The Day After Congress

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Once again, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Ghana’s biggest opposition political party, Saturday, November 17, 2018 held its 9th Delegates Congress at the Fantasy Dome, Trade Fair Centre with the election of National Officers to steer the party to the 2020 general elections.

The Congress drew close to 9,000 delegates from all over the country, making it the biggest political gathering at all times since the inception of the NDC in 1992.

At the end of the Congress, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo emerged the National Chairman of the party while Johnson Aseidu Nketsia retained his position as the General Secretary.

Other officers elected at the Congress were Sammy Gyamfi, as the Communications Officer and Joshua Akamba, as National Organiser among others.

As it is the norm with every delegate’s congress, speeches are made and one such speech that caught my attention was that of the founder of the party, President Jerry John Rawlings.

In his speech, the former President asked leaders of the NDC to cultivate the habit of taking their own advice and said, “I can imagine how we would wish for the spirit of the old days. Is it possible to bring it back? I hope so. But that can only happen if we cultivate the habit of listening to ourselves”.

“We have heard ourselves through the speakers, we have heard about what they have to say. But I want to make an appeal that we listen to ourselves”, the NDC founder said.

My concerns with Jerry John Rawlings and his speech is whether he has been listening to himself of late. Has he listened to himself, his utterances about the NDC and its leadership ever since he left office as President of Ghana?

Current happenings within the NDC, brings back the old memories J. J. Rawlings was talking about, especially the sacrifices of Comrades, dead and alive, who were deeply involved in the process to make sure the Revolution and Chairman Rawlings succeeded.

The good old days and Rawlings was right, hitting the nail right on the head when he asked the current crop of party leaders if they could bring back the spirit of the good old days of the PNDC/NDC?

Probity and Accountability, used to be the slogan of the period under Chairman J. J. Rawlings but how did the NDC lose this powerful slogan that made it the best political grouping, for which the founder of NDC was well known for?

Having been a Cadre and a CDR co-ordinator for the Awutu Senya District in those days, I can only say that the NDC lost its slogan, Probity and Accountability long before President Rawlings left office in 2000.

Before the 2000 election, glimpses of corruption had emerged within the Rawlings administration and a section of foot soldiers and some leading members of the NDC had started a rumour mill of what was going on within the administration.

What frustrated members of the party more was the fact that majority of Cadres of the revolution, had expected a last meeting with Chairman Rawlings before his exit but that never happened and that really dampened the spirit of majority of Comrades.

Before Chairman Rawlings became President Rawlings, decisions were arrived at by consensus and members of the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR), respected that, nobody kicked against any decision so taken. Even some political appointments were made by consensus and Cadres did not have problem with such decisions coming from the top.

This way of conducting affair of the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR) served us well until the end of Chairman Rawlings administration as a military leader. Transitioning to a Civilian leader, Rawlings started imposing his will at all times when we were supposed to be in a democratic dispensation.

The transition from PNDC to NDC, I think up until today, confused Chairman Rawlings who even after his 8 years rule as a civilian leader, is still looking forward to being accorded the same accolade he enjoyed during the 19 years he was Head of State and therefore, any leader of the NDC, who does not do his bidden, becomes a target for mudslinging from President Rawlings.

President John Evans Atta Mills, of blessed memory, suffered at the hands of Rawlings and so did John Dramani Mahama. While in office, he also suffered Rawlings’ innuendos and allegations of “Mahama running a corrupt government”.

Again, as a Cadre, I have been concerned anytime President Rawlings has publicly criticised the party’s leadership, because that has not been how things were done when Rawlings was in-charge. Rawlings has chastised NDC leaders as if they knew nothing and it was only he Rawlings who knows how to manage the NDC and the country.

Our elders have an adage which says “if you point an accusing finger at someone, you should know that the remaining four of your fingers are pointing at you”.

Seems Rawlings has quickly forgotten that over the years, he had presided over the decay that has engulfed the party today. His frequent criticism of the leaders, the name callings and his reference to them as corrupt leaders, has reduced substantially his respect within the NDC as a founder and a former leader of the party.

In the early days of the CDRs, respect for authority and seniority, was very high and everyone knew where he/she stands with the scheme of things. Today, that respect members had for the leadership, is thrown out of the window and to my surprise, he President Rawlings himself, has also personally, suffered from the lack of respect within the party.

I have always thought of the good old days. We all remember those days. Who dared challenged Rawlings or go contrary to his instructions? But today Aseidu Nketsia, the General Secretary of the party, can call him unprintable names and nothing happens, why, because he, Rawlings has created antagonism between himself and some leaders of the party.

Another adage from our elders says, “When you play with the dog, it licks your mouth”. All I am trying to say is that President Rawlings brought this disrespectful attitude of some senior members of the party unto himself because of his utterances against them.

The day after the congress, I was expecting comments that suggests unity within the NDC but to the contrary, comments in the media from some leading members of the party was nothing to write home about, nothing anyone can refer to as unity comments.

These are leaders, who are seeking to unite the NDC. Such comments from highly placed members of the party tend to divide the party more than uniting it and a recipe for defeat for any political party preparing for a major elections.

The question I asked myself is, how can people who are seen as leaders of the party, make such unsavoury comment about colleagues, who until the congress, they had related like comrades in the cause of the NDC.

Haven’t these leaders thrown the unity they are talking about into jeopardy? 2020 elections is not going to be a walk over and if the NDC is to make any head way, someone or the Council of Elders must sit President Rawlings down and tell him to behave like a statesman and stop calling party officials names and referring to them as corrupt officials.

Current leaders and past leaders must also be told to stop talking about each other as if they are enemies because the party will need all hands on deck to make 2020 a reality. Getting President John Dramani Mahama to become the flag bearer is not much of a problem since from all indications, he already has gotten the nod of the majority of party delegates. What I am concern about, is how we can all be honest to the party and whoever emerges as the flag bearer.

I am also surprised at the reception President Rawlings gave some aspiring flag bearers of the NDC, so I asked, if he can be that nice to them, why was he attacking them and calling them names when they were in office? Couldn’t he have called them and speak to them as a former President and elder statesman?

I sincerely hope members of the party would not pay lip-service to the unity the party leadership is calling for and would be seen to be working towards real unity that can give the NDC victory in 2020.

By Jojo Bruce-Quansah
Twitter:- @BruceJojo

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