A spectre is haunting the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition and it Is the spectre of the inevitable split in the New Patriotic Party before the 2024 election cycle. Given the developments in the party since it regained power in 2016, one does not have to be a political scientist to see the coming crisis that will come to a head in the next few years as the NPP prepares to do battle in 2024 against the increasingly united and formidable NDC.
Even though leadership contestations are the sine qua non of political party organisation—and our party has had its fair share of such contestations historically and has bounced back better and stronger—the imminent leadership contestation has the potential of splitting the party permanently.
This imminent fracture of the NPP is likely to be permanent because to all intents and purposes the coming contestation would be a proxy war of attrition between two of the three main ethnic groups that form the basis of the party (Ashantis, Akyems, and Bonos).
Even though the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition is a multi-ethnic organisation, it is my contention that it is mainly a triumvirate of Ashantis, Akyems and Bonos with regard to its electoral strength that is drawn from regions occupied by the above-mentioned three ethnic groups.
The potential split in the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition would be a function of the perception of the breach of the mainly unwritten, gentleman’s agreement reached at the 2007 party primaries at the University of Ghana by Ashantis and Akyems.
The decision made by the Kyerematen camp during the 2007 primaries to avoid a second round of voting-a decision which paved the way for Nana Akufo Addo’s election as the party’s flag bearer in 2007-was expected to be reciprocated by the latter’s camp with an endorsement of the former in the next election cycle.
While it is the democratic right of every member of the party in good standing to contest for any position in the party, the likely candidacy of Dr. Bawumia in the upcoming race for the party’s flag bearer slot would be seen largely as an endorsement by the sitting president and leader of the party against the Ashanti faction represented by Alan kyerematen.
Thus, there is a growing angst of pro-Kyerematen Nppists who feel that they have been stabbed in the back, so to speak, by this real or perceived endorsement of Bawumia by the president and would therefore amount to a ‘declaration of war’ by the Kyerematen camp.
This fight is not going to be like any other fight in the party has endured in the past; it is a fight that is going to splinter the party into various parts with possible coalitions within and outside the party, a situation that will certainly benefit rival parties in the country.
Bonos and Ahafos need serious introspection about the NPP
It is against this backdrop of the imminent split in the NPP that I call upon opinion leaders in the three regions in the former Brong/Ahafo region to seriously introspect and rethink their almost unconditional embrace of the NPP as their political home.
Why is somebody like me advocating for Bonos and Ahafos to rethink their wholesale embrace of the NPP for their socio-political survival? I pose this question because I am a card bearing and committed member of the NPP. I was born and bred in the Danquah-Busia-Dombo political tradition. I am also a founding member of the NPP and pay my dues consistent with that status in the party.
I was one of three people who worked tirelessly for the formation of the South African Branch of the party and became its first Vice Chairman, a position that led me to lead the fundraising effort for the successful 2016 campaign. Finally, I worked for the party in government when former President Kufuor appointed me the Deputy National Coordinator in charge of monitoring and evaluation of the School Feeding Programme in 2008.
In this position, I worked for the restoration of the sponsorship of the programme by the Dutch government after they withdrew their support following some corruption charges against the previous management of the programme.
The above-mentioned “resume” may sound like a sales pitch by somebody who is crying in the wilderness, so to speak. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The fact of the matter is that I think it is a necessary context for my call on Bonos and Ahafos to rethink their support for NPP because as my own experiences in the party show, the region(s) is getting a raw deal from the party.
Bonos, Ahafos, Nkrumahism and the Busia factor
Bonos and Ahafos converted from Nkrumahism to become Danquah-Busia-Dombo traditionalists on the eve of the Second Republic because of the Busia factor in our national politics. It is significant to note that the Ashanti colony during the British rule was not a monolith because it was largely co-terminus with the previous Asante Empire with several subjugated traditional states.
The geographical entity called Brong/Ahafo was part of the Ashanti colony and was known as western Ashanti. To achieve autonomy from Ashanti authority, some elements in western Ashanti became restless and formed the resistance called the Bono Kyempem Movement.
Because the largest opposition to Nkrumah’s rule, the NLM, was Ashanti based, he wasted no time in playing upon the fears of Bonos in the Ashanti colony by endearing himself to leaders of this nascent Bono nationalist movement. The group was led by such prominent Bono chiefs as Osagyefo Agyeman Badu of Dormaa, Akumfi Ameyaw of Techiman, Abrefa Mmore Bediatuo of Wenchi, and Ofosu Gyeabour of Bechem.
When in a quid pro quo gesture Nkrumah created an independent Brong/Ahafo region out of the Ashanti colony in 1959, the entire western Ashanti with the exception of pockets of NLM loyalist states and towns jumped on the CPP bandwagon. This explains why for a very long time the fortunes of the NLM in Brong/Ahafo waned despite the fact that its leader at the time, Busia, was a son of the region’s soil.
Following Busia’s candidacy in the 1969 general elections, Bonos left the CPP in droves to join his Progress Party (PP) to boost his campaign; ironically, it would take an Ashanti subject, General Afrifa, to convince Bonos and Ahafos that Busia was their own for the region to vote massively for him to win the 1969 elections.
Busia’s ascendancy in the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition during this period saw the waxing of the influence of Bonos as names such as J.H. Mensah, A.A. Munufie, Owusu Sekyere, Dr. Manson, J.H. Owusu Acheampong, A.A. Owusu, P.K. Owusu-Ansah and many others became well known in Ghana’s political firmament.
Former President Kufuor is the quintessential Busiast and his loyalty to Busia was evidenced by the continued influence of Bonos in his administration. In fact, during the Kufuor administration Bono stalwarts like J.H. Mensah, Professor Gyan Baffour, Hon. Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, Madam Amma Busia, Mr. D.K. Osei, Mr. Stephen Ntim and many more were in the party’s hierarchy and the number of appointees from the region was hardly an issue.
During J.A. Kufuor’s leadership of the party, the region could boast of not less than five Ambassadorial appointments, more than the present number of ministerial appointments, deputy ministers and ministers of state. This was also the time when BAPAC (Brong Ahafo Patriotic Action Caucus) and BASU (Brong/Ahafo Students Union) were actively involved in our party’s affairs.
I am not suggesting that the above-mentioned Bonos featured prominently in Busia’s and Kufuor’s administrations simply because they were Bonos. Rather, these individuals were recognized and allowed to work for the country because of their superior qualifications and competence as anybody familiar with these names would attest to. In fact, Busia’s administration earned the reputation as the “brain trust” because of the presence in it of many of these individual Bonos.
Marginalization of Bonos
It is no exaggeration to state that there has been a gradient decline in the good fortunes enjoyed by competent Bonos in the two previous NPP administrations; this situation has reached its apogee in the current NPP administration under the steerage of Nana Akufo-Addo with the exception of a few “house niggers.”
In fact, as I write this piece, they are using some of these house niggers to scuttle the chances of a true Bono patriot-Steve Ntim-for the national Chairmanship of the party. Steve Ntim has been a serial fighter for this national slot and just when everyone in the party realizes that it is time to reward him, they are using other Bonos to block him yet again from becoming the party’s national Chairman.
Unfortunately, no leader from the region(s) has seen through this diabolical scheme to prevent a Bono patriot in the person of Steve Ayensu Ntim to become the national Chairman of the party. Rather, our current leaders in the region prefer cheap popularity through shouting matches at TV and radio stations to addressing the substantive issues in the region(s).
But, truth be told, despite the historical role of the region in flying the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition’s flag, it is hardly a stronghold of the NPP; in fact, essentially, B/A is a swing region and the electoral record is very clear on this fact.
The fact of the matter is that the NDC has been a better party with regard to the socioeconomic development of the area. The NDC, in recognition of the importance of the Bono and Ahafo, has rewarded us with party positions such as General Secretary, National Organiser, Deputy Women Organiser and Honorary campaign manager at one time or another, while the NPP has taken the region(s) for granted over the years.
Currently, the NDC’s national women organiser (Dr. Hannah Bissiu) and national communications officer (Mr. Sammy Gyamfi) are all from the region. Thus, instead of socioeconomic development, the NPP sees and treats the Bono and Ahafo region(s) as a hunting ground to which it comes every four years to look for votes.
In fact, this view and treatment of the region was the only rationale for the balkanization of the former one, united region into three regions. Rationally, a region or district is created on the basis of the population of an area.
According to the 2010 Population and housing census, the population of the former Brong/Ahafo region was 2,310,983, while that of the largest region in the country-Ashanti region-was 4,780,380. The question then becomes: Why is the Ashanti region intact as one region, while Brong/Ahafo now has three regions?
Sunyani, the former capital of the former united Brong/Ahafo region, is just like any ordinary town in other regions of the country with a few and dilapidated public facilities and buildings and unmotorable artery roads leading from the capital to the major towns in the region.
When Bono NPP stalwarts like A.A. Munufie and Owusu Acheampong left the NPP to join the NDC, very few diehard NPPists understood their motives but they were adamant that the NPP has always neglected the region and this attitude has hardly changed over the years since their defection.
Bonos and Ahafos jumped onto the bandwagon of the Danquah-Busiah-Dombo tradition mainly because of Busia. However, ever since Busia and Kufuor exited the political scene, the influence of Bonos in the NPP has been declining while they continue to embrace the party by voting for it.
The NPP is no longer Busia’s party because even if he were to rise from the dead today he would not recognize his own party. The party has become clannish, exclusive, dictatorial and riddled with charlatans and braggarts with questionable characters.
It is within this context of increasing marginalization of Bonos and Ahafos in the greater scheme of things in the NPP that I call upon the opinion leaders in Bono and Ahafo to rethink their presence in the party for the good of our people.
We need to educate the people, especially, the youth to raise awareness about these historical facts and wean them off the blind and wholesale embrace of the NPP and be objective about which party delivers to our people when in power. We need a movement in the regions to do just that.
Acheampong Yaw Amoateng, PhD, is a research professor of sociology at the North-West University in South Africa. He writes in his personal capacity.
 I use the term Bonos to refer to citizens of the former geographical entity designated as “Brong/Ahafo” region.