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From Eric’s Diary: Is the NPP denting its image?

“Image is everything,” so says the tagline of the Institute of Public Relations Ghana. If you appreciate the fact that the word image means, “the general impression that a person, organization, or product presents to the public” then you will agree, as I strongly do, with IPR, Ghana.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP), has recently presented itself to the public owing to its quest to elect a flagbearer for the 2024 presidential election and the impression being created does not seem to augur well for its image. The process started with the opening of nominations for individuals desirous of being elected to face off with the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) John Dramani Mahama on December 7, 2024.

By the close of that process, 10 bona fide members of the Party expressed interest. Per the Party’s constitution, when this happens, an electoral college, made up of super delegates, is used to reduce the number to 5. Thus, the first hurdle to be cleared was whether or not the exercise should he held at a central location where all delegates will be present and vote.

The divided opinions necessitated a high-level meeting of those who matter in the NPP. After that crunch meeting, contrary to the preference of a significant number of the candidates, the General Secretary of the Party, Justine Frimpong Koduah (a.k.a JFK) announced that all delegates would vote in their respective centres- ‘take it or leave it’ (emphasis mine).

That marked the beginning of suspicion. With some level of trepidation, the ‘against’ contestants decided to trust in the judgement of the delegates to show the National Council and National Executive Committee members, who has the final say. On Saturday, 26th August, 2023 the Special Electoral College Election, otherwise known as the Super Delegates Conference, was held at 17 centres nationwide.

The outcome of the exercise sent shock waves down the spines of 9 out of the 10 flagbearer aspirants. The reason being that one of them, who is the sitting Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia got 629 votes (68.15%) out of the over 900 valid votes cast. The closest contender was Hon. Kennedy Ohene Agyapong who garnered 137 votes, trailed by a significant gap by the man who many non-super delegates thought offered hope for the NPP’s quest to ‘break the 8’- John Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen. Unfortunately, Alan Cash found favour from only 95 voters. Some say he was beaten to it, with regard to the alleged dishing out of huge amounts of cash to the delegates.

This outcome was no doubt Blood Pressure (BP)-raising even for me a non-aspirant. How? Kwabena Agyepong got 6 whereas Afriyie Akoto got 36 votes? Fear delegates indeed! As for Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku, I can only imagine how he feels, not having been able to convince even one delegate to vote for him.

The media did not help matters. For all intents and purposes, the objective of the Special Electoral College Election was to shortlist the first five candidates for the final showdown on November 4, 2023. The Deputy Commissioner of the Electoral Commission in charge of elections, Dr Serebuor Quaicoe did his job so well by not saying that anybody had won the election. To paraphrase his statement while declaring the results, he said, ‘you asked us to give you 5 candidates. They are; Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Kennedy Agyapong, Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen and Dr. Afriyie Akoto. Two persons tied at the fifth position, so there is the need to break the tie.’

Unfortunately, the headlines that resulted from this result included one that said ‘Bawumia wins by landslide.’ Dr. Bawumia, deepened this perception with the comment he made while addressing the media after the outcome of the poll was announced. “I am thankful to God for the emphatic nature of my win. I am very humbled and grateful for the outcome of this election. But this is just the first step towards our march to the flagbearership. I see this as a step in winning the flagbearship,” he told journalists at his residence.

I suspect mischief, otherwise the first part of Dr. Bawumia’s statement should have been, “I am thankful to God for the emphatic nature of my LEAD.” Granted though that he later acknowledged, “…But this is just the first step towards our march to the flagbearership.”

In my opinion, the portrayal of Dr. Bawumia as having won the super delegates vote with such an overwhelming margin demoralized the rest of those shortlisted. It was simply unbelievable.

Breach of Article 13, Clause 9, of NPP Constitution

When Professor Mike Oquaye, the Chairman of the Presidential Elections Committee spoke after Dr Serebuor Quaicoe had summarized the outcome of the poll, he said to the hearing of all that, the tie had to be broken and as required by Article 13, Clause 9, of the Party’s constitution, the voters must vote again to decide between Messrs. Francis Addai-Nimoh and Boakye Agyarko, who will get the chance to be part of the top five.

Suddenly, after a meeting of those who matter in the Party, the constitution was overthrown. Instead of the 955 delegates, a decision was taken that only National Council members of the NPP will vote in the tie-breaking election. Expectedly, this did not go down well with Boakye Agyarko, who in withdrawing from the race, did not mince words.

“It is totally unacceptable to me that such an unconstitutional act can be perpetuated on the altar of expediency. It is unconscionable that the rules of the game will be changed midstream. Rules and regulations that are flip-flopped in such a manner are only detrimental to fair play and justice. It is a clear violation of the party’s constitution and the guidelines for the Special Electoral College. It is an unconstitutional act which I cannot allow myself to be associated with,” he said.

As someone who is into image and reputation management, I consider criticism from external stakeholders bad enough. When it emanates from internal stakeholders, it is not just bad, it is destructive of image. 

“How far are we prepared to tread on this dangerous path to self-destruction?”

Prior to August 26th 2023, Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen had been touted as the only contestant among the lot that Dr. Bawumia had been losing sleep over. That’s because Dr. Bawumia found Alan’s ‘Eduro meso’ (it’s my turn) campaign message so threatening that he had to counter it.

Indeed, the process was described as a two-horse race between the duo. Although some pollsters had given indication that Ken Agyapong could cause a stir, not many paid heed to that.  But when the super delegates spoke, Alan found himself playing ‘third-fiddle.’ To say that this outcome surprised Alan is an understatement. From the way he reacted, it is apparent that he was devastated. After citing violence and tendency to skew the election in favour of Dr. Bawumia, Mr Kyerematen wrote:

The question I keep asking myself is, how did we get here as a Party in the first place, and how far are we prepared to tread on this dangerous path to self-destruction? Regrettably, I am not convinced that the circumstances I have referred to earlier, will not persist or even be escalated in the next round of elections, for which balloting is scheduled for Wednesday, 6th of September 2023.

“In light of the foregoing, I wish to confirm that I am honourably withdrawing from the process that will lead to the Presidential Primaries to be held on the 4th of November, 2023.”

This is Alan Kyerematen, a senior member of the NPP. Aggrieved, peeved, sour grapes you may say. But would any right-thinking Ghanaian find any iota of truth in his misgivings?  Better still, would any non-NPP member agree with his misgivings?  

A marketing expert’s opinion

I have had cause to complain that it seems to me that many of the resource persons we hear on radio and TV discussing various issues of national importance end up telling us their opinions instead of analyzing the issues for us to draw our own conclusions. 

I say so because analysis, as defined by Merriam is, “a detailed examination of anything complex in order to understand its nature or to determine its essential features.” This presupposes that an analyst would explore all aspects of the issue before drawing a conclusion based on his or her informed opinion. Instead, our analysts tell us what they think about the issue and that’s it.

It is for this reason that I consider what a political marketing expert at the University of Ghana, Professor Kobby Mensah said about NPP’s Super Delegates’ Conference as an informed opinion based on analysis. Here is why.

Speaking in an interview on Wednesday, September 6, Prof Mensah said “There was a clear whipping of people in a particular line, especially in the North East Constituency where all 28 delegates voted for Dr Bawumia.

He contended that based on theories relating to group behaviour, it is not normal for all members of a particular group to, at a particular time, think along the same line. Unless they have been motivated or encouraged in one way or the other, so to do. This, for me is truism.

He also alluded to the point I raised earlier about the seeming plot to present the outcome of the Super Delegates Conference as a win of the NPP flagbearer race by Dr Bawumia.

Here is how he put it; “The super delegates election that was just to select 5 candidates and not identify who came first or second to take them to the National Delegates Conference on November 4 ended with people being labelled first which clearly shows the November 4 elections will be influenced.”

Based the aforementioned analysis, Prof. Mensah concluded thus; “NPP has dented its image per the approach used…The NPP has moved to be more personality-centered than being the admired collective party as we used to know them for. It’s unfortunate that NPP party that once complained about election structural issues is repeating such actions.”

Just when we all thought the dust has settled, a key contender in the November 4, 2023 contest, Kennedy Agyapong has given indication of he being coerced into purportedly stepping down for Dr. Bawumia,

 “I am not going to step down for anybody, when you win, then you win, so all of us, if we have to come together, then we come together. But coming together will depend on how we will conduct this November 4th election because how they treated all of us on the 26th, I think it is not proper,” he yelled while addressing what seems to be a meeting with members of his inner circle.

It’s time to go

There is the tendency for persons or organisations whose image have come under criticism to fall on the cliché that opinions are like noses, everybody has one.”

But if Harvey LeRoy “Lee” Atwater, an American political consultant and strategist for the Republican Party’s assertion that “perception is reality,” is anything to go by, then the NPP must be worried about what its stakeholders think.

I sound this note of caution because there are some people who don’t verbalize their concerns. They act them out. And if they are many within the NPP, the consequences may be dire if they decide to act out their frustrations by voting against or abstaining from voting in the 2024 elections.

They should also not lose sight of this paragraph in Alan’s letter of withdrawal, “In the next upcoming weeks, I will provide an indication of the role that I will play in politics in Ghana, after consultations with my family and other well-wishers, various stakeholders and interest groups.”

Some have described this as an empty boast and the kicks of a dying horse. Yet others have referred to a similar development in history within the United Party (UP), the antecedents of the NPP, which led to a split (United National Convention and Popular Front Party), whose resultant effect was a denial of both parties an opportunity to govern the country in favour of the late Dr. Hilla Limann.

Just in case you were expecting a direct answer to the question posed in my title, all I have to say is that I prefer to seek an alibi in another cliché, ‘a word to the wise is enough.’

Zdravo– That’s goodbye in Serbian.

Let God Lead! Follow Him directly, not through any human.

The writer is the author of two books whose contents share knowledge on how anyone desirous of writing like him can do so. Eric can be reached via email [email protected].

Source: Ghana News

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