Feature Article of Friday, 5 October 2012

Columnist: Vianney, John

Woes Of A Party In Office

It is not uncommon to find disaffection within a human institution. However, what is striking is when this disaffection leads to factionalism because the leadership has been adamant. At this point, damage control if not conflict resolution is mostly the preoccupation of the group to the detriment of the group’s aims and objectives. But Frank A. Clark says "If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere." He could not have said it better.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) is one such institution that has not been spared in this regard. Founded by H. E. Jerry John Rawlings (affectionately called Papa J) then Head of State, following the 1979 uprising. He later won two successive elections, making him the longest leader under the fourth republican constitution of the Republic of Ghana. To buttress this, the NDC party constitution has it stated in Article six that “The Founding Father of the party is Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings upon whose vision and leadership the party was established.” His vision and leadership style was not only people centred (grassroots participation) but also based on probity, accountability, freedom and justice. Values he has espoused till date to the admiration of people who share them. No wonder he is the longest Head of State. However, and expectedly so, his exit from office after serving the mandatory period of two terms as President, these cherished values of his, have been thrown to the dogs. Thus the party NDC whilst in opposition, went through thick and thin. Some persons who served under Papa J’s regime, either retired from active politics or left the country allegedly to treat themselves abroad. Call them the “mafia” in today NDC, but they prefer to be known Elder Cadres of the party. Today, they control the corridors of power and you cannot succeed without their consent. Meanwhile Papa J remained in the country, possibly because he had nothing to hide from the new regime. He defended his regime, campaigned around the country and in most cases kept the spirit of the party up when everything showed otherwise (in the 2004 and 2008 Elections). He literally became the major headache of H. E. President Kuffuor’s government. In fact, the Kuffuor’s regime did everything possible to do him in but to no avail. Rather they succeeded in redrawing all courtesies to a former President. Remember "Tough times never last, but tough people do." Robert Schuller says so. Then, he was not “barking” (Credit ; General Mosquito)

The NDC party would have been like any of the pro-Nkrumah’s parties (small) if not virtually dead like Dr Obed Asamoah’s party (Democratic People’s Party) if Papa J had decided to either retire from active politics or had also gone to rest in the name of seeking health care as some gurus did. Rather he stayed back, ensured great leadership and defended his regime where necessary to the dislike of the NPP government. A few who worked under him, such as Kwame Peprah, Victor Smith, Ibrahim Adams and later Tsatsu Tsikata were dragged to the law courts ostensibly to proof the point that his government was a corrupt one. They succeeded in this regard when these persons finally became inmates of some of our prisons and those rulings today are some of the dark spots in our justice system. The former first lady was next after they failed to grab Papa J though he was dragged to the National Reconciliation Commission, and the political temperature went too high to handle. Having gone through the most difficult times like every political party (in opposition) one would have expected that a party in office should have fewer challenges. But the situation of the NDC is not the case and may never be the case. It may be better when the party loses this upcoming elections, because the stakes are high under another term of the NDC.

Notwithstanding these amongst other challenges, the woes of the party are not ending any time soon. It is hard to fathom why Papa J supported the late President right from the time he was nominated as running mate, through the flag bearership days and all the stories that went round with his candidature till Tain was declared in favour of the party, leading to the formation of the government of the day. The share ungratefulness of the former party leader; Professor Mills and his cohorts, cannot be swept under the carpet. Even the chief enemies of Papa J later became sorry for the ungrateful attitude adopted by the government he worked so hard to bring to power, making them (NPP) seem allies, if not angels to the Founder. Till date, the Founder is invited to programmes via text messages or they will send a hurriedly written invitation without considering time, and yet expect him to honour the invitation. How much do we want to disrespect Papa J?

I still maintain that the leadership of Papa J was and is one of pro-action as compared to the reactionary style adopted by the late President and his “mafia” who I prefer to call the CASTLE GROUP OF NDC. Naturally after the exit of a visionary, charismatic and an iconic leader like him, one should expect nothing more than we have been served. Mediocre leadership coupled with ungratefulness. Where are the values we fought for in the June 4 Uprising? What have we done to the probity, accountability, freedom and justice? Why are we not probing the former regime as promised? Why are they not accounting their stewardship? Where is the justice to Ya-Na and the host of other cases of injustice? what is the message to the electorates this time round?

Papa J by all standards is not only a great leader but a living legend. The party NDC is Papa J and Papa J is NDC. And if there is any individual in the country, and for that matter in the NDC deserving any “judgement debt” ( since party faithfuls are seemingly being compensated through that) then Papa J would have been or should be the highest recipient and not Woyome as it seems to be the case. Rather, he has become the spring board to the top by all manner of characters. Disassociate yourself from him and you will gain an appointment. Insult him publicly and you could be praised if not promoted. Concoct a story and share it with the media about him and his family, and the papers will sell like wild fire, even better than reporting a program government is about to roll out.

Ironically, NDC communicators (propagandists) have so far failed woefully in selling government policies. They have misinformed, miscommunicated and diluted the truth from national issues including the very health of the late President. The nation demands an unprecedented inquiry into an unprecedented death of a sitting President who all along was said to be well, when that was far from the truth. No wonder they had too many versions to every issue. Today the reality has hit all of us as a nation and more so as a party. The situation has been so bad that Government officials were busy speaking for both government and the party. Again, no wonder that the party Headquarters was virtually deserted and rather relocated in the castle. And they turned their guns at the Rawlings’ and FONKAR (Friends Of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings) and the reward is what we see in the party today; more disaffection. Before the Sunyani Congress, it was abundantly clear that a lot was going wrong in the party. The government led by the late President Mills was busy for nothing, whilst the there was virtually no party leadership under Dr Kwabena Agyei. The centre could (and still) simply not hold and there was the need to safe this failing government. The actions and inactions of the CASTLE GROUP of NDC has indeed been unprecedented. From unprecedented scandals, unprecedented corruption, to unprecedented events including an unprecedented death of a sitting President. Woes of a party.

The greatest opportunity to right most the wrongs within the party NDC availed itself when we had to go to congress in Sunyani to change the driver of the ‘Yutong Bus’, but it was never to be. The late President and his entire government, including Ambassadors descended on the poor delegates with half-truths, ‘communists tactics’ and money (wana money) and ‘stole’ the flag bearership for President Mills, who now lives with his ancestors. I had the opportunity of following the Founder, Dr Nana Konadu (my candidate) Kofi Adams, Hon. Tey Nyaunu and a few others including three of the four children of the Rawlings’ into the well packed sport stadium where the Congress was held. As for what took place in the stadium which was emceed by Affriyie Ankra, the least said about it the better.

In my candid opinion, Sunyani ought to have changed things for the better. But it rather compounded the issues with new and worse ones coming up. The leadership should have been thinking outside the box but that again was far from reach. The President suddenly became so religious that, every speech ended or began with God. That was good but he then overlooked his boys with some gaining notoriety in insulting everyone who was not an ally, whilst others wielded so much power that, they could fire civil servants via a phone-in on a radio station. Well, he was at no point in charge. In my last article (PRESIDENT MILLS MUST SPEAKOUT) I admonished the President to speak out on some of these unprecedented happenings. As usual, I was ignored like Papa J. In fact, if Papa J was not only ignored, but also insulted like a kid, who is John Vianney (this writer)? In any case, May his soul rest in perfect peace! One unforgiveable insult was that of the party General Secretary to Papa J. He described the Papa J as the barking dog, when he had to welcome back to the party Dr Obed Asamoah and his only party member Bede Ziedeng. Look at who is trying to liken Papa J to a dog. Woes of a party in office.

Countless as the unprecedented happenings maybe, they are equally unforgettable to many in the party and observers. One of such is the unprecedented demise of a sitting President, H. E. Professor Mills. Again, may his soul rest in peace. In as much as I disagreed with him along the line, I did it based on principle and nothing more. His death was a shock to me like it was to others, but I still maintain he could have done better. Today the party somewhat is not better than he left it with regards to leadership. The mafia and the institutionalized structures are still with us and would only go away when the party loses the upcoming elections. Needless to state it, but defeat is imminent. In fact the defeat of NDC in the December elections could be the last unprecedented happenings in the life of the party, but could be a better turning point for the future. The lessons would have been well learnt though bitter and enough to instil in each and every one the “never again spirit”. In retrospect, I cannot but state once more that it will be extremely difficult for the NDC to win the December elections. All point to a painful defeat though avoidable. If one considers the results of the last elections in 2008, in which the NDC party barely beat the then incumbent with a vote margin of 40,586 (Professor Mills – 4,521,032 and Nana Addo – 4,480,446) it will be a huge burden on President John Dramani Mahama to sail through. He certainly is a Presidential material but circumstances and the unprecedented happenings and era makes it almost impossible for him. The “mafia” is quiet but reading his moves. Only time will tell. He seems to have adopted a damaged control strategy but the level of collateral damage they have done to the party whilst in office is enormous and would require a bold, firm and decisive leader. In a couple of weeks, Ghanaians would go to the polls to decide. But the woes of a party in office certainly are not ceasing any time soon.

JOHN VIANNEY johnngmentire@yahoo.com