The New Patriotic Party (NPP) foot soldiers, the backbone of the party, have been very loyal to the party and its ideology sometimes to the detriment of their own lives and the lives of their families. Even in opposition, when the party had nothing to offer them, the foot soldiers remained unflinching to the party amidst intimidations and threats from the then governing party.
The worth of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) foot soldiers to the party can never be overemphasized. By their loyalty, the foot soldiers – or, if you like, the grassroots members as they are called in the NPP – keep the party alive. They determine whether the party comes to power, stay in power or goes to opposition. In the 2016 elections, it is the foot soldiers who propagated the party’s manifesto and message and marketed the presidential candidate to the electorate.
Today, the NPP has transitioned from opposition to government. This transition was made possible as a result of the early and late toil and moil of these foot soldiers some of whom died, lost eye, were amputated and some were victimized in the process of bringing the party to power. Without their loyalty and dedication, the NPP couldn’t have survived in opposition let alone come to power.
Now in government, the lives of the NPP foot soldiers are no better; nothing to compensate for their yeomanly efforts. This has led to increasing agitations among the foot soldiers. They feel neglected and disappointed leading to rising despondency and apathy. The straw that is breaking Carmel’s back is the apparent disconnect between the presidency and the foot soldiers aptly demonstrated by how some presidential staffers and some government appointees disrespect the foot soldiers.
It is pretty obvious that parts of the NPP leadership seem determined to alienate the party’s own supporters. They risk forgetting that these NPP foot soldiers are the very people who put them in government in the first place. These are the dedicated foot soldiers who went from house to house, knocked on doors, went to the markets, churches and many other public places to deliver NPP’s leaflets.
From the three regions of the North through the Ashanti region, the NPP’s stronghold, to the Western region, the NPP foot soldiers are disgruntled.
In the Western region, precisely Elembelle constituency, the home constituency of the NPP national acting chairman, party foot soldiers have defied the odds and come out strongly to express their displeasure with how their own government has neglected them.
Led by Isaac Kwame Afful, a member of the Esiama Post Office Polling Station executive members, the aggrieved foot soldiers in a Facebook post said among many other damning remarks that, “…what we are doing to those who went to the trenches, the hinterlands and the villages to canvass votes for H. E. Nana Akufo-Addo is not good at all hence consequences ahead.”
Charity, the saying goes, begins at home. But if the backyard of the incumbent NPP chairman is crumbling, what would those in the far regions do?
The general feeling among the NPP foot soldiers is that their sacrifices have been in vain, never recognized. But the worst aspect is that there is no voice in the party fighting for their course.
Last year, the Ashanti region communications team of the NPP declared their refusal to represent the NPP on radio stations because of neglect by the party.
Some serial callers and foot soldiers also claimed on radio shows that, “We have been ignored, rejected and abandoned by our party leaders.”
Mr Kennedy Agyapong, MP for Assin Central, has also warned that the NPP risks losing the 2020 election considering how the party has neglected the grassroots.
This shows the NPP has more work to do. More work to do for the children and dependents of the foot soldiers who were killed while working to bring the NPP to power; more work to do for those now amputated and incapacitated because they were working to win power for the NPP; more work to do to provide hope and opportunities for foot soldiers like Isaac Kwame Afful in the party.
Without a doubt, the NPP has a lot to do to win back the confidence of the foot soldiers, because as the National Democratic Congress (NDC) 2016 defeat teaches us, you cannot win an election with disgruntled foot soldiers.
Don’t get me wrong. The NPP foot soldiers understand very well that the party/government cannot solve all their problems, and, indeed, that is not what they are expecting from the party/government. They know they have to work hard to succeed in life, and they want to. But they need HOPE! They believe that with a little adjustment of party/government priorities, we can ensure that every NPP foot soldier gets a decent shot at life and that the door of opportunity opens to everyone.
The NPP foot soldiers are convinced that there are very competent people in the party who can do better to rekindle the lost hope and confidence of the foot soldiers.
Stephen Ayensu Ntim offers that HOPE. A grassroots person himself, he speaks and understands the language of the foot soldiers. He understands better the plight and fright of the foot soldiers. Of course, grassroots interaction is not new to Stephen Ntim. It is like the very air he breathes. He does it every day. He is accessible.
Stephen Ntim understands the ideals of service and hope because they have defined him. Like President Nana Akufo-Addo, Mr Ntim has devoted a larger part of his life serving and building a formidable party the NPP is today. Even as a non-executive member of the NPP, Mr Ntim is on record as having a very good relationship with the aged and incapacitated party members and supporting them financially from his own pocket. He understands foot soldier welfare because of that he has prepared a well-thought-out foot-soldier welfare package for the NPP foot soldiers to support injured and needy NPP foot soldiers. This will be implemented immediately the delegates give him the nod in Koforidua next month.
Stephen Ntim understands that ignoring the NPP foot soldiers is a grave mistake because the concerns of the foot soldiers are not entirely different from those of the rest of the population.
Stephen Ntim has devoted himself wholly to the service of the NPP. Again and again, we have seen Mr Ntim make tough decisions to stand with the NPP. In the past, many founding and leading members of the NPP, after losing an election in the party or failing to clinch a desired position in the party, left the party to form their own to contest the NPP in elections, hoping to weaken the NPP’s strength. Those who didn’t leave the party were either inside or outside the country speaking ill of the party and pissing into it to make it look unattractive. But no, that is not Stephen Ntim. Despite losing the chairmanship election three times, his dedication and loyalty to the NPP has never diminished an inch. His invaluable contributions toward Nana Akufo-Addo’s victory in 2016 are so visible for anyone to attest to. His values and his records are in sync with the core values of the NPP and affirm that he is the right man for the NPP chairmanship.
Stephen Ntim believes in the NPP foot soldiers because he understands that without them the NPP does not exist. He desires to do things differently to change the fate and face of the NPP foot soldiers. He wants to restore dignity and pride to NPP footsoldiering and make it enviable. He understands that a happy foot soldier makes a stronger party.
Going into the 2020 elections with disgruntled grassroots members is a sure recipe for disaster, and the NPP cannot afford to do that. Charismatic Stephen Ntim offers hope to reinvigorate the NPP foot soldiers to guarantee victory in 2020, because he believes that a well-motivated foot soldier is a deadly weapon to any opponent.
NPP foot soldiers matter to Stephen Ntim, the foot soldiers’ friend.
A vote for Stephen Ntim is a vote for you.
A vote for Stephen Ntim is a vote to deepen the UP Tradition.
A vote for Stephen Ntim is a vote to retain power.
By David Ackah-Miezah, NPP activist.