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Opinions of Saturday, 17 December 2016

Columnist: Asubonteng, Bernard

Blaming Rawlings for NDC’s defeat ignores realities

By Bernard Asubonteng

On Wednesday, December 7, 2016, Ghanaians headed to the polls to elect a person they wanted to lead their mismanaged but proud nation in the next four years. In that regard, many candidates presented them to be considered for that enviable position with its accompanied awesome responsibilities.

Among the contestants were the incumbent President John Mahama and his main challenger Nana Akufo Addo of the NPP fame. As the world knows now, Mr. Mahama and his NDC government was handed a “one-touch” smashing defeat by majority of Ghanaians in favor of Nana Akufo Addo and his party.

Especially in high-stakes elections, the aftermath normally witnesses the losing side or the vanquished takes soul-searching highways. In many cases too, some of the losers embark on buck-passing marathons, blaming everyone except themselves.

In the past days or week, watching the continuous stream of political events after President Mahama’s 2016 electoral demise, some of us cannot resist the conclusion that Ghana has undergone sea change with regard to the trajectories of the country’s fragile democracy. The December 7 general polls perhaps marked the first time in the annals of Ghana’s political history that an incumbent president has been defeated in a hotly contested election.

As usual, there are swarms of post-election analyses and political punditries, all trying to interpret or rationalize the seemingly shocking outcome of the presidential and parliamentary elections across the nation.

But many of the ongoing after-the-fact commentaries or the current political autopsies lack proper context. They do not correctly capture the remote cause(s) behind the one-punch smack-down of the ruling NDC government in the just ended elections.

In this piece we will strongly suggest that one of the major reasons, if not the main one, leading to President Mahama and the NDC’s massive defeat at this year’s elections can be attributed to the current crop of leaders’ sheer cockiness toward the mood of the country and disrespect that led them to dispense of and sideline the sole founder of their party. The ex-President Rawlings almost single-handedly found the NDC out of the (P)NDC.

For better or for worse, he and his wife Nana Agyeman Rawlings used all the levers of the state power at their disposal back then, including their immense influences as the head of state and first lady respectively, to lay the solid architectural foundation from which the NDC morphed into a formidable political force in Ghanaian politics today.

Prior to the NDC’s evolution, Ghana’s only two viable political parties were the Nkrumah’s CPP and the Danquah-Busia-Dombo’s UP. Then entered Mr. Rawlings in 1979 all the way to the early 2000s, and within that period of time he had slowly helped drain out the energy of the CPP into (P)NDC and eventually down into what has become known as the NDC. Without question, no one in Ghana at the moment has or knows more about the lock combinations of the master key to NDC’s electoral success than Mr. Rawlings.

Let the likes of the loud-mouthed Asiedu Nketia and sycophant-in-chief Mr. Koku Anyidoho, or anyone else in NDC today say whatever they want about Mr. Rawlings and his wife waning influences, their charisma and historical footprints within the party cannot be surpassed. They seem to understand the retail campaign politics of the party they created.

I say all this in fairness, and as someone who has been a long-time, fierce critic of Mr. Rawlings’ brand of political philosophy. In the late 1980s, as a very young student just completed secondary school sixth-form education, I was inspired by Rev. Dr. Samuel Asante-Antwi, the late Attakorah Gyimah, Lawyer Obeng Manu, and other fearless Ghanaians, by joining them in writing series of indicting articles about the PNDC regime in the PIONEER and the STATESMAN newspapers—very few news outlets at the time who would dare publish anything critical of Mr. Rawlings. This was before I even became the youth organizer for Dr. Kwame Addo Kufuor at the NPP’s Manhyia Constituency in Kumasi.

The point here is, it is noble to be fair to people you may have strong differences of opinion or disagreements with in the realm of politics.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the former president’s kind of politics, the fact still remains that he built NDC party out of nowhere, and nearly stifled all the major political parties in Ghana more than two decades. Like it or not, if the CPP of all political parties is on the life support now struggling to stay alive as we speak, then the current leadership of the NDC must eternally respect, and acknowledge the person—Mr. Rawlings—behind the party’s juicy prospects at the expense of CPP.

Laughably, many of the disappointed NDC party officials and other supporters are now blaming ex-President Rawlings and his wife for the party’s abysmal showing in the December 7 general elections. Certainly, whoever is spewing that nonsensical blame is as childish as to pass for a neophyte trapped in alternative political universe of modern campaigning.

Every proud founder would have taken a lukewarm posture similar to Mr. Rawlings’ if his/her bona fide party members disrespectfully relegated him/her to an inconsequential back seat meant for an ordinary errand boy.

President Mahama and his folks at the NDC should have been smart enough to genuinely respect and appreciate Mr. Rawlings’ political skills and consult and involve him actively in their campaign long before the 2016 elections.

They should have also known that the Ghanaian economy was, and still is anemic, while corruption had reached its highest apogee. In times like this any unpopular government or party would have listened and deployed its famous and best campaigners into the frontlines, who can passionately appeal to the disillusioned citizens that things would get better than they thought.

Who is the better campaigner within the NDC fraternity than Mr. Rawlings? The top NDC apparatchiks ignored or treated the Rawlings’ NDC factor with disdain, while arrogantly claiming some parts of the country as their “electoral votes World Bank.” As my late mother would say, If you don’t have anything of material value to offer your in-laws, you don’t turn around and accuse them for stealing from you.

The NDC’s founder did not in any way cause the humbling defeat of the Mahama-led NDC government in this election; rather, it was the cockiness and disrespectful attitudes from the political upstarts and opportunists in the party who failed to embrace realities deserve all the blame!

The writer is based in the United States; he can be reached at: b.asubonteng@gmail.com.