Opinions Wed, 8 Aug 2012

Choice Of Amissah –Arthur, NDC, The Russian Model

At long last, the battle has ended; NDC our beloved ‘communist’ party has come out with a relatively unknown Vice-President whom I suspect will become a running mate, in effect given the NPP a good prospect of a technical knock–out come December 7.

After the nomination of Paa Kwesi Amissah- Arthur as Vice- President, a somehow disappointed NDC Diaspora activist who I believe wished it had gone the other way, quizzed, “Has Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana come to the point where one has to be named John to be President and be an economist to be Vice –President?. Why can’t we then change the constitution and have Paa Kwesi Ndoun, Mahamadu Bawumia, Yaw Osarfo Marfo, and Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur all as Vice –Presidents if that is the only way our economy can stabilize”. I want to believe well meaning Ghanaians will forgive him in his frustrations.

Where cometh forth Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur is the million dollar question. With due respect, how many Ghanaians know of him beyond party inner circles? Under which objectives does he come in? To help win a crucial election or to breathe life into the declining Economy? He brings no panache, exuberance, popularity and political plus point that the likes of Hana Tetteh- Kpoda, Spio- Garbrah, Kwesi Botchwey would have brought. The latest charge from a man who claims to be his ex-lover at Mfantsipim school and when he was minister could have a very rough impact on the NDC at the polls.

Does an economist have to become Vice-President to revitalize the economy? Why is that the Central bank Governor and the Finance Minister cannot strengthen the cedi, industrialize Ghana or revive the economy unless they become Vice Presidents and therefore nearly President? Is Ghana now going to seek economists to be their President’s? After all, Kwesi Botchwey was Ghana’s longest-serving Finance Minister without being an economist. What was wrong with Amissah-Arthur staying at the Bank of Ghana, and remaining a member of the President’s Economic Advisory team?? Our NPP opponents will argue that he failed in some respects at the Bank of Ghana, how could he do better at the Presidency.

Or, as another pundit, Kwesi Jonah, put it, John Mahama is displaying his own fear of economics and his anxiety that he will be unable to respond to any heft blows on the economy from Dr Bawumia without an economist inn his own corner. But then, if anything, Amissah-Arthur could have been appointed a Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs.

Has he come to diffuse the Buwumia bluff on our struggling economy? Have we in the NDC forgotten that we are going to an election with a stronger and a more formidable NPP and other opposition parties and not Bawumia as an individual? The questions linger on.

The selection of Comrade Amissah has proven that, our party is sweating on the economic brilliance of Bawumia and is skirmishing to call off his bluff.

It is also out of the ordinary to note that, the President, his advisers and the NDC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) did not consider the popularity of Mr. Amissah in political terms if he is to lead the party to the December polls as a running –mate (which I certainly doubt). I strongly believe Amissah-Arthur is only filling in the void at the Vice – Presidency as the President needs time to nominate a befitting running mate that can bring charisma and generate the votes.

Already, Mr Yaw Boateng Gyan, NDC National Organiser, reflecting the views of most NDC office holders across the regions and constituencies, is of the view that this Mahama-Amissah-Arthur duo will be a tough ticket to sell to the Ghanaian electorate. It is not about how long Mr Amissah-Arthur has been a party man and how long he has been contributing from the backstage. The truth is that it is not every film producer or director who can come from behind the backstage to be a leading successful actor. From what many people know or see in Mr Amissah-Arthur, he is not one who can fire up apathetic NDC voters and angry, neglected foot-soldiers to become more motivated. And, although President Mahama himself may be liked in the Party, his own campaign style is quite soft and laid-back. So NDC will have two softies to promote. Not an easy job.

Nonetheless, we in the NDC welcome him with both arms and are ready to give him our support in whichever way as we get to the December polls.

The NDC party, so viewed in recent time, can be likened to a military organisation. As soldiers obey their commanding officers, so the partisans obey the party and are accountable to it.

Rulers can no more be held to account by their subjects than a general by his army. The opposite doctrine reverses this relationship – it makes the rulers answerable for their actions instead of the people for theirs.

The National Executive Committee failed to note that, the source of authority is the mass of the community who are regarded as fellow citizens (partisans) rather than as subjects. It is they who grant power, they who supervise its use, they who may revoke it.

Authority is not something which a few impose upon many; it is what many temporarily delegate or entrust to a few. But the NDC NEC has refused to bring the masses into decision-making, contrasted with how NPP selected their flagbearer using some 100,000 plus candidates.

In our present predicament, we must recognize that, when a party is founded on the opinion that its authority does not originate with those over whom it is exercised, then alternative source must be contrived. And the likes of Kofi Adams, Haruna Iddrisu, my brother Okudzeto Ablakwa and other youthful faithful must rise up and seize our collective authority from the covetous and power hungry old folks.

Permit me fellow Ghanaians to equate the “Dictatorship in Modern Dress” that has characterized our dear party in recent time to that of the Communists Party of Russia in the 1920s.

Down memory lane, Russian Communists Party did confront this sticky situation three times – after the deaths of Lenin and Stalin and after the ouster of Khruschehev. There are some fascinating resemblances between these episodes – the NDC of Ghana and the Russian Communists Party.(Ref. The Great Issues of Politics by Leslie Lipson, University of California, Berkeley)

Lenin’s death left Russia that had barely survived the ordeals of foreign war, revolution, civil war, and intervention, a Russia that was isolated internationally and was still in the early phase of rebuilding and development. In our Ghana, an NDC government under pressure to develop a country economically tore apart and cocainized by the previous NPP government in meeting the BETTER GHANA AGENDA.

The domestic opposition of the communists was crushed by the communist party which was full of “Old Bolsheviks,” who were veterans of the revolutionary era. Just as the likes of Jerry Rawlings, Nana Konadu, Spio- Garbrah, Josiah Aryee, Kofi Adams and others were crushed by the veterans of the PNDC revolution, the Kwame Ahwoi, Ato Ahwoi, Kwesi Ahwoi, Kojo Tsikata, Dr. Kwesi Bothchwey, who continue to call the shots.

For three years (1924 – 1927) the party was torn by internal arguments about theory and program. In our country also, for three years (2009-2012) the NDC has been in tatters.

Stalin (Prof. Mills) on his part had no theory, but he had two clear objectives. He wanted to build the power of Russia and his own power within Russia just as Prof. Mills wanted to build a Better Ghana and his own power bloc within the NDC with the help of the Ahwois Fante Confederation.

Stalin recognizing Trotsky who led a left wing as his leading adversary, he decided to annihilate him first, just as Spio-Garbrah was considered a threat to a future flagbeareship and was effectively sidelined in Ghana.

With the support of the right wing of his party (the Ahwois Fante Confederation) the power brokers advocated against Trotsky and his adherents policy of “Socialism in a single country”.

In 1927, the party dutifully expelled Trotsky, Kamenev, and Zinoviev (In our case Kofi Adams was suspended and Nana Konadu and Josiah Aryee forced out).

In disagreement now for a five-year plan of rapid industrial development and collectivization of agriculture, Stalin reserved the New Economic Policy and secured the expulsion of Bukharin and then of Rykov. All these, except for Trotsky whom he really feared and drove into exile, just as the Rawlingses were in disagreement with government for the non-prosecution of alleged corrupt government officials which led to Nana Konadu been forced out into forming NDP and the vociferous Spio – Garbrah so feared and sent to political silence.

This, by playing off one group against the other, and picking policies from each side as they strengthened Russia and himself, within a few years, Stalin ruled supreme.

When Stalin died, his heirs confronted a new situation that required delicate handling if their own power was to continue unimpaired and their regime was to advance in strength. In the NDC case, President Mills died and the rush to declare a Flagbearer even before his soul departed him fully showed the burning desire of the power block to clinch to the power they so much treasure.

In the communist party of Russia, few of the “Old Bolsheviks” remained. Practically all those at the top, and everyone in the middle ranks were of the generation that knew only Stalin, in so doing; they were able to maintain their grip on the party power block and elected a new leader.

Coming back home, the present situation of the NDC has been anticipated. It all started when the party won the 2008 presidential election with a marginal over 40,000 votes.

All hands were on deck to spearhead a smooth transition of power. However, cracks started growing in the party when the likes of the universally venerated Ekow-Spio Garbrah and his likes who were core members of the Transitional team were snubbed in ministerial appointments, to the chagrin of the party founder, Jerry John Rawlings, the foot soldiers and well- meaning Ghanaians who saw the act as a disservice to mother Ghana .

Those of us so close to the party could easily read the signals that, the “Old Chucks” harboring fears of the likes of Spio-Garbrah, the prodigal Goosie Tannoh to take the mantle of flagbearership from the ailing President coerced our late President from further highlighting their reputable potentials with any appointments.

This created a public outcry that necessitated aspersions like the famous ‘Team B’ slur.

Then came the Rawlingses descending on the presidency which to them has been soft on the past corrupt NPP government.

Many within the corridors of power capitalized on Rawlings constant outbursts to win the favour of President Mills and in essence made themselves powerful and impervious and at liberty to insult Rawlings, Spio and others with impunity.

As it has become a norm that everyone that comes up to scold the party founder thus calling off his bluff becomes a hero, the rush for recognition gave a clear picture of what we see in our party today.

Factions within the party continue to grow and the likes of FONKAR, Friends of Spio, the Young Democrats in Support of Spio and other divisions continually express their discerning views at the will at which government functionaries depart from the key principles on which the party was founded- the principles of Social Democracy and accountability-- a hallmark with the motto: Unity, Stability and Development.

Efforts that were made especially from some of us in the Diaspora to help control the cracks were ignored by those close to the presidency to the detriment of party unity.

I can recall several calls and communications I made to Alex Bebaako Mensah, Secretary to the President, as well as to the Rawlingses and other party executives to get the party united that did not see the light of day.

Now that we have a new man at the helm, it is prudent we make the necessary “structural adjustment” within the rank and file of the party, bringing the disenchanted groups back before we get to the campaign platform.

By his own words, President Mahama called on the party to unite as Prof. Mills death signifies peace, I want to trust the “Old Chucks” that control the powers, the Russian way, to heed to the call of the President and get on board the Rawlingses, the Spio- Garbrahs, the Goosie Tannohs, the Kofi Adams, and all the other embittered individuals and groups.

They must throw away the avarices and ‘personality cult’ for the interest of the party so as to beget to the new generation of the party a once united party.

It is only a united front that can retain us the power they so much desire. I want to believe with the contribution of all, we can make a significant challenge in retaining the Presidency.

As we get to congress in September, we must as well be honest in admitting the fact that Mr. Kwesi Amissah-Arthur is not popular enough to get us the votes we covet hence we need the popularity, charisma and attractiveness of the Rawlingses, Spio –Garbrah, Goosie Tannoh and even Kofi Adams during the campaigns. We ought not to underestimate the fame and respect the Ghanaian populace has for the Rawlingses and Spio- Garbrah in particular. The later who I believe would strategically attract the votes of the youth of Ghana. NEC must be responsive and recall Kofi Adams immediately if we are not hypocritical in uniting the party.

The NDC can even be stronger than we were in 2008, if we put egocentric tendencies to the ditch, get united and accept fresh strategies and campaign techniques from those who crave for a stable party.

Let us do all we can to get them on board or we live in a chimera or with the figment of our imagination that Nana Akuffo Addo is not destined by God to become president of Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana.

May the soul of President Mills and all Faithful departed rest in Perpetual Peace and may light perpetual shine on them.

Long Live President Mahama Long Live Chairman Rawlings Long Live the NDC Long Live the Better Ghana Agenda

Eye Zu, Eye Za

By: Justice Dansu Shala Contact: justiceshala@yahoo.com

The writer is a renowned Party Activist of the NDC Diaspora nexus group strategizing for the Elections. As a political strategist, the writer has written many articles on the Political situation in Ghana since 2003.He is also a political consultant for several political groupings across Africa. He is also a member of an African Think Tank group on the prospects of a Generation 40/50 group leading Africa in the predictable future which has started yielding fruitful results in Southern Africa, East Africa and parts of West Africa.

Columnist: Shala, Justice Dansu