Pursuant to Article 12 and 13 of the NPP Constitution, the National Executives Committee of the New Patriotic Party will have to put preparatory steps in place to select the Party’s Presidential and Parliamentary candidates for the next (2024) general elections.
According to the laws of the Party, the election for the Presidential candidate must be held at least, twenty-four(24) months preceding the national election.
The Party Constitution is thus silence in respect of the period to choose the Parliamentary candidates. This obviously, gives the NEC/NC of the Party a wider discretion to decide the dates to hold such primaries based on prevailing economic and electoral strategic conditions in the country.
It is in the background of these provisions of the Party that the current National Executive Committee (NEC) of NPP seeks to initiate that process in preparation towards the 2024 general elections.
As a result, we are being told that two unsuccessful attempts have been initiated by the National Executive Committee to come up with timelines to conduct these primaries. This write up tries to dissert the potential consequences of two major schools of thought that have emerged; propose recommendations and draw conclusions accordingly.
Globally, every political party exist to to win elections. However, no election can be won without strategy and so in deciding when to hold internal primaries, the NEC must consider the prevailing conditions in the country.
The NPP has experienced two major challenging elections in this fourth Republic – 2008 and 2020 elections. which require critical analysis if we are to win subsequent elections.
It is an attempt to set timelines that two schools of thought have emerged: to go for early congress, or, to go for a late congress?
a. Early Congress
There is a school of thought that in view of the current dynamics in the political space in the country, the Party should opt for early congress in order to give itself, some time to heal the attendant divisions that may emerge after the primaries. The proponents of this view, who are largely composed of some Constituency, Regional and National Executives of Party, seem to argue on the background of the Party’s electoral experiences from the 2008 and 2020 general elections.
According to them, in the run up to the 2008 general elections for instance, because the party was in government, it chose to conduct internal Presidential primaries around late 2007. At the time, as many as 17 Presidential aspirants vied for one Presidential slot of the party. These 17 Presidential aspirants obviously would create at least 17 camps in the party and there was limited time between that time and the 2008 general elections. As a result, the party could not get the needed space to reconcile the rank and file of the party to help wage an aggressive campaign for the Party at the time.
The consequences of that elections is still fresh in our minds today – a bitter loss for the party!.
Furthermore, the proponents of the early congress also argue that, undue delays in the the conduct of internal primaries for 2020 general elections, was the reason for the party’s abysmal performance in that election where, for the first in the history of the party, it lost significant Parliamentary seats bringing the party at par with the opposition in terms of number of seats.
In a nutshell, the sponsors of this theory hold that the unique consequences that the election 2020 brought to the party, the only remedy for 2024 general elections was for the party to go to early an congress, to elect its candidates. According to them, they believe, that will help give the party some time to heal the obvious divisions that those primaries often bring at the grassroots of the Party.
b. Late Congress
There is also another school of thought hold a contrary opinion from the former. The proponents of this view are largely Party members within the government and/of the Presidency (hereinafter referred to as ‘ Jubilee House’).
The Jubilee House seems to argue that because the government will need the sitting MPs to approve the next 2024 budget, if early primaries are held, sitting MPs who loose their seats may likely not corporate with the government to ensure that the 2024 budget is passed into law to help the government to govern well for the party.
In perusing the two competing opinions, its obvious both side have a convincing point of view.
What is necessary now is that we need to come to a middle point for the mutual interest of the party by way of compromising our respective stance for the interest of the Party.
First of all, as a Constituency Secretary of the Party whose daily dream is to win power for the party, my biased view would be to opt for an early congress to help consolidate the grounds for a smooth win of power in the 2024 elections.
My reason(s) is/are simple. Elections 2024 is going to be a sui generis of all elections conducted in this country since 1992 when the country was ushered into the fourth Republic.
The election 2024 is going to be fought at the time when both major political parties in the country might have all ruled for 16 years. Election 2024 is going to be fought at a time when for the first time the Speaker of the Parliament is from the opposition Party; Elections 2024 is going to be fought at a time when both the ruling Party and the opposition party have equal numbers of MPs in Parliament.
Such scenarios indeed, call for a more strategic and aggressive preparations in order to help win the elections – the early congress.
However, much as 2024 pose unique challenges that may requires very unpopular decisions to be taken to address the situation, one cannot loose sight of the fact that, whoever emerges the Presidential or Parliamentary candidate for the Party, that candidate would have to campaign on the achievements of the ruling government and so the view of the Jubilee House cannot be swept under carpet.
Every political pandit, can recognize that the current seeming reshuffle in the leadership of NDC Parliamentary caucus led by its National Chairman, Hon. John Asiedu-Nketiah, is a clear rehearsal to whip their NDC side to cause unpleasant moments for the government such as helping disapproving major governmental programs including rejecting 2024 budget come November, 2023.
With these at the background, both the Jubilee House and the NEC should be worried since none exists in isolation.
In the midst of all these arguments, l wish to proffer a few suggestions;
1. That, to allay the fears of Jubilee House, the NEC led by the National Chairman must lead the MPs to give the government assurance that it will whip all sitting MPs who may loose at the Primaries not to abandoned their duties towards both Parliament and the party. This assurance can be executed by ensuring that every incumbent MP sign bond with the Party and every MP seeking re-election to ensure that 2024 Budget is passed, even if he/she looses . There can be a clause in the Bond that any MP who flouts that agreement will be expelled by the party and that automatically may see such MP loose his/her seat before the end of this current Parliament under Article 97(g) of the Constitution of Ghana.
In summary, in the the wake of the seeming stalemates in agreeing for a clear timetable for the party’s internal primaries for 2024 elections and with the analysis supra, l conclude this piece of article by urging the National Council to consider some of my suggestions as follows;
1. The balance of probabilities is tilted towards early congress as against late Congress.
2. The NEC should put internal processes in place to provide assurance to the government that MPs will continue to discharge their Parliamentary duties even after defeat.
3. There should also be a concurrent elections for both Parliamentary and Presidential elections in order to help the party consolidate any potential divisions and deal with them in a wholelistic manner.
This is my first take. I shall return.
Stephen Asukpa Odame
(Constituency Secretary, Suhum NPP)