Posted: Saturday 17th May 2014 at 10:30 am

The Problem With NPP Boycotts

For the records, the first public move of the newly elected national executive of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was to urge its members not to participate in the ongoing National Economic Forum.

According to the chairman of the party, the forum is a public relations gimmick calculated to keep Ghanaians in the dark about the true state of the economic.

The party cites a number of reasons informing their decision not to attend the forum.

Firstly, they attribute their stance to the unwillingness of the government to listen to the Minority in Parliament who, in the words of the party, “have consistently and relentlessly offered suggestions as to how to arrest the ailing economy.”

The second reason cited is the late receipt of the invitation letter. The late receipt of the letter, in the view of the party, emphasised their earlier point that the forum was simply a gimmickry, coupled with the fact that they would not have enough time to prepare.

Thirdly, they assert that the economic agenda of the ruling government is a fait accompli and makes reference to a document;

“Economic and Financial Policies for the Medium Term”, which has purportedly been submitted to the International Monetary Fund.

As you may well be aware, the President has come out to dispute the assertions that the said document has been laid before the International Monetary Fund.

The party statement then goes on to emphasise the fact that the party is in principle not against the National Economic Forum.

As the largest opposition party in the country, one would have expected better from them but it turns out that every time their presence and input are needed at certain crucial and critical events, the party rises on its feet, picks up it items and simply walks away under the pretext of some injustice or unfairness.

To be fair to the NPP, the government should have been up and doing in ensuring that the party was well notified.

But that notwithstanding, it does not absolve the party from failing to live up to its functions of, at least, amplifying the voices and concerns of those who through thick and thin voted for them.

If those people could, at least, not be represented in the government because of the inability of the party to win the general elections, do their supporters not deserve to be represented while in opposition at such forums?

As an opposition party in a country transitioning steadily into a strong democracy, one would have thought that the party would learn to engage more with the other parties.

It does not take so much of political calculation to come to the conclusion that someday the New Patriotic Party would be in power. But the problem has been its posture in the face of certain national events which justifies its very existence.

In the early part of 2013, we saw the opposition Members of Parliament boycott proceedings after arrogating unto themselves the power of determining who was entitled to win the elections long before the Supreme Court delivered its verdict.

The net result of their boycott was that their input in a host of instances, most significantly the vetting of Ministers of State, was absent.

I do not think it is a correct proposition that the ruling and opposition government disagrees on virtually everything.

That cannot be a correct statement of reality. If the NPP were really interested in engaging in order to ensure their presence at the forum, was it not possible for the party to have found other ways of dealing with it rather than putting forward a statement whose only object was to provide some weak excuses as to why they could not be available at such an important event?

If the largest opposition party had gone ahead to simply say that because of the short notice they were unable to present representatives, that would have been fine.

But to go ahead and describe the forum as a political gimmickry further fuels the sense of cynicisms that our politics is full of. Not once, not twice but on so many occasions, we’ve heard personality after personality talk about the need to have a national blueprint which would be acceptable to all parties and which would serve as a primary document for all governments, irrespective of the party.

Certainly, the starting point for unearthing such consensuses and commonalities within our politics is such forums and conferences.

Even as the party’s statement indicates that governance is a serious business, the NPP has to be reminded also of the fact that being the largest opposition party is a serious business as well.

Any grouping can simply decide to walk away whenever it suits them. So the move the NPP is the least impressive.

The injustice they complain of being meted out to them in their press statement cannot compare to the injustices that the party’s absence would inflict on the interest of the nation.

The party has to wake up to its ideals and objects. It has to come to terms with the fact that whether it is in government or out of government, it would require the cooperation of other parties.

As a result, it should seriously consider its stances and put an end to the boycotts which is steadily becoming its hallmark!

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