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12.10.2018 Opinion

NDC Not An Option In 2020

By John Vianney
NDC Not An Option In 2020
LISTEN OCT 12, 2018

Whilst the NPP government struggles to resuscitate the shuttered economy by arresting the notorious Ghanaian cedi, the opposition NDC is witnessing the splitting of heads by flag bearer hopefuls as they crisscross the regions to sell their messages. Both the incumbent and the main opposition party are in difficult times. They are being tested in government and in opposition respectively. No where cool indeed.

The cedi which is now behaving like Usain Bolt among major currencies in the exchange market, is still on the loose and yet to be arrested. But job loses have reached a crescendo. There is panic in the system as Ghanaians watch the collapse of the banking sector. And no time for due diligence has led to the distribution of expired foodstuff to flood victims in the Upper West region by government. The latest is the threat by political vigilantism and the general insecurity. But the good thing here is that the owners of such hooligans are now the targets. If you live in a glass house don't throw stones and don't form your own militia.

Well the honeymoon period is over for Nana Akufo Addo and his 110 government appointees. Time to ‘walk the talk' or face the wrath of the inpatient Ghanaian. So stop whining and stop explaining the problems. All Ghanaians want is that you fix them. Governance is serious business and not for the fickle minded as you made them to believe during the electioneering.

Meanwhile, after that humiliating defeat in the last general elections, it does not seem to me that the woes of the opposition NDC are over. The party is at a crossroad now and faces the possibility of drifting into the abyss. The centre cannot hold and things are indeed falling apart. The current state of the party is not surprising to any keen observer of our intra party politics. Whilst some saw it coming, others simply played the ostrich. Normal when complacency sets in.

But in this game of numbers, politics can be sweet when you win an election. On the other hand, it can be debilitating when you lose it. In any event, whether you win or lose the reality always awaits you. The NPP is therefore having its fair share of challenges in government whilst the NDC is going through some lamentations and challenging times in rebranding the party though it does not seem to be an option in the 2020 elections.

Currently, the number of flag bearer hopefuls for the party is about equalling the NPP 18 aspirants in the 2007 party congress. Their number was enough to warrant a description by the General Secretary of the NDC to the effect that, 18 thieves were about to assemble to choose the leader of the thieves. And we all know the ramifications of parading so many aspirants only to have one elected. I thought lessons would have been learnt by the NDC, but no. A party that believes in election by consensus is now all out to elect by voting.

Names of the aspirants making the rounds in the media now include Joshua Alabi, a cadre and the only ‘top red’ in the race. Albert Bagbin, the most experienced legislator of our time and the Mugabe from the Nadowli Kaleo constituency. Goosie Tanoh, the only Rawlings lookalike in the race and a true cadre. Spio Garbrah, a communication expert who is believed by the Ahwoi brothers to have betrayed the fante cabal under the Professor Mills' regime. Sylvester Mensah, known in the party only for serving as boss of the National Health Insurance Scheme. Kojo Bonsu is the latest to join the race. He is better known for football and not politics even though he got the opportunity to head the most notorious metropolitan assembly; the KMA. And John Mahama, the only aspirant that has served as Member of Parliament, deputy Minister, Minister, Vice President, and President of the country, and under whose leadership the most humiliating defeat was handed down the party. JM as he is fondly called also goes with the tag as the only former President who lost his boss whilst in office under a bizarre circumstance and later his vice whilst in opposition. He is the most experienced aspirant though, most suitable and has been tested. But history and the season makes him a wrong choice now yet he is making a comeback.

The number is unprecedented and smacks of failure in the immediate past leadership. President John Mahama may have been a huge disaster and yet he is in the race again. The party therefore will not be an option in the 2020 elections if the same leadership is presented.

In the 2016 elections, the NDC led by JM witnessed the worst defeat in the history of the party with over a million votes deficit. Most foot soldiers are still counting their loses since that unexpected margin of defeat. The candidate was good with great experience and was a presidential material enough because by default he was the sitting President. But Ghanaians rejected him but went for Nana Akufo Addo.

Paradoxically, his style of leadership, his approach to issues within government and in the party, as well as his campaign strategy, including the fact that the campaign was prosecuted without a clear message to the electorate, brought the party defeat, humiliation and pain in the teeming supporters despite the advantage of incumbency.

His running mate for instance brought nothing to the campaign table let alone the party. It was as though we did not have a running mate. Vice President Amissah Arthur and his outfit seemed to me the weakest link under the JM regime. He was simply uncharismatic as compared to his counterpart in the NPP. He lacked that political swag that goes with electioneering. No wonder Dr Bawumia of the NPP therefore took advantage and asked a barrage of questions which till date have no answers. But with his demise, I will only wish him a peaceful rest with his maker. Suffice it to state here that the wife’s outburst at his funeral suggest there is a story behind the story.

Again the sheer arrogance and disrespect shown by some appointees equally provoked most voters across the political divide. Whilst others went as far as to denigrate the founder at any given opportunity including anyone who had a varied view to the JM government, a few others were busy grabbing left right centre. Corruption was visible under this regime, yet very little if not nothing, was done. Ghanaians became incensed leading to the party suffering that unpardonable defeat.

The campaign was prosecuted on money instead of on a clear message to the electorate. No wonder a chunk of the money got diverted. There was enough money for the campaign but disbursement was at the discretion of those ‘babies with sharp teeth’. Some of them are still fighting over the campaign monies. Others became rich overnight and bought houses. And yet no member of the campaign team has been punished for diverting party funds. This JM admits happened. I thought this was criminal enough for those involved to answer questions. Yet JM and his campaign team are comfortable treating it a trivial matter. No wonder they are still “in a comfortable lead". And you mean the Dr Kwesi Botchey’s report did not recommend prosecution on this criminal act? Where is the report anyway?

The situation became worse when JM delayed if not failed to act. In fact the party knew of the defeat months before the elections. Yet little was done to avert this pain in the teeming supporters. This explains the decision by some of the JM boys to rather hoard campaign funds than doll it out when defeat stared us on the face. So why should Ghanaians give the NDC and the same man another chance? The value will be the same. I guess foot soldiers are not angry enough at the current leadership of the party. Change in the leadership is a must now.

Lest we forget, the campaign team of JM went singing in the 2016 that the second term was necessary to enable him finish the unfinished projects he had began. By extension Nana Akufo Addo deserves a second term to fully implement his social interventions which in my opinion are election winning programs. They include the free Senior High School policy, the one District one Factory, one Village one Dam, and the creation of additional regions and districts to state a few. They may be struggling with implementation and sourcing funding but they are on course. After all what is good for the goose is equally good for the gender. The reality is that the two term constitutional mandate for each President or government has come to stay unless otherwise.

Again, a party gives birth to a government. Better still, a strong and united party allows the government to concentrate on governance whilst the party deals with party matters. But this is what the NDC party lacked whilst in office. There was no difference between the party and the government. The party appeared to have had a deaf and dumb Chairman. He was the other weak link in the party. He simply slept on the job and did not see what some of us saw. But suddenly found his voice when the party lost the elections. Rather the general secretary (Asiedu Nketia) also known as General Mosquito was the only one with a voice in the media. At a point he was heard speaking for government which was/is wrong. Thus he became so powerful and so much feared by the very people who put him there. It is even said that at a National Executive Meeting one time, he snatched a microphone from the hands of the party chairman. Gross disrespect to say the least. And with about 16 years as general secretary, yet the only human Mosquito in our politics does not seem to have had enough bite to say goodbye. He is clamouring for another chance. In any event his utterances especially against the founder was very distasteful. How could he describe Rawlings as a “ barking dog “? Between the two who looks like a dog?

But like him or hate him, Rawlings is NDC and NDC is Rawlings. The man is the founder of the party. And until article 6 of the party constitution is amended, let no one think otherwise. Some of the so called gurus of the party are gurus today because he literally handpicked them from nowhere to the political limelight. A gesture his own children will never get in today Ghana. As a party we failed to tap his immense experience and God given virtues. He was more or less in prison under his own government. He had no peace of mind to rest after several years of serving his nation let alone write his memoirs.

Rawlings is an iconic character and a mentor to many. His charisma and quest for the truth and the right thing to be done at all times makes him unique. And his charming figure will intimidate you the first time. The man's sense of humour is one I am yet to see in any of our politicians. And he is very consistent in his crusade for freedom, equality and justice for all. After serving so well and so long, the party did not need to wage war against the man and his wife who literally sacrificed their adult life developing this nation, and for that matter the party. For whatever reasons, some felt they needed to cut the couple to size. But he that is blessed is blessed. He is such popular that Ghana is his constituency whilst some of our so called party gurus cannot even win assembly man elections in their hometowns. And yet this is the man we chose to marginalize instead of celebrate.

In actual fact, but for his clean hands the Kuffuor government would have nailed him. Upon his long stay in office, he left without amassing wealth as we have seen others do under JM. So if the NPP could not tarnish his image with corruption, how can NDC? I dare say most of the party leadership today cannot pass the same test. Yet most of them are the ones calling the shots in the party today.

The only serious political party in the nation with a surviving founder is the NDC. Yet we do not even acknowledge him let alone celebrate him. Ironically the NPP and the CPP whose founders are dead and gone are still revered and celebrated. So what is wrong with the NDC party? What is our tradition then if we cannot celebrate our founder?

Unfortunately, the NDC has always shied away from the values of June 4 which gave birth to it. The principles of freedom, probity, justice and accountability are the pillars of the party. They were the reasons for the uprising and later served as the basis for the transformation of the People National Defence Council (PNDC) into the now National Democratic Congress (NDC). That is why it is not a matter of choice to respect and commemorate the tradition and ideology of the party, but a must. So if you refuse to attend such celebrations how can you lead the party? First go back to the basics.

Notwithstanding the mass rush for the party flag bearer position, I think it is healthy for the party. This allows the aspirants to touch base with the party structures especially the foot soldiers to inspire and rekindle their hopes. But the party requires a new face in terms of leadership and policy. And this is the time. The new NDC must go back to the fundamentals of the party. The spirit and values of June 4 must be revisited. Let us right the wrongs now. And the National Executive Committee must also prune down the list of aspirants to reduce further polarization of the party and make the party look serious in the eyes of the electorate. Let no one be misled that the fact that the NPP government is struggling to govern the nation now means the NDC is an option. History tells us that every new government staggers to find its way in the first two years. Quite normal in our politics.

In a nutshell, until the party reunites under a credible leader who understands the core values of the party tradition, and must be one that is a unifier, develop a clear campaign message, form a solid campaign team with the appropriate expertise, and also let everyone matter in this game of numbers, then the party cannot be an option in the 2020 elections. Let those who have ears hear.

(Political Strategist)

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