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Opinions of Sunday, 6 September 2015

Columnist: Asare-Donkoh, Frankie

Nowhere cool! . . . As NDC exhibits undemocratic credentials, while NPP shoots itself

As we gradually inch towards the 2016 parliamentary and presidential elections in Ghana, the electorate are almost on daily basis being bombarded with statements, acts, and sometimes comic relief by the political parties, all in the name of fighting votes.

In many instances, some of the political parties have been noted for not discussing anything important for the development of the country apart from insults and counter-insults to their opponents. With a year to the elections, nobody is talking about manifestos and what they would do to take the country from its current terrible economic situation.

When the New Patriotic Party was organising its primaries to select candidates for the parliamentary elections, we had the opportunity to comment on some of the unacceptable statements and actions of party officials and members, including the various unorthodox methods used by some party executives from the constituency to national levels to get specific candidates elected.

At that stage, some elected party officers unashamedly defended their support for certain candidates when in effect they were not to do that as elected officers entrusted with the creation of fair and enabling environment for all candidates. Such executives – from constituency to national – completely forgot that such unacceptable practices are one reason for disgruntled candidates going independent.

NDC Primaries

In the last few weeks after the National Democratic Congress (NDC) opened its pages for nominations for the primaries for the 2016 elections, almost all the wrong things we witnessed during the NPP primaries are unfolding. The arm-twisting in favour of incumbents and certain candidates are all become too glaring.

Tensions have mounted in almost all the constituencies and in the coming weeks many more intense lobbying and throat-cutting campaign tactics would emerge before the November 7 elections within the NDC. For instance, in the Volta Region where a win in the primaries is an automatic ticket to parliament, the fight would be very severe as signs are already emerging in Richard Quashiegah’s Keta and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa’s North Tongu constituencies, in the same way things are getting heated in the Northern Region.

However, the most bizarre behaviour so far recorded with regards to the NDC primaries is the day-light robbery and adoption of communist inferior tactics by some of the party’s national executives who first wanted an order to ban members from contesting Mr John Dramani Mahama, the sitting President.

When their wish to ban members from contesting the President failed at their meeting prior to announcing the time-table for the primaries, some of the executives led by the General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, his deputies, and Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, a vice chairman, have decided to ridicule George Boateng, a youth organiser of the Oyarifa branch of the party.

Despite the fact that President Mahama has publicly said he welcomes a contest, his party executives initially in a clandestine manner put fear in Mr Ekow Spio-Garbrah, who all this while had shown a desire to contest for the presidential candidate slot. Unfortunately, Spio-Garbrah hanged himself when he lobbied and had a ministerial appointment after he was sidelined, and for this reason the NDC executives have been able to cage his presidential ambitions.
George Boateng's Ambush

With Spio-Garbrah silenced, the NDC executives were complete shocked when George Boateng emerged from nowhere to declare a contest with President Mahama. In fact, the entire NDC National Executive Committee was wrong-footed with Boateng’s announcement since they thought that with Spio-Gabrah silenced, their plan to get Mahama go unopposed had materialised.

While many NDC executives thought Boateng was not serious with his announcement, they only realised that the man had indeed gone for his nomination form, and this caused hell to break loose at the NDC headquarters.

A plan had to be quickly hatched, and according to Mr Boateng, after Mr Aseidu Nketia’s attempt to get him to abandon his plan to contest Mahama failed, he hurriedly changed the nomination form by printing new ones in colour instead of the original black and white which was officially and genuinely acquired by Mr Boateng from no other place than the NDC General Secretary’s own office.

A Mad Youth Organiser?

First, Asiedu Nketia discredited Boateng’s claim that he had gone for his nomination form and when Boateng showed his form to the media, Asiedu Nketia began to brand his Oyarifa Youth Organiser as insane. How a mad man could be the NDC’s youth organiser at any level and allowed to operate until this time is a question only the NDC can answer.

Another bizarre act undertaken by Asiedu Nketia and his team is the unlawful sacking of two staff at the NDC headquarters for, in his words, “facilitating the process for the polling station youth organiser to pick up the forms”. I wish these sacked officers knew where the court buildings are.

It is obvious that because nobody had anticipated a George Boateng ‘ambush’ in challenging President Mahama, Asiedu Nketia never gave any specific instruction to his staff, hence the staff, an accountant and an administrative officer, felt they were following the normal routine of serving party members.

Where are the ‘democratic credentials’ of the National DEMOCRATIC Congress? Why can’t the party tolerate members who are bold to contest the President in a democratic manner? Why is Koku Anyidoho, NDC deputy general secretary, saying the party feels ashamed to have George Boateng challenge Mahama, when indeed no one has doubted the membership of Boateng and his eligibility to contest positions in the party?

NPP’s Senseless Internal Struggle

Apart from the NDC Vice Chairman Ofosu Ampofo joining Asiedu Nketia to describe Boateng as a mad man, strangely my friend and respected Member of Parliament for Nadowli-Kaleo, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, who is also the Majority Leader in parliament, says George Boateng “is a joke, not only a joke but a small joke”, adding that the man was “doing a complete comic relief”.

While the NDC struggles to battle George Boateng, the NPP continues to shoot itself with the senseless and unnecessary internal struggle and nobody seems to have the power and authority to halt these unproductive show or power within the party.

As the party’s flagbearer, Nana Akufo Addo, was just about to start his tour of the nation, there arose a new tango between Chairman Paul Afoko and General Secretary Kwabena Agyapong on one hand, and Vice Chairman Freddie Blay and Treasurer Kwabena Abankwah Yeboah on the other. A series of statements from the office of the National Chairman, usually signed by a supposed spokesman, have made the party a laughing stock as its financial transactions have become public with accusations against Blay and Abankwah.

Faceless Spokesman and Weak Communications Directorate

It is strange to note that Afoko has not being bold to sign statements which contain very explosive issues, but rather gets such statements into the media under the signature of spokesman. In normal administrative dealings the General Secretary should have signed such letters and not a faceless spokesman who has no locus to deal with such controversial issues.

One Baah Achemfour, who seems to have top inside information from the Executive Committee, has lodged a complaint with the Police Criminal Investigations Department, which has already invited Blay and Abankwah for questioning. Who feeds him with such top class information is a worry to many political observers.

The NPP’s Communications Directorate also seems to be very weak and not living up to its duties. I’m therefore not sure who advises the NPP on its public and media relations. Whoever does that might have not considered the importance of timing as far as media reportage and agenda-setting were concerned.

If the NPP communications directory and its team are on top of their game in media management and public relations, they would have ensured that all the media attention on the NPP presently would be on the tour of the flagbearer. But as it has turned out, all the media attention is rather on the alleged missing money and the opening of an illegal account as claimed by Baah Achemfour.

Some of us have said many times that December 2016 is just at the corner, and if the NPP continued to behave in the same way they began with the national executive election which was full of acrimonious attacks, and the never-ending fighting between the national executives as seen currently, its members should not dream of seeing the party win the election because what is going on can never win the party an election so critical as the 2016 one.

There is an urgent need for Nana Akufo Addo to stamp his authority on the party and bring the national executive to order. As leader of the party, and somebody desirous of winning the next election, any further delay in taking charge of what happens in party would lead to a very disastrous election result come 2016.

It is also important that the NPP communications directorate is properly oriented and beefed up real experts to enable the directorate move from its present form where it only issues rebuttals and rejoinders. There is the need for an elaborate plan for the party to manage the media to its advantage by coming out with effective plan.

Posted By Frankly Speaking to Frankly Speaking by frankie asare-donkoh on 9/05/2015 12:28:00 p.m.