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Opinions of Monday, 18 July 2011

Columnist: Adu, Kwesi

A Call For Unity With Whom?

By Kwasi Adu

In the run-up to last week’s NDC congress in Sunyani, and in the wake of the vituperative campaign by Nana Konadu Agyeman and her husband, many commentators were asking whether the NDC could achieve unity afterwards. Some of these commentators were from lazy NDC members who normally do not engage themselves in the muddy work of grassroots political activity. For them, seeing Flt. Lt. Rawlings addressing crowds that had been organised for by others, made them to believe that Flt. Lt. Rawlings controls the life-blood of the NDC and most ordinary people. That is why when the NDC lost the elections in 2000 and 2004, they could not believe it.

As for the other commentators, mostly from the opposition, they also believed that the personal popularity of Flt. Lt. Rawlings was so substantial that, without the Rawlings faction, the NDC would break up to give them the chance of returning to power. For them, that prospect was enough to make them rub their hands in glee.

Now that the results of the leadership contest are known, we all know the true level of Rawlings’ personal support within his own party: a miserable 3.15%.

In the 2008 elections, there were several people who would not have wanted to vote for the NPP. However, they did not vote for President Mills in the end because of the Rawlings’ factor within the NDC. There was real apprehension that Rawlings would control President Mills. Now that this fear is no longer there, those people would have more options in their choice of a President. In other words, although Rawlings appeals to some people, the fear of his influence on any candidate repels even more people.

From now on, when Flt. Lt. Rawlings makes noise against President Mills and the so-called “greedy bastards”, people should remind him of a nursery rhyme that we used to sing in primary school. “Akokor ba eee, gyae dede yi yeh. Wo ara yim deh, wo maame ne dan nye kenten. Akokor ba eee, gyae dede yi yeh”. This literally translates as “Baby fowl eee, stop that noise (because) you yourself know that your mother’s house is the basket. Baby fowl eee, stop that noise”. And I may also sing: “Wo ara yim deh, wo personal support aa nye 3%”; so stop making that noise!

The question that President Mills and those belonging to the mainstream NDC should consider is whether they ought to jeopardise the prospect of more support by entertaining someone who sings discord in the choir. They must remember that no one wins a singing competition with singers with “abokyi” sounds.

Instead of spending his valuable time on cajoling the Rawlingses into his 2012 campaign activities, the President would fare better by focussing on providing employment opportunities for the teeming armies of unemployed youth rather than wasting sleep over seeking “unity” with someone whose prime condition for any “reconciliation” is that you should allow him to control you. It was Einstein, who observed that “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding”. However, Mr. Rawlings, in spite of his 3% support, maintains the objective to “take over the party, the government and the country, clean them up and hand them over to a more responsible leader” (Ref. his June 4 2011 speech in Kumasi). The only way to “take over the party, the government and the country” with 3% support is to do that by force. Flt. Lt. Rawlings does not understand reconciliation unless you allow him to control you. His abiding expectation is that he should always be showered with adulation. When the NDC delegates kept mute on his entrance to the congress grounds he blamed it on the ushers, who he said allowed his entourage to enter the grounds during the prayer session. But which usher could have dared to stop him from entering unless that usher was BOLD?

It is sad that Rawlings ignores another important observation of Albert Einstein that “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods”. If he continues to make “dede” with his 3% support, how can he escape “the laughter of the gods”?

It is time for politicians to take account of the observation by Peter Ferdinand Drucker that “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes”. Throughout his nineteen years’ reign, Flt Lt. Rawlings was only interested in producing followers rather than ;leaders.

Flt. Lt. Rawlings set off on his long journey into politics in 1981with a group of people. Much early along the way, when his “friends” began to whisper mild criticisms at the way things were going in his government, he did not reconcile with them. What he did was to “scatter” them. Some were shot dead in the most gruesome manner. He does not understand the word “reconciliation”. He does not believe in nurturing future leaders; he only expects the people to revere him. You do not prepare an effective leadership of your party by turning people into sycophants and zombies whose only prospect for survival is to live on your every word. However, that is what Flt. Lt. Rawlings did during his reign. Now he turns round to blame the praise-singers that he collected around him for his current state of things.

Until 1983, those who worked with him at the time were not people who expected moneys in their meat pies. Indeed, most of them worked on empty stomachs in 1982-83, hoping that if, in future, conditions improved for all the people in the country, they, together with the people, would be equal beneficiaries. Unfortunately, Flt. Lt. Rawlings did not like that. He scattered them and rather surrounded himself with praise-singers and sycophants. If today, the country is populated by politicians who no longer do “national-interest” politics but who concentrate on the personal benefits that political office would accrue to them, the blame should be visited on Flt. Lt. Rawlings. He has no one to blame but himself.

It is laughable when Flt. Lt. Rawlings could claim, after thirty years of being at the helm of his group, that his own NDC delegates who he groomed over the period, were bribed in Sunyani to vote against his wife. Looking back at 1982, who could have countenanced the prospect that any of those early cadres could, in future, be influenced with personal inducements to make the wrong choices? So how did things come to this? What went wrong? Flt. Lt. Rawlings should ask himself these questions.

If the President chooses to spend the remaining one and half years of his mandate on wooing someone who is not available to be wooed, it is up to him.

The President ought to know that the threat to his 2012 presidential prospect is not Flt. Lt. Rawlings. The threat is the army of unemployed youth who appear to have little hope of securing jobs for a better condition of livelihood. However we find ourselves in the unfortunate situation in which the President keeps hanging on to a rigid policy of total reliance on the private sector alone as “the engine of growth”. By now, he should have realised that the indigenous Ghanaian private sector is only interested in buying and selling. The buying-and-selling economy does not create jobs. Closing his ears to this issue could be the Armageddon of the NDC in 2008.

As for the current talk about inviting the defunct DFP into the NDC, what a laugh? The DFP has no constituency; indeed, it is a dead party with some of its former members now in other parties. What will they bring to the table? Nothing! Instead, the NDC leadership is likely to grant political positions on these dead woods, whose only interest would be to grab as much as they could. Imagine what this could do with the NDC faithful who stayed when the Obeds left.

It looks as if the NDC, from time to time, enjoys snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Leaving Flt. Lt Rawlings and the remnants FONKAR to scream as much as they want may cause ripples, not definitely not a tsunami. The HDC leadership should remember that, as in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, they slashed the snake but not killed it. It will heal and be as good as new, and they will be threatened by its fangs once again. If they let their guard down, it would come back to them with a vengeance.