Ghana: The NDC goes for the electoral gold (Part I)
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
My good friends, I will stick my neck out to say that the NDC’s main problem is not how it chooses its flagbearer or how to win political power. It is how to use that political power to silence its bitter opponents. That is why I am torn between fully embracing the announcement that the party has chosen not to expand the Electoral College but to institutionalize a “universal membership suffrage” so the flagbearer of the party can be chosen directly at elections in the various constituencies and dismissing it as a mere grand design on paper.
In the main, though, such an approach is audacious and innovative, given our current political dispensation. I welcome it, after all.
With innovative measures of this sort, the NDC seems to be gearing itself up to remain viable for a long time to come. It has begun moves at several fronts for that matter. The “firm decision” made by its National Executive Committee (NEC) “to work towards scrapping the Electoral College completely and implementing a universal membership suffrage” for choosing the flagbearer of the party is the kingpin. Heart-warming.
Adopting this innovative approach in Third World politics is more than encouraging because it will further “democratize” the system, empower citizens at the grassroots, and involve them directly in the decision-making process leading to the choice of their political leaders.
If successfully implemented, this approach will help the NDC stabilize itself and eliminate the needless wranglings that often lead to some disgruntled members defecting from it or breaking away to form their own parties only to return to base after the fact.
Undoubtedly, though, the existing mechanism for choosing the flagbearer can’t be written off as totally flawed. It has its good aspects, but may now begin being overtaken by emerging political necessity and the desire for more transparency and ease of operation. Whatever concerns it may arouse are the direct upshot of the uneasy feelings among some. First, the acrimony that characterized its use at the Sunyani Congress in 2011 when the delegates went for ex-President Mills and rejected Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings created the wrong impression that it wasn’t “democratic” enough. Second, the emerging comments that retaining President Mahama for Election is a done deal may be too threatening to some.
The dogged determination by some to have their way at the Sunyani Congress was the main rub, not the Electoral College system itself. Thus, the refusal by the rejected candidate to accept the outcome of proceedings should rather be regarded as the dangerous turning-point in the party’s affairs. No doubt, though, the intention to use this new method of “universal membership suffrage” is apt.
Johnson Asiedu Nketia, NDC General Secretary, has explained that the approach would ensure that every NDC card-bearing member in good standing will have the opportunity to participate in the selection of the party’s candidates by voting directly in their respective polling stations where they are members.
This “firm decision” is part of key electoral policy reforms soon to be implemented by the party. Asiedu Nketia told the Daily Graphic that “when it comes to primaries, after filing of nominations, the party would open the polling stations on the voting day so that NDC party members would queue and be verified to cast a vote for their preferred candidate… the one who will emerge a winner will have the confidence that he has the support of the members of the party at the constituency level and the losers will have a clear message that the whole constituency had decided that it is not their turn.”
He disclosed that this would be replicated at the presidential and parliamentary levels, saying “If we are able to get the reforms through, we will have addressed the challenges associated with the existing Electoral College system in a more comprehensive manner; we are not expanding the Electoral College but we are scrapping it. So it is different from the approach by the New Patriotic Party.”
According to Asiedu Nketia, in preparation for the NDC’s electoral reforms, two major activities are going on within the party:
i. Registration of all NDC members with a biometric system, which means existing party cards would be scrapped and biometric ID cards issued. The Bio-Metric Database Implementation Committee, under the chairmanship of Mr. Ofosu Ampofo, was already working; and upon completion, the NDC would have a central database of all its members to avoid infiltration and to ensure easy verification at the point of voting.
ii. Revision of the party’s constitution by a committee led by Mr. Ken Dzirasah; the committee has submitted proposals which have been sent to the constituency for their input. Nationwide forums will be held to involve the rank and file of the party.
Asiedu Nketia’s announcement followed calls by former President for electoral reforms by the party, including an expansion of the Electoral College that chooses its flagbearer for the general elections. It also is a throwback to the successful delegates’ congress by the NPP in an expanded and well managed Electoral College that settled on Akufo-Addo without the intrigues that characterized a similar exercise for the 2008 elections. What the NDEC intends to adopt is an improvement over all existing approaches by the various political parties and must be commended.
I have no shred of doubt in my mind that the NDC will continue to snatch electoral victory from the NPP or any other political party contesting the general elections for as long as it retains public good will and can enrich its political campaign strategies to grab more followers and floating voters not interested in putting any other party in power.
The NDC’s spread of voter-appeal is wide and barring any negative occurrence in the ranks of the party, it stands to make progress “from victory unto victory”. Even in the tumultuous internal circumstances threatening its interests, the party survived to beat the NPP at Election 2012.
We saw it again in the internal wranglings that shook the foundation of the party when former President Rawlings and his wife took different directions away from the party and directed their energies at torpedoing it just because of their dislike for the manner in which ex-President Mills was handling the affairs of state. Mrs. Agyemang-Rawlings’ National Democratic Party seemed to have eaten deep into the NDC’s storehouse of support but the NDC rose above all the machinations to win at Election 2012.
Forget about the NPP leaders’ face-saving protests and consequent humiliation by the Supreme Court. The NDC is in power because it won the elections cleanly, freely, and fairly. It won in 8 out of the 10 regions constituting Ghana! That’s a resounding accomplishment to confirm the party’s national character.
I shall return…
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