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Opinions of Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.

If Rawlings won’t campaign for President Mills…

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor


Sunday, November 6, 2011

The NDC’s General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah, is reported to have expressed sentiments that I share, even if he has turned round to deny what was attributed to him. No one should beg Rawlings and his wife to campaign for the NDC. This reasoning encapsulates all that I want to hear at this stage when the NDC government is faced with numerous thorny issues to grapple with as Election 2012 looms large and the problems mount. The Rawlingses are also part of those thorny issues.

It is not as if Rawlings’ campaigning for the NDC will automatically win victory for it. Against the NPP, what didn’t Rawlings do for the 2000 and 2004 elections to promote then Candidate Mills’ interests? Did he win? He lost on both occasions to the NPP’s Kufuor despite all the huge personal investment and infusion of resources into the NDC’s campaign stunts. Rawlings was all over the place, vigorously urging the electorate to go for Professor Mills; but they turned the other way.

Even at that time that he hadn’t done much to destroy his own NDC, the electorate spurned Professor Mills. What is there about him today for the electorate to enthuse over after he has succeeded in undercutting his own party’s government?

You see, no moral basis exists for Rawlings to be actively involved in the NDC’s campaigns. Unless someone wants to tell me that he has no conscience, I don’t think that he has acquitted himself properly enough to take on the responsibilities that some NDC elements sympathetic to his cause are suggesting. By choosing to do the hatchet work for the NDC government’s opponents, Rawlings must have known the repercussions for the party and himself. Indeed, the extent to which he has remained recalcitrant and remorseless in goring President Mills and his team suggests that he will not abandon his destructive cause just because some people in the NDC want him to let go and join the campaign trail. No one should waste his breath on him.

On what moral grounds will he campaign for the NDC, anyway? Having already been the first and the most ubiquitous critic of the government, what new message does he have to change the horrible impression that his unguarded utterances have already created about President Mills and his government? Will he be campaigning for President Mills, closing his mind to the very harm that he has already caused to his image, which his campaign efforts will now be directed toward undoing?

We are all aware of how Rawlings has torn into every fibre of the government, calling its functionaries by all manner of pejorative names and casting biting insinuations that have found their way into the parlance of our politics. Will we set aside his labeling of President Mills government as made up of “greedy bastards” to add to Ekwow Spio-Garbrah’s derogatory characterization as “Team B”? How about the “Who born dog?” disdain and “Atta Mortuary Man” insinuations from Rawlings?

Or by casting President Mills in the darkest light as a weakling and incompetent leader, does Rawlings not know that he has already cast the die for the party at the 2012 elections? What can he do to erase the hordes of negative impressions that his verbal attacks on the personality of President Mills and the integrity of his government have created in Ghanaians? Or, will he now be prepared to stoop so low as to eat back his own vomit to say that he was just jesting by making those damaging utterances?

How about his wife’s characterization of President Mills’ government as the most corrupt the country has ever had? There are other damning allegations from her, which Ghanaians have taken note of.

If Rawlings has any conscience left, he should be the first person to realize his folly and the tight corner into which his unconscionable behaviour has boxed the NDC. Having succeeded in painting the government so black and dividing the ranks of the NDC, does he think that Ghanaians will be myopic enough to do as he commands? His voice may be heard but it won’t be obeyed. Factors responsible for the bad-blood relationship between the Rawlingses and President Mills and his government are known to those of us who have been monitoring events ever since they chose to make themselves SUPERINTNDENTS over governance in this fifth chapter of our 4th Republic. The Rawlingses have virtually made it difficult to get the NDC where it should be.

A house can never be built when it is being destroyed from within by its owner. So, the best option is to divest that unruly owner of that house, especially if that house is for the community’s purposes.

The NDC government’s salvation lies in its own hands. President Mills and his team can save themselves from a humiliating defeat only if they organize themselves to do better than what we’ve seen so far. But can they do so in just under one year to be able to regain the trust and confidence of the electorate? Or even their own party’s foot-soldiers?

Looking at the level of mediocrity displayed so far by most government functionaries whose poor performance has angered sections of the population, it is no exaggeration to say that the battle ahead is really herculean. That is why it is childish for some of the functionaries to begin predicting the margin of victory for President Mills, especially as Alban Bagbin has done, saying that President Mills will win the elections by 57%. Such utterances portray nothing but a misguided penchant for needless attention to oneself. If Alban Bagbin has any conscience or sense left in his head, he should use it to acknowledge the fact that the shoddy work being done by him and others in this government has already detracted from President Mills’ fortunes.

Alban Bagbin knows very well how the failed STX Housing Project has dented the image of the government and will make it difficult for it to persuade the disappointed prospective beneficiaries that the government has their interest at heart. He is presiding over mediocrity and must thank his star that he is still at post. Such non-performing assets will be the cause of the NDC government’s downfall at the polls. But as is characteristic of the Ghanaian politician, he will put aside such failures and waste time and energy courting public attention just because he wants to be heard singing the master’s praise. That’s the only merit some of them have to recommend them for the posts they hold and exploit. I insist that the NDC has an uphill task ahead of it. Adding the Rawlings factor to that herculean task worsens it because Rawlings is an integral part of the problem that the party and its government have to solve. Not until they do so, he will continue to blight their hopes. It seems he is not prepared to see eye-to-eye with anybody except his wife and those whose services he is using to advance his parochial interests. Such a person will not do the government any good. Assuming that he recants and agrees to go on the campaign trail, he will be nothing but the butt of public disdain. Those who already know him as the main detractor of the government will laugh him to scorn and pooh-pooh those he campaigns for. The bottom-line is that Rawlings has already invalidated himself and cannot be relied upon to bring in anything worthwhile for the NDC government if he goes ahead to campaign for it. He will be a liability, especially as far as floating voters are concerned.

Even in the ranks of the NDC itself, he is a divisive force. Those who sympathize with him will not readily shift grounds to vote for those they see as not treating him well. They are already embittered and cannot be easily soothed, as we can tell from their utterances and veiled threats. The NDC risks losing votes from its own members, especially if they decide not to vote at all on election day. At this stage, I think that I share sentiments that discount any deference to Rawlings for him to join the campaign team.

Let Rawlings do whatever he wishes. No one should beg him for anything. Whether the NDC will lose the election in consequence is immaterial at this stage. Ghanaians know what to look for in those they want to elect into office and should do so. If someone other than President Mills is their choice, no amount of jockeying by the most charismatic person in the ranks of the NDC will save it from defeat. It takes more than charisma to satisfy the aspirations of the electorate and win their mandate to rule.