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Opinions of Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Columnist: Amenga-Etego, Sacut

The NDC Youth Revolt of 2010

The NDC Youth Revolt of 2010: lessons for 2014 Congress

As General Secretary of the Youth for Leadership in Ghana (YFL), NDC Youth With Conviction Of Principles (YWCP) and formally Friends Of Nana Konadu Agyeman - Rawlings (FONKAR) which became a MOVEMENT FOR KONADU, I wish to salute all the key guys who masterminded that internal political party uprising between 2010 - 2011, when, for the first time in our multi - party Democratic practice in Ghana, the sitting President was internally challenged in his bid to re - run for President by a group of party activists or foot soldiers, who for various reasons, but centrally because there was a collective verified belief among those of us who either initiated or joined the uprising that, the then sitting President J.E.A Mills failed to demonstrate principled and inclusive leadership based on fair play and meritocracy in accordance with the egalitarian philosophy of the ruling party.

I know many of my friends who have regretted taking part in that uprising. They think it was a misadventure. I am not one of those. I don't regret my past experiences. I still believe in the fundamental reasons why I took such a rebellious political stands against my own government and party in the past. We were compelled against our loyalties to rebel due to injustices perpetuated by party leadership.

Of course, many internally within the NDC and externally disagreed with us - that's why we had FONKAR - GAMES WARFARE. However, true lovers of democracy will admit that the challenge we put up internally within the NDC has taught a lesson: that democratic internal party politics is a precursor to a democratic governance, and the lack of it is a draw back on our energies and resources in our quest to govern.

Some of us beat our chest when we say that we were a part of the mastermind group behind the uprising. I had my reasons which were rooted in the 2010 national youth congress in Sunyani, the Brong -Ahafo regional capital. I will not repeat what happened there in that congress because I have already written about it so many times, but suffice it to say that it was not a democratic congress. It was a sham in our estimation. And the injustice we and our candidate received at that congress was sponsored by the leadership of the NDC, against whom our subsequent internal revolt was planned.

It was a hard thing to take that late evening in January 2010 in Sunyani, when we saw the scheme unfolding to have a particular candidate elected by any means necessary. When our team met that night, we had a lengthy debate. Our candidate took it in good fate but some of us couldn't. I for one, for the first time, felt a political rush in my blood. Almost all of us felt the same. We felt morally obligated to expose the sham and the machinations of that congress. And I felt also for the first time, that many, but not all, of our political leaders at the top are wearing masks. We felt the edge to unmask.

And yes, we did start by grouping ourselves into what we called the NDC Youth with Conviction of Principles (YWCP). We held our first press conference on Tuesday January 12th 2010 at the international press center. We accused the then sitting president of bribing and corrupting delegates, and questioned his 'father for all' mantra as an empty slogan, as we were treated at the congress as 'someone else' children'. They said we were RAWLINGS BOYS, and that was our crime - the reason for why, to them, our candidate must loose the contest by all means - even against popular will.

Is it true we were RAWLINGS BOYS? What do you mean by Rawlings Boys? Who is the NDC founder?

And if we were, why should that be grounds for discrimination, even open end WAR against us by state machinery? Well, if that was the case, then, the YWCP will become FONKAR. And yes, we became. Therefore, it was actually the isolationists NDC party leadership which created FONKAR in their minds, and we accepted it and took our position with Madam and founder to agitate for change.

Anyways, we all know how the story ended. We on our part recalcitrantly went head on, against all advise, with mighty pens in our skillful hands, skillful and talented organizers, adroit speakers etc, we went ballistic on the airwaves and web portals. We also went to the ground and spoke to every delegate. We were passionate about it. We truly believed in achieving our objective of unseating the President. BUT without a central strategy and structure to propel our movement, coupled with an almost insecure communications network linking ourselves and with delegates and media throughout the period, plus, limited funds, we were expectedly annihilated completely in Sunyani when our candidate obtained 3% of the delegate's votes against the president's 97%.

It was more crushing for us this time than what first propelled us into the whole internal uprising. This one too was not a democratic congress. I maintain that. However, we concluded that it was time to lay down our arms in this internal political party war. As we all know, power has since been reconfigured since the demise of our late president and the coming into office of our current President. The NDC seem to be one family now, until the question of the next delegate's congress pops up.

Disbanding ourselves came with moral dilemmas. Some willing to disband, some not willing to disband. Some of us stood for disbanding and discontinuing old plans. Although there was still apathy in all of us towards our government officials and party leaders, we chose to fight another day, at another congress. Not that we compromised our stands, but tactically, we lost political ground. Those of our friends who didn't see it this way went on to form a new NDP political party to contest the NDC. Some of us could feel their pain but could not join them on that misadventure. Unfortunately, the new party failed to get its name on the EC's books so their relevance became short lived - naturally.

Today, things have seemingly changed in the NDC government - not the party yet. The power - outcome dynamics which control government agendas have been reconfigured. That for the party will be determined in 2014 Congress which, up until now, only two months to the expiration of the legal mandate of the current NEC, no guidelines have been announced, no dates have been fixed for congress, the ban for campaigning remain uplifted albeit, many of the sitting NEC members are campaigning on the ground clandestinely. It will seem to some of us that some current NEC members already know the delegated who are likely to emerge at the regional and constituency levels; otherwise who will they be campaigning already to? And we know they are campaigning. There are even media reports of supporters of two leading contenders for national chairmanship openly threatening each other.

The organizers of the 2014 national congresses are going to be the same ones whose refereeing in 2010 resulted in an uprising. Except that the reconfiguration of the power out - come dynamics which controls the agendas of government will have a considerable impact on how next year's congress plays out.

But it is important that our leaders acknowledge and learn from their past mistakes and experiences to impact their present - future actions and intentions. The price that the NDC party had to pay for the failure of leadership to organize a free fair, democratic congress in 2010 is NOT a price that the NDC party is willing and capable of paying again after another pending congress next year ahead of 2016. The key to a 2016 election victory for the NDC is the insistence on our leaders now in the NDC to ensure a truly democratic congress next year where the playing ground must be seen to be level by all, and the emerging winners truly reflecting the will of the NDC delegates.

The current NEC can start to demonstrate their commitment to a democratic congress come next year by announcing with immediate effect when and where the next national delegates congress will take place as well as the guidelines for campaigning by all aspiring contenders. The speculations must be put to rest with immediate effect. Another internal party revolt must be avoided at all cost in the present - future.

Happy new year!

Amenga -Etego Akaabitono SaCut - The writer is a political Journalist and activist, broadcaster and ghost writer