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Opinions of Saturday, 9 July 2011

Columnist: Awuni, Manasseh Azure

The Sunyani Tsunami

By Manasseh Azure Awuni

Some call it the Sunyani Tsunami. To others, it just is going to be friendly “FONKAR GAMES.” For political pundits, however, this is a make or break moment for the ruling National Democratic Congress.

But from whatever angle or perspective one looks at it, the NDC is definitely at the crossroads as hundreds of Yutong buses throng Sunayani with Party faithful to elect the proverbial chief driver of the party. The Sunyani Congress will, in a significant way, decide who really owns the NDC.

It will also mark the climax of a long rift between the party’s founder and former President, Jerry John Rawlings Rawlings and the Party’s leader and incumbent President, Professor John Evans Atta Mills. The denouement may be a breakaway faction. The Rawlingses are unpredictable!

The current rift in the NDC started when Candidate John Mills defied his former boss, John Rawlings and picked John Mahama as his running mate for the 2008 elections. But that singular act of defiance was not enough to silence Professor Mills’s critics.

To such critics, Professor Mills was not a man of himself and would be subject to the whims and caprices of the former president. “Buy Atta Mills and Get Rawlings Free” was how a popular promotional statement was rephrased in the heat of the 2008 elections. Having ruled Ghana for almost two decades, not many Ghanaians fancied the idea of Mr. Rawlings running affairs of the country again. Despite attempts to by political opponents to use him as a disincentive to voters, ex-president Rawlings campaigned as if his very survival depended on the outcome of the 2008 elections. But he would later become the greatest obstacle to the man he worked so hard to bring to power. What has transpired between the two most important personalities of the NDC is well documented and does not need repetition here.

And from the way things were going, it was quite predictable that the enthusiasm with which Mr. Rawlings campaigned for Professor Mills in the last election may not be seen in 2012. What really shocked many party faithful was when it emerged that the former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, was going to contest the sitting president for the flag bearer slot. Until now, many did not believe that Mrs. Rawlings was really going to carry through her threat. Many supporters of the NDC, including some Members of Parliament and elders of the party, have called on the former first lady to rescind her decision and allow President Mills to go unopposed in order to ensure party cohesion and brighter prospects for 2012. But as to whether those calls would be heeded at the last minute or not, no one can tell. What everyone knows, however, is that Nana Konadu’s decision to contest President Mills will take a toll on the party.

The acrimonious and malicious propaganda and mudslinging that have characterized the campaign so far will have serious repercussions on the party come 2012. The NDC won the 2008 elections with the slimmest margin ever and cannot be complacent in 2012.

The decision of the Mrs. Rawlings to contest the president is in a bad taste though it is her constitutional right to do so. Her candidature has betrayed ex-President Rawlings’s position that his criticisms of Mills were honest and constructive. The Rawlingses have also succeeded in arming opposition parties with adequate propaganda to launch an onslaught on the NDC come 2012. After accusing the Mills administration of corruption and bad governance, on whose legacy will Nana Konadu campaign for Presidency should she win the primaries? Will she campaign on Mills’s legacy or that of her husband, which Ghanaians rejected in 2000 and 2004?

Looked differently and critically, however, Nana Konadu’s candidature is the best thing ever to happen to the NDC. In politics, it is said that one plus one is not always equal to two, but one can foresee a resounding victory for President Mills tomorrow. This will lay bare the amount of power and influence which the Rawlingses actually wield and put to rest the idea of taking back their party.

Some have also said that Nana Konadu’s intention is to test her chances for 2016, but the posture she and her husband have taken will make it difficult go back to the same people they now call traitors and seek their mandate. Only time will tell.

The Sunyani Congress will definitely be a make or break for some individuals, if not the party as a whole. It is however the hope of all that the congress will be peaceful and incident-free. Members of the NDC should see themselves as one family with different ideas. After the Sunyani Congress, FONKAR, GAME, OLONKA and the many opportunistic groups will cease to exist but the NDC must live to help build Ghana’s democracy.

Happy and Peaceful Congress to the umbrella family and may the candidate win! Writers Email: azureachebe2@yahoo.com