Has Samia Come To Save Or Bury The CPP?

by  Ekow Nelson

The overwhelming victory of Samia Nkrumah in the national executive elections at the recent Extraordinary CPP Congress was both an emphatic repudiation of the ‘old guard’ and an affirmation of the deep affection her father Osageyfo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah continues to enjoy among party members. But will this symbolic and substantive shift at the top help restore the fortunes of the CPP and make it a relevant actor in Ghana’s politics?

In my open letter after her victory in the 2008 parliamentary elections, I urged Hon. Samia Nkrumah to do all she could to avoid the charge of having used her constituency as a transit lounge to her leadership ambitions. Over time, I advised, “when you have established yourself as an accomplished member of parliament and legislator, the executive leadership of the party will pass on to you and I hope that like Sonia Ghandi you will help lead the CPP back into power as she did India’s Congress Party. I am sure you can do it but that won’t be for a few years yet.” I wish I could say I was prescient but it is now clear that the party could not wait as long as I had imagined when I wrote that piece.

Having consistently under-performed in the nearly two decades of Ghana’s fourth republic, it is understandable that many sympathizers of the CPP had become desperate and were looking to change course. Her election clearly signals a generational shift – even if she herself is not as young – and may yet lead to a root and branch restructuring of the organisation and management of the CPP and a reshaping of the membership profile.

The main task before the new party Chairman, however, is to make the CPP electable again. The most urgent, in my view, is to persuade the country that the CPP remains relevant in the twenty-first century. She will have to find a convincing answer to the question posed by the likes of the veteran journalist Mr. Gyan-Apenteng and me: “What is the CPP for” in Ghana today? And the answer to this question requires more than mission statements, ideological epithets, or glib references to the party’s achievements over 40 years ago or the seven-year development plan of 1964. The CPP needs a reason to remain a serious contender for power beyond nostalgic references and at the moment it is not clear what that is.

Independence was not Nkrumah’s idea but it became synonymous with the CPP because he made the struggle for it the raison d’être of the party and was successful at persuading majority of the people that only the CPP could deliver where those before him had failed. After independence he repositioned the CPP as the party for development and progress with much success. But what exactly is the CPP for today? Besides the obvious fact that it has existed in some shape or form since 1949, there is a distinct lack of clarity about what the CPP is for and without that clarity and a corpus of true believers it will remain marginal to the politics of the country.

The CPP needs a cause and message around which the people of the country can rally. It needs to connect with the hopes, challenges and aspirations of the people and be believed as a viable alternative. Today, no one believes the CPP to be a serious alternative to the two dominant parties. The party needs ‘believers’ more than polling station registration. But ‘believers’ must have something or someone to believe in and in the last 20 years the party has failed to articulate what that something is.

With the election of Samia Nkrumah as its National Chairman, the CPP has, some will say, played its last and strongest political card yet since 1992. However, if her leadership were to fail to pull the CPP from the margins of Ghanaian politics and transform it into a serious mainstream alternative to the NDC or NPP, the game will truly be up and the party will almost certainly continue its inexorable slide into oblivion. Think about it: if an Nkrumah cannot inspire the CPP to success who else out there can? Who else out there will be shown all that goodwill and granted the benefit of the doubt?

At this most crucial stage of its history the CPP stands either to wither or experience a great resurgence as a serious mainstream political party under the watch of the founder’s daughter. Whether by design or fate Samia Nkrumah finds herself, ominously, at the precipice of history: she can either make the CPP great again or affirm its irrelevance in 21st century Ghana. And while she and her supporters may feel justifiably euphoric for a sweet, sweet victory I am sure she also recognises the enormity of the challenge ahead. Will she be the one that saves her father’s party or has she come to preside over its final rites?

It is this dangerous mix of excitement and fear that should galvanize all those with a deep affection for the CPP to rally around the newly-elected Chairman and help her succeed. Because if she fails, the party fails; we all fail and with that the dreams and hopes of those of us who have wished for a return of the CPP will evaporate forever. The internecine war and vicious sniping from the sidelines must stop. The CPP must get behind its new Chairman, pull together and help restore the party’s fortunes.

But she can’t do it alone and so equally, it is imperative for the newly-elected Chairman to be magnanimous in victory, reach out to her opponents and be inclusive to help heal the deeps wounds in party. She cannot undertake the enormous task alone with only her coterie of supporters and admirers or even the thousand or so delegates who voted for her. She will need every faction and every wing of the party to be successful.

To customise a well-known British expression for the Ghanaian context, “the CPP is drinking in the ‘last chance’ beer bar”. With the election of the daughter of its founder, the party appears to have cast the last die and may have been thrown a lifeline too. It can either grab hold of that lifeline to restore its political fortunes or continue with its penchant for frivolous navel gazing and drown in the sea of electoral irrelevance.

Samia Nkrumah stands between failure and success but the direction of travel will be determined by whether the CPP itself is hungry enough for power, remains disciplined and can persuade the country that it has something uniquely different to offer the people of Ghana as once her father did.

2 thoughts on “Has Samia Come To Save Or Bury The CPP?

  1. Ekow, This, obviously, is a well balanced feature article that laments the precarious stance of Samia Nkrumah in her bid to regain that respect, verve and vigor of the CPP which her father, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, founded in 1947 (note the date) during the congress of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) at Sekondi. That young, dynamic firebrand invited to be the Secretary of the UGCC by Ako Adjei, the then Secretary of that elitist organization, arrived in the Gold Coast with tons and tons of ideas and a tsinami of patriotism. The torch he lit with the largely uneducated and profusely underprivileged people of the Gold Coast, soon burst out in a conflagration that engulfed the masses with the enthusiasm to be “up and doing with a heart for any fate”. The people were just ready and ripe to be led and swayed by this marverick who actually had a plan and knew where exactly he was heading.

    Today, however, Ghana’s circumstances, hopes, aspirations and expectations have completely changed. Education has endowed the people with superior reasoning power and an ability to discern. Today, the motivating factor for entering politics in Ghana is certainly not the desire to serve. It is the cheating, avariciousness, the get-rich-quick and the opportunity to wantonly exploit every tiny hiatus to defraud the nation. That quality of honesty and patriotism we knew in the leaders of Nkrumah’s day, even with their excesses that made Nkrumah go to Broadcasting House to drum his “Dawn Broadcast” into the body politic of the nation, will pale before the practices of today’s politicians and their cronies. Today, 45 years after Nkrumah was violently thrown out with the bathwater, the new breed of those now at, or aspiring to be, at the helm of affairs, have developed a completely different attitude to national service. Samia will have an uphill or an almost insurmountable task conscientizing the people to her father’s ideals. Those of us who lived through those days, and experienced the euphoriathe hope and promise of the largese of independence for our country, are now at our sunset years, and it is only our disdain and disgust that what is now happening in our country today that will be ignited. The name CPP will not be looked upon as the holier-than-thou messianic savior of Ghana. Today’s leaders and politicians are the biblical wolves in sheep skin. A new CPP will not be anything different from the discredited NPP and NDC. It will be just another conduit for the worms and vermins to exploit the weaknesses of a confounded nation.

    Samia Nkrumah, I wish you every success in this herculean bid to clean the augean stables of Ghana.

    Kudos.Good luck. More grease to your elbow.

  2. Rather interesting read, considering the fact that the seeds of today’s problems were sown in Nkrumah’s days. What may I ask did he do about the corruption that started on his watch. I find it strange when I read such glowing articles about Nkrumah . What may I ask did he do for Ghana apart from the independence? In fact he took advantage of the uprising led by Sargent Adjetey et al. that resulted in the killing and the subsequent unrest. Independence would have come anyway, because at the time there was a wave blowing through the empire and that was initiated in London by those who had come to study and went back to their respective countries, the likes of the Mahatma, Nehru, Jomo to name but a few; and after India Britain lost any hope of holding the empire together after the loss of the jewel in crown.

    Another point we need to remember is that within 9 years Nkrumah had squandered all the money that was left to the newly independent nation. Where did the money end up??
    On useless and unsustainable projects like factory that even my 10yr old nephew knows would fail, yet for ideological reasons we had to have them, does it make sense?

    Communism has always been known to be utopian and only advocated by despots of a particular kind who want to be worshipped and therefore are suspicious of all around him and ends up killing those who started with him, remember Stalin, Kim and others; and what they say is that the “revolution” is an ongoing process and ends up devouring its leader who are bourgeois and have to be purged. Look around Africa and you see them all; corrupt and leading broken nations. It gets to a point where the people of such nations loose faith in themselves.

    I recently advised one of your CPP exiles in here that the CPP members would be better advised if they want to win an election to have a fundamental rethink of the whole of the CPP ideology and ditch most of their mantra, change their name and be pragmatic with a simple message of “what works”, for at the end of the day what matters to the people you govern are bread and butter issue. My friend then suggested that New Labour went through a transformation; but here is the catch, if the CPP is to go through such a transformation will you be able to abandon the central control of the means of production and the nationalisation which most advocate?
    Even the erstwhile Soviet states have all but abandoned these concepts. So my countrymen please let the CPP rest in its grave like its founding leader.

    So much for now

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