By Lord Aikins Adusei

The NDC was a formidable party in 2008, but currently looks like a losing party, bruised by events that are largely its own creation and which may as well cost it the presidency in the 2012 elections. The question being asked behind close doors, and in which NDC strategies and policymakers are grappling with, is whether the party can retain power in the 2012 elections. It is our view that the NDC can retain power if it is able to address two critical issues. The first has to do with internal party crisis and the second is about broader national problems. For the purposes of space we have limited our analysis to the first problem i.e. the internal party crisis hoping to address the second issue in part two of our article.

Experience has shown that political parties that are internally fragmented and beset with infighting and squabbles also find it difficult to present a credible and winnable message to electorates. Internal squabbles and infighting is the most serious challenge that might prevent the NDC from winning the 2012 elections. Whether viewed from outside or inside the party there are plenty indication the party and government, as they are now, are more fragmented, and inundated with problems that are slowly spoiling the party’s chances.

The first internal problem that must be settled at all cost has to do with the Rawlingses, their foot soldiers and aggrieved supporters. The Rawlingses remain a force within the party and command respectable popularity with the masses and foot soldiers. So far as the party foot soldiers are concerned the problems that ex-president Rawlings have with the government have not been adequately resolved.

There is no doubt that the outcome of the Sunyani congress that reelected President Mills as party flagbearer would have been different had party foot soldiers been given the opportunity to vote. Notwithstanding their disenfranchisement, the foot soldiers would get the opportunity to vote in 2012 and Mr. Rawlings can play a strategic role in determining how the foot soldiers will vote.

The government badly needs the Rawlingses who command huge popularity among the foot soldiers particularly the electorates in Volta, Northern, Upper West and Upper East Regions. These regions have in recent elections supported NDC largely because of the personality and popularity of ex-president Rawlings. Therefore to antagonize Rawlings is to antagonize his diehard supporters in these regions. This is why the communication team at the presidency and the party headquarters must begin to use every channel and strategy possible to bridge gap with the Rawlingses.

Equally disturbing internal issue has to do with the perceived factionalism and sidelining of some party power holders by those close to the president which appear to be slowly disintegrating the party. On the 10th of January 2012 NDC Party chairman Dr. Kwabena Adjei, wrote a letter to the president asking him to convene a meeting of the party’s bigwigs to “discuss and resolve very urgent disintegrative factional dynamics and processes within the NDC before it is too late for the 2012 General Elections”.

Although the party chairman did not mention names in his letter he clearly pointed out the sources of some of the squabbles that are undermining the party’s 2012 election chances. One of them is that there is a huge perception within rank and file of the party that people who did not contribute to the party’s electoral victory in 2008 are now reaping the benefits while those who fought for the party appeared to have been sidelined. In the party chairman’s view “most Party members do not think and feel that they have so far had that political space for which they dedicated their times, energies and resources during the 2008 electioneering campaign. Indeed, my impression is that most of our Party members do not even feel that they belong to a Party they aggressively defend. As a person who, without resources, contributed greatly to our electoral victory all I have deserved are abuse, character assassination, blocking of my efforts and physical threats to my person”.

If Dr. Kwabena Adjei’s letter is superimposed on the press conference held by Kwamena Ahwoi, P. V. Obeng, Kofi Totobi-Quakyi and Ato Ahwoi, it gives a clear and a bigger picture of the huge internal problems facing the party and the government which might bring down the government. In a joint statement on Tuesday 16th February 2012 the four party stalwarts said they are aware of “scurrilous anonymous tract circulating within NDC circles and in some selected media houses obviously in reaction to our perceived roles in the administration of His Excellency President John Evans Atta Mills.”

Viewed closely it can be said that P.V. Obeng and the Awhoi’s press conference are in reaction to the Kwabena Adjei’s letter. These four power holders and their cohorts are believed to be those in control of government machinery and pulling the strings from behind the scene. They are also believed to be those whose actions have infuriated the Rawlingses and their supporters which also necessitated Dr. Kwabena Adjei’s letter. Any attempt to ensure the party’s efforts to retain power in 2012 elections must address adequately the concerns raised by Kwabena Adjei and the P. V. Obeng group.

Another serious internal issue is how to convince Spio Garbrah and his friends to work for the reelection of a government that appear to have treated them with contempt. This is a huge problem for the government giving the fact that any gesture by the government might be seen by others as attempt to use them to win power only to be dumped again. Also important is how to convince the sitting MPs who have lost the opportunity to represent their constituencies to forget about all that has happened and support the campaign of the president.

Even within the cabinet itself there are clear signals that there are divisions and acrimonies going on. A careful reading of Martin Amidu’s press conference on 14th January 2012 gives an indication that there was behind the scene conflict between cabinet ministers regarding the Woyome scandal. The acrimonies were between cabinet members who wanted the case to be reopened in court and the money collected and those who wanted the issue to be swept under the carpet. From what has transpired over the last couple of weeks it appears Martin Amidu belonged to the camp that supported reopening of the case while Betty Mould and perhaps Kwabena Duffuor did not.

Marin Amidu’s claim that a colleague minister planted a false story in the Daily Post on 3rd January 2012 is a testimony of the division and infighting within the cabinet that has also affected its performance to a greater degree.

“Consequently, I wish to assure the people of Ghana that I still stand by my promise in spite of the fact that hard core criminals in our society today have made it a habit to hold paid membership cards of major political parties in the republic as an unconstitutional insurance against crime and criminal prosecutions. …I wish core members and supporters of the NDC who cherish the principles and ideas upon which the party was founded to know that the attacks against me which started in the Daily Post publications of the 3rd January 2012 were planned by a colleague Minister of State, who perceived that my integrity and professionalism as a lawyer was a threat to the concealment of gargantuan crimes against the people of Ghana in which they might be implicated.”

It appears the fear among some cabinet members that any prosecution of the case might implicate them was the reason why the infighting deepened which eventually saw Amidu being sacked. The fact that Martin Amidu and Betty Mould Iddrisu are out of government speaks volume of the tension in cabinet meetings. Nevertheless their supporters might still be there and may still be continuing the fight. Any effort to win power must not forget the wrangling within the cabinet.

Nevertheless, the way things look in the party it appears that serious work have to be done by party executives and members of the government to resolve all party conflicts, bring calm, discipline, unify all the factions, build mutual respect and understanding, so as to build a coalition that can work to bring victory. That is if the government is willing to get cooperation of key members and the foot soldiers then it must soften its position, bury old scores and build alliances with all those that matter in the party including the Rawlingses, Spio Garbrah, Kwesi Botchway etc. However, which ever way one looks at the party internal wrangling, factionalism, disunity, accusations and counter accusations, one thing is certain: not all can be convinced to join the reelection campaign of the Mills-Mahama government and may as well cost the president and the party the supports and votes they need to win power.

This leads us to national problem that the government must deal with: i.e. how to convince the broader electorate and the general public that the government has done creditably well and therefore deserve reelection. Here too there are major issues that the government must address. We will reserve the analysis of this national problem in part two of our article and how the opposition NPP might capitalize on these problems to win votes including Rawlingses ridge housing issue, Agyemang Konadu’s context of the party’s flag bearership; the STX housing debacle; the Alfred Agbesi Woyome fiasco and the silence, confusion and contradictory statements from the communication team of the presidency and the party; the gargantuan crime statement by the sacked minister of Justice, Martin Amidu and the resignation of Betty Mould-Iddrisu as minister of education; the $20 million Adabraka party mansion saga; the sacking of Professor Frimpong Boateng; the handling of strike by doctors; Mills’ Ivory Coast “dzi wo fie asem” statement; the Kwabena Adjei’s cleansing the judiciary comments; Teye Nyawunu’s statement about Yutong buss statements; the power struggle between Mahama Ayariga and Koku Anyidoho; Asiedu Nketiah’s Bui Dam cement corruption saga; Sipa Yankey Mabey and Johnson corruption; Mahama Ayariga’s tractor deal; Muntaka pampas and ‘kyinkyinka’ scandal; the cocaine turned soda powder saga; the Woyome saga and the claim by president Mills that he had no knowledge about the debt payments.

By Lord Aikins Adusei
[email protected]

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