Two political scientists have given varying views about the political future of John Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen following his withdrawal from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential primary.
In what looked like a re-enactment of a 2008 scenario when he quit the party after a failed ambition to lead the party into the presidential race, Mr Kyerematen stepped down from the final stage of the party’s presidential primary, citing intimidation, physical assault on his supporters, and an unlevel field that favoured a particular candidate.
Known for his calm disposition, the former Minister of Trade and Industry’s appeal among political moderates has been touted as a direct function of his unpolitical character.
The businessman, who attains 68 years on October 3 this year, had sought the party’s blessings to contest the presidency 15 years ago, and was always touted as the party’s anointed candidate after Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo until Dr Mahamudu Bawumia emerged.
Yet, his chances even in the Super Delegates Conference faded fast as he slumped to third place, with Dr Bawumia and Assin Central Member of Parliament, Ken Ohene Agyapong, leading the way.
But Dr George Asekere of the University of Education, Winneba, said Mr Kyerematen’s withdrawal from the race could have consequences for the party and Mr Kyerematen’s own future political career, while an Associate Professor of the University of Ghana Business School, Prof. Kobby Mensah, contended that it was a perfect act considering the internal political climate.
Dr Asekere said the reasons cited by Mr Kyerematen were an indictment on the NPP, “which prides itself as the mother of internal party democracy in Ghana’s Fourth Republic”.
“As a party credited with sustained internal democracy since the inception of the Fourth Republic, the least one expects from the NPP is widespread perception and overt schemes that openly suggest the party structures have planned a staged transition from the current President to the Vice-President if the NPP wins the 2024 elections,” he said.
“Interestingly, since the perceived resignation from the party by Mr Kyerematen in the lead-up to the 2008 elections, the Alan camp has held the view that the NPP has not treated them without partiality; they are all over the media complaining.
“Yet God did not promise us a career without challenges.
One would have expected the Alan camp to stay on and fight, unless they have come to the conclusion that the doors are totally closed for them.
Surely, after eight years, the NPP needs all hands on deck to prosecute the 2024 elections.”
“While it would be deceptive to expect an internal election without acrimony, where everything is smooth, it is obviously unacceptable when the party disciplinary structures have not been activated to fully deal with attacks on supporters of some flagbearer aspirants despite reported cases, some with pictorial evidence.
“In a country where one can win the presidential election with about 40,000 votes, it would be deceptive to assume that the withdrawal from the race by Mr Kyerematen would not have negative electoral consequences.
It would certainly have. It is clear from public opinion, which usually forms the basis for scientific enquiry, that Mr Kyerematen is more popular among the masses than he is within the NPP.
Unfortunately, he needs the party to sponsor him to sail through his comfort zone; the electorate.
“Mr Kyerematen has not given a hint of his future in Ghanaian politics.
That notwithstanding, his future looks bleak in NPP party politics.
It is clear from the numbers that the party does not want him to serve in the presidential capacity.
If he intends to form his own party or join another party, he may only succeed in successfully contributing to the multi-party democracy, although one cannot rule out miracles,” Dr Asekere added.
Prof. Mensah said the behaviour, gestures, posturing of the party leadership, the government and other key stakeholders in the country affirmed Mr Kyerematen’s plea that the system had been set up to favour a certain individual.
He added that Mr Kyerematen’s letter consummated the suspicions, assumptions and views of the many people that “indeed, the establishment wants Dr Bawumia to actually win the election”.
“And as we see in football, when the game is fixed, it does not matter who is the referee, it does not matter the kind of support base you have; as long as that game is fixed for a particular team to win, the results will go in a certain manner.
So in the rational thinking of Alan Kyerematen, going to spend a lot more resources in a game that has been fixed is pointless, and he doesn’t think that the results will in any way, shape or form different from what the super delegates actually produced, hence his resignation,” he said.
“So I think that the entire system, when we analyse it deeply, including the official structures and unofficial structures of the country, it tells you that he was right to have actually ironed out those concerns, and as a result, saying that he wants to resign from the process.
If both the seen and unseen structures are actually tilting in a certain direction, as I used the football analogy, what else would you do to influence the process?
You can’t because the structure is such that it had been played to someone’s advantage,” he said.
“Firstly, we can see that or we know that when the party set up the system, nine people suggested that they congregate in a particular place other than doing it from the centres.
“Usually when you have the kind of arrangement that they did, it is most likely that people can feel easily targeted because if we have a single constituency that are not that many, it is easy for people to be able to identify who had voted in what direction, and this is what actually was evident in North East, for example,” he said.
“If you have 28 people who are voting, and those people are being whipped in line under certain coercion, it is difficult for one or two people to stay up because they could be fished out using so many mechanisms, and that actually draws wisdom to the idea that people might have felt a lot more safer to vote according to their conscience and their choices if they had been congregated in one place,” Prof. Mensah added.
“Another issue is about resources and undue advantage.
Clearly, we have seen in this particular processes, a lot of us political watchers or media watchers have seen a certain unfettered access for the Vice-President, for example.
Even recently, we saw the Vice-President attending Otumfuo’s Akwasidae as the representative of the government leading that delegation.
“Let’s analyse the kind of words the Vice-President used.
He told Otumfuo that: ‘You blessed me to go into the competition, and thank God I won.
God blessed your blessings and I won. I want your guidance and blessings for the next one ahead of us’.
“It is a cultural platform, but he had used it for political advantage. What stopped the leadership of the NPP if they really actually heard about fairness, what stopped them from saying that, Dr Bawumia, because of the competition ahead and the idea that Ashanti Region is one of the pivotal areas within this competition we cannot give Bawumia the access or the opportunity to represent the government delegation at Akwasidae?” he asked.
A research and electoral officer of the party in the Effia Constituency in the Western Region, Abdul Hamiid Zakari, popularly known as Darling Boy, said Mr Kyerematen’s withdrawal from the race was least expected.
He said that notwithstanding, it was his right to decide so.
He said Mr Kyerematen was seen as a party stalwart who contributed in diverse ways, both in government and in his private capacity, and stressed that Mr Kyerematen should have engaged the leadership of the party to address his concerns rather than pulling out of the contest.
An NPP polling station coordinator in the New Juaben South Constituency, Akosua Pinaman, said the contributions of Mr Kyerematen to the country as the longest serving Minister of Trade and Industry and the party could not be discounted.
She said although his withdrawal was unfortunate, it was, however, within his right.