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Opinions of Saturday, 9 July 2011

Columnist: Appiah-Kubi, Kojo

Who Wins The Ndc Presidential Slot “Millsnites Or Konadunites”?

By Ben Appiah-Kubi

“The significant revolution of modern times is not industrial or economic or political, but the revolution taking place in the art of creating consent among the governed…Within the life of the new generation now in control of affairs, persuasion has become a self conscious art and none of us begins to understand the consequences, but it is no daring prophecy to say that the knowledge of how to create consent will alter every political premise”. Walter Lipmann, Public Opinion, 1954

From today Friday, “Millsnites” and “Konadunites” of the Akatamansonians would all converged at the ancient town of Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region to elect a presidential candidate to lead the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the next general elections scheduled for 2012.

The flagbearership race of the National Democratic Congress is hotly contested by the sitting president, John Atta-Mills and the former first lady and president of the 31st December Women’s Movement, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, who is also the spouse of the founder of the party, Jerry John Rawlings.

However, events leading to the Sunyani congress have been insalubrious with FONKAR GAME being played by both “Millsnites and Konadunites”; sometimes threatening the unity of the very party each candidate is trying to lead, come 2012. Accusations and counter accusations, sometimes in an acrimonious state had characterized the campaigns fronted by both FONKAR and GAME.

Indeed, the decision by the former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings to contest the sitting president was seen by “Konadunites” as a step in the right direction for the former first family to re-assert their authority over the Akatamansonian party. It was therefore not surprising that His Jerryship, the former president at the recent June 4 celebration in Kumasi said “We have to take back our party”.

Although “Millsnites” have not discounted the right and qualification credentials of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings to the contest for the highest office in Ghana, “Millnites” believe that the timing by the former first lady was wrong and out of convention and tradition to challenge a sitting president who has barely finished his first term in office and as such there is no need to change a winning team.

But why has there been a sudden change of heart and support for John Mills by John Rawlings, the man who personally anointed the current president as the heir apparent at the famous ‘‘Swedru Declaration’’ which resulted in a row in the Akatamansonian party, leading to the departure of some leading members. Even at a time when opponents from within and outside the party including NDC MP Micheal Teye Nyaunu (MTN) used the health of John Mills as campaign message, His jerryship stood by him.

However, the sudden change of support from John Rawlings has confounded a number of political commentators. Is it an issue of lost love relationship between the two? Is John Mills no longer a political protégé of the Rawlingses? Is it an issue that the current sitting president has gone on his own words to consult the former president 24 hours. Is it about President Mills trying to be his own man that has angered the former first family?

Whatever answers that might be given for the above questions, it is still difficult to fathom why the former first family has decided to make a U-turn against the man they have supported over the years. For about two years now, it appears John Mills has not known peace from his own political mentor and has been subjected to series of accusations ranging from failure to prosecute members of the previous NPP government to the famous “greedy bastard and who born dog tirade” The rest belongs to history.

If they say events coming, cast their own shadows, then the presidency should have been alerted about the former first family’s constant bashing of John Mills’s administration within the first three months on assumption of office. The former president, John Rawlings started accusing the government of corruption. This was further taken to another level at the NDC Congress in Tamale where T-Shirts with inscriptions “Konadu for 2012” appeared much to the discomfort of the NDC fraternity. This continued till the former first lady let the cat out of the bag by confirming her intentions to contest the sitting president at a TEIN event in University of Education, Kumasi Campus.

In all this, was His Jerryship preparing the way for his wife and former first lady? Has the plan to unseat President Mills worked to perfection? But why has this incurred the ire of some known Rawlings’ loyalists in the Mills’s government who have thrown their weight behind the sitting president.

A number of people have interpreted the desertion of the Rawlings’s loyalist as a sign of the waning influence of the former president in the party, an indication that he alone cannot run the party which relies on numbers as politics is a game of numbers. For others Papa “J” has virtually criticized everybody in the country from the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah through Prof. Busia to Dr. Limann, Mr. John Kuffour and John Mills, except himself.

For some Akatamansonian loyalists, His Jerryship is virtually becoming an albatross in the body politic of the party and must play the role of a founder and father of the party like what Mr. Nelson Mandela, the venerable South African politician is doing and has receive the respect of all NDC faithfuls.

As the campaign reached a crescendo and home stretch early this week, members of both GAME and FONKAR intensified their campaign strategies, sharpened their art of persuasion to engineer consent from delegates all in attempt to lead the party into the next general elections.

The campaign message of GAME sought to highlight the good works of the sitting president over the past two years whilst FOBNKAR had dwelled on what it calls corruption in government. Some of the campaign messages and tactics were not far from what Brian McNair in his book” An Introduction to Political Communication” called trivialization of politics and the expulsion of rational discourse from post modernist politics in which political communication is viewed as the one way exchange of empty signifiers and meaningless message across barren media landscape

The central theme of some of the campaign messages in the days leading up to the much awaited congress leaves much to be desired. Sometimes, decency was thrown to the dogs with the most guilty ones recorded by the FONKAR lads led by Dela Cofie, Owusu Bempah and Co. What ever it was, both FONKAR and GAME were trying to perfect self-conscious art of, persuasion to create consent among delegates and would be Millsnites and Konadunites as underscored by Lippmann in 1952.
The Akatamansonian party is at the crossroad in this history making congress. It would be a defining moment in the history of the party to determine whether “breakaways” associated with the party congresses would continue or chart a new path for the party to come out strong as united than ever.

Is defeat to Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings going to silence the former first family for them to wash off their hands from the party or is it going to be a humiliation for the sitting president in this epoch making battle at the Sunyani Coronation Park? Whatever it is, one candidate is going to win and John Mill is the bookers’ favourite to win the flagbearership race come this Sunday. However, a daunting task awaits the eventual winner who would be saddled with the problem of re-uniting the Akatamansonian family including “Millsnites and Konadunites”

The author is a public relations practitioner with interest in political communication and can be reached on