FORMER PRESIDENT Jerry John Rawlings, last Saturday went over-drive, when he confirmed the use of money, and dangerous weapons by National Democratic Congress (NDC) members to win elections in the party.
Mr Rawlings, particularly mentioned the incidents at the Northern Regional Congress of the party, in Tamale, where he said, machetes were freely distributed to party activists, to intimidate their opponents.
He described the election of Alhaji Sumani Zakari as fraudulent, because money was used to induce delegates to vote for him, and his team.
Accusing an unnamed national officer for spearheading the ugly incident at Tamale, Rawlings said the said national officer gave the Sumanu group large sums of money to distribute to delegates.
Mr. Rawlings had supported Alhaji Ibrahim Adam, an ex-convict and former Minister of Food and Agriculture, who lost out in the race.
Addressing the Volta Regional delegates congress, at Kpando, last Saturday, the former president, who, in 2004, accused the New Patriotic Party (NPP) of using money to buy votes, threw back the allegation to his party members, saying that, the Northern Regional Congress of the party was nothing, but a charade. He said, the outcome of the congress had created a despondency within the rank and file of the party, and called for a reversal of the trend.
The former president described the Tamale congress as disgraceful, and had brought back the Andani and Abudu issue, to the fore, once more.
Alhaji Ibrahim Adam is Abudu sympathiser in the Dagbon chieftaincy dispute, while majority of the NDC supporters, including Alhaji Sumani Zakari belong to the Andani gate.
He sounded a note of warning that NDC was in danger, if the Northern Region congress was not re-organised.
In another stretch, he took up issues with his party chairman, Dr. Obed Asamoah, accusing him of hijacking the party.
Describing the national chairman and his supporters, as a group of “autocratic clique”, who would want to hijack NDC for their selfish agenda, Mr. Rawlings said, until the group was chased out, the party cannot be a strong contender for elections.
“NPP is not the problem, the problem is within”, he told Volta Regional delegates congress.
He said, the issues confronting the party could not be resolved, based on compromises, but must be confronted head on, in order to establish what is right. “When you are in a room, which is stinking, you do not shut the windows because you do not want outsiders to smell the stench, rather you open the windows to allow the stench to escape, and fresh air to get in”, he pointed out. The national chairman, and his collaborators, Mr. Rawlings stated must be flushed out to enable the party to breathe good fresh air, stressing that, their activities had caused the party a lot, up to today.
“Enough is enough”, he indicated, without minding the presence of Dr. Asamoah, who was seated next to him, at the function.
The vintage NDC founder, who swore with the Bible to dismiss the allegation of factionalism within the party, stated that the charges of factionalism were media hype.
“There are no factions in the party”, he said, explaining that, the perceived factionalism was rather a struggle between right and wrong in the party. He said, the perception of factionalism was the idea of some people who were preparing the ground to seize control of the party structures, by creating a semblance of weakness withi n the existing structures, instead of making such structures effective. He asked the delegates to reject money-bag politicians, who would want to influence them with money, to buy their conscience.
“You sit down and allow a few people to create the impression that there is a faction in the party. It is a matter of right and wrong,” he stressed. Mr. Rawlings also, repeated his allegations that, NDC was rigged out of the 2004 elections.
NDC, he said did not lose the elections, rather the leadership of the party chickened out, when they could have challenged the results in court and won. Former President Rawlings had prompted the NDC flagbearer, Prof J.E.A. Atta Mills after the December 7, 004 elections, which were described as free and fair, not to accept the results, but to stage street protests, reminiscent of what happened in Ukraine, where demonstrations overturned results of the presidential polls in favour of the opposition.
Prof Mills indicated that, he resisted the suggestion, in order to avoid a blood-bath, since it would be very difficult to manage them.
Dr. Obed Asamoah, who refused to react, directly to the founder's charges, cautioned party members to avoid the “blame-game because all of us have collateral responsibility for the state of affairs in the party”.
“Work with structures of the party, and not parallel structures,” he said, and cautioned party members that, the 2008 elections were not going to be easy, adding, “we are in a game of power, in which we have to work to reduce the risks of failure”.
For that reason, he said, the party must be ready to accept facts and conclusions arising out of scientific analysis of issues, so as to be able to fashion out the right strategies for winning elections, rather than resorting to character assassination and mudslinging.
He said, problems within the party should be resolved, through compromises, in the supreme interest of the party.
Dr. Asamoah said the party must come to terms with the gradual improvement in the percentage performances of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), in the Volta Region, which rose from six per cent in the 2000 elections, to 14 in the 2004 elections. The Volta Regional Secretary of NDC, Francis Ganyaglo, expressed the regional branch's uneasiness with the alleged rift between the founder, and the party's national chairman.
“We are not comfortable with the position, and call for total ceasefire, from today”, Mr Ganyaglo said, in his report, drawing a prolonged applause from the delegates and other party members.
“To err, is human, but to forgive is divine”, he said.
In a solidarity message, NPP said a strong opposition is virtuous and essential to nurturing a virile democracy and that NDC has been able to avail itself, creditably, in performing that role, both in and out of Parliament. The message said NPP looked forward to a keener contest between the two parties, during the 2008 elections, to further demonstrate their commitment to democracy.
The message further said, the two parties were confronted with similar challenges, as they embarked on their constituency, regional and national conferences, to elect new leaders, and hoped that, like NPP, NDC would come out of those assignments, much stronger.