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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

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THE NPP’s ETHNO-RELIGIOUS TRAP

 

Contributor: Arthur Kobina Kennedy

The ethno-religious focus of the pending NPP Presidential primary is puzzling. Long before Hopeson Adorye’s unfortunate comments that made him a convenient scapegoat, the NPP had been on this path to harm itself with ethnicity and religion, harping to its origins.

Let us explode a few myths here

First, the hallowed “Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition ” was an aspirational and inaccurate appellation that was never meant to taken literally. No Ashanti is mentioned and yet they have been the indispensable work-horses and world bank of this tradition. No Fanti is mentioned despite the fact that most of the founding meetings and organization occurred in Central region. No Ga is mentioned despite their role in the 1948 riots and their place in the vanguard of the party. And Pa Grant, who convened the initial meetings and spent his treasure birthing the tradition is not mentioned. A serious list describing the founders of our tradition wouldn’t have omitted Grant, Okyeame Akoto and either Obetsebi Lamptey or Chief Nii Kobina Bonney. If there is a supposed rotation and it is the turn of say, Dombo, when will be the turn of Fantis or Ewes? And there are more but you get my drift. Just like the “big six”, the nominal description of our party and its tradition is inaccurate and not meant to confer rights. Every generation must rewrite the party’s history in its own image, even as it acts in the party’s historic image. No rights are passed down from any leaders.

The NPP has no regional or ethnic rotational formula in its constitution or traditions. Being a VP does not entitle one to a future Presidential nomination. Finishing second in a primary does not entitle one to a future nomination. Being the nominee does not confer the right to a future nomination–as we showed by replacing Adu Boahen with Kufuor in 1996. Indeed, even being a sitting President does not entitle one to a nomination. That is why both JAK and NADAA had to be renominated in 2004 and 2020 respectively.
Therefore “enduruu obiara so!”.
The one whose turn it is will be the one chosen by the delegates.

Perhaps, this new-found obsession with religion may have started as an unintended consequence of the well-meaning but misguided National Cathedral initiative.

Parties pick candidates to win elections, not to honour long service or to do justice. That is why in 1952, the Republican party picked the popular war hero, Dwight Eisenhower ahead of Taft, who had toiled for years in Republican causes. That is why a few months ago Nigeria’s governing party picked Tinubu ahead of VP Osinbajo.

It is baffling that with our economy in a tailspin, our cedi in free-fall and our government knocking desperately on the doors of the IMF, Ghana’s governing party is obsessed with where our next leader hails from or where he worships.
The people of Ghana settled the argument between ethnicity and competence a number of times.

In 1951, the people of Accra Central, ignoring local icon Obetsebi Lamptey, sent Nkrumah from prison to Parliament, on his was to the Prime Minister’s office.

Then in 1979, Ghanaians ignored big tribe and big name in picking Hilla Limann for President, ahead of Victor Owusu.

Then in 2004, the people of Central region joined others in renewing Kufuor’s mandate against its own Atta-Mills.

And when the NPP gave Paul Afoko his historic mandate as National Chairman, we did so NOT because he hailed from the north. We did it because he was the best candidate.
If Dr. Bawumia hailed from Wosorokrom rather than Walewale, he would still be worthy of consideration as a Presidential candidate. In the same vein, if Afriyie Akoto or Alan Kyerematen were Ewes or Mamprusis instead of Ashantis, they would still be worthy candidates.

It seems to me that the only religious tests relevant here is “know the truth so that it shall make ye free” and the realization that in the view of almost every religion, ” whatever you do to the least of these, that you do unto me”.

We should replace our focus on religion and ethnicity with a dual focus on competence and integrity. The people of Ghana want to know who led us blindly to the IMF and who will shield the poor against their conditionalities.

We in the NPP must execute the present mandate we have instead of arguing about the next mandate. Our best argument for a new mandate is to execute the current one well. We cannot, like the greedy visitor struggling to finish his “awia fufuo”, ask for a bowl to be reserved when we hear them pounding “ayumere fufuo”!

And if anyone who has had the honour to serve in government because of this party while many of equal talent never had that honour complains because he lost a primary, they would be ingrates.
May God bless the NPP and remind us all of the price others have paid to get us to where we are.
Best wishes to all candidates–announced and unknown.
Kukrudu!
God bless NPP!
God bless Ghana.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy

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