By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
It seems that at each juncture of the political twists and turns, the NDC’s fate is always predetermined. We know the history behind it. Despite all the orchestrations by its arch-rivals and the head-butting going on within it between the numerous interest groups (pro-Rawlings, “old” or “new” revolutionary elements, foot-soldiers, etc.), the party has remained strong, thanks to its organizational skills and the naturally abhorrent character of its main political opponent (the NPP) that gives the NDC a head-start advantage.
I am not in the least apprehensive of the party’s future for as long as its appeal remains. What bothers me is the inability of the government that it forms to use the people’s mandate to move the country forward. It seems to the NDC that winning political power is an end in and of itself and not the means to govern competently and solve the country’s hydra-headed problems. That is where any future threat to its hold on power lies.
We saw how the late Mills’ government functioned and how the Mahama-led one is struggling to solve problems. The general impression is that the NDC is more bent on winning political power than using that power to advantage, which is why its opponents can’t understand why it should still win the hearts of the electorate. But the truth is simple: the NDC is what it is because it can reach out to the people.
Regardless of the inadequacies of the electoral processes that have produced flagbearers for the party since the establishment of this Fourth republic, there is every indication that the approach toward determining who should lead the party to the general elections is grounded in many factors, including the personal characteristics of the particular candidate (e.g., wide appeal to the party’s activists, popularity among the citizenry, past records, and many others).
Obviously, former President Rawlings had it easy-going because he was responsible for all that would give birth to the NDC as his brainchild and product of his 31st December, 1981, revolution under the guise of the ex-PNDC. No doubt that as the builder of the political house, he couldn’t be expected to step aside for any other person to lead the party to Election 1992. By consensus, then, he led the party and won political power for it on two occasions.
Rawlings was to muddy the waters, though, through his “Swedru Declaration” that consecrated the late Mills as his successor and provoked massive dissension. The breaking away by Goosie Tanoh, Peter Kpordugbe, and others to form the National reform Party was the logical outcome. But these people couldn’t hide their unflinching love for the NDC and are now back to base.
The Rawlings element worked at another level when other NDC stalwarts such as Dr. Obed Asamoah, Bede Ziedeng, and Ms. Frances Essiam broke ranks with the party and formed the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), joining hands with political opponents to threaten the NDC from all fronts. The party survived those intrigues and won the 2008 general elections at the third attempt by the late Mills.
As Fate would have it, Nana Konadu’s unquenchable appetite for power created more hiccups when she was rejected at the Sunyani congress of the NDC in favour of the late Mills in preparation for Election 2012. We all know how she ended up and won’t belabour the issues anymore.
The truth is that the NDC has survived the political whirligig and put John Mahama in office. Although there are some under-currents of disquiet and rumours of machinations to undermine him, nothing concrete has happened to prove that he is in anyway being hampered by intrigues from his own political front. He is in control.
Whether he will be nominated and endorsed to contest Election 2016 is moot. The tradition is to allow the sitting President to contest the elections for a second term. Unless anything awkward happens, President Mahama will remain in contention for Election 2016.
What all this assessment amounts to is that the NDC has been able to withstand the storm wherever it occurred. The processes for choosing its flagbearer aren’t worrisome; but if the party’s leaders now think that a universal member suffrage will smooth the rough edges all the more, let them go ahead to institutionalize it. After all, that is what developed democracies go for. The US has been using that approach over the years, which is so transparent and well organized as to give the parties’ followers the opportunity to choose freely whomever they want to lead the parties to the elections. It’s a process worth observing and praising.
Now that the NDC wants to use this strategy, I urge its leaders do all they can to succeed and that national executive officers of the party too can be chosen through this approach. If their intention materializes, it will save them all that hassle of ferrying delegates from all over the country for the delegates’ congress at one venue to choose the flagbearer. That approach is not only cumbersome and expensive, but it also lends itself to abuse, especially when the delegates are corrupted or threatened to thumbprint candidates to suit parochial interests of those masterminding the process. Choosing a flagbearer under duress or undue material influence isn’t good.
This new approach promises huge benefits, even though its initial cost will be high. The party’s leaders have to intensify their membership drive and streamline the procedures for payment and accounting for membership dues. They should also look for economic ventures in which to invest the party’s resources for profit to run the party without recourse to corrupt practices (especially kickbacks from contract awards) or the erratic magnanimity of party sympathizers likely to use their contributions as a bait for blackmail if their demands are not met!
They should also ensure that the party’s affairs are transparently handled for the members to rededicate themselves to the party’s cause and willingly contribute their quota toward sustaining its activities. Only then can the party remain strong at all levels to continue brushing aside its opponents.
I shall return…
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