Houston floods, NPP conference and matters arising

BY: Daily Graphic

“All motion is relative. Perhaps it is you who has not changed by standing still.’’

The above quotation is for my younger brother Kwabena Agyepong to reflect over. It is in reference to his presence at the just-ended annual conference of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) held last weekend in Cape Coast in the Central Region.

I do not remember accurately the words of the citation, and am unsure whether it was said by the contrived character who played the role of the famous American lawyer, Clarence Darrow at the Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee in 1925, or that of the equally famous journalist and satirist whose name I mentioned in the epistle last week, HL Mencken who was present at that famous trial which effectively ended the political career of the unsuccessful, three-time Democratic Party presidential candidate, Willian Jennings Bryan.

Hurricane Harvey

Before I go on to that congress as indicated in my title today, let me say a thing or two about the devastating effects of hurricane Harvey on Texas, and now Louisiana too, and particularly on Houston, the fourth-largest city in the States, and a very modern city by all standards. It would appear that, notwithstanding, the city experiences floods of varying intensity every year.

The one this year was worsened by the hurricane which preceded it and which so far, in its destructive and fatal effects, has inundated the city, killed over 40 citizens, destroyed homes and offices, turned streets into rivers and lakes, and generally rendered this mighty center of the worldwide oil industry a pathetic sight.

The truth of the matter is that no matter how well planned human habitation is, natural disasters are of a different order in their determination to destroy and degrade human ingenuity. Of course, America has had its fair share of the pointless political blame game, with the mayor of Houston coming under fierce attack for failing to predict the destructive severity of the hurricane, and ordering the evacuation of the city before disaster struck.

How anyone can accurately predict the severity of a natural, unplanned, unexpected occurrence is proof of the frailty of human faith in its own protective devices. One can imagine the cruel and utterly senseless things we would have said and demanded of public officials if anything far less severe had occurred in our country.

Dr Bawumia at NPP conference

I note that happenings at the party conference last weekend of the ruling NPP are definitely worth our considered reflection just days after the feel-good, joyous occasion. Perhaps, the speech of Vice-President Dr Bawumia captured the mood of a party which was firmly in opposition just a year ago, and now, after the December elections, firmly in government. As an economist who made his name analysing in the most negative terms, the ability of the management skills of the previous government and the economic team of President John Mahama, it would be worthwhile and instructive to get his sincere views on the news that the NPP government has decided to extend the IMF economic assistance package by another year.

No explanation for this volte-face can make sense to the utterly bewildered like me who whilst dismissing the hoary charge of incompetence, rather believed that the change of government we secured last December, would at the very least, chart a different course and path to economic stability and eventual development of our country in the unique NPP way.

Now with this unexpected announcement, what are we to believe? Was the economic management team of President Mahama as incompetent and benighted as Dr Bawumia repeated in Cape Coast just last weekend? And if the new team chaired by Vice-President Bawumia is continuing the strategies of the incompetent President Mahama, what does that say about the managerial, different and relevant capabilities and capacities of our current government?

SSNIT restructuring?

The party conference also resolved to urge our government to continue with the restructuring efforts at SSNIT. I am completely unaware of any such efforts.
What we are being regaled with is lurid tales of fantastic sums spent on new computer management systems ordered by the previous SSNIT management. This is in tandem with other ministers and public officials appointed by President Akufo-Addo bemoaning the huge debts left behind by the previous government. Are these lamentations supposed to be accepted by the expectant masses who voted for meaningful change as the unlikely obstacles to fulfilling electoral promises which gave the NPP a handsome victory? I don’t understand this cry baby approach to the assumption of political responsibilities.

Kwabena Agyepong

The President, however, said something I find interesting yet curious. How does one who alleges prove the allegation? It may seem to the lay to sound perfectly legal, but is in reality, a brazen attempt to silence criticism and stifle free speech. Especially with reference to white collar crime which needs the specialist skills of the police and related security agencies to investigate and prepare the case for the prosecution to proceed. Frankly, I am not impressed.

Finally, my younger brother Kwabena Agyepong was present at the NPP party conference and was copiously covered in the print media and online posts. I am surprised that my brother believes the NPP as at now being led and managed, thinks of his return to his position to party ranks any time soon.

Quite apart from the normal traditional belief that you don’t challenge someone your political senior who you have previously championed even as the latter is still interested and in the race, his posture suggests that he sees himself as somebody only within the ranks of the NPP.

It is obvious to me that the undecided constitutional amendment sought by some party memebers to extend suspensions of members to eight to ten years was advanced just to kill the political relevance of Kwabena and Paul Afoko in the NPP. What else explains this thinking which suggests strongly that the NPP is a holy movement of entranced cultists and that the party is a revered ashram or monastery?

1996 NPP election

I clearly remember delegates to the NPP presidential primary election in April 1996 held at the Great Hall at Legon asking themselves, the moral right of Dr Jones Ofori-Atta to seek the candidacy when Professor Adu-Boahen, whom he had introduced to rapturous applause to the same position in 1992 at the same place, was still in the race? It is the same distrust that Dr Spio-Garbrah faces in the opposition NDC to seek to challenge President Mills in 2004 when he was his campaign manager in 2000?

If my brother believes that he has something worthwhile to offer this country and its people, sentiment is the last reason he should cling to in seeking pathetically to be restored to where he is not welcome. There are several examples in this country, and outside this country of successful politicians who changed parties, and still made a difference in their societies. Let me name a few for his enlightenment and future direction.

Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Winston Churchill are the foreigners who readily come to mind who changed parties. Here in Ghana, I cite Kwame Nkrumah, Victor Owusu, and to the point, President Nana Akufo-Addo who was a CPP firebrand before the coup of 1966.