We have just come through eight difficult months during which we presented evidence to the Supreme Court of how we were denied the opportunity to govern our country by the omissions, malpractices and irregularities of the Electoral Commission.
These were the findings, in one area or another, by a majority of the Judges. However, we were denied the verdict through rulings that for example, differentiated between excess votes declared at a polling station by classifying one group as “over voting” and the other as “ballot stuffing.” Unfortunately the fact that whether classified as over voting or ballot stuffing, “the value is the same” and it means there were votes in excess of the number of voters, was lost in transition.
Faced with this situation, I believe we have only one option on the way forward. We must, in the words of the song, “work like a man inspired until the battle is won; remember the famous man who had to fall to rise again; so pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and start all over again”.
Start all over again, yes, but not from the beginning – start from the lessons we have learnt.
LESSON NO. 1.
We believe we won but were not declared the winners. This happened to us in 1992 and again in 1996. Then we learnt, improved our polling station organization by innovations such as the “tally sheet” and won in 2000.
In 2012 in 60% of the polling stations Nana Akufo-Addo beat candidate John Mahama by a 60/40 margin. In some 40% of polling stations John Mahama wiped out this margin and added more votes still.
We have enough evidence from the analysis of the polling stations we did for the petition to identify what went wrong and can go wrong. Let’s correct these.
LESSON NO. 2
We are our own worst enemies. The vitriol with which we conduct our internal elections gives our opponents all the ammunition they need to use against us.
All the false accusations hurled at our candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo were first employed by his NPP opponents.
In 2008 and 2012, wherever sitting NPP MPs lost their seats, they had almost invariably been gravely wounded during the primaries.
And now, even before we have given ourselves the chance to reflect and consider how best to equip ourselves to beat an opponent who has shown how gifted they are at getting the electoral decision, some are already mounting campaigns aimed at tearing down their competitors.
Can we please live by, “Extol the virtues of your candidate” – Too often we find it more expedient to destroy the reputation of our NPP competitor. Please remember that you never bring down one person; you wound, that person and all his or her supporters too.
Many are calling for reforms and rebuilding from the grassroots up. I urge caution. In my experience of the NPP, it is almost impossible during such times as we are in now for any suggestion to be considered rationally. Make a suggestion, and if supporters of “A” do not see how it will help their candidate, they will assume you are doing it for “B” and therefore make sure it doesn’t work, and vice versa.
If we are to be stronger then we must allow people to put forward ideas and we debate them. If they are found workable, we adopt them and make them work for us. This is the time to create and not destroy.
And we must stop passing on false and vicious gossip about our own.
LESSON NO. 3
We are stronger and more united now than we have ever been.
The vast majority of NPP members and supporters feel very keenly the righteous anger from the double injustice we have suffered and are united in the determination it should never happen again.
We must build on this unity.
LESSON NO. 4
We have overcome two of the three most damaging lies told about us by our opponents.
The first is that our party and the leaders of our party want power at all costs. It was never true and now by the way we have handled ourselves and the concession speech of Nana Akufo-Addo, we have and should have laid this lie to rest for ever.
Second, that we are a violent party led by warmongers and bomb throwers. We have laid that lie to rest by:
(i) Our choosing to go to court instead of allowing a violent reaction to the stealing of the verdict and
(ii) The gracious acceptance by Nana Akufo-Addo and the Party of the Supreme Court decision.
All of us, especially our communicators and spokespersons, must never allow these two lies to resurrect and be used against us ever again.
Further, we must take courage from having laid these two lies to rest that we will overcome the third big lie about the NPP that we are a tribal party. Our two periods in office under Dr. Busia and J.A. Kufuor speak to our nationalist outlook and commitment, as does our structure and management as a party. Our nine elected officers and the Chairman of our Council of Elders effectively give every region of Ghana representation in our National Executive.
Yes we have more Akan supporters than any other ethnic group but that is because there are more Akans in Ghana than any other ethnic group. Those parties that do not reflect the National ethnic mix are the tribal parties, not the NPP.
Yes we are underrepresented in the Volta Region. We regret this. But we can never, and will never, forget the role played by giants of that region, including R.G. Armatoe, Modesto Apaloo, SG Antor, Osofo Ametorwobla etc. in the formation of our tradition.
We will continue to take our message to the Volta Region as we take encouragement from our growth, slow but sure, until we reach critical mass and the “tipping point.”
THE WAY FORWARD.
We must build on the strengths we have identified, tackle and work on our weaknesses, and tell our story.
MULTI PARTY DEMOCRACY
From the foundation of our tradition in August 1947, we have been champions of multi-party democracy. We have held firmly to this belief even when it was not fashionable around Africa or in much of the world.
We believe there should always be an alternative view to development that differs from the ruling party. People must have a choice. People must be able to exercise that choice as a means to better control the performance of a government and the delivery of electoral promises.
Unity governments, such as some are now proposing, are a short-term response to national crisis; they are not a form of government for the medium to long term.
We do not believe in them and we do not support the sharing of ministries between parties, as though it was the sharing of spoils. We should be in government to serve, not to “create, loot and share.”
Our job, as loyal to (Ghana and Ghanaians), is to oppose, point out the failings of the government and show the people of Ghana that they have an alternative. This role is extra vital in this period of terrible governance and the era of looting.
Instead of talking of power sharing with reference to political parties, all Ghanaians must be made to feel a share of state power. Power sharing must involve the creation of institutions such as an Electoral Commission that provides an even playing field for all contestants. Power sharing must mean leaving Ghanaian entrepreneurs and citizens alone to flourish and not victimize them for their perceived support of an opposing party. Power sharing must mean the strengthening of the public services and institutions that support whoever is in government including the civil service, the judiciary, the military, the police and other security services.
OUR CORE MESSAGE
We must evangelize our message. We believe in the development of the individual, every individual, to the best of his or her God given talents. That is why we are committed to free, quality education, affordable health care, the rule and protection of the law: The development of Ghanaian entrepreneurs and the private sector.
THE NPP CREED
We believe in “Development in Freedom’ of a ‘Property owning Democracy”. We believe in Freedom of the Individual, of Choice, of Speech and of Enterprise.
We believe that national development starts with the individual, who has the right to choose, fully grow and exploit his or her God-given talents.
We believe that government has a duty:
To provide access to relevant education and training that will empower the individual’s development.
To make available affordable, quality healthcare to every citizen.
To create and sustain an environment that offers opportunity to all.
To guarantee the rule of law and protection of rights to enable the individual to flourish.
We believe that property is the fruit of hard work and that owning property is a positive good.
That the individual must be encouraged to lawfully acquire and keep without hindrance, his or her property so acquired.
We believe that owning property-
1. Encourages one to do more and encourages others to also strive to achieve success.
2. Leads to greater stability in our society. A property owner will not wilfully destroy the property of another and thereby put their own at risk.
We believe that we are responsible for ourselves, but that in our development, we must raise our families, improve our community and contribute to the creation of a wealthy country.
Finally, we believe that the people of Ghana, the government and each and every one of us, must accept that there will always be those who are unable to provide for themselves, and for them, there must always be provided, a level of support, a safety net.
We must therefore be our brother’s keeper.
A TIME FOR ACTION
Now is the time for action. Highlight what is going wrong, wrong with our country, wrong with its government.
1. Securing the necessary changes to improve the national electoral process.
2. To resolve our leadership choices, political leadership by our presidential and parliamentary candidates for 2016 and our party management, the executives at all levels.
We must do this while preserving our unity. We must do it soon to get internal competition with all its potential for division behind us.
3. Then we can search for the right people to do the jobs at polling station level that must be done to benefit from our learnings from mistakes made in 2012.
As a Party we are in a period of self examination; let us do this with more light and less heat accentuating our many positives.
Ghana and Ghanaians need us. Our people would like a return to the positive climate the country enjoyed during the time of the NPP government, led by President J.A.Kufuor.
That period took us from the huge debt overhang, grew the economy phenomenally, started Health Insurance, built HIPC schools everywhere, built roads; expanded business opportunities, brought about the discovery of the oil and gas that will fuel our future.
Ghana needs us to return to the “Golden age.” Let’s not fail our people.
Let’s look at the big picture. – What we can do for Ghana and Ghana’s place in the world. Let us stop unnecessary quarrels that will dispirit our Party, its supporters and the Ghanaian people.
Kukruduu. Eshie Rado Rado.
Source: J.O. OBETSEBI-LAMPTEY, NATIONAL CHAIRMAN
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