Mr. Kwame Pianim’s decision to ignore the New Patriotic Party’s official boycott of the so-called National Economic Forum (NEF) was democratically justifiable.
However, his decision to publicly condemn the refusal of party executives to partake in the NEF charade is decidedly untenable.
For just as he reserved the right to ignore his party’s advisory not to attend, the party equally had the right to boycott the NEF if its leaders felt convinced that participating in the Forum would not redound to the benefit of constituents. (See “NPP Economic Forum Snub: Pianim Dares Party” myjoyonline.com, 5/14/14).
It is also rather gratuitous for Mr. Pianim, a former NPP presidential aspirant, to imply that the NPP boycott of the NEF is apt to be interpreted by the Ghanaian people “as not exhibiting goodwill” and indicative of the fact of the party’s leaders’ not caring about the bleak economic situation confronting the nation at large.
The fact of the matter is that the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) did not campaign for office and/or governance in order to host adhoc or knee-jerk economic forums / fora as a substitute for hands-on governance of the country.
And neither did the leaders of the New Patriotic Party sign on to make attendance and participation in national economic forums/fora the cornerstone of its agenda, as the country’s main opposition political organization.
As noted in a previous column on this issue, Parliament is the most legitimate and authentic forum for any serious deliberation on the state of our nation’s economy; it is also the nerve center of policy deliberation and ratification or the lack thereof.
We have also been told that the Mahama government planned and organized the NEF without the active participation and/or input of the parliamentary minority. And so it well appears that the NPP’s decision to boycott the Senchi (Senkyi) confab was taken in direct response to such abject display of disrespect on the part of the Mahama regime.
The excuse, or pretext, of short notice offered by NPP’s National Chairman, Paul Afoko, as a tangible defense against public criticism, is rather flimsy.
The fact of the matter is that as the main opposition party in parliament, NPP leaders always have to be prepared, even on the shortest of notices, to step up to the proverbial plate – in American baseball parlance – and perform, either as the national government in case of an emergency or a judicially sworn loyal opposition.
This may well be what Mr. Pianim meant when the former CEO of the Ghana Cocoa-Marketing Board (COCOBOD) upbraided his fellow party leaders for acting like disgruntled teenagers who have been refused their way.
Ultimately, though, even Mr. Pianim would be hard put to ignore the fact that what matters most is how the Mahama government operatives deal with data generated by the NEF, and not merely the question of who showed up at Senchi and who did not.
This is what I understand the following quote from the renowned Ivy-League industrialist to imply: “We should not let Ghanaian citizens believe that we don’t care about their welfare. They are complaining that the economy is not moving in the right direction. Why are we refusing to participate if there is a very low probability that whatever we say might influence government policy?”
In essence, Mr. Pianim is in full agreement with Chairman Afoko, except that the former believes that the politically savvy thing for the NPP leadership to do, ought to have been to go along with the patent charade that was the NDC-sponsored NEF, knowing full well that it was just that – a charade. If my interpretation has validity, then, of course, Mr. Pianim is all the more hypocritical for attending the Senchi NEF.