ANALYSIS: Paa Kwesi Nduom goes independent…… and whoop!! – By Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

The writer, Dr Michael J.K. Bokor
As is to be expected, Paa Kwesi Nduom has broken ranks with the CPP, announcing himself as an Independent Candidate to contest next year’s Presidential elections. He intends forming a “Political Movement” to reinforce his quest. The immediate impact on the CPP is anybody’s guess, but he will bear his own kind of brunt too.

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I am not surprised at the turn of events but don’t expect Nduom to cause any upset. He is a wash-out already. There are only two advantages that his presence in a different political guise may have. The first one is that he will be standing on his own merit in his own political party (that is if he is able to form one before the elections) instead of being tied to Nkrumah’s tradition in the CPP and be bogged down by those opposed to his ambitions.

But we can’t tell how different Nduom will be in contradistinction to what we already know about that Nkrumahist tradition. Does forming his own party make him anything but a pro-Nkrumahist? And what is it about his intended political party that will not be found in those pro-Nkrumahist ones already known to us?

Second, Nduom’s stance (as an Independent Candidate) on the basis of his so-called “visionary” ideas may offer Ghanaians an opportunity to see what other options there are for solving the country’s problems. It doesn’t mean that they will prefer him to those who are already looming large in their estimation, though. Nduom can’t be seen as a “Third Force” because he doesn’t have the constituency to do so, especially for the 2012 elections. So, what is it about his new garb to enthuse over?

I see his decision as more problematic. First, it is a blow to the CPP and confirms that the party can’t be the same. It also suggests that another offshoot of the pro-Nkrumahist family will be working hard to dismember the Nkrumah legacy. Already, the PNC, GCPP, and all others (including the NDC) have taken away a good number of the CPP adherents. With Nduom’s emergence, the CPP faces another big blow.

I can understand the frustration behind Nduom’s moves; and I sympathize with him. But I will be quick to write him off as an overly ambitious person who doesn’t know how to do politics in our contemporary Ghanaian political period.

His moves are informed more by his personal quest for power but without sufficient substance for him to know that he is no force to reckon with, especially considering the timing of his action. He has barely a year to put his Political Movement together to position it for the contest. If he goes it alone as an Independent Candidate, he will have no launch-pad and end up as a laughing-stock.

Given the structures that the NDC and the NPP already have on the ground, it will be difficult for him to break new grounds or to sweep away the support base of these two powerful parties to be able to get an advantage. Aiming at floating voters?

Contesting the Presidential elections as an Independent Candidate is itself a wishful effort that will not yield anything beneficial. Ghanaians won’t go for an Independent Candidate without any platform. Pitted against the already powerful contestants, he is no match. So, what is the source of his optimism—and the warrant for his preparedness to spend resources and time to swim against the current?

With his pro-Nkrumahist bent, what different attribute is Nduom bringing to the political equation? He will just add to the numbers and fragment all the more the pro-Nkrumahist family. It is now evidently clear that Nduom’s decision will add another layer to the CPP, PNC, GCPP, or any other mushroom party bearing the pro-Nkrumahist identity. Indeed, with all these fractious parties on parade, all touting pro-Nkrumahism, the electorate will simply turn the other way toward the NDC or NPP, the two devils they already know. Damn Nduom and his angelic posture!

Although both the NDC and NPP seem not to have satisfied the electorate, they appear to be the lesser of all the evils parading as political parties seeking the voters’ mandate to rule the country. A mushroom party led by Nduom will not attract anybody except those uninformed voters who may be lured by the sugar-coated verbiage from so-called visionaries of the sort that Nduom thinks he is.

Although we are yet to be given the full scope of the Political Movement envisaged by Nduom, we can begin asking serious questions concerning the ideological bent or political manifesto of such a movement. Indeed, political parties become viable when they are propped up by ideologies and when they work with manifestoes that reflect the aspirations of the people. How different will Nduom’s Political Movement be from what we already have?

His debut as an Independent Candidate (even though he envisages forming a Political Movement to give substance to his ambitions) won’t wash with me or anybody else who is conversant with the ebb and flow of Ghanaian politics over the past 40 years. Several others have already preceded Nduom, forming political parties that bloated only the records and vaporized at the death of their founders or when they ran out of cash to sustain their ambitions. Nduom may be heading that way too.

Not until he comes out with anything new that we haven’t yet seen in Ghanaian politics, he is already a non-starter. Again, considering the background from which he is emerging to announce his intents and purposes, I doubt if he can garner the goodwill he needs to outdo those already looming large on the political scene (the NDC’s Mills and the NPP’s Akufo-Addo, or even others whose names are already on the lips of the people as possible Presidential materials).

Nduom has chosen a hard road to travel. Until I see anything to enthuse over, I will remain skeptical (and cynical too?) about the viability of his decision to break away from the CPP.

Nduom has other problems too. His political inclinations are not consistent. Even in the CPP family, I don’t think that he is accepted as a true Nkrumahist. Having flirted with the NPP and sold his political birthright (just as Freddie Blay did and later broke ranks with the CPP), Nduom can’t tell me that he enjoys the unalloyed support of the Nkrumahist family to such an extent as to consider himself the obvious choice for the 2012 Presidential elections. Probably, his head-butting with Samia might be the clear warning signal to have sent him on this garden path.

I can foresee doom for Nduom’s efforts. He seems to be veering toward a personality-based political movement which will not outlive him. I am guided by the factors determining the fate of the CPP after Nkrumah and the ongoing wrangling within the NDC to suggest that Nduom’s political movement will go the same way because it will be nothing but an Nduom-based political party. The CPP was founded on Nkrumahism and has not been able to stand on its feet after the overthrow of Nkrumah and his subsequent death. The NDC has survived on the Rawlings personality cult and is now at the crossroads because of attempts to rid it of that coloration.

Nduom’s political movement is already tied to his apron strings and risks going the same way. Unfortunately for Nduom, though, he doesn’t wield the kind of charisma or influence that Nkrumah and Rawlings have to propel any political party associated with them into prominence and be sustained as such. Nduom isn’t any force to reckon with all over the country, although he has been involved in national politics for many years now. Even in his own Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem Constituency (which he represented in the 4th Parliament of the 4th republic after earlier failures), he can’t claim to be in the good books of the people/electorate.

I see his ongoing efforts as a mere attempt to create an elbow room within which to establish himself as a potentate. His problems with Samia Nkrumah might have gingered him up to look for the means to be an authority unto himself in his own political domain, where he will wield enough clout to call the shots. If his breaking away from the CPP is what will give him that clout, so be it; but it can’t be.

I see him as just trying to ruffle feathers as a way to spite the CPP. He does so at a more serious risk to his own political future. I am pessimistic about this move by Nduom because I know it for a fact that he can’t survive the whirligig of the 2012 politics nor can he do so in subsequent ones, especially if he has nothing more attractive than what we’ve already known about him to make him a better choice than those the NDC or NPP will put up.

Nduom’s desire to look for visionaries to join hands with is ridiculous. Where are they? I assume that he sees some by-standers (those not associated with the NDC, NPP, CPP, PNC, etc.) as possible allies with whom to drive his political ambitions. Of course, there are such people (especially those in the diaspora) who have become disillusioned at the manner in which the NDC and NPP are doing things. Such people may be possible targets for Nduom’s escapades but will not help him as much as he expects. Most of those in the diaspora seem to be more interested in where they are now than jumping onto the Ghanaian political bandwaggon only to be discarded when least expected. Experience will remain their best teacher; and I doubt where Nduom’s constituency lies.

Without going any further, I can conclude that Nduom’s efforts will end up as an expensive exercise in futility. He may have the wherewithal to spur himself on but in the end, he will realize that the factors that have prevented him from achieving his ambitions all these years are more troubling than what his analysis could reveal to him. Ghanaians may be dissatisfied with the manner in which the NDC and NPP have handled national affairs so far but it doesn’t mean that they will go for Nduom as their Messiah.

Under the circumstance, Nduom would do better if he remained in the CPP to work hard to gain traction so that his ideas could be factored into the rebuilding of the CPP. Knowing very well how disorganized the CPP is, the best thing to do is to rebuild it from the grassroots level first. Thus, strengthening the party at the ward, unit, or constituency level should be the first thing to do before anybody can think about standing on its ticket to contest elections at the national level.

It has been said several times that the CPP should concentrate on those lower-level structures to rebrand itself and gain support at the grassroots; then, it can move a notch higher. It means long-term planning and the commitment to inject resources into party work, not anything to reinforce an individual member’s ego or Presidential ambitions.

For now, Nduom has chosen to bell a wild cat and must be prepared for the implications. At this time, I consider him a wash-out but will wish him well as he delves into his personal wealth to sponsor his political ambitions. By his own estimation, he is the best among all the Presidential candidates. I wish the Ghanaian voters would see him as such. Unfortunately, it is not likely to be so. Nduom will definitely be wise only after the fact.

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