by Ade Sawyerr – London
As an ardent supporter of the Convention Peoples Party, events over the past few months have almost thrown me into a state of despair. But as a firm believer in God, I am confident that these rows are not a foretaste of worse things to come, but rather a test of how strong and resilient the party is even when there is a slugfest in the public arena.
Mine is not to apportion blame as to who started what, or who will win this fight about process in the party, but as a senior comrade of the party, I think I will be failing in my duty, to the party that I so cherish, if I do not pass public comment on the sorry mess that we find ourselves in.
We need to be honest about our fortunes before we can do anything positive that would lead us out of the morass. Over the past few weeks, I have been avoiding answering my telephone; I have been dodging the incessant questions from well wishers and sympathisers, some of who I have convinced to join the party, who are worried about what is happening and who want to know why we cannot bottle our energies towards the growth and development of the party.
Of course, there are several people, mainly in other parties, who because of the recent state of affairs, are beginning to write us off, but we need to find answers to their claim that we are not serious. Some of these commentators do not understand why we must squander the goodwill we have generated over the past four years with a spat that has no reason or rhyme.
Four years ago, there was a bright spark in the party as Ladi Nylander emerged as chairman of the party. He had replaced Dr. Delle, a seasoned politician who had tried so hard to unite the party in the midst of discord. Dr. Delle was so much aware of why our votes had collapsed in 2004; he had commissioned research that would identify how to allocate resources so that we would attain a respectable showing in the parliamentary and presidential polls in 2004. He desperately wanted to revive the fortunes of the party but had been held hostage by different factions, the Patriots and the Movement who were fighting for control of the party. He had to deftly negotiate between these two groups and others who were pulling the party in different directions.
Chairman Ladi Nylander did his best under fire, from a faction of the party, to hold the centre together when rogue elders in the party were ‘cutting their noses to spite their faces’ so to speak, because their favoured candidates had lost the flag bearership at congress. But try as he did, chairman Ladi Nylander failed to unite the factions in the party. Our poor showing in the 2008 was a reflection of a party that forgot that it was in a contest against other parties and spent most of the time and effort in doing damage to the fortunes of our flagbearer who had won election at congress. The internal battles were about who was more ideologically sound and who understood Nkrumaism better. We lost and we did so badly. We were fighting enemies within the party rather than training what little firepower we had on our opponents; the other political parties inGhana.
We should have learnt the lessons of that loss and worked harder at building the party soon after the 2008 elections, but we did not; we launched into another fight as to why we got only 1.34% of the votes and instead of blaming the party as a whole, some – vociferous faction – decided that it was the fault of the flagbearer.
Though Chairman Ladi did not unite the party, he made the party more respectable; he sustained it for four good years and soldiered on to a successful congress. Chairman Ladi Nylander needs to be applauded for the sterling work he did in the reconstruction of the party.
Our new Chairman and Leader, Samia Nkrumah has inherited a party that has a history of indiscipline especially from those who do not accept election results. Those are the people she should be railing against. Those who do not understand that losing an election can be done gracefully; those who do not understand that you can return stronger if you learn the lessons of your loss; those who refuse to recognise that elections within parties are good things and getting people to step aside in the interest of the party are only denying the competition that creates a buzz in the party and energises the rank and file.
The CPP is riddled with factions and Chairman Leader Samia has to deal with these factions. The task is more difficult because these factions are spurious and based on neither philosophy nor principles. The factions are not even based on policies and approaches, but rather on follies of personalities. In the CPP, anyone who has a different view of how we get ourselves out of the parlous state of the party is accused as a mole, high-jacker, spy, CIA agent, collaborator, traitor, ‘bought’ or whatever unpleasant word that can be used to describe a dissenter. But the solutions to CPP problems will not come from only one section of the party even if they are in the majority; as a party that prides itself on being a broad church, we should all be working together and tap into the diverse opinions and approaches, and indeed into personalities and different backgrounds for the social, economic and political upliftment of the people of Ghana and Africa.
There should be ideologues as well as non-ideologues; there should be those who support the party for a rational reason as well as those who have an emotional attachment for the party; some born into the party, others recently joined because they believe in the common cause of the party; or, are impressed with one or the other personality in the party.
The CPP will not be revived by chasing enemies inside the party; the internal disagreements will continue but we should ensure that those disagreements lead to convergence of energies and resources to take on the other parties and defeat them at the elections. All have a role to play in the party and the internal disagreements should not be allowed to overshadow our hunger to restore faith in the eyes of our sympathisers and our well wishers who intend to join us for the battle for the soul of the Ghanaian and African.
This is the time to be passionate ‘fishers of men and women’ for the party. However, we can only become fishers of men, if we widen and broaden the base of the party. A party that advocates for the mass of the poor inGhanacannot afford to be narrow; it must include all of the people; it must inspire them in such a way that all will be welcome.
These internal squabbles that find themselves out in the open detract from the powerful message that the CPP should be out there actively propagating to encourage more persons to join and vote for us. An end to the very public quarrels will help us focus on spreading our message of hope for those who are fed up with the uninspiring politics of the NDC and the NPP – two parties who are seen as the two sides of the same coin.
We should ask them to come and join our party and vote for as in both the presidential and the parliamentary elections come next year because it is only the CPP that is bold enough to reject the orthodoxy of the multilateral and bilateral institutions that prevent us from development. We should renew our efforts to let more and more people know that it is only the CPP who will do something about the misery and poverty that the large mass of our people live under and that will actively use the power of the state backed by science and technology to industrialise the country and provide, better education and skills for the mass of the people so that they will increase the productive capacity of the country through the jobs that will be created as a result of our industrial policies.
We must tell the people that through our process of principled approach to community engagement and involvement, we will fashion policies that speak to the people of Ghana and Africa about their health, their education, their jobs, the safety and their environment. We should be energised to take this message to all the people, to the schools and colleges, to the markets, to the workers and farmers and fisherfolk, to all the vocational workers and artisans, to the common man as well as the professionals. We the members of the party should be using all the media available to us, by word of mouth, through our benevolent and self help organisations, our churches and mosques, on radio and in print, on television as well as on the internet and on our mobile phones that the Great Red Cockerel is sounding an urgent call to them at the dawn of this century that our task of rebuilding our Ghana and Africa is as urgent now as it was at the time of independence.
It is early days yet for our new leader however we trust that these internal problems will be sorted out and we work on the very basis on which we must fight the next election. We must be energised by the fact of new leadership that will work towards the reconciliation, reconstruction and revival of the party.
We are confident that our Chairman will lead us in this task of taking the message to the people of Ghana and that she will be accompanied by our parliamentary candidates and our flagbearer all singing from the same hymn sheet as we empower the people of Ghana to vote for the only party that will transform our society, our economy and our polities and restore the pride of the Ghanaian and African and prove to the whole world that the black man is capable of running their own affairs.
Our enemy is not within our party; our enemy constitutes the other parties! We need to unite the party and that is the challenge for the leadership!
As we return to normality after this initial rush on the airwaves and the print media, we must be reminded that for any successful endeavour we need the efforts of all as captured in this interpretation of Sun Tzu by Tu Mu
“The skilful employer will employ the wise, the brave, the covetous and the stupid. For the wise man delights in establishing his merit, the brave like to show their courage in action, the covetous is quick at seizing advantages and the stupid have no fear of death”