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Opinions of Monday, 24 June 2013

Columnist: Norvor, Justice Dansu

21 years of NDC, What Next?

By: Justice Dansu Norvor


I wish to salute, on behalf of the Young Democrats the footsoldiers and grass-rooters of the most popular political grouping in Ghana, the National Democratic Congress for their resilient and resolve to express their discontentment in recent years in a civil manner. Now that we are 21 years old, the party owes its footsoldiers unreserved gratitude for their continuous support and steadfastness during the acrimonious past. I doff my hat off to you all!!!!!

One would have thought that on the day we celebrate 21 years of collective effort, the party would use the opportunity to cement our once unrivalled popularity especially when we are faced with a nonsensical and belated election petition currently being heard in the highest court of the land. Not when the nation is faced with hundreds of arson attacks not only on market places but also attempts at blowing up electricity transformer stations by enemies of the state.
But the party seems to be short of creativity and ideas hence a quickly arranged address by President Mahama was all we could muster in this crucial time. The fact that the Founder of the party, Jerry John Rawlings was out of the country during the anniversary shouldn’t have taken the spark out of 21years celebration of a party that won 4 out of 6 Presidential elections. What an opportunity lost!!!
At 21, my memories and that of other well meaning partisans recount the tireless efforts of many party faithful who toiled with Jerry Rawlings during its formative years to make the NDC what it is today. These longstanding efforts the new Adventists wised to consume as an elephant meat but thank God there is a certain Martin Amidu.
I can fondly recall events leading to an anniversary celebration of the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa a few years ago where I was opportune to meet my good friend Julius Malema, the outspoken former National Youth League leader of the ANC. Events were so colorful that one could have obtained the false impression that South Africa is a one-party state.
The current turn of events is a great deal of concern among NDC voters who feel that party executives and government appointees are not taking them seriously, that those in the executive arm are concerned about themselves and not the people who elected them. We have lost touch with our constituents as a party and the best thing we should have done to celebrate the NDC’s 21st birthday was for the National Executives to direct all our MPs and constituency executives to organize interactive forum with our partisans sharing what we have achieved, and what were the gains of the past 21years. Our leaders and elders could have recounted our past glories and told us what it is that we are looking forward to in the years to come in fulfilling our core values of integrity, probity, accountability and social democracy.
Even some of the National Executive members I spoke to are of the view that the party is getting weaker by the day due to jostling for control of power from within. Factions are secretly propping up than ever before and only being overshadowed by the Election petition currently at the Supreme Court that has united us together as a party. It has got to its lowest web that a former member of the Council of State under the Mills’ administration could advise a government minister to report any suspicious government deals to the media. If this manifestation of deepening cracks is anything to go by, then the signals are not encouraging as we approach the delegate congress in December 2013.
What used to be arguments about policy implementation strategies and direction during the Rawlings’ government has now become competition for power, control and perks. I vividly recall the strong stance on policy issues taken by the Tony Aidoo, Obed Asamoah, Squadron Leader Sowu of blessed memory, Dan Abodakpi, Spio Garbrah, Nuamah Donkor, Nana Ato Dadzie and the likes during cabinet and council meetings even in the face of the frightening and uncompromising President Rawlings which all went without victimization. Although many vilified the party founder recently and projected him as a dictator, Rawlings succeeded in strengthening the party through integrity, probity, accountability and transparency. He brought to his government high-quality, respectable and strong characters of integrity and competence to serve our country without paranormal fear of subversion since he was not overly educated himself.
And after 21 years, our problem is that we have not really found a set of rules and a way of going about dealing with this particular form of internal conflicts based on diverse opinions and competitions. We need to develop better strategies on how to manage competition within the party so that it becomes a healthy competition for positions rather than a damaging competition in which the winners always try to get the losers excommunicated or expelled, and the losers always claiming that the winners cheated.
We ought to grow up with a sense of nationalism. The nation suffers as the NDC has struggled to cohere as factional cracks within the party had affected not only the party but the state as a whole. An executive member bemoaned the lack of quality and competence in some of our Ministers and Head of State institutions as leadership continues to suffer the paranoid syndrome. Even prominent party gurus professed in a chat with me that, there was more cohesion in government during the Rawlings’ government than we have had in the last 5 years. One guru regrets the situation where the Majority Leader and Minister of Government Business, Benjamin Kumbour is kept in the dark of businesses of government.
Sacrilege and personal clashes are the new world order in our society as some of our Ministers of today are not even held in high esteem by opposition sympathizers and even from within our own party . A case in point is when the Minister of Transport’s directive is ignored with impunity by the Metro Mass Transit boss creating an embarrassment for government.
Our government is also losing some responsibility and sensitivity as the National Security apparatus of government, a very susceptible agency of the state seems to be in a way compromised and short of high standards in recent times. How Solomon Adelaquaye’s company won a bid to provide security to our airport is still a mystery. Is it a case of square pecks in round holes? Or perhaps a clear case of ineptitude or simply put, incompetence?
It has also become an open secret that, many frustrated leading members are secretly harboring plans to even the powers and control of John Mahama in the party and therefore making frantic effort to get their favorites or clones to key national posts especially the Chairmanship. Of course, there is a dire need for change in the national leadership as it is evident that, after 8 years at the helm, both Dr. Kwabena Adjei and Asiedu Nketia seem to be bereft of ideas and the need for a fresh blood is a germane concern to many leading members. It is reported that, the command chain and delegation of responsibility which is critical to the running of the party has stuck at the National level resulting in the running of the party becoming a one-man show.
With an eminent change in mind of leading members, names of personalities are making waves with the current National Vice-chairman, Kofi Portuphy leading the pack, but is he truly a worthy alternative? Time will tell. Two other former members of Council of State under the Mill’s administration I spoke to who are reeling under their subdued influence in the current government also mentioned the prospect of Ofosu Ampofo taking up the top job as Chairman. However, they were quick to opine that Ofosu Ampofo is young and his energy could have been more useful in a ministerial portfolio, or he may be better placed in leadership role in the party rather than as Chairman. Some of these party elders I spoke to also consider the potentials of Ekwow Spio- Garbrah, another party big-wig to have improved the security apparatus of the country with his no-nonsense and uncompromising approach to strategic implementation. They wondered why President Mahama has still not found anything useful to assign to this capable and talented man, and reflected on whether he could be lured from his work for a church and a university to take the top job of party chairman and help give the NDC an invigorated new image. Other party gurus thought that Martin Amidu’s recent victory at the Supreme Court puts him in a strong position to claim any top prize in the party, although the government should put him to better use.
So if we rightly admit that change is needed, let’s focus our energy on debating its nature before we approach the delegates congress so that, our genuine quest to reform how the NDC is run will not call forth more reprisals and drive people to the path of factionalism and division. Change must cut across board with reshuffled appointments to ministries and agencies not exempted but with party unity or cohesion as our primary goal. There must be profundity in these leadership changes so that those capable of getting the party to new heights get in control.
Many views that I solicited from the various interest groups and grass-root followers in the regions also expressed similar positions to that of leading party members that come 2016, Ghanaians will not vote on mere sympathy over the death of a former President and “he is humble so let’s try him” basis for an incumbent President. The party will be judged by the achievement index, hence the situation where Parliament has not yet discussed any serious government business is worrisome to some leading members.
It is also worth noting that, if we in the NDC are the true social democrats, then we must take lessons learnt from the Martin Amidu defiance and his subsequent victory for mother Ghana and to take divergent views and commentaries as the true democrats that we boast of. The Waterville case affords us with “useful lessons” to tolerate discerning views expressed by some party faithful and to remind us that “proof of the majority is not always proof of justice”. Victimization and the derision of such party stalwarts turn to haunt our capacity to cohere as a group and undermine the overall collection of our priceless technocrats and party loyalist that could better serve mother Ghana. The Waterville case has also presented President John Mahama with the simplest task of given due consideration and attention to some of our party stalwarts who are in the wrong books of some power brokers in inner circles of government for trivial reasons. They may have had illegitimate plight as well, as suffered by Mr. Amidu. Some of them have proven over the years to have the wherewithal to strengthen the Mahama government with their renowned competence. And if President Mahama has to solidify his control of the party after the Supreme Court judges put some sense into the electoral petitioners challenging the elections that elections are won at polling centers and hence their case is belated; dead and gone, he needs to convince established and renowned party stalwarts who have been on political self-hibernation to join him strengthen his government. This will curb the threatening factionalism within the rank and file of the party and promote public confidence and general acceptance of the party in national dimension. It will in effect help stop the sacrilegious actions of the opposition to his government.
I also wish to humbly entreat President Mahama to follow his conscience with sincerity to the nation at heart and deservingly award Comrade Martin Amidu with “The Most Patriotic Citizen Award” (Hope the new award be credited to me) for his boldness in pursuing what seemed lost even after sacrificing his job.
The President must also look critically into the National Security apparatus as the integrity of the head of National Security is brought to question as a result of his alleged relationship with the arrested drug trafficker, Solomon Aderlequaye. Government owes all Ghanaians a sense of responsibility to provide all citizens, their unconditional security, meaning, with or without the presence of arsonists and systemic national sabotage by greedy politicians, security of citizens must be assured. It is not surprising that, this systemic burning of markets and public places is happening when the NDC is in power. If one may recall, leading to election 2000, there were series of ritual killings of women with a leading member of the then opposition NPP, J. H. Mensah declaring on political platform that the killings would stop if the NPP were to win the Presidential elections. And true to his words, the serial killings seized immediately John Agyekum Kuffour took power. I will therefore not be surprised if another NPP leading member comes out this time with conjecture that the NPP could do better with the arson attack on the nation. But what these nation wreckers fail to know is that, this time around, elections are over and John Dramani Mahama is the legitimate President of Dr. Francis Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana. And as such, there exist no possibility of the 9 learned Supreme Court judges overturning the result of the Electoral Commission as the petition lacks substance and sufficient evidence. And it will therefore be more patriotic on their part to contribute positively and meaningfully to the country that they professed to have cherished and to be loyal to. For Ghana belongs to all of us and in all we do let’s not forget it must be Ghana first.
Once again, kudos to all Young Democrats, grass-rooters and footsoldiers of the National Democratic Congress for being resolute as ever through this challenging times and to brace themselves to be more resolute and united as we get closer to electing our constituency executives before the mother of all congresses that will determine where next for our party after 21 years.
Long Live the Great Akatamanso
Long Live the Founder, Jerry John Rawlings
And God Bless Our Homeland Ghana.
By: Justice Dansu Norvor