Is NPP Preparing To Lose 2016?

A day never passes since the last four weeks without one or more top New Patriotic Party (NPP) persons making statements and taking actions which patently reveal that all is not well with Ghana’s leading opposition party.

All these stem from the jostling for power, constituency and hegemony within the NPP, which reached a high tempo recently. The competition for power and positions in the NPP seems to be on overdrive, taking a murkier turn when prominent members decided to contest National Executive posts at the Tamale conference. The recent wrangling and power struggles between some power-brokers in the NPP and Paul Afoko, Chairman, and Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, General Secretary, are not helping matters for the liberal party. There is also serious indirect jabbing between the front-runner contestants who are seeking the presidential candidacy of the party, Nana Akufo-Addo, two-time presidential standard-bearer, and Alan Kyeremanteng, a former Trade Minister.

The debilitating show-boxing by factions and centres of power against each other is creating disunity that makes some observers say it looks like the NPP is preparing to lose the 2014 elections. Charles Owusu, a member of the National Communication Team of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), last Wednesday told Daily Graphic that the internal wrangling in the NPP has shown that the party is not ready to annex power from the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) in 2016. “The NPP has not behaved well as an opposition party preparing itself to take power.

If we want an alternative party to govern this country, then it should not be the NPP,” Owusu said. Conceding that the NPP “is in crisis,” Anthony Karbo, former NPP National Youth Organiser, told listeners of Peace FM on Friday that the party was behaving as if it wants to be defeated in 2016. “If the NPP does not position itself to win, no presidential candidate will resurrect his ambitions after our defeat in 2016,” Karbo said.

The latest setback to the unity of the NPP is the cancellation of the National Council (NC) meeting last Thursday. On Tuesday, the Constituency Chairman for Central Tongu, David Hoezame, filed a suit against the NPP and its chairman, Afoko, at the Accra High Court, asking the court to compel the NPP and its chairman to follow the procedure outlined in its constitution and re-compose the National Council. Hoezame is seeking “A declaration that announcement of the 6th day of December, 2014 as the date for the election of the 1st Defendant’s presidential candidate as Null and Void; an Order directed at the Defendants to restore the Constitution of 1st Defendant Party to its original state and to duly and properly set up the National Council.”

Things took a tenser twist when Daniel Bugri-Naabu, the Northern Regional NPP chairperson, accused Afoko of being behind the legal suit since Hoezame was Afoko’s supporter. “He [Hoezame] is the most useless person. Paul Afoko did it. He knows about it. The National chairman was saying he didn’t want early congress. I know his agenda. He is for Agenda ’22,” Naabu told Accra-based Citi FM on Friday. But Afoko issued a statement on Friday, saying that the “challenges are surmountable” and the new NPP National Executive would “remain honest and neutral arbiters.”

Meanwhile, some NPP members are calling for the sacking of Hoezame. The NPP Central Regional Vice Chairman, Kofi Karikari Bondzi, explicated that Hoezame did not respect the NPP’s constitution by rushing to court without resorting to the party’s internal structures. “He has contravened the constitution of the party that he seeks to protect. Article 3 (VII) says if you have a problem with the party, you need to exhort the head structures in charge of addressing grievances,” Bondzi remarked.

In an interview with Public Agenda, Dr Kojo Aidoo, a political scientist -cum- Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, noted that if the NPP persists in its wrangling, it would have a negative effect on its performance in the 2016 voting. “They need to unite and present a united team that will convince Ghanaians to give them the mandate. What is happening now is a far cry from unity. They seem to be presenting a disunited front. If it continues, it will definitely affect their electoral fortunes,” Dr Aidoo posited.

He advised leading members and the rank and file of NPP to exercise moderation. “They have to be measured in their criticism of each other. They should put party interest above personal interest. They should not personalise critical issues and must stop throwing mud at each other,” he counselled.

Last Thursday was a real bad day for the NPP, a monitoring of radio stations by Public Agenda has discovered. When Okay FM interviewed Dr Amoako Tuffour, a member of the NC on the ticket of the Ashanti Region, he damned the postponement of the meeting by the Chairman via a text message. He railed at Afoko for no respecting Freddy Blay, the NPP First Chairman with the text message, pointing out to Afoko that he won 45% of the votes at the Tamale conference while the remainder of the contestants garnered 55%, which is more than Afoko’s votes. Afoko should therefore know, Dr Tuffour charged, that the rest are the majority, and he should not attempt to run the affairs of the NPP in his personal interest.

He told Kwame Nkrumah Tekese, the interviewer, that he did not receive the text message, insisting that he was wearing his suit to attend the NC meeting since someone could be playing a trick on him to keep him away from attending the meeting so the person can have his way. But when later during the course of the interview he received the text message, he still insisted that he would attend the meeting. He dismissed the reason of Kwabena Adjapong’s unavailability for the postponement, stressing that he represented the people of the Ashanti Region, and must be respected.

Dr Tuffour also argued that if the meeting was deferred because the Chairman wanted the party constitution to be applied, then the Chairman’s own position must be dissolved for another election for national party executives to be held since the current one was vetted by some members of the NC whose status Afoko alleged was not constitutional. He was for the early congress being championed by the ten regional chairmen of the NPP. He gleefully extolled the professional experience of Nana Akufo-Addo and his knowledge as a lawyer and a former Minister for almost two minutes, concluding that Nana Addo was the best among all the contestants.

When the Okay FM host asked a NC member who was travelling from Kumasi to attend the meeting whether he had information about the postponement, he replied in the negative. He repeatedly admitted that he supported Kwabena Agyepong during the campaign for the Tamale election, but what Agyepong was up to now was unacceptable. And he must be told so in the face. He contended that the reason for the postponement of the meeting was because a NPP member sued the party was untenable. Later, the Accra-sited radio station talked to a deputy Eastern regional chairperson who whined that the regional executive did not meet to decide on the early congress, and the Eastern regional NPP chairman was on his frolic when he backed the ‘congress now’ motion.

TOP FM and Radio Gold teased out the ideas of Nana Ohene Ntow, a spokesman of Kyeremanteng, about the early congress proposal and the declaration of support for Nana Akufo-Addo by 100 Members of Parliament (MPs) as recently alleged by Naa Ayorkor Botchway. Nana Ntow said the early congress was a non-starter, and some of the MPs were intimidated to throw their weight behind Nana Akufo-Addo.

More tension and friction in the NPP is likely to come when the special congress takes place to elect the five presidential primary contenders. So far, seven persons have picked forms to file for election as the flag-bearer of the party. They are Stephen Asamoah Boateng, Konadu Apraku, Joe Ghartey, Nana Akufo-Addo, Francis Addai, Kyeremanteng and Kofi Osei Ameyaw.

In the midst of the hullabaloo in the NPP, former President John Kufuor, the most successful leader of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition who served two terms, has kept his stoic silence. Some NPP members are pleading with him to intervene and restore sanity and discipline in the party.