Indeed, the political terrain in the 2nd term of an any sitting administration has proven to be very eely and slippery. That is how a careful study of the 4th Republic has shown.
It’s the time that ambitious voices in the incumbent administration, all of a sudden begin to find their voices and shed off their pretentious and lethargic posture.
The experienced so far monitored, suggests often such suppressed voices burst within the last lap of incumbents’ second term. But in the case of the current NPP administration, there is what seems a breach of the conventional norm.
It’s been nine months into Nana Addo’s second term tenure and already the signs are that the impending NPP presidential nomination is likely to cause serious implosion in the ruling party.
And it all has to do with who succeeds Nana Addo as the NPP’s presidential nominee in the 2024 elections. Unlike in the previous NPP administration, similar ambition and character traits of would be presidential nominees, popped up within the last lap of the Kufuor second term tenure.
Last week, there were reports of serious clashes between supporters of the two leading candidates in the NPP presidential primary—Vice President Alhaji Dr. Mahmoud Bawumia and Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, the Trade & Industry Minister.
Alan Kyerematen might have condemned and disassociated himself from the act; but not same had been heard from the Vice President nor his assigns. Does that give credence to the view that such clashes are often at the initiation of supporters of Dr. Bawumia?
There is the induced silence and the suppression of ambitions when a party in administration is gunning for a second term and would therefore not want to present a divided front. The suppressed views are freed-up in the second term of the incumbent administration.
But the current Alan-Bawumia struggle has started so sudden and too early. Why? There is the sentiment that the political establishment supports the candidature of the Vice President.
The President subtly exposed his support for his second-in-command, when he told indigenes of the Vice President’s hometown— Wawale, that Dr. Bawumia has been the best vice president since the inception of the 4th Republic.
Party chairman, Freddy was even more blunt on the issue arguing that he does not see anything wrong with the President supporting his Vice President. The President supporting his Vice is definitely not a bother to many Alan supporters.
It’s obviously the hypocrisy being shown in the melodrama by the leadership of the NPP. The party had consistently issued caveats, warning supporters of the two front-runners from canvassing votes, until nominations were opened.
Yet, some members of same NPP executives are out there flouting their own orders, supporting the candidature of Dr. Bawumia in the open. In fact, Bawumia’s posters starting dominating the skylines immediately after the 2020 elections at a time that Akufo Addo’s victory had generated huge furore.
So it’s the obvious “legitimization” of the Bawumia false start that has thrown many Alan supporters into an overdrive; and are also prepared to “legitimize” an illegitimate process in Alan’s presidential quest. It’s simply the case of two sides of the same coin matter.
Aside the anticipated danger in the Alan-Bawumia dichotomy, some individuals who were not rewarded in the 1st term administration of the President are beginning to complain. Adherents of former President Kufuor, most of who are Alan supporters have been moaning about how they’ve been sidelined by the administration.
They are beginning to speak in the open about what they consider to be the blatant discrimination against them. Already blocks are beginning to emerge, with each staying firm to their preferred candidates. Such blocks are likely to open up new wounds or cracks in the NPP.
This is the period that party people begin to settle personal scores in the open. With the snippet of the internal fights shown at Suhum, expect the President to get his own share of the heat. But this is a man who hitherto, does no wrong and is eulogized at every step of the way.
People who are considered to be the all-powerful power-brokers, otherwise known as the kitchen cabinet are not likely to be spared by anti-establishment blocks. The period where such presidential insiders wielded absolute power in the party will gradually coming to an end.
History of the 2nd-term ‘curse & madness’
The combined ‘curse & madness” phrase has often defined the second term of the two leading political parties and their succession plans. All two fail to pick relevant lessons from the phenomenon and the NPP is once again proving that it still has no clue as to how to go round the 2nd term ‘curse’.
The NDC under Jerry John Rawlings suffered ignominiously when the then president picked his vice, John Evans Atta Mills to be his direct successor. That was during the 2nd term of the former Ghanaian strong man, Jerry John Rawlings.
After the Rawlings’ caveat, any such individual presidential ambition became still-born. Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, was Rawlings’ chosen heir in his “monarchical” administration. That declaration has become the all famous “Swedru Declaration” of 1998.
Rawlings’ unilateral decision led to the secession of Augustus Goosie Tanoh and his group from the NDC to form the National Reform Party (NRP). It’s believed the NDC lost the 2000 elections because of the jolted NRP blow.
Same bug hit the NPP in the 2008 elections. The party could not manage the internal transition from Kufuor to a potential NPP president because of the number of candidates that vied for the party’s presidential nomination and the fact that Kufuor was believed to have supported one of the candidates.
In all 17 candidates contested the NPP presidential primary and that created a massive acrimony among supporters of all 17 candidates. After Nana Addo had won the NPP presidential primary, the party went into the 2008 presidential election with deepened divisions.
Is the NPP scripting similar 2008 obituary?
There is, also the tribal and religious cards being played by party stalwarts backing the Bawumia presidency. And that has the potential of breaking the centre of the party even before the NPP presidential primary.
According to Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, the majority leader, it would be politically suicidal, to bring another Akan presidential candidate after an Akan president. You don’t need a crystal ball to know that the Majority leader was canvassing for a Bawumia presidential candidature.
Kyei Mensah’s position, party insiders believe, is being induced by his own sworn ambition to be the running mate to a Bawumia candidature. Party chief, Dr. Nyaho Nyaho Tamakloe, thought the contention by Kyei Mensah is an aberration to the NPP tradition.
He contends that the majority leader has dictatorial tendencies in his DNA; and perhaps that explains why he would preach such anomaly. The MP for Assin Central, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong was equally angry at Kyei Mensah proposition.
He asked him to keep his tribal tirades to himself and rather conform to the electoral process in the selection of a presidential candidate, rather than creating a monarch-like system in the NPP.
But what seems to be the most dangerous stand-point in the conundrum, is the deliberate attempts by Bawumia supporters to play the ethnic and religious cards to suit the Bawumia choice.
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 presidential slot.
It’s the contention of these Bawumia supporters that after the Busia and the J.B. Danquah run at the presidency from the ticket of the NPP, it’s time for the Dombo axis to also lay claim to the NPP presidential nomination.
Kufuor, it’s argued run on the Busia/Victor Owusu axis; Akufo Addo on J.B. Danquah, William Ofori Atta revolver; and so the time was due to pay back the S.D. Dombo divide with the choice of the Vice President.
That argument is fast falling flat. If it’s about the tracing of Dr. Bawumia's political lineage, then the sitting Vice President has no traceable history to the NPP. He is of the CPP stock. His father, Alhaji Mumuni Bawumia was a minister in president Nkrumah’s 1st Republic and the chairman of Council of State in Rawlings' NDC administration.
It's argued that the Vice President has not even shown enough pedigree within the NPP and his claim to fame within the NPP family is that once upon a time, the NPP’s search party found him to be credible enough to partner Nana Addo for the NPP presidential ticket.