By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Friday, November 24, 2011
I have chosen to be the devil’s advocate and will say aboveboard that the NDC is digging a deep grave fort itself. As its functionaries engage in misguided actions and the government continues to lose public goodwill because it can’t fulfill its electioneering campaign promises, the party will eventually come face-to-face with reality, probably when it will be too late to make amends. It is poised to suffer a fate likely to be worse than what has afflicted the pro-Nkrumahist political family all these years.
Too many people in the NDC are consumed by ambitions that threaten the collective interests of the party. One of such characters is Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, a Deputy Minister of Information.
Even before he settles down to do what he thinks will pave the way for him to contest the Parliamentary elections in the Tongu Central constituency, I want to tell him that he has chosen to embark on a path that will not serve anybody’s interest. At most, it will only deepen the NDC’s woes and confirm the ill-fate that is caused by decisions of the sort taken by him.
Support for the NDC in that constituency has never been threatened by any misguided political gamble and miscalculation as the one being initiated by Okudjeto Ablakwa portends.
Although the current MP, Frank Hodogbe, may not be so outspoken and well-placed in the corridors of the Executive arm of government, he has been doing what he possibly can to serve the interests of his constituents. We haven’t had anything from the Central Tongu constituency to suggest that he is a liability or that the NDC is losing support because of him and should be kicked out the way Okudjeto Ablakwa is seeking to do.
Okudjeto Ablakwa has several problems. He might have weathered the storm arising from allegations of his being an NPP functionary prior to being uplifted to his current status but his slate is not yet clean. All those who matter in that Okudzeto family are known as anti-NDC, if he cares to know.
I have my doubts if Okudjeto Ablakwa really knows the constituency into which he is making this foray. I want to remind him that the people in that constituency still remember what his uncle (Sam Okudzeto) meant to them when he represented the Tongu Constituency under the auspices of the National Alliance of Liberals (NAL) in the 2nd Republic and created a bad name for himself. The people punished him when he attempted representing them in the 3rd Republic by rejecting him, going for the PNP’s William Dowokpor instead.
An Okudzeto has already created a bad name for that family in that constituency. It will take more than a political neophyte like this Okudjeto Ablakwa to redeem his family’s image. Let him not waste whatever perks his office (as Deputy Information Minister) has yielded on bribing anybody as he seeks the consent of the people to represent them in Parliament. From what has circulated so far, if greasing palms is what he thinks will win him the day at the NDC’s primaries, he will have a rude awakening.
On the other hand, if he succeeds in kicking out the incumbent MP, the NDC will have itself to blame in the final analysis because a win for Okudjeto Ablakwa at the primaries means a huge loss to the NDC itself. Certainly the incumbent MP and his tens of thousands of followers who have shown massive support for the NDC all these years will advise themselves. They will either turn against the NDC or not vote at all. Does Okudjeto Ablakwa think that those to vote for him at the primaries outnumber the electorate whose vote the NDC needs in that part of its “World Bank”? He will be extremely foolish to think so.
Obviously, the NDC’s plate of worries is already too full to the brim to warrant circumspection. Adding more to those worries will tip the plate over to the party’s disadvantage. That is why ambitions of the kind that Okudjeto Ablakwa and others thinking like him (e.g., Fiifi Kwetey and others in the NDC’s strongholds) should be addressed and curtailed because they endanger the party’s interests.
We are not talking about denying these political neophytes the chance to stake their luck but we are talking about the best sane approach toward consolidating the party’s hold on constituencies that are pro-NDC. After all, under our political dispensation, every citizen in good status has the right to compete for any public office; but if competing for public office will not be in the interest of the very party that the person purports to be a part of, then, common sense demands that such an ambition be nipped in the bud before it festers to destroy the party’s political fortunes.
In the recent primaries held by the NDC in so-called “orphan constituencies” (where the party lost the previous elections), indications were clear that all did not go well. We’ve read reports about the anger roused in some of the NDC contestants who felt that they were given a raw deal. The wife of the NDC’s National Chairman was reported to have been so embittered at the outcome of the elections as to threaten voting “skirt and blouse.” Others like her have their own beef; but the long and short of it all is that they and their supporters are likely to decide not to root for the NDC.
The party’s support base risks dwindling. It isn’t as if the NDC is likely to win Parliamentary seats in constituencies that have traditionally aligned with the NPP (in the Eastern and Ashanti Regions, particularly). But it suggests that the more embittered its own supporters in those areas are, the more likely it is that they will either abstain from voting or vote against the party in protest. Either move is dangerous to the NDC’s cause. In a democracy, numbers count a lot.
If we flip this situation over to look at is reverse, we will see a more daunting problem that confronts the NDC. And that problem exists in the constituencies that are already in the hands of the party but which are being threatened by people like Okudjeto Ablakwa and Fiifi Kwetey who have chosen to challenge the sitting MPs.
I see no need for anything of the sort, regardless of what their plans for those constituencies may be. Unless there are strong grounds to confirm that the sitting MPs have failed to perform well and created animosity for the party in those constituencies, there is no need for anybody to ruffle feathers.
Some of the current MPs (Doe Adjaho, for instance), seem to have lost faith with their constituents and will need to be replaced. But where no such problem exists, it is only politically wise for the NDC not to field others to torpedo the current MPs. Anything to the contrary will have two effects on the party: it will split its own ranks and lose the support it needs to either retain the Parliamentary seat in those constituencies or to win with a wider margin. Winning with a wider margin in the case of the Presidential Candidate will redound to the party’s interests; but if the new faces emerging to ruffle feathers in those constituencies are allowed to hold sway negatively, the situation will change for the worse.
Here are some of the problems already threatening the NDC’s chances at the 2012 elections:
• Discontent among Ghanaians that the government is not doing enough to solve their existential problems, which is a clear indication that the high costs of utility services, school fees, etc. have already angered them. Such people will not be easy to persuade for their vote to renew the government’s mandate;
• Persistent discontent among public-sector workers against their conditions of service;
• Discontent among the people all over the country that the government has failed to fulfill its 2008 electioneering campaign promises (Consider the Andani-Abudu impasse, for example);
• Disquiet over the government’s manner of handling national affairs, which is encapsulated in only one word, “incompetence”;
• Apprehensions that the government isn’t fighting against bribery and corruption in its own circles;
• The NPP’s negative politics against the government, which, to me, is the least worrisome. After all, that’s how politics is done, and no one will expect the NPP to sing the government’s praise unless it doesn’t want to return to power.
There are many more issues that suggest that the government is not really in the good books of the electorate.
How about the damaging internal wrangling that has not only divided the ranks of the party but also portrayed it as weak and unstable, which detracts from its public image? The electorate will have no desire to retain in office a party that cannot solve its internal problems and has allowed it to spill over to cause apprehensions in national life.
Despite the retention of President Mills as the party’s flagbearer, the dust-storm that the pre- and post-Sunyani Congress set in motion is still spiraling. The constant expression of disquiet from the pro-Rawlings camp and the vitriolic rebuttal by the pro-Mills faction confirm that the bad-blood relationship still persists. As to what implications such internal wranglings have for the party, no one needs a diviner’s skills to know.
Right away, then, the NDC is at risk. Whether it manages to withstand the pressure or not will go a long way to determine its viability and ability to appeal to the electorate. The cloud that is hanging over the party as a result of the ongoing internal confrontations is really dense and will thicken all the more if the Rawlings camp refuses to participate in the electioneering campaigns or if it chooses instead to do so from a negative perspective by continuing its scathing criticisms of the Mills government. The more it makes wild allegations against the government to vilify it, the better chances are that it will be doing the homework for the NDC’s opponents and weakening its support base among the electorate.
Against this backdrop, it is suicidal for anybody in the NDC to do what Okudjeto Ablakwa has set in motion. It is not to say that he (or others seeking to dislodge the incumbent NDC MPs) doesn’t have what it takes to be an MP. It is just that he is not the one to solve the problems of the constituency that he is eyeing. Gradually, the NDC is working seriously toward dimming its own light and shouldn’t blame its misfortunes on the NPP’s misinformation campaigns if it loses power. Elections are not won through madcap politics of the kind that these NDC political novices are wasting time and resources on.