A leading member and twice flag bearer aspirant of the New Patriotic Party, Mr Alan Kwadjo Kyeremanten, has said that the litmus test for the quality of organisation and administrative competence in any political party lies in the efficiency and effectiveness of the process of electing party officials.
In this regard, he says the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has every reason to be proud of what it has achieved so far in organising “what is considered by independent and objective political analysts to be free, fair and transparent elections to select party officials at the polling station, constituency and regional levels.”
Sharing his general reflection on the conduct of elections in an exclusive interview with the Daily Graphic, the 2016 presidential hopeful of the NPP expressed the conviction that “this record will hopefully not be undermined, but rather reinforced in the process of selecting parliamentary candidates and a flag bearer for the party in due course.”
He made this assessment against the backdrop that the composition of the NPP’s current Electoral College and the processes for internal elections could be considered as one of the most comprehensive and broad-based political models to have been introduced not only in the political history of Ghana but the whole of Africa.
He said the grass root operatives in the party had been given a voice and were actively involved in the process of electing their own leaders.
“This is a clear reflection and testimony of the resilience of structures in the party, whether it is in government or not, as well as the commitment of the party to internal democratic governance,” he stated.
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In his key message to delegates to the National Conference to be held in Tamale on April 12, 2014, he encouraged all delegates and party members to work together to ensure that the NPP would come out of the conference more united than ever before; that the party would eventually emerge as winner and not individual contestants.
He, however, said that would not happen by chance, but would required that party officials and other accredited delegates to the conference would jointly and severally conduct themselves, both in speech and action, in a manner that would not prejudice the outcome of the elections.
In his view, the contest must be about selecting candidates who could organise and manage the party to return it to power in 2016 rather than serving the selfish interests of individuals and interest groups within the party. He insists that “the focus must be on building a strong, united party with a common purpose and vision.”
He further pointed out that talking about unity must not be a mere rhetorical exercise undertaken by party leaders and other officials, but must be backed by concrete action.
NPP winning power in 2016?
On what it will take for the NPP to win political power in 2016, Mr Kyeremanten postulated a number of factors, including the need to review the two successive election defeats.
“There has to be a comprehensive and dispassionate analysis of why we are currently not in power and by extension interrogate why we have lost two successive elections which, to all intents and purposes, the NPP should have won convincingly,” he stated.
He said a good starting point for this exercise was the decision of the party to contest in court the results of the 2012 General Election.
“It was a test of our party’s commitment to the core principles of democratic governance, our belief in the rule of law, our belief in the sanctity of the Constitution of Ghana and the basic tenets of our jurisprudence in protecting the rights of individuals, ensuring accountability of institutions of state, as well as checking the abuse of political power by government,” he stressed.
Although the Supreme Court did not rule in the NPP’s favour, Mr Kyeremanten said “there is absolutely no doubt that we made a strong and compelling case and I believe that posterity will be the final arbiter of the validity or otherwise of our judicial claims.”
In addition, he pointed out that the NPP flag bearer for the 2012 General Election, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, was right in making a public declaration of the acceptance of the court’s ruling, while expressing in no uncertain terms his dissatisfaction with the final ruling of his Lordships. “This is a further reflection of the deep and abiding faith that our great party has in defending the principle of due process in the resolution of electoral disputes,” he stated.
He, however, indicated that the NPP must now move forward beyond the court case and undertake a more comprehensive analysis and introspection of other factors that might have contributed to the party’s defeat.
Among other things, he calleld on the party as a matter of urgency to review its campaign structure and organisation as well as preparations for general elections and demand accountability for results from the leadership of the party and campaign officials.
“The propaganda about the party having lost the 2012 General Election because Alan Kyerematen or other specific leading members of the party did not support the campaign is not only false but vicious and a cover up for those who should be taking responsibility for their acts and omissions in not ensuring victory for the party,” he declared.
He said the review exercise must lead to major internal reforms, including how to mobilise grass root support for election campaign, such as voter registration and ensuring optimal voter turn-out; selecting, preparing and motivating polling agents for Election D-Day activities, dealing substantively with party internal conflicts without bias and favour, particularly in the run up to the selection of parliamentary candidates
He also called on the party to conduct an objective analysis of the Ghanaian voter psychology to gain an understanding of why Ghanaians vote the way they do in the selection of their leaders in presidential elections.
“This should not be seen as a subjective or negative exercise but rather as a proactive and strategic effort by the party to groom and promote candidates who can attract independent voters beyond NPP’s core constituency and deliver victory for the party.”
He said that the NPP must also contribute substantively to the process of initiating and implementing external reforms in the general electoral processes, working together with other interest groups.
This should include conducting a systems audit of all the intermediate steps leading to general elections– voter registration; compilation, exhibition, and validation of the Voters Register; confirmation of constituency list and profile for election purposes; voter verification; voting, counting, declaration and confirmation of results at polling stations; collation of results at Constituency Collation Centres and Regional EC offices; communication and authentication of results in the Strong Room at Electoral Commission headquarters and finally the declaration of results by the Electoral Commissioner.
The goal of the audit must be to ensure process efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, integrity and accountability.
“Strengthening parliamentary oversight of constitutional and legislative instruments enacted for the purposes of conducting General Elections is also imperative,” he stated.
While the Constitution of Ghana gives full authority to the Electoral Commission to organise and run elections in Ghana, Mr Kyeremanten insisted that Parliament had the right to review electoral related legislation to ensure compliance and consistency with the spirit and letter of the Constitution and other legal enactments.
“Subjecting the EC to greater public scrutiny and accountability to avoid the abuse of process and obvious flaws in the management and administration of elections must be done without prejudice to its constitutional independence and authority. “There must, however, be a corresponding effort to ensure more predictability and consistency in the provision of resources to enhance the work of the EC was also essential,” he stated.
On his contribution to the process of the NPP winning power in 2016, he said: “That is a matter of course! I have always made direct material, financial and other contributions to the overall development of our party right from the party’s inception in the earlier 1990s to date, both during election periods and non-election periods. As a committed, loyal and dedicated member of the party, I am certainly going to continue contributing my quota to help the party in its quest to regain power in 2016.”
“I have in earlier interviews indicated my interest in contesting for the flagbearership of the party when the opportunity arises. But I have also indicated that this is not the appropriate time for me to make a formal declaration of my intention, when as a party we have not formally completed the process of electing officers of the party, particularly at the national level. We will cross the bridge when we get there,” he told the Daily Graphic.
“Let me say that as a country we must learn from our past. We must appreciate the fact that one of the most critical requirements for attracting external development assistance and significant levels of foreign investment is our ability to sustain and enhance our credentials for democratic governance and to guarantee peace, security and the stability of our nation. We all have a role to play as individuals, as political organisations and as state institutions. Let us all live up to our responsibilities and make Ghana the country of choice in Africa,” he concluded.