The Duke’s: NPP’s presidential primary: Of substance, patronage & populism

It’s that political season that many protagonists seeking public office adopt all manner of means to seek the attention of electorates or by some measure delegates, as the case may be in an internal political party nomination, particularly, for that of presidential candidate.   

In the days leading to the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) presidential primary, the stated approaches are beginning to emerge rather forcefully. There’s the obvious proxy support and patronage of a candidate by the establishment; the populists range of inciting regular people against the elites and of course, the desire to breach the mediocre norm in Ghanaian politics in favour of substance and truth.

These are parts of the adopted means by which some of the NPP presidential hopefuls are putting across their candidature. In all of these, the primary object of these candidates, they claim, is to confront Ghana’s myriad of problems head-on when they get the nod from delegates and for that matter Ghanaians.

                         Patronage & the darling of the establishment

For a candidate like the sitting Vice President, who is yet to present a clear manifesto on what his plans for Ghana would be, he seems to be relying on the goodwill of Jubilee House and its assigns. The logical question then becomes “what is Dr. Bawumia waiting for”? For his pay masters to guide him on when to make the move?

Is it that the foot-dragging protégé is sheepishly being tele-guided on a matter as important as the process to become the next Ghanaian president? Are Ghanaians ready for a leader who will rule by proxy? It’s intriguing the way the Bawumia candidacy is being projected by sitting MPs whose tenure of office, is at the mercy of same party delegates.

My sorties have established that most of these MPs are at risk of losing their seats, either for non-performance or their lack of political will to see through their decision to get Ken Ofori Atta, the Finance Minister out of office. Other “Bawumia supporting MPs”, I am reliably informed, are in tow with the Bawumia propagandist bandwagon because as Ministers of State, they fear being blackmailed by the powers that be, hence the cosmetic support of the Bawumia candidature, just to protect their public offices.  

So what happened to Bawumia’s niche as an “Economic Messiah”? Prior to his selection as the running mate of then candidate Akufo-Addo, the NPP breached its membership code to register and issue Bawumia with an NPP card. The party took that unpopular decision to enable Bawumia, the “economic genius” to partner Nana Addo. The anticipated hope was that with Bawumia as Vice President, an Akufo-Addo administration would not be lacking in proper economic management and growth.

After supervising perhaps, the worst economic period in the country’s political history, Bawumia and his surrogates now claim the Vice President is rather a Super High-Way IT expert. No longer the “economic messiah”? So I dare ask, where is Ursula Owusu Ekuful, the Communications and Digitilisation Minister or Joseph Anokye, the CEO of National Communications Authority (NCA)? Are they still at post? It’s pathetic the way Bawumia is so battered and lurking around trying to pitch his luck elsewhere from his “rightful” portfolio. But Ghanaians and NPP delegates are wide awake.

                     Facts are sacred; it’s substance, not sheer bravado

So far, it’s Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen who has shown to be the most-ready, determined and fearless to lead the NPP. He has presented what many consider to be a prognosis of Ghana’s ailment and the appropriation of required prescription. It’s worthy of note that Alan’s note covers every facet of the Ghanaian society. These were captured in his inaugural presidential declaration broadcast.

They include his dream of placing the private sector at the centre of Ghana’s development; a crack on bad attitude to work and the enforcement of discipline; elimination of arrogance in our power structure; to lead a passionate call for excellence; to get things done than talking and lastly, to eschew divisiveness in our body-politic.   

What else do you expect from someone who has learned and studied the robes of Ghanaian politics since his days as the president of NPP’s Young Executive Forum? Indeed, Alan’s comprehensive analyses of Ghana’s problems as stated places him in the bracket of a top-notch leader and manager; the kind that has been lacking in our leadership structure for a while.    

The former Trade Minister has also been forthright with the truth about the state of the Ghanaian economy and how that has the potential of affecting the chances of the ruling government in 2024. Identifying the problem, they say, is half the problem solved. Alan may have received plaudits for his honesty and truthfulness, but what is endearing him most to many pundits and Ghanaians is his determination to change the narrative with his transformational agenda.

That is a mark of a leader: To hold the bull by the horn and deal with it appropriately. Alan’s stance on governance is a complete departure from the populist promises that have failed to yield the desired dividends in our thirty-year journey in the 4th Republic. Alan has said it as it is. And that is the leader that many Ghanaians are clamouring for.

                                  The demagogues and the populist concertos

That’s in contrast with others who are still consumed in demagoguery and hope a re-enactment of the populist—charisma, will earn them the NPP nomination and eventually win the national election. Loosely defined, demagoguery is that political activity or populist approach that seeks support through heartfelt desires and prejudices.

In many of such instances, the targets in the populist conundrum have been the ordinary people who are cajoled through heart desiring campaign messages rather than appealing to their reasoning faculties. Kennedy Agyapong in particular is re-scripting the usual populist knack, in the hope such demagoguery will resonate with the ordinary Ghanaian. But how successful have such pretentious politicians been both in Ghana and elsewhere?  Some past Ghanaian leaders were masters in demagoguery.

One typical example was Jerry Rawlings and his revolutionary intrusions of 1979 and 1981. He was able to tee-up the minds of many ordinary Ghanaians to the extent that they supported a clarion as horrendous as “Let the Blood Flow.” With the benefit of hindsight however, most Ghanaians have come to appreciate how they’ve been shortchanged by the sheer stoical rhetoric of the high priest of the so-called revolutions.

There may be as many as nine persons vying for the NPP’s presidential nomination, but so far only three gentlemen out of the pack have presented their programme of action both for the NPP and Ghana as a whole. These are Alan Kyerematen, Dr. Afriyie Akoto, and Ing. Kwabena Adjei Agyepong. Alan’s project Ghana’s agenda transcends our regular political discourse to the new catch-phrase in Ghanaian politics: “Running Ghana as a Disciplined Corporate Entity.”

Dr. Afriyie Akoto talks about Agricultural Revolution, while Kwabena Agyapong hopes to restore the soul of the country through his 3S mantra—SERVICE, SACRIFICE & SELFLESSNESS. It’s therefore intriguing that one of the candidates—Kennedy Agyapong, who has so far not shown any mettle of leadership is gaining traction both in conventional and social media. It may not be for the right reasons though; but the fact that he’s in tow with the usual Ghanaian populist antics.

In a series of media interviews, Agyapong had been at his abrasive best; daring his own political party and his avowed aim to expose them, if they dared him. Expose what and who?  Some NPP supporters seem to be falling for Ken Agyapong’s manipulative politics. Tough talk? Is that all there’s about leadership?

Anyone with a serious insight into speech analyses will admit that anytime Ken Agyapong went that boisterous tangent, then his interest is being curtailed, albeit legitimately. His latest outburst had been triggered by GRA’s routine checks of his company tax obligations. Is Ken Agyapong above such scrutiny? As someone with the mind of becoming President, why should Ken Agyapong be scared of GRA’s probes into his tax obligations?  

So for the many regular guys who believe Ken Agyapong is their mouthpiece, it’s about time they delved into why such political intermittent noises have become the forte of the Assin Central MP. It’s purely to suit his personal agenda and nothing by way of speaking for the ordinary Ghanaian. The bigger question however, remains, what is Ken Agyepong’s vision for the NPP and Ghana? We are yet to read any of such anywhere.

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