Former National Treasurer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Madam Gifty Ama Asantewaa Ayeh, popularly called ‘ Daavi Ama ‘opened up in a no-holds-barred interview with NEWS-ONE .
The interview touched on current happenings in her party, her personal relationship with President John Mahama, the prospects of the NPP returning to power in the near future and the subject of women empowerment in her party.
When NEWS-ONE visited Daavi Ama at her grocery store and restaurant at Djorwulu in Accra, she was wearing rings on eight out of her ten fingers, with an assortment of newspapers piled in front of her. The first question was on why she had not spoken publicly for quite a while now.
Daavi, you have stayed away from the public eye for a while. Why?
My answer to that is simple: money talks, wealth whispers, fortune is solid. There is also an Akan saying that royal beads seldom rattle. That is why I have decided to go down and monitor events.
You seem to take your birthdays very seriously.
True. You know, sometimes I do not write tributes for my very close friends when they die. I prefer to show love to people while they are alive and I expect same to be done to me. We tend to ignore our friends when they are alive and they really need us; but when they die, we rush and compete to show love and pay for this and pay for that. While I am alive, I value each day so on my birthdays, I invite my friends and even people who do not really like me and we all eat and drink and have fun to thank God for His mercies.
Is it likely your party, the NPP, would win the 2016 presidential elections?
Yes, and I say it with confidence in all humility. But I would want to suggest to the powers that be and the framers of our party’s constitution to have a review of certain portions of it. The current wording of the constitution is problematic and we have everyone quoting the constitution and interpreting it differently.
Are you calling for a review of the NPP constitution?
Yes, a review and education on it. We have had two reviews and this second one has a lot of controversy. I was part of the team that voted for this current one but recent developments have made me have a change of mind. I now agree with the persons who warned us not to adopt this current constitution the way it is. We ignored that warning and we are paying for it today. The present constitution is part of our problems now.
Which specific parts of the constitution would you suggest a review?
The laws on the selection of our presidential candidates is one example. There was a time we had as many as 17 candidates and now we have decided to cap it at a maximum of five. We need to look at the wording well and take firm decisions. We also need to take an entrenched position about party leaders and officials openly endorsing individual candidates. We are breaching our own regulations.
But your former General Secretaries have all taken positions and even your Ashanti Regional Chairman has done same.
Well, they are doing it and no one seems to see anything wrong with it, although it is not proper. And this whole trouble started after the Supreme Court’s judgment. Instead of our party coming together to find out what exactly we failed to do and what we did wrong, so we repackage everything, we did not do that but rather started ward elections and moved on to other elections.
How did you take the Supreme Court Ruling on the election petition from your party?
Oh, I was admitted at the hospital after that ruling. After I watched Justice Atuguba’s judgement, I went on admission; and if I had died, I would have died in vain. It was this same ‘elections thing’ that got His Excellency Aliu Mahama to insist that his doctors should discharge him so he could go to the IEA debate simply because he loved the party. But at the end of the day, people are still messing us up and that is why we need to review our constitution.
Are you saying you cannot win in 2016 without a review of your constitution?
Let me tell you something: we have very experienced men who when we bring their experiences together, we can win. We have four of our National Chairmen still alive; Odoi Sykes, Haronna Esseku, Mac Manu and Jake Obetsebi Lamptey are all alive. Two of them won us power and two of them did not. Their experiences, combined and shared with the current Chairman and his team, would be very useful knowledge.
My dear Halifax, let me tell you on authority that whoever would emerge as our flagbearer for 2016 would not win us power if we continue with this segregated and parallel campaign structure. I am not a prophetess of doom. I have been a national officer before and I know what I am saying.
Whoever the flagbearer is, could keep his think-tank because at the end of the day, J.A. Kufuor had his think-tank but he had a single centralised campaign structure and he won. Kufuor worked with the late Courage Quarshigah as his National Organiser and Dan Botwe as his General Secretary. When Courage became a minister, Lord Commey took charge but the campaign structure was not a parallel one.
This whole thing is about organisation and empowerment of the national officers so that they also empower the regional officers to also empower the constituency officers to also empower the polling stations. We should not leave the campaign at somebody’s air-conditioned office and when you go there, the person would think you are coming for a favour.
What is your take on women empowerment in your party?
When we were in government, we created a ministry for women; and this government has continued. But within our party structure, I am disappointed that out of the candidates who have come out for presidential primaries, none is a woman. Are we saying we do not have women in our party with the competence and resources to pay for the filing fees? So we leave it to the men. It makes me sad.
Perhaps you do not have women who are competent enough.
We have women.
Can you mention names?
Oh, we have them in all the 10 regions and we have women who are even more competent and qualified than some of the candidates who availed themselves.
But your party raised hell when Nana Akufo-Addo opted for a female running mate in the person of Hajia Alima Mahama.
True. I was one of the persons who were accused of working against Hajia Alima Mahama; and even at one of our inner circle meetings of just about 10 top party gurus, a newspaper reported on it and quoted the exact things I had said about Alima at the meeting. I was there, Mac Manu was there, Mrs Okudzeto was there, Nana Ohene Ntow was there, Lord Commey was there—I think Rita and someone else were outside the country—and we were meeting Nana Addo.
But I never worked against Alima Mahama. I really like, respect and support her. But we thought at that time it was not appropriate. Even when Alima was a deputy minister to Baah Wiredu and later to Alan, she was very close to me and even helped me with cement bags to put up my shop—the shop that the papers describe as a ‘blue kiosk’. There was even a letter from a big man in our party and this letter got to the media and it said a lot of things against Nana Addo’s decision.
How would you rate John Mahama’s government?
John Mahama is afraid to hurt people. He is behaving like a big man in the NPP. John Mahama is my son. Let me put son in quotes because his stepmother, Ibrahim’s mother, is called Daavi so I call him my son.
Do you know him personally?
John Mahama? Oh yes! John Mahama is like my son; and that is what brought all the media bashing on Dr Nyaho Tamakloe. But let me say this because I don’t like hypocrites. You cannot know someone in the morning, then you light a stick to check his face at night. But as I said, John Mahama’s challenge is that he does not want to offend people; else he would not have put certain people in certain positions. At the opportune time, I would tell him in the face.
Has John Mahama lived up to expectations?
He is doing his best and trying very hard but there are a lot of forces within his own conclave; and I don’t know who advises him. He is trying but I would say so far not so good because these days, I don’t sell anything when I come to my blue kiosk. How do I pay my utility and workers? Something is still not clicking.
What have you been doing since your party left office?
I come to my blue kiosk, I read the newspapers, I write a few articles and pretend to be selling though no one is buying. I also do my church work.
What role would you love to play in a future NPP-led government?
I would want to be an elder and mother who would give advice.
Daavi, where are your hats?
When my party comes to power one day and the Lord gives me life to be around, I would attend the swearing-in ceremony wearing one of my hats. I have a collection and I love them. Most of them are gifts and I also give out a lot of them. I have close to 70 hats now. The day I die and I am laid in state, I want people to come to my funeral in hats; otherwise, don’t file-past me.
Thank you for the interview, Daavi.
Thank you too for the opportunity, and tell Auntie Gina I am looking for her.
By Halifax Ansah-Addo (Twitter: @HalifaxAnsahAdd)
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