Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee?
It did not come as much of a surprise to many when Mr Alan Kyerematen recently announced his resignation from the New Patriotic Party (NPP), as well as his intention to contest the 2024 election as an independent candidate, with a monarch butterfly as his symbol.
His earlier decision to withdraw from the NPP flagbearer race had given some indication of what lay ahead, especially when he promised to announce the next direction of his role in Ghanaian politics.
In all the discussions following his announcement, the symbol that Mr Kyerematen chose for himself, a monarch butterfly, found space, with snide remarks on the rather short lifespan of the butterfly in tow, along with invocations of Kojo Antwi’s hit song, ‘afafanto’ (butterfly).
Creative but mischievous minds coined the word ‘butterphant’ to describe Mr Kyerematen’s transformation from an elephant to a butterfly.
The politics of party symbols is not particularly new in Ghana.
I recall vividly the 1979 Election campaign that ushered in the Third Republic, along with its symbols, slogans and campaign songs.
In that campaign, Dr Hilla Limann’s People’s National Party (PNP), whose symbol was the palm tree, made the point that the tree gives us palm fruits, palm fronds for Palm Sunday, brooms, traditional fans for the coal pot and even in its terminal stages, sweet, frothy palm wine!
Not to be outdone, Victor Owusu’s Popular Front Party (PFP) vigorously made the point that their symbol, the star ‘nsoroma’, had led the three wise men to Jesus and represented hope.
Paa Willie and his United National Convention (UNC) had the human palm, symbolising honesty and transparency.
On the independent candidate front, I recall Diamond Addy touted a fish, while Kwame Nyanteh had a rather tantalising half-peeled cob of corn.
I am not sure what virtues they were trying to communicate with these symbols.
In the political firmament of the Fourth republic, an umbrella, an elephant, a mother hen and her chicks, a broom, a dove, a cockerel and a coconut tree, among others, have all found expression as political party symbols.
1979 all over again?
Of course, quite understandably, my National Democratic Congress (NDC) friends are quite delighted in their belief that this development will split the NPP votes and put their party in a comfortable lead at the 2024 election.
They point to the 1979 election campaign during which the Danquah-Busia tradition’s vote was split between the PFP and the UNC, leading to Dr Limann’s PNP winning the election, and they rub their hands in glee at the thought of this scenario replaying itself next year.
I have advised my umbrella friends to go easy on the champagne.
Like many people in the NPP, I believe Mr Kyerematen’s resignation is rather unfortunate, and I wish it had not occurred.
Of course, his decision to resign and go independent will take some votes away from the NPP.
But is it necessarily fatal as far as NPP is concerned?
Is 1979 looming again? I have my doubts.
For starters, in 1979 Paa Willie’s UNC drew in the likes of Prof. Adu Boahen, Peter Ala Adjettey, R.R Amponsah, Justice N.Y.B Adade, Dr. Agama and former head of state Gen. Akwasi Amankwaa Afrifa, among several others.
These significant political personalities helped consolidate the UNC as a credible political force to reckon with and therefore drew in significant support and ultimately enough numbers to cause a major fault line on the Danquah-Busia tectonic plate.
Admittedly, it is early days yet to know which heavyweight in the NPP will jump from the back of the elephant unto the wings of the butterfly to join Mr Kyerematen on his independent journey.
Will there be a catalyst sufficient to cause a huge political crack on the NPP front?
Or will it be a rather lonely walk for him?
It is claimed that some pro-Kyerematen MPs who lose their seats at the next NPP primaries will have nothing to lose by competing as independent candidates under the wings of the butterfly.
Interestingly, Mr Kyerematen has already called on NPP faithful to vote massively for the NPP parliamentary candidates while voting for him as President.
The boxing legend Mohammed Ali used to boast that he could ‘float like a butterfly and sting like a bee’.
We wait to see Mr Kyerematen’s floating and stinging skills.
The 2024 election is definitely not going to be a walk in the park.
The NPP should hold its nerve, put the recent developments behind it, close its ranks quickly and focus hard on the hard task ahead.
Head, Communications & Public Affairs Unit,
Ministry of Energy.