power in this administration, it appears the party have been “cursed” to run out of office with alacrity, whenever everything points to the party “breaking the 8” after we have been in power and have put up a sterling performance.

The perception that people who do not support the choice of the establishment are being victimized, should not be countenanced. This is the time the party will need the services of all NPP members, sympathizers, and Ghanaians, to break the 8, considering the glaring challenges that Ghanaians have been subjected to due to the global difficulties. We should never forget that to win elections in Ghana, a party only need 50% plus 1 vote… the person being harassed or punished, could be the plus 1! Should DMB win the general elections, he will need the services and support of all NPP members to perform as anticipated. And we should not create an impression that a DMB presidency will be a “continuity” of the Nana Addo government… Yes, there is support for continuity of the party in government and its policies, but the support for fresh ideas in implementing the center-right ideology is beyond measure.

Let us ponder over these: Should DMB lose the elections, what becomes of his expertise, ideas, and digitalization agenda? Reference should be made to the VP’s Ghana has had and their relevance in the country’s governance once they leave office. On the other hand, the other aspirants can be re-engaged easily into the government after the elections. How will the NPP convince northern voters that their position in the NPP is not just about being Vice? What will happen to the numerous projects initiated by the Nana-Bawumia government, should a different person win the presidency? DMB is more inclined to continue most, if not all the projects already initiated, whiles embarking on his own initiatives, rather than a party member who wants to prove they are capable in their own stride. After all, what became of some of the projects JAK started, even with an NPP in government for almost 7 years?

Breaking the 8 is not an easy task to be accomplished, and so is the difficulty in bringing a dead goat riding on a lame horse, that is limping on one leg, to win the elections. Let the NPP not compound the already difficult situation the party finds itself, by causing a storm in the already shaky boat. DMB has broken so many traditions since 2008, when out of “nowhere” he was granted special treatment to circumvent the requirements to become the darling VP of the NPP. He again, has broken the perceived dormancy of the VPs Ghana has had by being arguably, the most visible, focused, and impactful. He looks froward to becoming the first ever president with specialty in Economics and the first ever Muslim president of Ghana, among others.

There have been some interesting acronyms from the contestants, trying to formulate some catchy points that will resonate with the electorates and delegates. What is most important is that the NPP stands the better chance of cruising to the jubilee house again, after the 2024 elections… the party only needs to put its house in order and not suffer the curse of 2008 once again! GTP resonates so well with some of us, the skeletal policy direction gives us hope that the proponent has more to offer. BMW happens to be a car that can be dependable and comes with a lot of class and respect. What will happen is that Ghanaians will wear the GTP and drive the BMW to the Jubilee House. Afterall, AFA ama w)n a w)te BMW mu…!!!

Article written by Starsky, New York, USA



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