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11.01.2006 NDC News

Is NDC On The Edge Of A Precipice?

By Daily Graphic
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Even the most ardent supporter of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) will admit that all is not well with the once-glamourous party which commanded massive national support.

The NDC, which is an offshoot of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), the revolutionary organ which ruled this country for more than 10 years, had long been seen by some as a tool to immortalise J.J. Rawlings more than as a political party.

This feeling was given credence by the outbursts of the former President, J.J. Rawlings, regarded as the founder of the party, and for the nonchalant manner he brushes aside all opposition to his ideas.

Hero-worshipping, which is next to sycophancy, another negative trait among Ghanaians, did not help matters, as many party supporters continue to see Rawlings in near-God terms and, therefore, fail to make independent judgements, save what the founder and leader says.

Whether right or wrong, the perception that the NDC cannot survive without Rawlings had gained ground and recent events after the Koforidua congress of the party is gradually vindicating those who held the view that Rawlings is NDC and the NDC is Rawlings.

The first hints of future events came when Ms Frances Assiam, the former Women's Organiser of the party, tendered her resignation amid allegations of maltreatment and harassment at the Koforidua congress.

The party executives, instead of doing a quick damage control, were in a dreamland following what they perceived to be a successful congress, during which 'undesirables' and 'fifth columnists' within had been consigned to the dustbin of history.

If the resignation to a Ms Assiam was seen as a good riddance of bad nut, the same cannot be said about the resignation of Mr Kwaku Baah, former Vice-Chairman of the party and who had been in the courtroom several times defending the party and its supporters.

Mr Baah went further to paint a negative picture of the party, when he likened it to a cult under the leadership of Rawlings.

This cannot be said to be a charitable description of a party that had been in power for two consecutive terms and whose popularity cuts across the length and breadth of the country.

It must be emphasised that no political party, as a human institution, can have a membership whose views will be unanimous on all matters.

But it is possible to have a convergent point which can be said to be the common position of the party. If this spirit should also elude the NDC, then the suspicion of a cult-figure being imposed on the rest has some legitimacy.

The resignation of Dr Obed Yao Asamoah, the immediate National Chairman of the party, was not unexpected because of his long battle with Rawlings and the humiliation he suffered in Koforidua.

But the timing, which coincided with that of Ms Assiam, Kwaku Baah, some regional executives in Greater Accra, Tema, Volta Region and lately the former Ashanti Regional Chairman, Emmanuel Nti Fordjour, should send alarm bells ringing at party headquarters.

Every well-organised party could move on without a few stalwarts as happened when Mr Kwame Pianim, Dr Jones Ofori-Attah and a few others at one time, for one reason or the other, declared publicly that they were opting out of active politics.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP), the party they belonged to survived and even came out from opposition to form a government.

Amazingly, none of these stalwarts declined top appointments given to them any way. It is, however, dangerous if foot soldiers and leaders at the grass roots begin to show discontent and even keep resigning from a party.

The resignation of party executives in Tema, Accra, Kumasi and surprisingly, Volta Region, the so-called World Bank of the party should make the NDC to sit up and stop pretending that everything is well.

This becomes even more imperative when all those resigning cite the same reasons – lack of internal democracy, intimidation, harassment, intolerance and more seriously, fear of death.

The National Chairman of the NDC, Dr Kwabena Adjei, in reaction to the resignations, said those developments would not affect the focus and attention of the new executives and loyal sympathisers and supporters as they prepare towards victory in 2008.

I can understand Dr Adjei, who like any othere good leader, must not display panic publicly in situations such as this.

But I hope behind the scenes, efforts are being made to avoid further resignations. Earlier attempts by a five-member committee, under Alhaji Huudu Yahaya, to broker peace with Dr Asamoah and other aggrieved members, we were told, failed to yield positive results.

The Koforidua congress was supposed to mark a new beginning for the NDC. A beginning that would see the party stronger and more united for the battle for power in 2008, as the theme for the congress,”United for Victory in 2008” clearly indicated.

Unfortunately, what is happening now does not indicate a united party ready to wrest power in 2008. Dr Adjei and his executives could still do something to bring cohesion into the party.

That is if they are ready to assert their authority, toe an independent line and be flexible enough to tolerate all shades of opinion.

Anything short of that may spell doom for the party. And that will not be good for the country's democracy.