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Opinions of Thursday, 7 November 2013

Columnist: The Heritage

NDC needs JJ’s wisdom to avert bigger, wider internal wrangling

Recent display of battle of wits and exchange of political blows within the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) have given rise to urgent calls for the immediate intervention and involvement of the founder of the NDC, former President Jerry John Rawlings, and other members of the Council of Elders of the party such as the Captain Tsikatas, the Mahama Iddrisus, the Harry Sawyers, the J.H. Owusu Acheampongs and others to take a centre stage in the affairs of the party so as to avert the intermittent exchange of fire from morphing into a much wider political conflagration that could consume the party and the infant government.

Looking at the verbal give and take that has ensued in the party over the past days, it does not take a rocket scientist or a political science scholar to predict a wider internal conflict in the party that would be devastating to the fortunes of the party in future elections. The obvious fear is that the party could lose the 2016 elections and possibly remain in opposition for many years.

Former President Rawlings and his cohorts in the Council of Elders of the party have tremendous wealth of experience in the running of the affairs of the party and the nation, and this is the time the party needs them to help douse the flames that is threatening its survival.

Given the information available to this newspaper, the verbal fire thrown by the former Majority Leader in Parliament, Mr. Alban Bagbin and the scathing responses that came afterwards, especially the last one from President Mahama himself mirrors a much wider preparation towards an all-out open hostility from rival factions in the party, one led by President Mahama and another made up of former Presidents Rawlings and Mills appointees; if nothing is done to stop it.

The genesis of the problem that portends a bad omen to the very foundation of the party is the claim by certain elements within the party that President Mahama has used his appointments to extract personal loyalty and to reward his classmates, friends, hangers-on etc. to the detriment of the party and its core values of national inclusiveness.

Leading members of the party including some national executive members are upset about his seeming inaccessibility, indecisiveness and lack of consultation in the management of the party and in the affairs of the state.

President Mahama on his part has sworn never to allow any member of the party whether an elder or younger member to interfere with his role as the sole appointing authority in government and has vowed to resist pressure from any quarters to hire or fire anybody in his government.

Thus, the aggrieved members of the party are interpreting this behavior from the President as not only an exhibition of one man rule in the party, but a betrayal for their hard work and contribution towards the 2012 election efforts that secured a second term for the party and a first term for President Mahama, having taken over the mantle of leadership after the sudden death of President Mills almost six months before the 2012 elections.

The Daily Heritage is calling for the intervention of the founder of the NDC and his group of experienced elders in the party because any slip of power from the NDC in 2016 will see the party languishing in opposition for many years.

The main reason is that Ghana is presently producing about 1,120,000 barrels of crude oil daily for sale in the international crude oil market. It is estimated that by 2016, this volume of crude oil production would double to almost 250,000 bpd. So whatever revenue the nation is making today from the oil sales would double by the year 2016 and the subsequent years, all things being equal.

This would definitely put any government that wins the next election in a much more advantageous position to increase revenue and fund more basic social infrastructure for Ghanaians. This would definitely increase its electoral fortunes at the polls in the subsequent elections.

Again, the Mills administration with its foresight has through the CDB loan initiated the gas infrastructure project at Atuabo in the Western Region. The gas is expected to start flowing at least before 2016 to provide power for electricity generation in the country and also for export. The result is that the intermittent power problems the country faces will be a thing of the past and the nation will also benefit from the revenue that will accrue from the export of the gas to other nations.

The resources accrued from the sale of gas will be used to fix infrastructure in the other sectors of the economy, thereby improving the lives of the ordinary people. This will definitely enhance the performance of the government of the day at the polls.

So, it is clear that any party that wins the next elections will be on its way towards holding on to power for a very long time. That is why the NDC should not be swayed by the ongoing internal bickering in a manner that will result in the party losing the next election. For, any continuous internal wrangling will result in political calamity to the party.

Again, if we are to go by the history of the main opposition NPP when it was in power, especially, in the immediate aftermath of the 2000 election, it is clear that some public office holder in this NDC government will face persecution and harassment from any future NPP government should the party lose the next election.

We were witnesses to how some leading appointees of former President Rawlings were hounded by the Kufuor-led NPP government in 2000 for no apparent reason. Scores were jailed, and others faced harassment from the security and legal systems of the country that was supposed to protect them.

There is, therefore, the urgent need for former President Rawlings to intervene to provide the needed advice and direction the party and the government should take giving the fact that he has an abundance of experience, having ruled this country for almost two decades.

The founder of the NDC should immediately call the various protagonists in the party to order and push for a genuine cease-fire and not the deceptive one agreed by Mr. Bagbin and the Information Minister, Hon. Mahama Ayariga, which did not last, as President Mahama returned fire after the ceasefire had taken effect with a call to all the hostile forces against him in the party looking for the end of his administration to wait because 2016 is just near.