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Opinion: Jumping the starting gun?


Dr Charles Wereko BrobbeyOpinion: Jumping the starting gun?

I made two core points when asked to comment on Nana Akufo-Addo’s announcement of his intention to contest the 2016 General Elections of the New Patriotic Party. The first and most important was to query the timing, especially in the run up to the election of a new national executive for the party. The second point was to do with the propriety of Nana’s age.

Without knowing the reason which informed the choice of date, I suggested that it was unfortunate and likely to accentuate and exacerbate divisions in the campaign for the Executive elections, a development that could have knock on effect at the General elections if Nana won the candidacy.

For whatever reason, the reportage focused on the age factor, which I dismissed as totally irrelevant, citing the Abdulai Wade’s experience in Senegal. I still stand by this view and will buttress it further with reference to Ronald Reagan, who became US President at the age of 70 in 1981, survived a gun shooting to boot, and is regarded as America’s greatest leader of recent times.

Lee Kuan Yew, who turned tiny Singapore from a rump state of Malaysia to become the builder of the Osagyefo barge, was at the helm of affairs till 2011 aged 88. His contemporary, Mahathir Mohammed led next door Malaysia for 22 years to overtake and leave us behind koraa. He retired as Prime Minster at age 78.

Having put paid to the age question, there are still several things to worry about the timing and manner of the announcement, the ramifications, for both the NPP and the country, are already upon us even before we can absorb the full impact.

“With great humility, therefore, I can announce that, when the party opens nominations sometime this year, I shall be ready, God willing, to contest for the position of NPP presidential candidate for the 2016 general elections.” Given that we are at least six months away from the opening of nominations, why has Nana Akufo Addo made the announcement at this stage?

At the national level, we have taken our ‘eyes off the ball from pushing the government to come good in ending “dum so dum so” and raining in the runaway cedi. The politics of finding solutions to our serious and growing problems has been replaced by “Is he too old to run?”; “we shall beat him ko ko”; “he must apologise for ‘all die be die’”; and so on and so forth. The airwaves and the social commentary are all about Akufo-Addo’s presidential ambitions; and all this even before he has contested and possibly become the candidate.

At the NPP level, the announcement has had two major effects. In one fair sweep, it has signaled a premature start to the contest to choose a Presidential Candidate for the arty. More seriously, it will and is already having a deleterious impact on the imminent contest to elect new executive members for the party.

Candidates for National Executive positions have loudly posted their masts, and indeed their hope of winning, to the helm of the Akufo-Addo candidacy. Those who will vote have been deprived of the opportunity of choosing from amongst the best, and been dragged right back to making their choice on the basis of whether they support Nana Addo or not.

In one fair swoop, the election for national executive members has been yanked right back to the selection of “those who Nana Addo can work with” as headlined in the slate of candidates given to delegates in their buses as they headed towards the Kumasi congress of 2010.

Yes, Nana’ Addo’s slate was substantially elected in 2010. Not only did the leadership lose us the General Election, including pushing us into premature jubilation of an elusive victory that snatched defeat from the jaws of the victory the people of Ghana voted for on election day.

To add insult to injury, many of the failed leadership are contesting for positions again. They have compounded their electoral failure with an admission that they do not have the capacity to raise the money needed to run the very congress they want to return them to office.

Nana Addo says he has learnt some lessons from his two electoral defeats. I trust that the first and most important is not to lend his support inadvertently to those who failed us before and have already declared their lack of fitness for purpose in the run up to the 2016 Elections.

Nana Addo should not worry about his age. He must undo the damage his premature announcement has done and is doing in two specific ways. Firstly, he must clarify and make clear that he is and will remain neutral in the contest for a new national executive, and that he “will work with whoever is elected” towards NPP’s victory.

Secondly, and more importantly, Nana Addo must lead the NPP to retrain their guns and redirect their fire onto the failings of the elected government to solve the problems for which they were given our mandate in 2012. It is the successful execution of this task, coupled with the presentation of cogent rational alternatives, that will persuade the 30% of uncommitted voters who determine the outcome, to vote the NPP into power in 2016, whether led by Nana Addo led or not.

Charles Wereko-Brobby

Chief Policy Analyst

Ghana Institute for Public Policy Options


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