I was amused when I heard the General Secretary of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kwabena Agyepong, speak on Newsnight on Joy 99.7 FM. Under normal circumstances, what Mr. Agyepong said would not have attracted my attention beyond its news value, but long after the news ended I kept thinking about what he said and the circumstances surrounding him.
The NPP had conducted its parliamentary primaries, and like any election in our country, some losers felt they were robbed of the opportunity to represent their constituents in parliament. While some vented their anger in the media, others vowed to contest the 2016 election as independent candidates.
It was in reaction to this that Kwabena Agyepong warned of the dismissal of such candidates if they ignored the procedures of seeking redress in the party and did what pleased them.
Dismissal? Yes, dismissal. And those words were from Kwabena Agyepong? Yes, from Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, the man over whose job the party had held emergency regional delegates’ conference to either pass a vote of no confidence or to agree to call on him to step down. It was the biggest internal turmoil within the NPP in recent times and for Kwabena Agyepong and the NPP’s Chairman, Paul Afoko, it appeared that was the end of the road for their political careers. For the sake of those who will be reading this piece many years to come, a little reminder will help.
Once upon a time, Kwabena Agyepong and Paul Afoko embarked on a journey to the Upper East Regional Capital, Bolgatanga. They were to visit the Northern and Upper West Regions as well. Their mission, an independent person told me, was to discuss how to introduce electronic party identification cards for NPP members. Some other party executives were supposed to be part of the trip but they pulled out at the last minute. The party’s accountant, my source told me, was part of the trip. But that meeting was interpreted to mean a plot to put some ‘sand in the gari’ of the party’s flagbearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in the 2016 elections. They were plotting agenda 2020, their accusers said.
My reaction anytime I hear such accusations is: if the two, who are said to belong to the Alan Kyeremanteng camp, could not stop Nana Addo from becoming the flagbearer of the party, then they can never stop the man from becoming president. Former General Secretary of the party, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie (popularly known as Sir John), said on Joy FM recently that when it is time for elections, the party executives are responsible for how to win parliamentary seats. The presidential candidate appoints his team, and they execute the campaign for the presidency. Besides, the race to become the flagbearer is often managed by the national executives. The voters here are a very small college. It is nowhere near the millions that would decide the fate of the party’s flagbearer in the national elections. The national executives of the party have some influence on the delegates who vote for the flagbearer. With all this, the national executives could not stop Nana Addo from becoming the flagbearer. Why would anyone think they can stop him from succeeding in the 2016 elections which they neither have control over the process nor the voters?
At this stage, they are not a threat, and fighting them is more deadly than seeking shelter under a filling station on a rainy night. Fighting Kwabena Agyepong and Paul Afoko over their suspected alignment with Alan Kyeremanteng is not a wise thing to do. It is like fighting someone who has nothing to lose while you have everything to lose. That fight is as dangerous as recording a sex tape with a mad man walking naked in the streets and daring him to leak it. He has nothing to lose. Afoko and Kwabena Agyepong have nothing to lose. But Akufo-Addo, like a woman carrying a crate of eggs and engaging the neighbourhood’s most notorious weed smoker in a brawl, has everything to lose.
But, hey, this is not an expert view from a political scientist. This is an opinion of a layperson, a journalist who is expected to behave like a programmed robot, being on the sidelines and reporting what others say and think. So spare the boy from Bongo any insult. That is not the focus of this article anyways. I’m just laying the foundation for my point, and since digression does not contravene any constitutional provision, I am permitted to do so, aren’t I?
Now let’s get back to Kwabena Agyepong and Paul Afoko in the Upper East Region.
What would turn out to be a nastiest slideshow of internal party agitations that threatened the survival of the NPP and raised questions whether the party was ready to take over from the trial and error leadership of our first post-independence and youthful president, began with an attack on the national party executives. The police managed to whisk them to safety. And two weeks later, the NPP regional chairman for the Upper East Region, Adams Mahama, who was in the middle of the controversy had acid sprayed on him. He died in the hospital and one of the suspects, Gregory Afoko, is said to be Paul Afoko’s brother.
There were emergency congresses in all the ten regions of Ghana. Some passed votes of no confidence on Paul Afoko and Kwabena Agyepong while others, after being reminded of the unconstitutionality of their actions, said they only agreed to ask the party’s council of elders to prevail on the two to resign. Political analysts either called for their removal or their voluntary resignation. Almost everyone who spoke on the matter said the road had come to an end for the two party executives. A resignation letter was even surreptitiously written on behalf of Kwabena Agyepong by some unknown persons. The two were banned from the party’s headquarters. Their lives were in danger as some groups warned that they should not set foot at the murdered chairman’s burial ceremony.
While that was still ongoing, there came the flood and fire disaster which occurred on Wednesday June 3rd. More than 150 people were killed. Ten days later, the NPP held their parliamentary primaries. There had been talks of postponing the primaries because of the turmoil in the party. But it went ahead nonetheless. Kwabena Agyepong and Paul Afoko presided over the primaries. It was after this internal elections that Kwabena Agyepong authoritatively stated that anyone who was not prepared to go by the party’s procedures in seeking redress would be expelled from the party.
It seems the storm is over and nobody who wishes the party well, would resurrect the call for the removal of Paul Afoko and Kwabena Agyepong. Remember the sex tape recording with the mad man? Yoo!
All Shall Pass
When I listened to Kwabena Agyepong, I felt motivated by a message that may not be so linked to their trouble. I felt that there was nothing under the sun that would not have an end. The slogan that came to mind was what is often found written on trotros (commuter buses) in this country: ALL SHALL PASS.
The reason I am writing this piece is to highlight the other side of the tragedy which nearly befell the two politicians. In one week, it looked as if their political career had come to an end and the party was irredeemably sinking. Two weeks later, everything appears perfect and no one seems to remember that storm which almost destroyed the party.
Most of us, if not all of us, face storms of life from time to time. They come in various suits and jackets. They come in different colours or different shades of the same colour. There are some of them we invite on ourselves. And there are others that come unannounced. A sign post at a mechanic shop in Tema Community 12 puts it aptly, “Trouble no get horn.
There are yet other misfortunes, which announce their presence ahead of time, but we have no control over them. These are the troubles Chinua Achebe said they knock on your door and when you say there is no stool for them in your room, they tell you not to worry; they came with their stool.
Whether we survive these storms of life or we get blown off our feet depends on how we react in such situations. Some people choose to end their lives when they face such storms – either by suicide or simply remain alive but with no life. Some end their marriages when the challenges come. Some quit jobs and some resign themselves to fate and give up on auspicious dreams. Others watch on helplessly and slowly sink into nothingness.
In most cases, the solution is just simple. Don’t give up. Look at the light at the end of the tunnel no matter how faint it is. Each step of faith, hope and endurance leads you to the brighter side. After the dark and gloomy night often comes the bright rays of daylight, of sunshine and laughter. All shall pass.
Life does not present a clean sheet to anyone. It is a sum total of falling and rising, successes and failures that define great men. Our elders say when one looks like the wise and has an articulate mouth of a king, it is difficult to imagine that he was once a baby that sucked breast. In the same way when we look at great achievers, we find it difficult to imagine that they failed in many aspects of their lives.
Nelson Mandela will go down in history as one of the greatest statesmen the world ever had. His death brought the world to a standstill, and everyone who matters in the leadership of our planet was at his funeral. But he failed in many aspects of his life. He had two failed marriages. His children died. Some people even believe he failed his nation as the first black president of his nation because he didn’t do much to overturn the economic inequality of his nation.
But it wasn’t failure that defined him.
I am writing this piece in the bowels of Kenyan Airways. I am on my way to Nairobi on the invitation of the Tax Justice Network – Africa as a speaker and participant in a training for journalist across the continent. On Sunday, I worked during the day and because I was busy trying to prepare for the journey, I could not wish my father a happy fathers’ day.
I called him after I had checked in at the Kotoka International Airport and he prayed for me before I set off. After I told him I was on my way to Kenya, I had to add that I was travelling by plane just to give him a sense of how far the place was. I was not quite sure he knew it was outside the country. He has never read any article I have written because he cannot read. My father, according to Mr. Gyane Augustine, my junior high school assistant headteacher, was one of the poorest men in Kete-Krachi. I knew it. And everyone who knew how we grew up will not contest Mr. Gyane’s claim.
While we were still going through what appeared like a gloomy and hopeless life, my father was hopeful that things would get better one day. He used to say, “The years will not stand still because of my poverty.” I didn’t understand him but I now do. It was his own way of saying all shall pass! No condition is permanent. And there is almost always an end to all bad times.
It is just a matter of time. And all shall, indeed, pass! “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”-Psalm 30:5.
I don’t know the storm that is shaking the foundations of your life and dreams as you read this piece, but I know the days, months or years will not stand still because of your storm. All shall pass! It is possible Paul Afoko and Kwabena Agyepong may win election 2016 for their party and their performance as national executives will be immortalized.
My father said the years would not stand still because of his poverty. And in fact, they did not. At least, we can now afford to have decent roofs over our heads and you are reading this from one of his seeds. The owner of that trotro says “All shall pass” and he surely has a testimony to that effect.
Horatio Spafford teaches us to say it is well in such difficult situations when it seems all is lost.
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot
Thou hast taught me to say
It is well
It is well with my soul.
Say to yourself it is well. And it, indeed, shall be well with you. It’s just a matter of time. All shall pass!