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Ghana Election: A Lesson SLPP Must Learn From the NPP

HomeAYV NewsGhana Election: A Lesson SLPP Must Learn From the NPP

Ghana Election: A Lesson SLPP Must Learn From the NPP

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By this time last year, the then main Opposition Party, New Patriotic Party (NPP), in Ghana had been imploded in a crisis. Many political commentators and to a very large extent the press in Ghana described NPP as a party destined for political extinction while it even became a taboo to talk about presidential victory for NPP’s presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo.

 

The NPP crisis all started last year after several negative media interviews and public pronouncements by its National Party Chairman, Paul Afoko, against his own party and by extension the then party’s presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo. Infuriated by the actions of the National Chairman, the NPP Council of Elders filed a petition in September last year to the Party’s Disciplinary Committee that Paul Afoko was sabotaging Nana Akufo-Addo’s chances in the 2016 presidential elections and also putting the party into disrepute.

After a thorough investigation by the Party’s Disciplinary Committee, it recommended to the NPP National Executive Committee that Chairman Afoko be suspended indefinitely from the party. In October last year, the National Executive Committee held a meeting to discuss the recommendation and unanimously voted to indefinitely suspend Chairman Afoko. During the meeting, NPP’s NEC also agreed that the First Vice Chairman, Freddie Blay, who in fact had summoned and chaired the suspension meeting, would act as Chairman.

Like a party fractured by “camp politics”, ahead of that suspension meeting, violent clashes had erupted outside the NPP headquarters in Accra between supporters of Afoko called “Bolga Bulldogs” and the NPP private security called “Invincible Forces” leading to skirmishes. However, the NPP was very determined to restore party discipline so following the violent clashes, NPP’s NEC also suspended all supporters who instigated and participated in violence on behalf of Paul Afoko which brought the party into disrepute. It was also a way of the party showing that there are consequences for all ill-motivated actions against the party.

However, it appears it is not just in SLPP where certain members, with diabolic intent, just think they can always cripple a Party with court action. So the suspended Chairman Afoko took the NPP to court. Parts of his case in court against the NPP were that the Vice Chairman, Freddie Blay was not constitutionally mandated to call a NEC meeting when he (Afoko) is available and that the meeting and processes leading to his suspension were erred and unconstitutional.

Paul Afoko also played the tribal card against his party by saying that the NPP was dominated by people from the Akan tribe and because he (Afoko) hailed from the North and a non-Akan he was being hounded out of the party. It was like listening to Chief Sumano Kapen on AYV TV saying his predicament is because he is Temne and from the North rather than taking responsibility for failure of leadership

While the Afoko case was in court, the NPP found itself in another crisis as the National Secretary General, Kwabena  Agyepong and the Second Vice Chairman, Sammy Crabbe who were both loyal to the suspended Chairman Afoko continued to create internal party instability. Both Kwabena Agyepong and Sammy Crabbe refused to recognise the new Acting Chairman, Freddie Blay and their actions and public utterances made the NPP appeared divided, weak and undermined the chances of Nana Akufo-Addo.

Members of the party became angry and petitions were then made to the Party’s Disciplinary Committee which recommended another indefinite suspension for both Agyepong and Crabbe. Less than one year before the national elections, the NPP National Executive Committee approved the suspension of its Secretary General, Kwabena Agyepong and Second Vice Chairman, Sammy Crabbe. Even the public ran out of patience with these members of the NPP who were deliberately undermining the electoral chances of their own party.

Interestingly after months of legal arguments, on the 15th August 2016, less than three months to national elections, the High Court in Accra presided by Judge Anthony Yeboah also ruled that Afoko’s suspension was lawful, fair and that the NPP did not act unconstitutionally. The Judge stated that Mr Afoko and his legal team failed to adduce evidence to support the claim that the decision by the party’s NEC was procedurally wrong and unconstitutional as alleged in the statement of case. The High Court in Accra was clear that its role is to decide on points of law and not to interfere in internal party politics.

From the above, it is clear that what the SLPP is going through in opposition almost one year towards national elections is not unique as in NPP they experienced far worse but went on to win the just concluded elections. The lesson SLPP has to learn from the NPP is that, the party has to institute discipline and sends the strongest message that any member, including the National Chairman, who seeks to publicly sabotage the party, makes public ridicule of the party and brings the party into disrepute through utterances in the media and actions should be held accountable by the party disciplinary mechanism in a fair and transparent manner.

What was also evident in the NPP, like in the SLPP, those who seek to bring court action (s) against the party when the party should be preparing for national elections, they do so deliberately to undermine the chances of the party and the Presidential Candidate to win the national election. By now, even the public would have been intelligent enough to understand that those who always take the SLPP to court are not motivated by any party interest rather it is a personal agenda to create party instability and a desperation to use the court to hijack SLPP’s internal democratic process. 

But, like in Ghana, what voters want to see is an effective opposition party which has the ability to hold government to account on the issues that matter to ordinary people and recently whether it was on the government austerity measures, the removal of fuel subsidy or the government budget SLPP admirably demonstrated that capability.

Similarly, despite the NPP internal party challenges, as the party “offloaded those who were spoilers” (borrowing the phrase of an NPP NEC member), the party and presidential candidate became more effective by focusing on the issues which mattered to ordinary Ghanaians like the failing economy, shortage of electricity supply, rampant corruption etc.

So the lesson SLPP must now learn from the NPP is that as we prepare for national elections any member who seeks to undermine SLPP’s chances for victory in 2018 whether through utterances in the media or actions which put the party into disrepute, that member does not deserve to be part of the SLPP. There will always be need for party unity, peaceful co-existence and respect for divergent views but that will all be meaningless if the party fails to discipline those who are now determined to deliberately undermine SLPP chances of electoral victory in 2018. If NPP can do it and win, SLPP can also do it and win. Look out for my second article on how Akufo-Addo’s victory vindicates Rtd. Brigadier Bio.

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