Feature: Is the Sun Setting on the UP Tradition?

In order to maintain stranglehold on Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, passed a law in 1957, prohibiting any political party formed on ethnic, religious and regional lines to practice in Ghana. Thus, with the Avoidance of Discrimination Act (Act 38) passed, six political parties, namely the National Liberation Movement (NLM), the Northern People’s Party (NPP), the Ga Shifimokpee, Muslim Association Party (MAP), Togoland Congress and Anlo Youth Association (AYA) merged to form a national party, the United Party (UP) on October 13, 1957.

Even though his CPP dominated Parliament, Nkrumah did all he could to get the UP out. For example, freedom of speech and expression were curtailed in the country, with laws like the PDA and False Report Bill, jailing anyone without trial for saying or doing or perceived to be saying or doing anything that is against the president, his government and his party.

With Nkrumah’s National Assembly (Disqualification) Act implemented in 1959, MPs who failed to carry out their parliamentary duties were removed from the House. So, any MP who seemed to be against Nkrumah was first framed under the PDA and detained in jail.

His absence from the House would have him disqualified and a by-election would then be organised. Here, the CPP would use its incumbency to win the seat.

Still not satisfied, Nkrumah implemented the One-Party state in 1964, where the only official political party was the CPP. The colours of the national flag were changed to the colours of the CPP. Nkrumah became president for life and was free to do anything at all in the country; free to even dismiss judges from the bench if they came out with verdicts he never liked. And interestingly, in the General Elections of 1965, instead allowing the people to choose which of his CPP members they want for MP, Nkrumah appointed the MPs into the House without any election.

By, 1964, the United Party ceased to exist. Then in 1966, a coup was staged and Nkrumah was ousted. The main architects of the coup were Kotoka and Harley who were Anlo Ewes and Afrifa, who was an Asante Akan. Harley was one of Nkrumah’s top security agents who falsely accused many under the PDA and False Report Bill and had them jailed without trial.

In 1969, the UP resurrected in the form of the Progress Party and swept the polls to form government.However, in less than three years, the military overthrew the PP government and Nkrumah had this to say that, even though he never supported coups, it was good and great that the socialists were back.

In 1978, with the ban on party politics lifted, the UP Tradition assembled to form a united political party to contest the 1979 elections. There were however, two issues on the table: one was, the core of leadership of the new party to be solely members of the erstwhile Progress Party and the other was, to accept other people who were now thinking in line with the UP Tradition. In the midst of the discussion, William Ofori-Atta (Paa Willie) and a few others who supported the latter left the meeting in a rage.

Still, hoping to have a united party, Appiah Menka dispatched H.E. Edward Akufo-Addo and Rev. Sintim-Misa to go and invited Paa Willie back. The Akyem politician, told them he had taken a decision to be a minister of God, meaning he was quitting politics to become a pastor. So, they left, only to hear that he had formed a political party, the United National Convention (UNC) to contest the 1979 General Elections.

The UP Tradition became the Popular Front Party (PFP).

When there was need for a run-off to decide who was to be president, the leadership of the PFP, went to see Paa Willie to back the UP Tradition and help elect Victor Owusu, as president. He turned his back on his own and went to support the CPP bloc party the People National Party (PNP) to win the run-off. With that, the UP Tradition was once again quenched in national politics.

In 1981 the PNP was also toppled by Rawlings who after eleven years, lifted the ban on political activities. Clubs and organisations appeared on the scene to help form political parties. Among them was the All-People’s Party formed by Victor Owusu to invite all in the UP Tradition to come home and form a party. When it did not appear to be making any headway, a veteran politician from the UP Tradition called Kwaku Attakora Mensah Gyimah established the Danquah-Busia Club which caught on and from this, the New Patriotic Party was formed.

In 2000, the NPP won the General Elections, and in 2001, H.E. John Agyekum Kufuor formed government. The UP Tradition resurrected again after twenty-eight years.

All through Ghana political history from 1966, there has been a wrong perception that the UP Tradition connived with the CIA to topple Nkrumah. The CIA in a Confidential Report to the State Department of the USA, admitted that indeed it did all it could to get rid of Nkrumah, however it faced challenges like it did in Cuba and so it had no hand in the February 24, 1966 coup which toppled Nkrumah.

Some seasoned historians came out with why the CPP was overthrown. In his quest to touch everything made him touched the military with the dismissal of J.A. Ankrah and others. Feeling threatened, the military struck back and it was given a hero’s welcome by the people of Ghana when it overthrew Nkrumah.

However, this sick mentality is still on, and the socialists are doing all they can to make sure that the UP Tradition is buried for good.

Rawlings came and attacked and destroyed businesses and industries belonging to people perceived to belong to the UP Tradition, which had UP gurus limping and bleeding when it came to forming a party in 1992.

The young businessmen and entrepreneurs were assembled by Alan Kyerematen to form the Young Executive Forum which stood in to assist greatly in building up the New Patriotic Party into a formidable party in the country.

Thirty-one years after helping to build the NPP, Alan Kyerematen had decided to abandoned the party and go independent.

He has stated his reasons and this sunk in. The NPP came to respond to Alan’s resignation and it did so in such a matured manner, showing the great wisdom of an elder addressing a dicey issue that if care was not taken could tear things apart. I doff my hat to the National Chairman and General Secretary of the NPP for that statement.

In its response, however, the NPP came out to deny Alan’s claim that the party is managed by a few individuals when it comes to selecting flag bearers. The Party referred to the expansion of the Electoral College from 2,300 in 2007 to over 200,000 today.

The party however did not mention the Super Delegates Congress which has less than 1,000 members and who would decide for the National Delegates Congress, which set of five aspirants it should elect the flag bearer, from.

I have already expressed elsewhere that this Super Delegates Congress idea is undemocratic, since if the Electoral College was expanded from 2,300 to over 200,000, based on the reason that numbers like 2,300 can easily be bought, then why do people think that numbers less than 1,000 cannot be bought?

Anyway, this Alan’s resignation should not be seen as a moment to attack him or the NPP. This is a moment to review the party and seek to correct all that needs to be, for the sake of the growth and strength of the UP Tradition.

Because if someone, after his long years of sacrifices would leave the party, how many more are in the NPP who have challenges which are not addressed and would also follow suit?

The party should organise no-hold bars meetings in every constituency and get well informed about how members feel about the party. There are issues that need to be addressed for the UP Tradition sake. For one thing, how can directives be given that no NPP persons should be employed into government and state service, and we are told it is political neutrality?

Alan going independent could rather spell doom for the UP Tradition in general and the NPP in particular. In 2000, Goosie Tandoh’s NRP split from the NDCand went into elections.

Together with some other aggrieved NDC members who run independent, the NDC lost six seats to the NPP, namely Jaman, Akwapim, Akwatia, Ashiaman, Krowor and Shama. If the NDC had gone united it would have had 95 seats and the NPP would have had 94 seats and this may affect President Kufuor’s chances in the run-off.

In 2008, the NPP faced the same problem with about seventeen of its members running independent and, in most cases, the NDC candidates went through with less votes than the combined NPP and its independent votes.

The four independent candidates who won their seats and became MPs, were all from the NPP.If NPP had gone into the elections united, it would have secured fourteen extra seats coming  out as majority in Parliament with 121 seats and NDC next from behind with 103 seats. The presidential run-off would have favoured NPP’s Nana Addo.

Alan’s resignation and going independent is most likely going to affect the chances of the NPP and in fact, the 2024 electoral results could nail the coffin of the UP Tradition. For one thing the NPP is not going into Elections 2024 united and on occasions where internal wranglings cost the party elections, what worse cana split, like Alan’s not do?

The way, the NPP treats this Alan issue will determine whether the UP Tradition will become demised once again but this time, maybe forever or whether the Tradition will stand up against the storms again and come out stronger.

As the socialists are desiring to see the UP Tradition destroyed, it is sad that the Tradition itself is carelessly killing itself and ushering in the dawn of its, sunset.

Hon. Daniel Dugan


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