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Power dynamics in Ghana’s political space: the NPP in focus

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Political parties have had their history in Ghana due to the instability that characterised the country’s political space since the country gained independence in 1957

Political parties are formed with the ultimate objective of winning power to implement their policies and programmes as outlined in their manifestoes.

Therefore, the instability certainly incapacitated them from performing their roles in terms of representation and ensuring accountability in the management of the country’s resources.

Lifting of ban on political parties

In May 1992 when the ban on political parties was lifted, some political parties including; the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Convention People’s Party (CPP), People’s National Convention (PNC), People’s Heritage Party (PHP) and National Convention Party (NCP) started making strategic moves towards strengthening their internal administrative structures and taking measures to enhance their presence at the regional and national levels.

The root of the NPP

The NPP were mostly made up of members of the Progress Party (PP), which Dr K. A. Busia rode on to govern the country from 1969 to 1972, and also traced its root to the United Party (UP) tradition (Danquah/Dombo/Busia tradition).

They were unhappy with the authoritarian regime of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC)regime led by Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings.

The group, thus, began mobilising funds in anticipation of establishing a political party to contest the 1992 elections. Its dream was finally realised when it received its certificate of registration from the Electoral Commission on July 28, 1992.

Philosophy of the NPP

The NPP is a centre-right and liberal democratic party, with a philosophy to unleash the energies of the people towards property owning democracy and to hone the entrepreneurial skills of the citizenry for economic growth.

It has the African elephant as its symbol, with red, white and blue as its colours, Development in Freedom as its motto.

Founding Fathers of the NPP

It must be stated that persons who signed the document to officially register the Party are considered the founding members of the party.

However, there were key personalities that performed underground work and sacrificed materially, financially, and intellectually towards the formation of the party.

Key among them included; Mr B. J. da Rocha, Mr Stephen Kreku, Professor K.G Folson, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, J.A. Kufuor, Prof. Albert Adu-Boahen, J.H. Mensah, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Peter Ala Adjetey, Ama Busia, Hackman Owusu Agyeman, Agyenim Boateng, Dan Botwe, Alhaji Shaani Mahama, R.R Amponsah, Ebenezer Sekyi-Hughes, Mr C.K. Tedam. Mr Odoi- Sykes, Mr B. K Adama, Mr Imoro Salifu,Prof. Amoako Tuffuor, Mr J.A.Addison and Kakra Essamuah.

We can’t mention names of prominent personalities behind the formation of the NPP without mentioning Messr  B. J. da Rocha, the first Chairman of the party for his leadership and invaluable contributions towards its sustainability.

The party became the home of all those who believe in the living philosophy of Dr J.B Danquah, George Paa Grant, Emmanuel Obetsebi Lamptey,Edward Akuffo-Addo, William Ofori-Atta, Solomon Odamtten, K.A. Busia, Kofi Amponsah Dadzie, S. G. Antor, J.A. Braimah, Yakubu Tali (Tolon Naa) and R. G. Armattoe.

Outcome of the 1992 elections and the NPP’s protest

The NPP contested the 1992 general election with renowned historian Prof. Albert Adu-Boahene as its flagbearer, but subsequently lost to Flight Lieutenant J.J Rawlings, the NDC presidential candidate, who resigned from the Ghana Armed Forces.

The NPP cited widespread voter intimidation and fraud in the election, and accused the Electoral Commission, the electoral management body of rigging the elections in favour of the ruling NDC.

The Party wrote a book entitled, ‘The Stolen Verdict’ to protest the outcome of the 1992 elections.

The Party subsequently boycotted the parliamentary election that was held later that year.

NPP changed flagbearer in 1996 election

In 1996, the NPP took a bold decision to change Prof. Adu-Boahene and elected Mr John Agyekum Kufuor, a Lawyer and Economist, for the 1996 elections, but still lost to the sitting President J.J Rawlings.

NPP wins 2000 elections after run-off

The opposition NPP maintained Mr J.A.Kufuor going into the 2000 Election after Mr Rawlings had served his two terms and barred from contesting again for the Presidency as stated in the 1992 Constitution.

Rawlings endorsed his Vice Prof. Evans Atta Mills, a Tax Expert and Lecturer, as the NDC flag bearer.

The NPP entered the race with the ‘Positive Change’ slogan, which caught on well with the voting public and its flag bearer became a household name even among children.

The party pledged to bring economic transformation, create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth and fight corruption as well as promote the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Its flag bearer defeated NDC’s standard-bearer Prof. Atta-Mills, after a run-off with 57 per cent of the valid votes cast.

President J. A. Kufuor took office in 2001.

However, the NPP administration accused the previous NDC government of mismanaging the Ghanaian economy, and left huge public debt for the incoming NPP government to settle.

Torn between the devil and the deep blue sea, President Kufuor went to the Briton Woods institutions, including; the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the donor community for debt forgiveness.

However, those institutions demanded that Ghana declared herself a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) in order to enjoy any debt reliefs.

Ghana obliged to join HIPC and her debt was cancelled.

The Kufuor led government implemented far reaching policies to minimize economic hardships facing the citizenry.

Some of the policies included; Special Initiative on cassava and palm oil, Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty, Free Medical care for pregnant women, School Feeding Programme and infrastructural development such as road networks, interchanges, bridges and classroom blocks.

President Kufuor retained power in 2004 with 52.75 per cent defeating NDC’s flag bearer Prof.Atta-Mills in the first round of voting.

In spite of the Kufuor government’s impressive performance, the voting public were annoyed by opulence exhibited by some of his appointees, internal party wrangling and perceived widespread corruption.

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, a Foreign Affairs Minister under Kufuor’s government was elected as the NPP’s flag bearer going into 2008 elections.

Nana Addo led the first round of voting with 49 per cent of the votes, therefore the Presidential election went for a run-off to determine the winner.

Interestingly, Nana Addo lost the run-off after the ‘Tain tie breaker’ after obtaining 49.77 per cent and falling short of his main contender Prof.Atta-Mills’ 50.23 per cent and, thus, emerged victorious.

After Nana Addo saw two successive defeats in 2008 and 2012, luck smiled on him in the 2016 elections by defeating the sitting President, Mr John Dramani Mahama in the first round of voting with 53.83 per cent.

The NPP entered the 2016 election with ‘Unite for Change’ slogan with a promise of implementing a Free Senior High School policy and other innovative programmes.

The Akufo-Addo led government implemented the Free SHS policy just 10 months into its four-year tenure.

The government also rolled out other flagship projects including; the Planting for Food and Jobs, One-District,One-Factory, One-Village,One-Dam,One Constituency, One Ambulance, and also rolled out incentive packages for frontline health workers and mapped out five strategic objectives to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The party launched its 2020 Manifesto on the theme, ‘Leadership for Service, Protecting our Progress and Transforming Ghana for All’ with the overriding objective of consolidating the gains made so far.

‘Four more for Nana to do more for you’ is the slogan, which has caught on well with the voting public.

The more than 17 million voting population have been asked to vote for their preferred candidates based on their track records.

President Akufo-Addo, the NPP flagbearer and the NDC’s flag bearer John Mahama are the leading contenders going into the elections, especially as both have had the opportunity of governing the nation before.

By Godwill Arthur-Mensah

Source: GNA

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