CPP ceding its strength to NPP, NDC?

BY: Victor Kwawukume
Ivor Kobina Greenstreet — CPP 2016 Presidential candidate
Ivor Kobina Greenstreet — CPP 2016 Presidential candidate

The Convention People’s Party (CPP), historically, is one of the key political parties to have won power in Ghana and thus deserves to be given the accolade of a traditional political party.

The battle for leadership of the country since the First Republic had been between the United Party (UP) and the CPP tradition.

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While the UP tradition, fronted by the Progressive Party (PP), won elections in the Second Republic, the CPP had won in the First and Third Republics.

Unfortunately, the CPP has lost its shine under the Fourth Republic while the UP tradition has made some tremendous gains.

The UP tradition, under the New Patriotic Party (NPP), won the elections in 2000, 2004 and 2016.


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The CPP, however, appears to have ceded its strength to the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which had won elections in 1992, 1996, 2008 and 2012.

A brief history

The CPP is a socialist political party based on the ideas of the first President of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

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The party, which celebrated its 69th anniversary last Tuesday, was formed on June 12, 1949 by Dr Nkrumah to campaign for the independence of the Gold Coast.

It was the governing party under Dr Nkrumah of the autonomous British colony of the Gold Coast from 1951 to 1957, and independent Ghana from 1957 to 1966.

In 1964, the constitution was changed to make the CPP the only legal party in Ghana, making the nation a one-party state.

The party was banned after the February 24, 1966 coup d'état by the National Liberation Council (NLC).

The CPP would not resurface until January 29, 1996, when the National Convention Party (NCP) and the People's Convention Party (PNC) merged, taking on the name Convention People's Party, which has since been contesting general elections.

The electoral statistics of the CPP paints a rather interesting picture of a continuous political diminishing returns considering the fact that the founder and first leader of the party garnered a total of 1,016,076 votes representing 89.07 per cent of the total valid votes cast in the general election of 1960 to become the first President of the Republic.

He was again elected unopposed in 1965 but the story changed sharply in the Fourth Republic, where it appeared that the party had embarked on a roller coaster, recording repeated outcomes that fell below two per cent of total valid votes cast.

Performance in the Fourth Republic

In the 2000 elections, Professor George Hagan, who was the flag bearer for the party, secured 115,641 votes, representing 1.8 per cent of total votes cast, while in the 2004 elections, George Aggudey had 85,968 votes, representing 1.0 per cent of the votes.

The trend did not change for the better as again in the 2008 elections, Papa Kwesi Nduom secured 113,494 votes, representing some 1.3 per cent.

In the 2012 elections, Dr Abu Sakara plunged the fortunes of the party further by garnering 20,323 votes, representing just 0.18 per cent of the votes, while Ivor Greenstreet had to make do with 25,395 votes, representing some 0.24 per cent of the total valid votes cast in the 2016 polls.

CPP leadership

The CPP used to be the first political force in the country but in a mysterious mix of fate and circumstances, that giant of a political party is currently fighting undeterminedly to become a third force.

The CPP has had five leaderships since the current dispensation started in 1992, as evident in the leaderships of Hagan, Aggudey, Nduom, Sakara and Greenstreet.

But the major question that remains unanswered is where these former leaders of the party are.

The trend, interestingly, has been that immediately after they contested and lost, they seem to have disappeared from the political grid and gone into some form of exile.

Even the daughter of the founder of the party, Samia Nkrumah, who was once the sole Member of Parliament (MP) on the ticket of the party, and later became the party’s chairperson, seems to have lost touch with the party after losing the chairmanship to Professor Edmund Delle, the current chairman.

Observers have held to the view that there is something fundamentally wrong with the party and unless practical steps are taken to address those internal challenges, nothing can ever work in the political interest of the party.

Epilogue

I found it rather surprising that at the 69th anniversary of the party which was celebrated last Tuesday, none of the leaders mentioned above was present, but the party’s chairman, Prof. Delle, remains upbeat about the future of the party.

However optimistic Prof. Delle might be in making the clarion call, the fact remains that winning elections is about numbers and with the rate of leadership attrition which has become a major feature of the party after election, that clarion call might be extraordinarily romantic.

While the CPP can continue to boast in its past glory and engage in a seemingly delusory future of winning power, the reality must dawn on them now that there is the pressing need to close ranks and present a united front.

Perhaps, the starting point would be for the current leadership to extend an olive branch to all those who had left the party, bring them back on board and re-strategise to capture political power, but until then, the best that the CPP could do is to bask in its former glory and forget about ever winning elections in Ghana.