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Opinions of Friday, 6 August 2010

Columnist: Ablordeppey, Samuel

Many rivers to cross NDC and election 2012

Samuel Ablordeppey

Many rivers to cross
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) and election 2012

In the early months of the NDC administration, the Vice president John Dramani Mahama described the cry of his party foot soldiers as a result of a ‘lack of communication’, thus what has been done about it two years down the line?

The majority of supporters of the ruling NDC, after almost two years in oblivion while their party is in government, have come to a point when they are saying enough is enough.

Some of the supporters I spoke to in an interview told me “we don’t feel like our government is in power and this has led to the disillusionment of our ward members”. They stated that, among other things, they feel neglected by their District Chief Executives (DCEs), Ministers, Members of Parliament (MPs) and other government appointees. “For me I think the communication system of the government isn’t working, we really don’t know what is going on as far as our plights and government policies are concerned”, Abu a ward secretary of the party in the Volta Region opined.

Reports of the attitude of some NDC foot soldiers in some districts and cities of Ghana leaves much to be desired, as government officials keep telling us how great the government is doing. The question then is, how can government be doing so much and yet the party foot soldiers that helped the party come to power see things so differently?

This lack of communication that the Vice President identified earlier as the basis of the problem has not been dealt with holistically, as aggrieved supporters still go about what they know to do best, taking over the toilets, locking the offices of the National Health Insurance scheme (NHIS) among other acts, which is slowly denting the image of the party.

It has been said by business moguls that the result of bad communication is a disconnection between strategy and execution, so is this what is happening within the government?

This deficit in the government communication setup was believed to have been tackled after the reshuffling of the former Information Minister Zita Zabah Okaikoi, but it seems that instead the problem has gone from bad to worse, according to sources.

A recent communiqué issued by some regional ministers indicated clearly that the NDC would be in a mess should they fail to embark on a communication revolution in a bid to address the problems of the party faithfuls. According to the Greater Accra Regional Chairman, Ade Coker, “the communication vacuum is what is allowing our party members and non party members to think government is slow, and so interacting with the people to know their concerns and find workable solutions is the only way out. Without dialogue there is no peace” he submitted.

But is it the government appointees, especially the information ministers, or is it the wider appointees who are to blame for the NDC’s communication problems? Musah is a Tamale-based serial caller who said in my interaction with him that “I am getting confused, when I called the ministers and the DCEs for updates to inform my analysis on radio programs, none of them pick my calls, so openly there is an information draught”.

When Ade Coker was asked by Asempa F.M’s afternoon host of Ekow sii sen, Bobbie Ansah, about who should be responsible for the communication problems, he said “when the President visits project sites in the country, the sector ministers must explain to the people. The president can’t be everywhere at every time, so the appointees in charge must be proactive. Once a fortnight you should be able to interact with the people. Meeting the press alone is not enough for the people to know exactly what the party is doing. Switching off their mobile phones is surely not the best” Ade commented.

The Greater Accra Chairman of the NDC said most information his office collects from the supporters is that government appointees’ phones are always off or they don’t bother to pick, while some have changed their numbers. “This is very bad and would not help the government. It happens to me too. I’m a straight forward person, I don’t want to mention names, but it’s a habit. Let’s stop it,” Ade said.

If the problem has been traced by government officials, including the Veep, to a lack of communication, what then is government waiting for before addressing this problem two years on? He said as a Regional Chairman, he knows the government is doing well and means well, citing some of the achievements as the stabilisation of the cedi, the decrease in inflation, the introduction of SADA, the STX housing deal which he says will give a lot of jobs to the youth, distribution of free school uniforms, the agriculture revolution among other good socialist interventions that will bring relief to the people, “yet people say we are slow”.

But is Ade Coker singing a different song from the party’s founder and former President Rawlings who also thinks some things are not right with the current administration?

The Greater Accra Regional Chairman said Jerry Rawlings, as the founder of the NDC, has a lot of party people updating him, so when he speaks he must be listened to.

According to the communiqué issued by ten regional ministers, they have set to meet with the party chairman Dr. Kwabena Adjei and thereafter with the President to lay before them the concerns of party foot soldiers and finding solutions to them.

An NDC member of parliament, who wished to remain anonymous, told me the NDC has a long way to go if it really wants to win the 2012 elections. He pointed out that the same communication deficits are experienced by the party’s Parliamentarians, so they have to follow news items in the media or through the bills that come to the house to keep up with government policies and programs and so enable him to
communicate with his constituents, which to him is not the best. He suggested that members of parliament should be briefed by sector ministers regarding their policies and initiatives so they can relay this to their constituents, but this is currently not the case.

The former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan once said, “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress in every society, in every family”.

With the current state of indiscipline creeping into the party, it is incumbent for both government and party to find a lasting solution to the worries of the foot soldiers to ensure their continuous support and make the election in 2012 less stressful.