I read with astonishment an opinion piece in today’s Daily Graphic from Frank Agyekum, the official Spokesperson and Special Aide to former President John Agyekum Kufuor. I was amazed at the disdain shown to Nana Akufo-Addo, the NPP Presidential Candidate, and the obvious attempt to project President Kufuor as blameless and Akufo-Addo as blame-worthy. Totally needless and grossly unhelpful.
A few questions quickly come to mind and beg to be asked. First of all, Frank Agyekum signed off as Spokesperson and Special Aide to Former President. Can we conclude therefore that he is speaking the mind of his boss? Does the former President agree with these thoughts? Surely he must because since the article was published, Mr Agyekum has boldly gone on radio stations repeating the content of the article. No?
Now, why would Frank Agyekum, knowing all so well that our opponents would wish to put every disagreement in NPP down to a Kufuor vs Akufo-Addo factor, write such a one-sided article and even re-introduced the PFP/UNC split, place the two men in that painful past and threatened that the NPP risks seeing that split revisited? Was he simply writing as an echo chamber? Is he not rather adding fuel to the 8-year-old unhelpful suspicion that Kufuor is at best not committed to an Akufo-Addo victory?
Now, let me take a little issue with the title of the piece. It describes the decision by the National Executive Committee of the NPP to suspend the National Chairman, Paul Afoko, as tantamount to pressing “the self-destruct button.” I am surprised by this excessive exaggeration.
It is clear from the majority of party people who have spoken on this matter that they regret what happened. But, that same majority also believe that the National Chairman brought it upon himself by refusing to cooperate. His leadership of the party over the last 18 months had been one of limping from one crisis to their other and that this decision is seen by most as rather like pulling the finger of the party away from resting on the self-destructing button.
If the death of one of the most energetic regional chairmen that this party has ever known, Alhaji Adams Mahama, was not an act that pressed the self-destruct button then I don’t know how the suspension of the man whose brother is facing trial for that heinous crime can be seen as rather the act that can destroy the party.
Mr Agyekum is right when he says, “the party seems to forget that politics is a game of numbers.” My understanding of that point is that a party pushing for power cannot afford to have a few in its fold doing things that put off a greater number of people from joining the party.
Mr Agyekum should not pretend that he has surveyed a cross-section of opinions and that the suspension of Mr Afoko is more unpopular than popular. What he has done with this piece is to suggest clearly that his boss does not agree with the decision that has been taken by NEC. Today, the Minority in Parliament came out to say they are bound by the decision of NEC. Is Mr Agyekum saying that the revered leader who brought the Danquah-Dombo-Busia group back into office and did very well with it is now prepared to rebel against the decision of NEC just because his favourite ally has been on the wrong side of a NEC decision? This piece is indeed disrespectful to the dignity of President Kufuor.
Last May, when Adams Mahama died, Frank Agyekum, writing on behalf of the former President, said President Kufuor found it disquieting that issues that must be resolved in accordance with laid down procedures of the party’s constitution were constantly being discussed in the media without regard to the overall effect on the party’s fortunes. The former president called for calm then. It would be rather unprincipled for his spokesperson to now shift the goal post and come out to speak against the same procedures of the party being used to settle another internal matter.
There are also clear errors of facts in Mr Agyekum’s piece, which seemed more interested in making his boss look good (rightly) but Akufo-Addo look bad, (wrongly).
His reference to the UNC/PFP split is rather unfortunate. None of the two parties split from the other. Both were formed from largely the same political tradition after the collapse of the PP by a military Government and the subsequent reopening of party politics for the Third Republic. So it was a split from the onset. The Fourth Republican history tells us that splits from existing parties have rather led more to the mother party being declared winners. UGM split from NPP in 2000; DFP split from NDC in 2008; NDP split from NDC in 2012 The Reform Party split from the NDC in 2000 neatly coincided with the end of that party’s second term.
To say “the current rift appears to be following along the lines of the PFP/UNC divide” because the PFP was led by Kufuor’s idol, Victor Owusu and the UNC by Akufo-Addo’s uncle, William Ofori-Atta, is a pedestrian attempt to trivialize history. Yes, Akufo-Addo has never hidden his admiration for his uncle and proud member of the Big Six, Paa Willie. But it is also a known fact that the young Akufo-Addo refused the offer to represent the UNC in the safe seat of Abuakwa because he said he was unhappy with the split. He joined neither PFP nor UNC out of principle.
A most puzzling aspect of the article from the Spokesperson to the former President is the obvious attempt to revive the PFP and UNC split. Is it to signal a possible break away group towards 2016? This requires clarification. Why revive that event and situate it into a Kufuor vs Akufo-Addo ‘feud’ today?
Mr Frank Agyekum must recognize that President Kufuor has had his term (his two terms) and that there is and there should be no ‘race’ or division between a Kufuor faction and an Akufo-Addo faction, or more appropriately, a William Ofori-Atta faction and a Victor Owusu faction. The only competition that matters is between NPP and NDC, Akufo-Addo and John Mahama. Full stop!
It is in Akufo-Addo’s interest that there are no splits in the party so he must be the last person to be accused of that. He served President Kufuor loyally as a campaigner and subsequently as his Minister and would expect similar service (for the sake of loyalty to the party) from all others now that he is also the flagbearer of the party.
It is about time those loyal to President Kufuor also understand that there is no competition. President Kufuor is a great achiever and has done a great deal for party and country. Akufo-Addo’s only prayer is to be allowed to also do his bit for party and country. It is not a competition and if it is a competition then let it be fair. Help him unconditionally (like he did) to also win first to have his opportunity to also serve.
Mr Agyekum also lost track of the timing of historical events. The Peter Ala Adjetey era was to the 1996 elections, handing over to Odoi Sykes for the 2000 race. The Concordia affair was about the 1996 elections and not the 2000 elections.
For the 2000 elections, we remember how the then Aspirant Kufuor said after the National Conference to elect executives in 1998: (published in the Chronicle) “these are my men” in reference to Odoi Sykes, Dan Botwe and others. Clearly, therefore, the facts are that Candidate John Kufuor did not have executives who were out to challenge his authority or to work against him ahead of the 2000 elections. And, whether they agreed with his style or not they did not get in the way of his campaign. They busied themselves organising the party and commanded by the sheer din of their hard work the deserving respect of the rank and file.
It is also interesting to note that the faction at the time that could pose any threat to victory was Kufuor’s main challenger at the 1998 Congress, Akufo-Addo. It is a mark of commendation that Akufo-Addo and his smaller faction in the party played their role for that famous victory, without rocking the boat.
The author names boldly those he says Akufo-Addo supported at the Tamale National Conference but shields the former President with the claim that he stayed neutral. So why is the author today risking a public spat between Kufuor and Akufo-Addo for the sake of a suspended Chairman the former President did not support? Was Chairman Haruna Esseku not suspended in 2005 under President Kufuor for alleging recklessly on a secretly recorded tape that the Castle was a place for receiving kickbacks? Did NEC have the authority then?
Frank Agyekum must recognize that the party (by a 94% margin) chose Akufo-Addo as the presidential candidate and to support him is to be loyal to the party and the party’s stated ambition, which is to win power. We expect him to do what his boss preaches, to be loyal to the party, its constitution and its flagbearer.
His article clearly was written from a factional perspective and against the interest of the greater party. If the NPP under Chairman Afoko had stuck to the almighty NPP Constitution there would be no problem and a little objectivity on Frank Agyekum’s part would make him see this.
After Tamale, Afoko made early unilateral moves to show that he would not respect the constitution if doing so gets in the way of getting his way. His problem started with the false move to sack the Director of Administration, Opare Hammond and the acting Director of Communications, Perry Okudzeto, and appoint Michael Ampong and co without recourse to the appointing authority, NEC. It did not work because it breached the NPP constitution. The appointing authority, the National Executive Committee, acted to correct it and which part of this does Frank Agyekum not understand
How anyone can describe such constitutional acts as Nana Akufo-Addo taking undue charge beats logic. Rather than taking lessons from this and doing the right it rather hardened Afoko to continue to disrespect the organs and structures of the party. His was a monumental failure as head of this great party and we cannot run away from this.
Again, Mr Agyekum, the dates for holding the primaries were exhausted and decided by the National Council, the appropriate and only body charged by the constitution to do so. I wonder what Frank Agyekum is prescribing. That Kwabena Agyepong and Paul Afoko should have been allowed to unconstitutionally decide the dates for the primaries? And, for what gain?
It is sad how Frank Agyekum just brushed off the gruesome murder of Adams Mahama. Frank Agyekum should not downplay Adams’ murder. Aside the fact that it was cowardly, it was the catalyst for the calls to remove the duo. Even if Kwabena Agyepong was never directly accused, it is believed that their move to go to the Upper East without any regard for the Regional Chairman set off the events which ultimately led to the murder of a colleague patriot and till today, many people hold the view that, at least, Afoko cannot be fully exonerated. The issue is still in court and a life has been lost. Not a small matter to brush under the carpet and seek to court sympathy for the man whose brother is the principal suspect in the murder.
Again, tensions to do with party finances stems from Afoko and Kwabena Agyepong’s total disregard for the NPP constitution. How could the two say that the National Treasurer should not be a necessary party to accounts of the party when the Treasurer is the only one recognised as such by the constitution? Should Frank Agyekum expect to be taken seriously when he takes such a clear factional line to justify why he thinks NPP is on route to doom?
To the Rise and Build tour, which the article sort to rubbish, using the suspension of Mr Afoko, I am amazed because I was part of the tour and saw how the country is rising to Akufo-Addo’s call for change.
It should be clear to the author that the motive of Rise and build tour is solid and valid. Those who want to Rise and Build are fully motivated and solidly behind Nana Akufo-Addo and the agenda for change come 2016.
Not everyone can be made to Rise and Build. If Mr. Agyekum is in doubt of this, he should just recall how all the high level meetings he cites in his article were leaked to the NDC press in a way to damage Nana Akufo-Addo.
The party is behind Nana Akufo-Addo and the party is ready to work for victory like it did in 2000. Individuals may choose to sit on the fence or attempt to even break the vehicle; but such persons, as the party continues to show, are in the minute minority and their numbers will continue to shrink! They have not what it takes to deny the people of Ghana a redemption from the Mahama wahala.
Now, one thing we have learnt this week, is the utter disrespect and urge to vilify almost everyone who dares stand in the way of what Frank Agyekum indicates is the Kufuor camp. We saw how Andrew Awuni, who also served as Spokesperson to President Kufuor, on National TV run down a legend of the Party like C.K. Tedem and how no one from that faction have called Andrew Awuni to order. Is it not odd that the NDC are united behind the suspended Chairman attacking the Flagbearer and elders?
Again, we see this behaviour in the article written by Frank Agyekum. The Disciplinary Committee and NEC are made up of respectful people – C.K. Tedem, Rev. Asante Antwi, Madam Ama Busia, Prof. Mike Ocquaye, Dr. Addo Kufuor etc. To suggest that these men and women have no mind of their own and are stooges of Nana Akufo-Addo as the article seeks to do is, to say the least, most insulting. Should respect be accorded to only former President Kufuor?
The Disciplinary Committee and NEC acted the way they did to save the party because of the outrageous conduct of Paul Afoko in the past 18 months. For many in the party and many well-wishers of the party, the party even waited too long.
To Mr Frank Agyekum and others who think like him, is it not time people remove prism of Nana and Kufuor and see things from party point of view?
Who in that camp advised or is advising Paul Afoko to respect the party and its constitution? As we speak he is totally disregarding the party constitution again by going to court before he exhausts internal avenues as dictated by the constitution. Who in the same camp as Frank Agyekum is pointing this out to Afoko? If we all respect the constitution and goals of the party we will make progress.
God bless our Party.