This 4th Republic has proven that the most slippery period for any serving government, is the 2nd term tenure of an incumbent administration. This is where most suppressed views or ambitions within a ruling party begin all of a sudden to burst.
Often there is the forced silence and suppression of dissenting views because every political party in administration, would not like to present a divided front going into a second term election.
As has been the standard practice so far, all presidents we’ve had in the current dispensation, have run unopposed in their second terms. Their political parties offer them a mandate renewal by breaching their primary nominations in their favour.
Part of the mandate renewal strategy is to ensure that every possible crack in in the ruling party is cleverly cemented to offer a semblance of their preparedness to hand over to themselves. History has shown that core partisan politics erupt immediately after the president is sworn in for a second tenure of office. That is where every suppressed view shakes off the lethargy.
Individuals not rewarded as it should be, begin to complain in the open. Blocs begin to emerge, arguing strongly for their preferred candidates to succeed an incumbent president; and that has the potential of either opening up new wounds are creating new cracks.
People begin to settle personal scores in the open with accusations and counter accusation; to the extent that some of the fights and innuendos are deflected to hit the president, who hitherto, does no wrong and eulogized at every step of the way.
The other targets are the all-powerful power-brokers who by their proxy closeness to the president, largely influence appointments as high as ministerial, MMDCE, MDCE and DCEs.
Such presidential staffers who hitherto took almost everyone in the ruling party for granted, momentarily, are reduced to ordinaries. The simple logic is that they can no longer wield those powers getting to the end of the tenure of their God-father president.
History of the 2nd-term curse in the 4th Republic
Right from the inception of the 4th Republic, each of the two dominant parties— NPP, NDC, has experienced what is fast becoming the 2nd term curse in our body politic.
It does seem the current NPP is failing to take a cue from what happened at similar period, or time that their party was in power under former president, John Agyekum Kufuor.
But before then, the NDC under Jerry John Rawlings had been bugged by similar second term political disease. Many had anticipated that after the exit of Jerry Rawlings, the NDC’s political field would be cleared for all persons with presidential ambitions to freely express their interests.
Any such nursing ambition became still-born when Jerry Rawlings, issued a caveat that his vice-president, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, was his heir apparent in the in-famous Swedru declaration.
That unilateral decision by Jerry Rawlings led to the succession of the Reform Party (RP) under the leadership of Augustus Goosie Tanoh. It’s believed the NDC lost the 2000 elections because of the blow dealt to it by the Reform Party.
Same bug hit the NPP in the 2008 elections. The party could not manage the transition from Kufuor to a potential NPP president, because of the number of candidates that vied for the party’s presidential nomination.
That created a massive acrimony among supporters of the 17 candidates that contested the NPP primary. Then also was the matter of president Kufuor’s silent support for Alan Kyerematen, one of the presidential aspirants.
That rumour, although unsubstantiated, deepened the divides going into the 2008 elections. The NDC under Prof. Mills, took advantage of the obvious divisions in the NPP in the run-up to the party’s primary, to win that year’s election.
Is the NPP scripting similar 2008 obituary?
The NPP seem all about set to write similar election defeat in 2024. This is premised on pronouncements and actions of certain stakeholders of the party.
It was barely weeks into the 2nd term administration of the President, when posters of the sitting Vice-President, Alhaji Mahmudu Bawumia started dominating the walls and the skylines.
That brought sharp reaction from supporters of other would-be candidates. The rumour that the President is backing his vice is also creating serious ripples within the party.
What seems to be breaking the party apart is the tribal pronouncements by Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, the Majority Leader that it would be politically, nonsensical to bring another Akan presidential candidate after an Akan president.
Clearly, by inference, the Majority Leader was canvassing for a Bawumia presidential candidacy; and many believe, Kyei Mensah’s position is being induced by suggestions in the party that he (Kyei Mensah), could be a perfect running mate on a Bawumia presidential ticket.
Party chief, Dr. Nyaho Nyaho Tamakloe, has descended heavily on Kyei Mensah. He contends that the majority leader has dictatorial tendencies in his DNA; and that explain why he refused to submit to NPP’s parliamentary primary for the Suame constituency in the last elections.
Nyaho believes it’s such in-born dictatorial traits, that is driving Kyei Mensah Bonsu to impose the Vice President on the NPP, when the party has its own electoral processes to follow in the selection of party leaders.
The MP for Assin Central, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong was equally angry at Kyei Mensah proposition, urging him to keep his tribal tirades to himself and submit to the democratic processes in the selection of a presidential candidate.
The unkindest cut however, is the deliberate attempts by Bawumia supporters to play the Northern and religious cards to the advantage of the Vice President.
They’ve gone to the extent of tracing the Akan dominance of the NPP tradition to suggest that this is the time for a non-Akan, especially a Northerner, to lay claim to the NPP’s presidential slot.
They argue that Kufuor run on the Busia/Victor Owusu axis; Akufo Addo on J.B. Danquah and William Ofori Atta revolver; and so the time was due to pay back the S.D. Dombo divide with the candidacy of the Vice President.
However, it’s one argument that is fast falling flat, because the political history of Bawumia would tell you, he is from the CPP stock, with his father, Alhaji Mumuni Bawumia, a minister in president Nkrumah’s 1st Republic.
The argument therefore is that Bawumia should rather campaign on his strengths, than to rely on non-exiting historical antecedent. The logical question then becomes “how is the NPP managing such crucial period leading to 2024 elections, to avoid defeat?”