A leading member of the New Patriotic Party, Mr Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, has called on the leadership of the party to do everything possible to sustain its pro-poor and pro-rural stature to garner mass participation at the grassroot level.
In so doing, he has strongly suggested to the leadership of the party to scrap the idea of selling forms for the polling station elections.
He contends that since political party work and activism were largely done in an enthusiastic spirit of sacrifice and volunteerism, any form of commercialising party activities, particularly at the polling station level must be discouraged.
Sharing his views on aspects of internal election guidelines yet to be formally released by the party to govern polling station, constituency, regional and national elections of the party, Mr Asamoah-Boateng told the Daily Graphic that the NPP must be mindful of its pro-poor and pro-rural stature to garner mass participation at the grassroot level.
“Asking members at the polling station level to pay for nomination forms and filing fees, plus membership card, all at a cost of GHc15 within this short period, would create a lot of hardship and will hinder people from joining the party at the grassroot level,” he stated.
According to Mr Asamoah-Boateng, “as the current guidelines stand, especially at the constituency level, it will defeat the objective of opening up the party for mass participation.”
The party, he said, must be opened up to quality and credible people who want to work for the party, saying; “the poor party member who has toiled for our party all these years should not be shoved aside at this stage because of money. It can be costly to the party in the general elections. Should you insist, we are likely to get the "wrong people selected" because someone with higher leadership ambitions paid for them in return for their support.”
According to Mr Asamaoh-Boateng, the NPP tradition has come into government twice, and throughout, it has shown that the party was pro-poor and pro-rural.
“From Dr K.A Busia’s Progress Party era, who is well noted for his rural development and mass literacy programmes, to that of J.A Kufuor who is noted to have introduced many social interventions, including NHIS, Mass Metro Transit, School Feeding, Free Maternity Care among others, we can be sure of the need for the party to continue with their pro-poor programmes,” he stated.
In his view, the money talk, especially at the polling station level at this time would not help the party during the general elections.
Rather, he said, focus must be on organisation and relationship building; arguing that what the NPP needed at this level were executives whose conduct, utterances, organisation, hard work, humility and connections in the communities would draw voters to the party.
“We should aim at building a human-centred mass political party participation.
Independent election committee
On the party’s internal elections, Mr Asamoah-Boateng advised the leadership of the party to set up an independent election committee at the polling station levels to supervise the elections.
That, he said, would be in line with the party's principles of openness and fairness to all contestants and officials.
According to Mr Asamoah-Boateng, it is not enough to set up such committees only at the national levels and leave the issue hanging when it comes to other elections, particularly at the polling station levels.
“The guidelines as released by the General Secretary of the NPP does not capture what the National Executive Committee decided on,” he stated.
It is a variation of what the NEC decided on, Mr Boateng opined, recalling that “NEC decided at their last meeting that the guidelines governing the elections should direct all constituencies to paste the list of polling station members visibly at meeting grounds, but as one goes round, this has not been done.”
The whole idea is opennesss, and that is what the NEC is calling for, he stated.
In so doing, he advocated for all contestants and officers to have access to delegates’ album at the polling station, whilst delegates were given the opportunity to validate the displayed voters list.
He appealed to the NEC to consider his suggestions, proposing that the National Council of Elders must be immediately convened to discuss the matter.
He said his recent trips to Wa, Tumu, Gomoa Tarkwa, Sunyani, Dadieso, Enchi, Asankragwa, Konongo and Dunkwa-on-Offin where he interacted with party members from the surrounding communities revealed a very chaotic situation at the grassroot. Some constituencies and regions claim to have already completed their albums when we are still waiting for the correspondence from the General Secretary, he queried.
He cautioned that there was a huge suspicion within the party that some of the current executives were bent on retaining their positions at all cost.
The feeling at the grassroots is very depressing for our party members, most of whom were very scared to express contrary viewpoints in order not to be perceived as "against."
There are people going round spreading falsehood and it is dividing the party and pitching members against each other. We should be able to work with each other rather than against ourselves to achieve the 2016 objective.
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