Barely a week to go, the New Patriotic Party will go to the polls to elect officers for another term of office. However, the challenge remains to be seen, if the NDC leadership will take any valuable lessons from the challenge thrown to the party by Nana Akufo Addo while addressing partisans at his residence to declare his intentions to contest the race for President in election 2016. “We have done very well over the last four months, under challenging conditions, to hold elections to choose some 140,000 officers to prosecute our 2016 campaign. No party in Ghana has been able to achieve this feat and I expect none will do so in the foreseeable future. We have plenty to celebrate and plenty more to look forward to. Let us focus on the bigger picture and complete satisfactorily the process of choosing national officers on April 12, in Tamale” Nana Akufo Addo stated this to a thunderous applause from his teeming supporters.
This eye catching phrase of Akufo Addo is what we deem as a challenge directly to the NDC which the Kwabena Adjei–Asiedu Nketsiah current leadership of the NDC has been unable to do anything about. The NDC has allowed the elitist NPP, a party of petty bourgeoisie, which in Nkrumah’s time could not win even 30% of any vote as the United Party, to today win near 50% of recent national votes. Meanwhile, the NDC, which begun life through the PNDC as a mass movement of the poor and disadvantaged has effectively ceded the ownership of the lumpen proletariat to the NPP and is now seeking to fight the NPP for middle class votes. What an absurdity?
The modern day NPP under President Kufuor, effectively rebranded themselves by initiating such mass appeal policies as school feeding programme, the LEAP programme that gave cash to the poor, expansion of the National Health Insurance program and other pro-people programmes. In effect NPP succeeded in blurring the difference between themselves and the NDC in the minds of the average Ghanaian, thereby reducing the contest between the two one of choices between personalities rather than socio-political philosophies. It has become disturbing that, so far few Ghanaians ever read the full manifestos of any political party. Indeed the parties that often come up with the best ideas, such as Paa Kwesi Nduom’s PPP and Nkrumah’s resurrected CPP, only get 1 % of the vote. Ghana has become effectively a two-party nation, and those like Nana Konadu Rawlings, trying to launch parties that could effectively hold the balance as third forces, are simply railing against the force of a Sahara windstorm.
How does the NDC hope to reclaim ownership of the taxi drivers, Kayayee, market women, carpenters and electricians, barbers and others who became members of the late 1980s Constituent Assembly that gave Ghana its Fourth Constitution of 1992 and which has brought stability to Ghana. It has become crystal clear that the Kwabena Adjei-Asiedu Nketsiah NDC so far has few answers, as it even denies access to its memberships cards in many wards, branches and constituencies to ordinary people who want to join the party. What is the status of the so-called biometric registration which the NDC leadership proclaimed about most of last year but with no actual work done? By our dormant approach to pro-people programmes and activities, are we selling our birthright to the NPP albeit our own ineffectiveness and lack of visionary leadership? Can President Mahama help restore the virtues that once made the Kayayee, market women, carpenters, barbers, electricians and the many underprivileged that laid their cloths for the then Flt. Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings? Can the President also bring back the confidence and enthusiasm that ordinary Ghanaians had in the NDC as a party for the commoners? The only way we think the President can do this is to bring to the governance cycle such transformational leaders that have the charisma to inspire our people. Some of them very instrumental in getting the party to power but have been in the fringes of government. The NDC government so far seems to lack the impetus to inspire followers as those in strategic positions are either not people-centered or are simply not cut out for the transformational leadership that we need. The party ought to diffuse the perceive overburdened bureaucracies that continue to generate red tapes to the commoners getting to our leaders. And as a party founded on the principles of social democracy, the onus lies on us to show to the masses that we seek the greater good of the citizens. It is only in this way that the party can meet the challenge that the modern day NPP is posing to us.
More importantly, the NPP has shown the way as relates the number of delegates to vote at the congress to elect officers. Is the NDC making attempts at increasing its electoral college even more so that the party can elect its Chairman, Vice Chairman et al based on broad base acceptance? Or are we shamefully doing it the old way where a certain clique could have access to influence the delegates thereby swaying the outcome of the elections?
What NDC should be focusing on now is how to expand its electoral college beyond the 3,000 people that are usually influenced with money by power-brokers, and get to ensure that all Wards and Branches play important roles in party national elections, including for flag bearer. But the Kwabena Adjei-Asiedu Nketsiah NDC are unable or unwilling to do this important task, and have been throwing dust into the eyes of members with reported biometric registration which is going nowhere.
Did NPP need biometric registration of its members before they organized elections involving some 140,000 members? Does NDC not realize that they are slowly losing in mass appeal and weakening their foundations by continuing to limit their Congresses to delegates who can be captured in hotels and hostels and influenced with gifts and monies. How come a mass movement party such as NDC has given valuable ground to the NPP, an elitist party of petty bourgeoisie as Nkrumah founds them in 1947-48. NPP is successfully rebranding itself as an ordinary man’s party, while the NDC, because of the greed of a few, is slowly also becoming a privileged people’s party but which mouths social democratic slogans.
In the spirit of democracy and fairness, it will be just to state that the most critical issue for the NDC before congress is expanding the electoral college. This will not only prevent the vote rigging assertions which have characterized past elections and thus contributed to the divisions in the party but also allow the party to elect officers who have greater grassroot acceptance. The party needs to identify more with the footsoldiers who are sweating to defend government policies and programs while those they elect to offices live ostentatious lifestyles. The current leadership must extend hands to all those party bigwigs that have been in the peripherals of party and government so that we can expect nothing but a more united NDC after congress. It is in only this approach that the NDC can have answers to the challenge Nana Akufo Addo thrown to us.
Long live the NDC
By: Justice Norvor
NDC Constituency Secretary