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12.06.2017 Feature Article

Ashaiman: The Eye Of The NDC: How Did The Party Conduct Herself?

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The Mandela Park at Ashaiman in the Greater region played host to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC’s) 25th anniversary rally on Saturday 10, June 2017. The sprawling town known to be the bastion of the NDC is nestled between the twin cities in the region ---Tema, the port city and Accra, Ghana’s capital.

Basically, it was time for sober reflection and time to see how best the party could stage a comeback in 2020. Unity was a common strand that ran through speech after speeches given by its speakers. But the rally lacked electricity and the usual crowd-storm. Truly, the Saturday’s crowd didn’t compare or come close to the multitude that attended then NDC’s parliamentary candidate Ernest Norgbey’s campaign launch in October 2016.

However, one could argue that perhaps crowd wasn’t the centrality of the rally. It had more nuggets on its bowl to digest. The rank and file was asked to eschew bickering, back-biting and back stabbing as well as reposition itself to face the governing NPP in the next general elections. They believed this was the way to go if the party meant business.

After all who likes to remain in hibernation or stay in opposition?

The last December’s election defeat was the party’s third. It lost the 2000, 2004 and 2016. One of its main speakers admonished the Umbrella family not to ‘fight over spilt milk’ but look beyond the fall. Fact is it hurts so badly to lose power especially in Africa and for that matter Ghana, where being in opposition can be equated to being in Siberia. What it does is it makes one see things clearer and bolder. Thus the NDC wouldn’t like to see another humiliation, another defeat and another Siberia. What do they say: “Once bitten twice shy” or thrice beaten quadruple shy. Not again, they seem to be echoing that now as the ashes in Ashaiman begin to rise.

Following the party’s defeat in the 2016 elections there has been some rancorous and unhealthy development. And members of the largest opposition party in Ghana have resorted to the proverbial blame game.

How did the party conduct itself during the rally?

Yes, the rally lacked the proverbial pomp but it wasn’t denied with the big-wigs---those that dug the trenches and got their hands dirty. The founder and former President Jerry John Rawlings was at the rally to sell unity to the party. He also used the occasion to resell his signature products –probity, accountability and honesty.

He gave this admonition: “How many times have we not gone through this stage? I say if we are serious, we are genuine, we are sincere, and that unity can work. Power corrupts us too quickly, too easily. We need to re-examine ourselves. We need some serious education,” he admonished the party.

Mr. Rawlings told the gathering, the ball was in their court to prevent the process of unity from being hijacked. He also touched on the theme of unity that echoed through the statements made at the rally. To him, “… unity is a beautiful thing but it comes at a price - truthfulness, sincerity etc." He agreed with the sentiments that the party stands a chance of returning to power in 2020 if they do their homework well.

Another big-wig that graced the Ashaiman NDC 25th anniversary rally was former President John Mahama. He took a course this writer describes as a ‘safe route’. Possibly he did so to put himself firmly at the driver’s seat I (as the putative candidate) in the NDC 2020 presidential race. Already there are names mushrooming to contest the former president.

Speaking at the rally Mr. Mahama didn’t blame the party’s foot soldiers or the surrogates. He didn’t blame the campaign strategists or those with sharp teeth for the party’s defeat. Instead, her literally claimed responsibility. “I have accepted all blame as a leader of the party. And I am confident and I pray that after the re-organisation we shall win as party,” he said.

According to Mr. Mahama, what matters in life is not how many times one falls but “…how you survive and make new impact”. He appealed to party members to “…stop crying over spilt milk and instead think of how to get new milk to enjoy”. He further expressed confidence that with appropriate re-organisation, the party shall win.

Also in attendance were the General Secretary of the NDC Asiedu Nketiah, and his deputy Koku Anyidoho, the Chairman Kofi Portuphy, former ministers of state and parliamentarians both sitting and former.

There was also time for a few jabs to be throw n at the governing NPP. And guess who spearheaded that Former Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur. He seized the occasion to challenge the ruling NP P to answer all the 170 promises the party made to Ghanaians ahead of the 2016 elections.

“I have been told that they have made 170 promises. They have to ensure that all those 170 promises are fulfilled so the people of Ghana can also benefit from the work that they came to do. “

The NPP during the electioneering campaign made a number of promises which include, free education, free health care, building 216 factories across the country, building an irrigation dam in each farming community in northern Ghana, and disbursing $1 million dollars each to the 275 constituencies across the country.

Mr. Amissah-Arthur pointed out that it was important for the NDC as a party to hold the Akufo-Addo government accountable. He also urged the NDC to continue to champion the agenda of the people. “This agenda is simple: we have to protect the interest of our people. We have to ensure that the NPP government meets all the promises that they made,” the former Vice President said.

Like the previous speakers Mr. Amissah-Arthur called for unity in the NDC, saying it was time the party closed its ranks after the December defeat. “The 2016 election is over and it is important for us to move on because the agenda of the Ghanaian people is important. We must unite our people so that we can work together combining all strengths and attributes of the people in the NDC so that we can work for the good of this country.”

The NDC was formed on Tuesday 28, July 1992, more or less as a lateral branch of the then ruling Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) under the chairmanship of Jerry John Rawlings. Ghana at the time was transitioning into multi-party system of democracy after eleven years of the military rule r.

The party went on to win the first two elections of the fourth republic under the leadership of Mr. Rawlings .It must be noted that the 1992 elections was boycotted by then main opposition party the NPP.

Gordon Offin-Amaniampong
Gordon Offin-Amaniampong, © 2017

This author has authored 269 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: GordonOffinAmaniampong

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