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Opinions of Saturday, 26 May 2012

Columnist: Kpebu, Seidu

NDC Leadership Wake-up from your Slumber

By Seidu Kpebu

I want to ask whether the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has leadership; Chairman, General Secretary, Communications Director, National Executive Committee and of course Council of Eleders?

As a psephologist, of course, I know clearly that all political parties have leadership but the situation in the NDC is quite different or indifference on the part of the leadership.

After the party assumed power on the 7th January 2009, some of us predicted what today has become an albatross around the neck of the party. Indeed each time we raised issues about the ambition of the former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, it was dismissed petulantly, albeit, the leadership never took notice of the issues.

In 2009, I stated on Direct Talk, a show I hosted on GFM radio in London, that Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings was preparing herself to topple President Mills, I remember I was challenge by people within the party to prove it. It did not end there, I also said that the NDC leadership was handling the potential threat from the former first lady rather bizzerrely lacking tact.

This and many others left me wondering whether the leadership of the NDC understands the political movement they are leading. The NDC is a mass party constituting many demographics imagineable and it takes a frontal, proactive and flexible leadership to steer the affairs of such a grouping.

A grouping of this sort have different component parts; attitudes, individual interests and ambitions, individual world view or perception, metholody and strategy of accomplishing a goal. The individual or group might want a different strategy or methods to achieve the group's objective and aspirations.

The responsibility however falls on the leadership to whip group members into line. If the leadership achieves this, there will be discipline and compliance in the group and it will largely impact on the efficiency of both individuals and the collective. If the leadership cannot also ensure consensus building in a group, the group will distintegrate.

In view of the this, the NDC has itself to blame for allowing threats that were in the public domain to fester. In fact it was in the public domain because some of us discussed them on our radio talk shows barely a month after President Mills took office.

There was also this claim that the Ahwoi brothers have presidential ambition and has held a meeting at the castle to take a decision that they will only use the Rawlingses for elections and keep them at bay afterwards and that this was a catalyst to the 'greedy bastards' statements and all that followed till today. Again, at the time, I called on the NDC leadership at the time to move quickly to stop all these destructive allegations.

But then, late they say is better than never. The leadership still has the opportunity to wake-up from their slumber to tackle issues urgently to allay the fears and frustrations of their members especially those in the country side.

A political party has to look attractive, just like a product or brand, to the customer in this case the electorate. I will advice the NDC leadership and the communications team to down grade issues concerning the Rawlingses. They should place issues about the former first family on grade C or D. When that is done they will have the luxury to sell the message of the government and its achievements.

Clearly, the NDC has some of the finest leadership and intelligent communications team members. What is however missing is the strategy and organisation. As it is now there is no synergy and targeted messages.

When Nana Konadu came up with the issue of the NDC logo, I expected the leadership and the communications team to downgrade the issue and continue with the issues they were, at the time, on top of. They had the NPP on the ropes and on the run. However, the strategically released letter about the ownership of the NDC logo and the subsequent leaking of the letter to the media was to neutralise and throw the energy the communications team had acquired out of gear. The best option was to ignore or downgrade the discussion on the logo.

The situation in the NDC is similar to that in Labour party in UK in 2007 between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The supporters of Gordon Brown (Brownites) and Tony Blair (Blairites) were busily leaking information to the media to undo each other. I remember a discussion we had at the London School of Economics on political communication and election strategy where the discussants concluded that the best option for Blair and his supporters was to ignore the Brownites antagonism and that it will come back to haunt the Brown camp. And came it did, leading to Gordon Brown facing one of the toughest opposition in British political history.

The antagonism of the Brownites only generated sympathy for Tony Blair whose camp decided not to directly respond to accusations and blackmail from the opponents within the Labour party.

Similarly, the constant attacks on President Mills by the former first family and their hirelings and his apparent silence, is generating an unprecedented sympathy for the President. It is unprecedent because most often sitting presidents do not always enjoy certain levels of sympathy. Sympathy is an election winner.

In recent times I have observed that the NPP is attempting to generate sympathy for their flagbearer by presenting him as a victim of insults, attacks and vilification. But sadly, each time they do that they shoot themselves in the belly and it falls flat.

I am of the view that the NDC is running out of time to address the issue of communications strategy. They have the material to feed into an effective and efficient election winning strategy.

From the evidence that is on the ground, the issue about the Rawlingses can easily be handled using what in communications is sometimes referred to as the 'avoidance method'. A method that was successfuly used by former German Chancelor Helmut Josef Michael Khohl. And not too far away from home, also sometimes consciouly or unconsciouly used to maximum effect by President Mills and Vice president Mahama.

The leadership of the NDC must as a matter of now stop leaving in self denial and put hands to the wheel. This year's elections will be their toughest yet. Nana Konadu's threat is too pedestrian; the best they can do is to ignore any obstructions from her and concentrate on the issues that will ensure victory for Mills in December.

P.S.: Did I hear Malik Dramani, the vice president's brother in London, is being sent threatening text messages?