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Opinions of Saturday, 10 September 2011

Columnist: Dramani, Ali

NDC 2012 and Beyond

When the NDC concluded its national congress in Sunyani in July 2011, many NDC spin doctors and pro-NDC journalists and media houses sought to create the impression that John Evans Atta Mills’ 97% win over his contender, the former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, indicates an overwhelming support for the sitting President across board with the indication that he is already back in the Castle come 2012. Under this illusion, he emphasized the assertion in Ho a few weeks ago.
One could see a concerted and calculated effort by a tired media team to gloss over the cracks that had emerged within the party – right from its grassroots, through its structures, to the highest echelons of the party – since its assumption of office in 2009. These spin doctors and their ilk, like ostriches, tend to evade the harsh reality that the Sunyani congress was purely an internal party affair and does not in any way imply that the sitting President would garner a similar form of support when it comes to the 2012 general elections, especially with a media group that is virtually doing a firefight as a result of the incompetent performance of the government.
Judging from the history of the party when it was formed in the early 1990s, it is obvious that the party is perpetually trapped in a very devastating acrimony which would eventually lead to its defeat in the 2012, if steps are not taken now to disentangle it from its current state. These steps should have been taken well before the Congress, as Wikileaks traffic that have now been released to the Ghanaian public, make it quite clear that the entire leadership of the Party and in government have known for at least two years that there were many fundamental leadership problems. In the Wikileaks traffic, party officials including the Secretary General and the President are reported to have admitted well before the Sunyani Congress that there are cracks in the party that need urgent mending.
Clearly, when the party was formed in the early 1990s, nobody foresaw the current developments within the party, whereby a few powerful individuals would hijack its machinery for their personal gains and refuse to face the realities of today’s politics. To this end, power was handed to one man – Jerry John Rawlings – so all the good reasons and democratic principles were sacrificed for personal ambitions to triumph. His protégé, John Evans Atta Mills, a beneficiary of such arrangements, did not see anything wrong with such an arrangement in so far as it guardedly projected him into the highest office of the land.
Today, however, things have changed drastically and the political reality is that even the NPP, the so-called elitist party, has transformed its mode of choosing its leaders by handing power to its grassroots to ensure that there is a broad-base support for those elected into leadership positions within the party. One would have expected that the NDC which prides itself of being a grassroots party would have taken the lead in reforming its structures. But for obvious reasons, the current leadership has decided to keep the Electoral College sealed from its grassroots. What the leadership of the NDC have failed to appreciate is that the foot soldier uprising within its rank has not subsided and would only increase with time, especially when the ordinary people of the party continue to feel marginalized and maligned whenever they offer constructive criticisms. It is much worse, as the NDC leadership have publicly now denied that the party has any footsoldiers. With the attempted political decapitation of President Rawlings (through his wife) at the Sunyani Congress, the NDC today does not have an effective political head—as President Mills is seen by many party faithful as the mere inheritor of Rawlings legacy who has now abandoned him. So, with no footsoldiers and no effective political head, the NDC is now a headless torso going into the 2012 elections.
Speaking broadly, I do not think that the NDC's ticket is bright for the 2012. Although some might say it is too early to predict the outcome of the 2012, I can confidently predict voter apathy in most of the strongholds of the party. Events in the Volta Region, regarded as its stronghold, already point to the fact that discontent is brewing across the region and unless something drastic happens to change the current equation, even half a percentage decrease in its vote in the region is enough to do the damage – voter apathy alone would robe the NDC of vital votes and subsequent defeat. If you asked me about the other regions, I would say that Central might inch up its threshold for obvious reasons, but that is all about it. Same cannot be said of the Ashanti Region, Eastern, Western, Brong-Ahafo, and the three Northern Regions. The best from the 3 northern regions in terms of votes is what we saw in the 2008. There are some outstanding issues in those areas that will play out in the 2012. I am not sure that the opposition NPP is so docile that they will not bring those issues to the fore, just as we saw the NDC do in the 2008.
indeed, as I write, trouble has been brewing in the Vice President’s Bole backyard against him, and the Northern regional executives of the Party are facing demonstrations from rank and file members tired of the Mills-Mahama-Ahwoi-Haruna Iddrisu policies of divide and rule amongst the Northerners.

Now this is the home truth. Should the NDC lose the 2012, it gives it an opportunity to do self-examination and reflection. This might lead to certain reforms which will translate in the expansion of its electoral college and so on. Specifically, these reforms have the potential to create a level playing field for all contenders for its flagbearership to stake their claims. Those in government who would have led the party into hibernation might only have some financial advantages, as they would have money to spend. Consider the growing “John and Ibrahim Mahama Empire,” which is threatening to chomp all there is in Ghana in terms of contracts and other expanding self-seeking empires such as “The Ahwoi Brothers” and other overnight billionaires, since the NDC returned to power. But they would have lost their credibility and will have to carry the baggage of leading the party out of government. But if the party wins the 2012, then we should expect another ferocious fight for power, as those who are considered establishment candidates would be promoted by the structures within the party, in this case the contract-grabbing John Mahama or the discredited Ahwois. And the acrimony that characterized the 2011 Sunyani congress will repeat itself full circle and play out on a more ferocious and monetized note.
The recent posturing of John Mahama for example, featuring himself in documentaries in spite of all the unparalleled media attention he has been enjoying as a Vice-President leaves many to wonder what his motives are really. For Ahwois, one wonders if they ever take time to find out about what the ordinary NDC man in the street thinks about them.
I have heard many people say that if the NDC loses in 2012, it might not come back anytime soon. But I beg to differ. Obviously, if it was about money or media access, NDC would not have won the 2008. What that means is that with our chosen trajectory, power will alternate between these two giants into the foreseeable future and it would be what each party puts out there in terms of programs that will win the day.
On this note, I call on stalwarts like Alban Bagbin, Dr. Ekwow-Spio Garbrah, Professor Danso Boafo, Ohene Agyekum, and even Nana Konadu and other credible voices of reason to stand up now to redirect the party. On Nana Konadu, it must be understood that even though the Sunyani Congress advised her not to seek the Presidency, delegates who voted against her there are not against her efforts to rebuild the Party. The NDC party is fast heading into oblivion, President Mills must become bolder and think about his legacy if he were to take NDC into opposition. NDC can only win if the President stretches out his hands, but not towards failed adversaries like Obed Asamoah’s DFP, but rather the many NDC faithful who fought with him for years in opposition, and many of whom are reramining silent and watching while the few appointees and midnight advisers stuff their wide-open mouths with any available financial advantages, totally oblivious of the impact on the party’s fortunes. In NDC today, it may seem that the overriding policy and practice is: “each man for himself and God for us all”, but we must remember that – a stitch in time will save nine.

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