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Opinions of Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Columnist: Sidibe, Abdul Musah

How Mr. Rawlings undermined his cloud

From Bogaboga politics to shellacking: How Mr. Rawlings undermined his cloud

Politics, they say, is the act of the possible. When Mr. Rawlings tried to shove his
wife down the throat of the NDC delegates; he never anticipated that he is asking
the party to do the impossible, replace a sitting president half way his term, for
an unelectable candidate. The answer from the delegates is a resounding NO!. Over 96
percent of the delegate gathered at the Coronation park in Suyani rejected his call
and disagreed with his endless venom against the President.

The big loser of last night’s election is not Nana Konadu; but her incessant husband
who refused advice and in the process undermined his own credible and cloud in the
party. If Mr. Rawlings should learn anything from the congress, it is a tacit call
for his retirement from active politics. The result of the congress is also a
vindication of those us who have long called his bluff that the NDC is not his
personal property. We’ve also argued that the bogaboga politics of a group called
FONKAR, most of whom are not delegates of the party, doesn’t work in 2011 Ghanaian
politics. I personally pity Mr. Rawlings because he has unnecessarily back himself
into a tight corner. A corner that he will find it very difficult to get out of.

It is very obvious from the results of the congress that both both Rawlings and
FONKAR, a group I would refer to as the Fools of Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings,
didn’t do their homework properly. To lose a congress by such a overwhelming margin
is the epitome of lack of political instincts. Considering that she even fell short
of Spio’s performance in the last NDC congress and she is the wife of the so-called

Come to think about it, every party has two groups; the party establishment
consisting of the elected officials of the party and the grass-root (rank and file
members). To win an election a candidate needs both groups or at least one them,
usually the establishment. If the establishment settles on a candidate, it is
usually very difficult, if not impossible, to defeat such a candidate. The reason is
that the party establishment can always work to convince the rank file that it is in
their interest to support the candidate of the party establishment’s choice. It
happens all time in advanced democracies. In the United States, John Kerry defeated
Howard Dean to be the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. John McCane
won the Republican party nomination even though he was not the favorite of the party
grass-root. Nana wasn’t grass-root candidate of the NPP in 2007. He narrowly
defeated Alan. But because he had members of the establishment on his side, he
prevailed. Mrs. Rawlings ignored the power of the party establishment in a
democracy. That is her biggest mistake.

Another disaster is the over reliance on groups such as FONKAR that is mostly
inexperience, often naive, and mainly foolish. It is obvious from the result that
they don’t represent the rank file of the party. TV3 interview a supporter of
President Mills and that of Nana Konadu on the congress grounds. The two debated on
why they think their candidate should be elected. But the lady supporting Mills was
a delegate; the gentleman supporting Konadu was not. That is a typical example of
FONKAR’s problem.. Mr. Rawlings and his wife should have taken notice from our
opponents, the NPP. When Nana Akufo Addo failed to secure the party’s leadership
for the 2000 election, he personally ensured that he had people close to him run for
party leadership. By the time Kufour ended his tenure of office a sizable majority
of NPP executives were Nana Addo favorites. This assured his candidature in the 2007
NPP congress. Even though the seating President didn’t endorse him. This should
serve as an advice for those of us interested in politics. You can not change
parties whether NDC or NPP from without, you do so from within. If 10 or 15 members
of the FONKAR were NDC executive, they could have made a better impact on the

Finally, there is a lack of sound political advice. This disaster and personal
embarrassment could have been avoided if there are seasoned political advisors and
the candidate is willing to listen. You can not unseat an incumbent president half
way in his term.The NDC will be stupid if they had changed Mills. What would have
been their campaign argument if she had prevailed; that an NDC president had failed
but another NDC president would do a better job? That would have been the most
absurd argument for even staunch NDC supporters with some brains. Besides history is
not on her side. This was tried in the United States, it failed. In 1979 Ted
Kennedy, one of the most recognized names in the United States, contested against
President Jimmy Carter when the latter was seeking reelection. Ted Kennedy lost that
election despite his family background and name recognition among Democratic Party
voters. Incumbent President are very difficult to defeat even by candidates from the
opposing party, let alone his own. The presidency has a certain sense of spirit that
makes voters very skeptical to change the person already in it. This explains why
most modern president in the U.S mostly had two terms. It is considered
unprecedented for a seating president to be defeated. Even in authoritarian regimes
people don’t revolt unless their economic and political rights are encroached or
perceived to be encroached.

When all is said is done with the NDC congress, i think we would all conclude that
political inexperience, couple with foolishness and lack of political instincts
cause the Rawlingses their cloud in the NDC. I was shocked and transfixed when I
watched Mrs. Rawlings got booed as she delivers her address at the congress. I
wasn’t surprised at my response; considering the Nana Konadu I knew in the 1980s and
1990s. I later convinced myself that the Rawlings cloud had but decimated without
rain in Ghanaian politics and even within the NDC. That is largely caused by the
Rawlingses themselves through their narcissistic behaviour. You can not forcefully
insist that everyone recognizes and respects you. Respect and recognition is
earned. People reserve the right to withdraw them. Unless they belong to the FONKAR
fanatics camp where Rawlings needs to be worship and praised like a cult.