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2024 will be a difficult election year for the NPP.
There will be the tendency of Ghanaians to switch the Presidential party after 8 years, the surprising strength of the NDC in the last elections and, most significantly, the record of our incumbent government.
Of all these, none matters as much as the performance of the incumbent government.
Distressingly, the second term of President Akufo-Addo which just started, is being over-shadowed by the contest for the party’s 2024 Presidential candidacy.
That is unfortunate and dangerous for the party. It reminds me of the man who wanted to discuss his next promotion with his boss as soon as he was handed his appointment letter. The elderly boss smiled, shook his head and said, ” Son, if you do this job well, the promotion will take care of it self.” We should be careful not to drink the soup while the fufu is being pounded because we will realize, too late, that one cannot eat the fufu without soup!
The party’s preoccupation with 2024 begs the question of whether the Party expects so little from this President that it is already looking beyond him or his putative heirs are so charismatic that he is already in the shadows.
While he will not be on the ballot, the most important person in the 2024 election will be President Akufo-Addo. If in 2024, Ghanaians are satisfied with his stewardship, they will give the NPP candidate the mandate for a third NADAA term. If Ghanaians are disappointed, they will turn away from the NPP, regardless of who the Presidential candidate is. Would the choice of the Presidential candidate make a difference? Certainly, but the government’s record on protecting the public purse, strengthening education, fighting galamsey, cleaning the environment, job creation and building infrastructure would matter more. It is therefore imperative that we encourage, support and compel this government to be a successful government– whatever it takes. We cannot pretend that this government does not exist or does not matter and hope that we can coast to victory on the strengths of our new flag-bearer.
As to the arguments about who is entitled to be flagbearer, they are mostly superficial.
The notion that a person who became running-mate before he got a party membership card should feel aggrieved if he is not made the flagbearer, regardless of competence, religion or ethnicity is an insult to other party members of equal ability and greater dedication who have served the party since its founding without ever holding any office. Equally, the idea that anyone who has held office should feel aggrieved if they do not become flagbearer is equally superfluous. Parties exist to win power so they can govern. In choosing candidates, there are only two legitimate considerations– Electability and then, Competence so that when elected, their performance would make their party more electable in future elections.
While on the topic of 2024, two other factors matter– John Mahama and the NDC’s surprising strength in Parliament. John Mahama, if he chooses to contest, will be a strong candidate who can only be beaten by a strong record by the NADAA government, a strong NPP candidate and a united NPP.
The NDC majority can help its candidate in 2024 if they stake out bold populist, nationalistic differences that their candidate can take to the country. So far, thankfully, they are doing a poor job of it.
Finally, parties are sometimes cruel and selfish to those who have served them well in winning elections. In 1952, the Republicans ignored the long service of Taft and picked General Eisenhower, who wasn’t a party member and rode his cottails to two landslide victories.
A party must look to where the votes are and who can win them. And it must insist that its candidates who get elected deliver on their promises or expect defeat. The grassroots of our party looks to this second term with too much foreboding. This government must perform to give them hope and to give the 2024 candidate, a good chance for victory.
Let all Ghanaians vote in 2024!
Long live Ghana!
Arthur Kobina Kennedy ( 16th April, 2021)