Predictions by political analysts in the run up to last year’s election that a defeat for either of the two dominant political parties could spell doom as a result of shock and the storm the defeat was likely to generate is beginning to manifest in the National Democratic Congress.
Having been touting itself as the most united political party in Ghana; the NDC, after painfully giving away power to the New Patriotic Party, is now faced with internal wrangling that is steadily pushing the party into abyss.
Whereas some bigwigs of the party want to blame former President John Mahama for the excruciating defeat, other party stalwarts are subtly jabbing party founder, Jerry John Rawlings and wife, Nana Konadu for “helping” the NPP unseat the NDC.
Mr Rawlings and Nana Konadu are also being accused of instigating people of shady character to malign former appointees of the Mahama administration and leadership of the NDC with the aim of “taking over” the party.
The ruling NPP is also taking advantage of the growing uneasiness in the NDC to further deepen the cracks in the party. As part of an elaborate scheme to dismember the party, the Akufo-Addo government has rolled out plans to harass and intimidate Mr. Mahama and other potential flag bearers of the NDC under the guise of probing their tenure.
This, among others, is shoving the NDC to the cliff. From the national level, through the regional and constituencies down to the branches, virtually every member of the now biggest opposition party has an axe to grind with another member of the party over the party’s exit from power.
This has resulted in intense accusations and counter accusations amongst leading members of the Umbrella fraternity and party rank and file in the media and, at party gatherings organized to plan for the way forward.
Absence of a "Center"
While the NDC in the past has survived similar internal wrangling, there are fears the umbrella party may not be lucky scaling through present life-threatening challenges.
Unfortunately for the NDC, unlike after its defeat in the 2000 elections when the late Professor Mills remained the fulcrum around which the party revolved, there seem currently to be a void in leadership as there is no one “inspirational” figure to stamp authority on the creeping indiscipline and bring together all the feuding factions.
After the NDC’s defeat in 2000, the likes of the late Harry Sawyerr, late Dr Mary Grant; Jerry John Rawlings among other elders of the party commanded the respect of virtually all Akatamansonians and ably assisted late Prof Mills to reorganize the party ahead of 2004 and 2008 polls which, the party subsequently won.
Presently, NDC founder, former President Jerry John Rawlings, who is alive and expected, in conjunction with the remaining members of the Council of Elders of the party, to become the rallying point is himself leading a faction that has vowed not to see to eye with other bigwigs of the party, particularly those who stood by late President Mills and immediate past President Mahama.
Party stalwarts including Prof Kwesi Botchwey, Cpt (rtd) Kojo Tsikata, Ato Ahwoi, Kwame Peprah, Iddrisu Mahama, Totobi Quakyi, Lionel Molbila, Prof Kwamena Ahwoi among others, also appear to have lost their standings in the party, and their voices no more carry the weight needed to whip everybody in line.
Their influence in the NDC was less felt during the stewardship of former President Mahama and this has consigned them to the backstage in the affairs of the party.
The party’s National Chairman, Kofi Portuphy, who per the NDC constitution is the official party leader, is himself lacking the necessary influence needed to command the respect required at this critical moment in extinguishing the rising tension in the party. Also, as a result of the division within the leadership of the NDC at the national level, Chairman Portuphy is unable to rally his colleagues National Executive members to maintain discipline and to bring sanity to the torrid times the country’s biggest opposition party is currently experiencing.
To cap it all, the immediate past party leader and ex-President, Mr John Mahama, appears handicapped in applying his privileged position to bring all factions in the party together. Indeed, the former President has himself in recent times; come under sever censure from some kingpins of the party over the NDC’s unexpected defeat.
The sudden bickering that greeted the party when it lost the December 2016 elections was immediately put on hold when the NDC Functional Executives Committee (FEC) instituted the Prof Kwesi Botchwey Committee to investigate the cause(s) of the party’s defeat.
However, this has since been reignited when leading members of the party last month pounced on former President Mahama after a newspaper (perceived to have his eyes and ears) in a publication stated that he (Mahama) was threatening to put out names of members of the National Executives of the party who took money from him for the 2016 campaign but squandered same.
Mr. Mahama’s so-called threat, though roundly condemned, was in response to claims by some members of the National Executives in the media that they were sidelined or starved of resources in last year’s electioneering campaign. These happenings unfortunately, coincided with subtle campaign by supporters of the former President for his comeback in 2020.
In the heat of the hullaballoo, the alleged threat generated, and as if to confirm rumors that he (John Mahama) is interested in making a comeback, the ex-president in a tweet urged party supporters to remain calm and steadfast and that, “the NDC will bounce back”.
This statement by Mr. Mahama, which has been interpreted to mean he is signaling a “comeback” multiple sources in the party told this paper, irked some leading members of the party, particularly; those who say they were marginalized during his tenure in office. According to one source, they have therefore vowed not to support another John Mahama presidential bid.
This is notwithstanding revelation by the ex-president’s brother; Mr Ibrahim Mahama that, the Mahama family has advised him not to yield to request to lead the NDC into the 2020 elections.
“John has given his all in politics to NDC and Ghana and we think it is just fair that we allow him to rest. We were very supportive and instrumental in convincing him to partner late Prof Mills, and when the time came for him to contest for President, we supported him and advised him to go for it…now we have again advised him not to make a comeback in 2020,” the CEO of Engineers and Planners stated.
In a subsequent statement described by many as perhaps, Mr Mahama’s acquiescence to his family advice, the former President told a cheering audience in faraway Nairobi, Kenya, that he has drawn useful lesson from his late father, Mr Emmanuel Adamah Mahama’s admonition to quit “when the applause is loudest”
The former President shared fond memories of how during his inauguration as President in 2013 at the Black Star square he “sat and listened to the applause. It made me remember those faithful words my father had written in his letter (to then Ghanaian Head of State, General Acheampong) – ‘leave when the applause is loudest’. Throughout the course of my presidency, I had both been applauded and criticized, I was revered and reviled.”
Scaring Away JM?
Perhaps, as a way of putting fear in Mr Mahama not to respond to calls on him to lead the NDC into the next presidential elections, former National Organizer, Mr Yaw Boateng Gyan, former National Chairman, Dr Kwabena Adjei; MP for Yunyoo, Hon Joseph Bipoba Naabu and several others, including some hitherto unknown amorphous groups have openly jabbed the former President for causing the party’s defeat.
"The 2016 electoral defeat of the NDC should be blamed on [former] President Mahama. He failed to show leadership. If [former President] Mahama is to lead the NDC in 2020 elections, he will lose miserably. I won't support him should he decide to contest as flagbearer ahead of the 2020 elections," Hon Naabu fired on Asempa Fm.
Explaining why the NDC lost the 2016 election, Mr Yaw Boateng Gyan also said though “Mahama needs no further introduction but the structures behind him were weak and so if we don’t put proper measures in place to make the structures strong, if we bring John back 10 times; he will lose 10 times. We need to change the structures and stop saying we are bringing John again and also calling him incompetent; all these comments are unnecessary.”
A group known as Action Movement of NDC, at a recent press conference blamed Mr Mahama and his family for the NDC’s 2016 defeat. Its spokesperson, Kodzo Hamenya Keglo said “We lost the 2016 elections because of John Dramani Mahama, his wife, Ibrahim, Alfred and the rest of his brothers and sisters”.
According to Keglo, while JM was preaching made in Ghana goods (such as shoes, batik and locally made clothes), the wife was doing the opposite by printing T- shirts from China which is a huge disappointment to Ghanaian printing companies.
“The 20 million pieces of T-shirts JM’s wife printed from China could have been shared to party members to print them locally and would have created a lot of jobs for Ghanaians… When in the history of Ghana has a first lady printed campaign T-shirts and become the major source of party materials in an election? To the extent that the wife of the president printing Mayafi with her image on it, does she have presidential ambitions, she should tell us,” he fumed.
In all of this, NDC deputy General Secretary, Mr Koku Anyidoho has been nonchalant. He wouldn’t answer whether he loves Mr Mahama as much as he claimed he will forever cherishes the late president Mills when asked on live television program.
But National Organizer of the NDC, Mr Kofi Adams, described persons blaming the former president for the party’s electoral defeat as “uninformed”, and called on them to “stop talking anyhow” about the party’s electoral loss.
“…anyone who makes such conclusions is not well informed. I will advise people who are not informed who are not within the structures to stop talking. There is a committee that has been put in place, if they have any issue they should go put those matters before the committee and stop talking anyhow,” he said.
Mills Brother Joins Fray
To the astonishment of many in the NDC, Dr Cadman Mills, a brother of late President Mills is also accusing President Mahama and his government of treating the late tax Professor shabbily. According to Dr Mills, almost five years after his brother’s demise; government was yet to disclose to the family what the late president was entitled to as an Article 71 office holder.
“As far as the government is concerned and I make no difference from the NDC or NPP, they have treated president Mills shabbily,” Dr. Mills said.
“Up till this day nobody has called me to say your brother died in office and according to this report your brother is entitled to this or that.”
Portuphy’s Appeal ignored
An attempt by National Chairman of the party to stop the media war among leading members of the party has so far fallen on deaf ears. Not even a statement from Prof Kwesi Botchwey to consolidate the chairman’s call was enough to restore calm in the NDC.
A senior lecturer at the University of Education, Winneba, Dr Ahmed Jinapor has attributed the crisis in the NDC to what he called “leadership vacuum.”
"There seems to be a leadership vacuum. Leadership vacuum in the sense that if I am right, I stand to be corrected, if a political party like the NDC of its nature when it is in opposition it is the National Chairman who takes over the party. But today, I haven’t heard of the national chairman speak,” Dr Jinapor told Radio Ghana’s “Behind the News.”
“As we speak the former president hasn’t spoken regarding what has happened even though a body has been mandated to look at the affairs of the NDC regarding what led it losing. And even then, as we speak, people are still making noise,” he added
NDC MPs Divided
The division in the NDC at the various levels has also been extended to its representatives in parliament. Reports are that NDC MPs in parliament are sharply divided along those who are in support of Mr Mahama’s comeback in 2020 and those against it.
The bribery allegation that rocked the country’s legislative arm’s Appointments Committee early this year, is said to have further deepened the cracks within the minority side of the lawmaking House. A source in parliament said this has resulted in lack of coordination among NDC MPs which is impeding the smooth working of the minority.
Political commentators have warned that if the NDC does not take immediate steps to put its house in order, the party could risk breaking up.
General Overseer of the Glorious Waves Church, Prophet Badu Kobi has cautioned the NDC to call for an early congress since that is the only way to end the ongoing infighting in the party, insisting that until new leaders are elected to manage the party, they will continue to blame and fight each other.
Valerie Roars At JJ, Konadu
Meanwhile, a Senior Policy Adviser and Head of Presidential Delivery Unit in the erstwhile Mahama Administration, Dr Valerie Sawyerr has accused former President, Jerry John Rawlings and wife, Nana Konadu, of hiding behind phony groups to malign leading members of the National Democratic Congress.
According to Dr Sawyerr, since the painful defeat of the NDC in last year’s election, the NDC founder and wife, Konadu, have resorted to instigating activists of the party to injure the reputation of kingpins of the biggest opposition party who they accuse of causing the party’s defeat.
In an allegorical write-up in response to accusations and allegations by a group, “Action Movement of NDC” against her (Dr Sawyerr) and other NDC bigwigs including former President John Mahama of causing the party’s exit from power, the former Head of Presidential Delivery Unit alleges that, the group was doing the bidding “of some section aiming to take over the reins of NDC going forward”
Show Your Faces
Short of mentioning the names of Mr Rawlings and his wife, Nana Konadu, who have since the NDC’s defeat been rumored planning a takeover of the party, Dr Sawyerr wrote “I dare the actual persons behind the group to show their faces. Do not hide and pull these pathetic strings. If you are really men and/or women – show your faces! Cowards!!!”
Dr Sawyerr continued “When you send gullible young men to do your dirty work, it is important that you draft better statements for them to read. Statements which will enable them to get the message across, no matter how dirty the message, but in a manner that will not expose the young men to legal action. When you push them to categorically state that ‘X is a thief’, you have exposed them to legal action. But if you put in your draft that ‘there seems to be a widespread perception that X has misappropriated campaign funds’, you would have managed to get your message across while still protecting the young men. It may be a nasty untruthful message, but it would be safer for the stooges you are using to do your hatchet job.”
While Dr Sawyerr failed to name those she alleged were behind the group; many contributors to her write-up on social media who are mostly believed to be NDC sympathizers, pointed accusing fingers at the founder of the NDC, Jerry John Rawlings and his wife, Nana Konadu.
Dr Sawyerr’s description of the leaders of the group as, known NDC activists who are also, stanch devotees of the NDC founder and his wife, who played key roles in FONKAR may have giving her readers a clue as to who the “puppet master and/or puppet mistress” are
“…I sent pictures to some of the youth on the ground to see if they could identify others in the group. One of the gentlemen was described to me as a ‘chicken thief’. They claim that anywhere you see him, if you have live chickens, ensure that you do not take your eyes off the chickens. The message that came back was ‘Madam please don’t mind him he is called ‘Kankpe Wuor’ because he is known for stealing chickens. Chicken in the Ga dialect is ‘wuor’. ‘Kankpe’ means something that is hardened. They claim he was a FONKAR boy. I do not know if this is so,” Dr Sawyerr’s wrote.
According to her, “…I remember one day, as I walked into Flagstaff House, I met someone at the entrance who greeted me nicely. It was obvious he knew who I was, even though I didn’t know him. I smiled nicely and struck up a conversation. He walked with me towards the elevator. On our way he said ‘Madam have you seen that tall man over there’. I looked and saw a dark gentleman standing there. He looked quite presentable. I asked what the problem was. He said ‘he is an armed robber, he poses as part of national security but has been doing very dangerous dirty jobs robbing people’. I said - ‘as in actual armed robber?’ he said ‘yes’. I told him not to spread rumours but he insisted that he knew what he was saying.
We parted at the elevator, as I wanted to walk up the stairs for exercise…
“Even though I had tried to brush away what he said, I quickly called one of the security heads, described the man to him and told them to check on his background and if he was a suspicious character they should be circumspect in allowing him into the Flagstaff House to prevent any possible scandals. As I looked at the pictures, I recognized him in a khaki vest. I understand he was JJ’s boy. I do not know if this is so, Dr Sawyerr added.
The Group’s Allegation
The Action Movement of NDC last week launched scathing attacks on former President Mahama, his wife, Mrs Lordina Mahama, his siblings and other kingpins of the biggest opposition party, tagging them as “greedy bastards”.
Addressing a press conference , spokesperson for the group, Kodzo Hamenya Keglo alleged that, the former president’s brothers were the main reason why the NDC lost the 2016 elections, accusing them of collecting all contracts from Airport, Roads, Cocobod, GNPC, ECG, VRA, Ministry of Power and all major contracts in the country.
“If you don’t see JM brothers, you cannot get a contract and if you see them, then you have to pay money before you get the contract, frustrating foreign contractors and companies by taking Ghanaian contractors for granted and creating enemies for the NDC party,” the group added.
Dr Sawyerr Fires Back
But in a quick and direct riposte, Dr Sawyerr said, the group was only doing the bidding of the former military strongman and his wife who are bent on denigrating some bigwigs of the umbrella party.
She wrote: “If the victims of that press conference decide to resort to court process, you - the puppet master and/or puppet mistress - will be coolly relaxed in your room while the puppets face the storm. That does not show that you care about the puppets. It means you are prepared to sacrifice the puppets for your own agenda.
And to the puppets, I say - whenever you are looking for a tree under whose branches you will seek refuge, please find a good solid tree with branches that provide shade, not a diseased tree with thin branches, which keep falling to the ground.” Read Dr. Valerie Sawyerr’s full write-up on page 22
Akufo-Addo Targets NDC Leaders
The aL-hAJJ can also confirm that President Akufo-Addo and the governing New Patriotic Party are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to weaken and possibly, dismember the opposition NDC ahead of next general elections in 2020.
Latest intelligence report gathered by this paper indicates that, the president has activated his long-planned mission to ‘go after’ his political opponents, especially flag bearer hopefuls of the main opposition party.
EOCO To Execute Plot
Classified information scooped by the intelligence desk of The aL-hAJJ has unearthed plans by national security and strategists of the NPP under the direct supervision of President Akufo-Addo, to use the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) to intimidate and, or dent the image of leading members of the NDC particularly; those with ambition to lead the party into the 2020 elections.
The nation’s spy agency, The aL-hAJJ is reliably informed, has started digging into the stewardships of some leading lights of the NDC.
Those Being Targeted
Among them include, immediate past vice-Chancellor of UPSA and former Board Chairman of SSNIT, Prof Joshua Alabi; the former Managing Director of BOST and TOR, Mr. Kinsley Kwame Awuah Darkoh; former Chief Executive of NHIA, Mr Sylvester Mensah, former Chief of Staff at the Presidency, Mr Julius Debrah and former Minister of Trade, Dr Ekow Spio-Gabrah, who are all been rumored to be eyeing the NDC flag bearer post.
Unrelenting in its effort to find fault with any potential NDC 2020 flag bearer, the Akufo Addo government, a highly placed source told this paper, has ordered EOCO to scrutinize acts of omission and commission and all transaction and contracts entered into by Trade and Industry ministry under former Minister, Dr Spio Gabrah including alleged “last minute” auctioning of cars he is alleged to have sanctioned.
Even though former NHIA boss, Mr. Sylvester Mensah was last year cleared of any wrongdoing during his tenure by the out-gone administration, the Nana Addo government, our source says, is frantically shopping for ‘new’ incriminating evidence to nail him.
A source at the flagstaff house told this paper that, foremost among senior members of past government president Akufo Addo wants indicted aside ex-president Mahama is, the former president’s former Chief of Staff; Mr Julius Debrah.
“He is among the most important people being investigated…Nana believes that if they are able to find fault with Mr. Debrah it will then be easier linking it to John Mahama. It is believed that as the former president’s Chief of Staff; whatever Julius Debrah did must have been on the orders of John Mahama so when they manage to gather enough evidence of any wrongdoing on Debrah’s part, it will also be traced to John. This is all being done to smear them.”
Pro-NPP papers start smear campaign
In the coming days, pro-government newspapers will start publishing allegations of financial impropriety and other incriminating stories including issues of money laundering about former president Mahama and his better half, Mrs. Lordina Mahama.
Already, NPP tabloids have started publishing supposed shady deals by former SSNIT Board Chairman, Prof Alabi and Mr Awuah Darkoh, former TOR and BOST Managing Director.
While the pro-government papers claim Prof Alabi sanctioned “questionable” sale of SSNIT landed properties as Board Chairman of the state pension fund, Mr Awuah Darkoh is also being accused of entering into an alleged shady $39 million contract to build an office complex for BOST.
Alabi Refutes Allegation
However, Prof Alabi has since denied the claims, insisting “it cannot be true that the former board decided to sell properties at the eleventh hour as claimed by the daily guide. The sale has therefore not begun and could not have been concluded by the previous board”
Plans to Destabilize NDC
Our intelligence report reveal that president Akufo-Addo and his National Security in cahoots with other state agencies have resolved to make the 2020 elections a walk over for the ruling NPP by destabilizing the main opposition NDC and lowering its public image and that of its potential leaders in the eyes of Ghanaian electorate.
“There are number of plans in the offing to disintegrate the NDC and make it less attractive. Aside working to get some of it members to foment trouble within the party, there are also plans to harass potential NDC flag bearers for 2020 by using EOCO,” an intelligence officer told this paper on strict condition of anonymity.
Other sources at the seat of government have long hinted this paper of plans to “handle the NDC in a manner that it will not come to power anytime soon…this will be done by targeting persons who will serve as source of strength and inspiration for the party’s revival.”
A senior member of government averse to the President Akufo Addo’s malicious plots told this paper “the ministry of National Security is monitoring closely the movements of some senior members of the NDC rumored to be interested in the party’s flag bearer post for 2020. As soon as they gather concrete evidence that they will contest the NDC flag bearer position, EOCO will be unleashed on them.”
According to the senior NPP member “all that is required to keep their eyes off the NDC flag bearer post is to accuse them of corruption and put them under investigation like what is happening to Opuni. In some instances, their accounts and assets will be frozen to deny them the financial muscle to embark on their political ambition.”
Mahama Not Left Out
The president, Akufo-Addo and his team, according to the source, are also keeping close eye on former President John Mahama on “whether he will make a comeback in 2020 or not…indeed, Mahama is the prime target and the plot is to destroy his image such that; in the event he decides to make a comeback, he would be unattractive to the Ghanaian electorate.”
“John Mahama is not being left out of this plot. He may or may not lead the NDC into the 2020 elections. But the president’s team has decided to start attacking him, his family and close associates. His record in office will also be shredded into pieces to discourage him of making a comeback; that is, if he has intentions of leading the NDC again,” the source added.
NDC Exits Power
The John Mahama-led NDC government lost the December 2016 elections to the NPP led by Nana Akufo-Addo in a keenly contested election.
As part of measures to recapture power in 2020, the NDC has constituted a 13 member committee to investigate the party’s loss and make recommendation on the way forward for the party.
Though the committee, led by Prof Kwesi Botchwey is yet to conclude its work, names of some NDC gurus including immediate past president, Mr. John Mahama, has come up strongly in the media and party circles as potential 2020 flag bearers.
While some NDC flag bearer hopefuls are fervently lacing their boots, some senior members of the party, MPs and party activists are insisting that; former President Mahama is the party’s best bet for the next presidential election.
But the immediate family of the former president is also reported to have advised Mr. Mahama to give up on plans to lead the NDC again
Mr Mahama himself has remained tight lipped on his political future except to say at a recent lecture on “democracy in Africa” in Kenya that; leaders must learn to leave when the applause is loudest. Perhaps, to clear the minds of “doubting Thomases”, the former President only last week reiterated this point at the 2017 Africa Development Conference held at the Harvard University, USA; “you come, you serve, you go. That is what democracy is and should be the principle for Ghana and Africa’s leaders.”
Kingpins of the main opposition party whose names have been flying in the media as flag bearer hopefuls have also not confirm or deny their intentions to lead the NDC into the 2020 elections.
But sources in government say “those whose names have come up are being monitored and will soon have EOCO to contend with. That is the surest way to deprive the NDC of a formidable candidate in the 2020 elections.”