The prospect of this apocalyptically frightening headline capturing Ghana’s news media between 2017 and 2020 has now become a distinct possibility.
The indefinite suspensions meted out to three NPP Leaders who were elected by the apex authority of the party, the national delegates conference, has the potential to derail our country’s democratic governance roots,
Ironically, and mercifully, the odds against of this alarming headline becoming manifest have lengthened by the very act of ‘constructive dismissal’ through legally contentious administrative actions. The party of the rule of law has decided to jettison its core principles in a quest for monolithic orthodoxy of views and absolute intolerance of diversity of opinions freely and fearlessly expressed.
The end –game was signalled by the words spoken by Nana Akufo-Addo in London recently: which were conveyed by the local media in its intimidating and vicious intent. Rather than distance themselves, mouthpieces of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), gleefully and eagerly jostled for front positions to sound the death knell for any views that were at odds with the current orthodoxy of unquestioned loyalty to the chosen path.
“Ka bi na me nka bi” to wit “You have you say as long as I can have my own” has been the immovable founding philosophy of the “Matemeho” political tradition; at least that’s the belief that inspired so may illustrious sons to it. From the founders of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), through to the United Party (UP); the Progress Party (PP) and the current New Patriotic Party (NPP), the right to free expression and tolerance of divergent opinions have been the binding chords that held democracy and development together in Oman Ghana.
In less than one year, Ghana will go to the polls to decide who should be given the mantle to steer the country’s affairs for the four years from 2017, the 60th anniversary of Black Africa’s first Independent country. Sadly, today, the trailblazer is propping up the rear of advancement and development in Africa, on any measurable scale including open air defecation.
For every Ghanaian living everywhere, over the age of eighteen, of sound mind and on a bloated register, the question for Decision 2016 should be obvious; “Who can we entrust with the “Ghana Reset” button?, The option, the continuity of John Dramani Mahama and the third time hopeful but as yet untried Nana Akufo-Addo. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) should play important but largely supporting roles in the contest.
For many of us, the alluring and tantalising prospect of “Development in Freedom” was the catalytic fuel that propelled us to tie our political fortunes to the NPP. We could develop our country y in an environment of free speech, tolerance and respect for each other: all reinforced by an unalloyed commitment to the rule of law.
After spending all but six and half years of our first 35 years under military dictators and single party rule, “Development in Freedom”, was a very alluring prospect. Incidentally, and especially for those who think the freedoms we enjoy were dropped from the skies, enormous sacrifices were made by many courageous fellow citizens, including Kwabena Agyapong’s father, murdered because he tried to uphold the tenets of our national motto: “Freedom & Justice”
Was it a coincidence or a twist of fate that the NPP chose World Human Rights Day to perpetuate this patently dictatorial act; led by the indefatigable fighter for freedom and human rights, Nana Akufo-Addo? Has the NPP degenerated into the citadel of intolerance, purveyor of monolithic thinking, adoration of a monarch that brooks ‘no nonsense’ other than the prevailing orthodoxy?
The unfortunate prosecution of the “Either you are with us or we smoke you out s” cleansing of the NPP started almost a decade ago in the fallout from the infamous 17 Presidential candidature race. Two significant events happened which have shaped the thinking and actions of the NPP for a decade.
Firstly, President J .A Kuffuor was ‘crowned’ master stumbling block; for; 1)his justifiable decision to sack ministers who wanted to use their offices as campaign vehicle; and, 2) for his unjustifiable act of openly expressing a preference and patently using his office and muscle to promote his choice.
Secondly, it was at that congress that Paula Afoko was accused of the now apparently indelible sin of attempting to sway delegates. Though the accusation was not proven, it is now obvious that his supposed transgression was never to be favoured with an ultimate unction
Abraham Osei Aidoo, a very capable and hard working NPP Majority Leader in Parliament was muscled out of the Tema West constituency because he dared to support a different candidacy. Rather than learn the lessons from the defeat of 2008, the NPP’s internecine warfare intensified; exemplified famously by the hounding of Hon. Opare –Ansah, Deputy Minority leader and other voices not towing the new orthodoxy.
More recently Hon. Addae- Nimo and fellow ‘upstarts have become the latest casualties of targeted deselected from their Parliament seats for having dared to test the NPP’s avowed commitment to free expression and tolerance of divergent views. The new and intolerant NPP sacrificed Arthur Kennedy’s intent and was quite unmoved by the loss of an incumbent parliamentary seat.
Suspensions have become the latest dastardly and most sinister weapon for cowing views and opinions that do not conform, It started with yours truly for daring to first suggest that it was unwise to go to court on the outcome of the 2012 election; followed by another that having done so, the NPP was not putting its best talents forward.
My purported suspension took hold despite my written objection that the procedure adopted was not in accordance with the NPP’s own rule. A meeting with the Disciplinary Committee to iron out the rules of engagement was stormed by angry mobs, in spite of the presenciue of so called internal security. Both the Committee and I had to e rescued by task forces from the Grater Accra Regional Police. The palpable failure of the Party hierarchy to condemn the barbaric act was for me reason enough not to bother any more.
Since the catastrophic tactical failure at last year’s Tamale congress allowed Paul Afoko and Kwabena Agyapong to slip into the positions of National Chairman and General Secretary, the daggers have been out to ‘right the wrong’, and kick out the impurities that have infected the ‘near perfect’ ticket. The Disciplinary Committee of the NPP has become the dastardly instrument of this unscrupulous terror of rooting out ‘so called fifth columnists’.
Officers elected by the National Delegates Conference, the highest body of the NPP, have been effectively removed from their elected office by a so-called ‘indefinite suspension’ by the Disciplinary Committee. Elected regional executives who expressed their disagreement with Afoko’s treatment have themselves been suspended indefinitely. Public meetings to express unorthodox but divergent views have been broken up unceremoniously.
The Director of Communications of the NPP has characterised the party’s problem as one of plagued by Indiscipline. True enough, but I would venture to suggest that the more cancerous problem for the NPP is the strangulating Intolerance of diversity and pluralism in the party’s body politic.
I expect that this piece will turn my ‘self-extended’ suspension into an Indefinite Suspension. That is a small price to pay for being able to continue to share my views on the affairs of this nation, which I have done since 1993 and was allowed to do when I was privileged to be a member of the NPP National Executive under the venerable B.J, Da Rocha & Agyenim Boateng as National Chairman and General Secretary respectively.
For those who think that the path has now been cleared for a triumphant entry into the Flagstaff House in 2007, let me remind you of what happened in 2008. A divided NPP led to a drop of 18 percentage votes in Nana Akufo-Addo’s share of the popular vote in Ashanti region from J.A. Kufuor’s 2004 figure. Similar drops were recorded in other regions and the party lost its majority in parliament too
The result has been a decade of sufferance and hardship for a people for whom J.A Kuffuor bequeathed the salivating legacy of oil riches and imaginative social interventions. Sadly just when it looked like there was some very welcome relief on the horizon, the indefinite suspensions of Afoko, Agyapong, Crabbe, etc., has almost certainly derailed the imminent resetting of the ‘Ghana Reset’ button.
Nana Akufo -Addo must never confuse the need to smoke out moles from within, with the non-negotiable principle of tolerance of divergent views and free speech in the party of Development in Freedom. My advice to Nana is simple, if you cannot work with Afoko, Kwabena Agyapong, Crabbe go back to those who elected them to ask for their dismissal and replacement by those you can work it. That is my understanding of ‘due process’ and ‘rule of law’
Until and unless then, the foundation of Freedom & Justice cannot be trusted into hands that use sophistry to undermine Democracy in Freedom.
Source: Charles Wereko-Brobby (Dr) | Chief Policy Analyst (GIPPO) | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter @eyetarzan