Clean your own house too, Dr. Kwabena Adjei

Thu, 16 Sep 2010 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

September 12, 2010

The NDC Chairman, Dr. Kwabena Adjei, has drawn enough anger from those who don’t like his recent utterances concerning the Judiciary. The dust has refused to settle on this matter and he may be gnashing his teeth that his seemingly harmless cry for the Chief Justice to cleanse the Judiciary or have the NDC purge it has aroused so much uproar and now sent him on a collision course with the Police.

While trying to remove the mote in the eye of the Judiciary, Dr. Adjei seems to care very little about the beam in his own (and the party he chairs’) eyes. A careful appraisal of the situation within the NDC suggests that Dr. Adjei and his cohorts are superintending over a house that is being shaken to its foundation by self-created problems. This house itself needs much cleansing before anybody can trust it to cleanse the Judiciary, if ever.

The NDC is full of issues that are too obviously troubling to gloss over. It is a house divided along many fault lines that deepen each passing day. The emergence of the Real Democratic Patriots Party in Sunyani may be watered down by the NDC’s leaders as a mere storm in a tea cup; but Cubagee’s manouevres cannot be dismissed outright as a mere itch. It is a clear manifestation of the goings-on in the party that threaten its viability, especially between now and the 2012 elections.

The national chairman of a party in power will do more than look on while the various factions pull at each other’s throat and damage the party’s interests in the eyes of the electorate. Yet, Dr. Adjei sees nothing worth his bother in this case and looks far beyond to identify the Judiciary as a problem for the NDC and its government to worry about. In other words, in Dr. Adjei’s perception of issues, a clean Judiciary will pave the way for the NDC to perform better than it has done so far. What a warped viewpoint, if it were so! The NDC’s problems go beyond the doorsteps of the Judiciary.

The persistent intra-party wrangling that has cracked the party’s ranks and given rise to identifiable factions is a major problem that demands urgent solution. One would have expected Dr. Adjei to focus his attention on these internal problems and make efforts to solve them so that the NDC could stand firm. He hasn’t done so. Instead, he is looking elsewhere and treading on dangerous grounds while his own house is crumbling right in front of his eyes. What sort of party chairman is this?

The NDC seems to be a helpless victim of its own political fortunes. Over the years, it has suffered much from the imbalance of forces in its own ranks. First, it was Goosie Tannoh and his group that broke away from it to form the National Reform Party; then, Dr. Obed Asamoah took away a faction to form the Democratic Freedom Party. Now, Cubagee is threatening the ranks of the party with his inchoate RDPP. The problem here is that Cubagee seeks to attract so-called Rawlings loyalists—and there are many of them, apparently dissatisfied with President Mills’ style of governance.

Although the breaking away of these elements hasn’t dashed the NDC’s hopes of remaining as a formidable political party, there is ample evidence that their actions have damaged the party’s interests. At least, they have added to those of the party’s die-hard opponents to demonize it in the eyes of the electorate. Floating voters may not be attracted to such a party. But the party needs their votes too. With this negative backlash, how much more does anybody in a leadership position in the NDC need before realizing that something drastic has to be done to prevent the party’s constant loss of face?

In no other period has the danger to the NDC been as pronounced as it is under the Mills-led administration. From the damaging criticisms that the party’s leaders (including former President Rawlings) have launched against the Mills government and the vitriolic propaganda by the NPP to the extent that the Mills government has failed to perform well, it is clear that the stage has already been set to determine the fate of the NDC at the 2012 polls or even before that occasion.

In this context, there are only two options left: either President Mills changes his approach to governance (injecting some dynamism into his politicking) or his government performs better to deliver the goods that Ghanaians are clamouring for. The first option may disabuse the minds of his critics that he is “slow” but will be difficult for him to accomplish. It is no exaggeration to say that John Evans Atta Mills is not charismatic, although he has qualities that recommend him to his admirers. Does he have the capacity to change overnight an innate character trait to be able to prove to his own party members that he is a competent, action-oriented leader? I wonder.

The second option carries along a hydra-headed landmine. In trying to satisfy the electorate, can the Mills government take the next two years to do what others couldn’t do in eight or more years? Any attempt to fulfill all the campaign promises that he led the NDC to make before the 2008 elections will create more problems than he can tackle. But will Ghanaians be patient, accommodating, and unforgiving enough to allow him a second term in office? Or will his own NDC give him the benefit of the doubt to field him again? Danger looms large.

Dr. Kwabena Adjei and his cohorts must see this “rot” in their own party and work hard to clean it before attempting to take on grandiose projects such as cleansing the Judiciary. Doubtless, some of us will hate to see back in office the “property-grabbing” NPP politicians—wearing their characteristic Tema Station black coats over brown trousers and white shoes! A well-organized NDC front and a well-performing government can hold them at bay.

That’s why the NDC leadership (at all levels—local, constituency, regional, and national) must work hard to give the party a better public image. They must not dissipate their energies, fighting among themselves or against each other. There is nothing to gain from that kind of head-butting. It is important for them to understand fully the implications of their negative attitudes that have caused and deepened the gulf between them. If it is because they think that they are not getting as much dividends (in terms of material benefits) from the government that they toiled hard for their party to form, then, they are lost. It is better for the government to work for the benefit of Ghanaians than satisfying the whims and caprices of a few party functionaries. After all, those who voted to put the NDC in power far outnumber those craving for any gravy from the Osu Castle and protesting in consequence.

The NDC’s main problem, which Dr. Adjei appears not to know, is that it is too much fixated on Rawlings. An enduring political culture will not be based on a mere mortal being nor will it be built on a personality cult. It is only politically immature people who will deceive themselves that they can exploit the names of politicians (dead or alive) to actualize their own political fortunes. This problem is fast destroying the NDC, and Dr. Adjei must work hard to clean this dark spot.

The NDC must consolidate itself on a reliable political ideology. The Social Democracy that it has chosen should be clearly pruned and woven through the party’s fabric for all its functionaries to know and accept as the only hallmark. This ideology must not have any room for a personality cult. Unfortunately, the situation is not so for the NDC. It is unable to rid itself of the Rawlings factor, which makes the party a victim of one man’s charisma.

The paradox is that this charisma of Rawlings shouldn’t have hamstrung the NDC; but it does at many levels, as we can see from the manner in which those rooting for him are rocking the NDC government’s boat day-in-day-out, especially in re-echoing Rawlings’ sentiments.

Rawlings himself seems to care little about this danger. He should have moved to a higher notch in his political life after ruling for almost two decades. But he hasn’t. He is still perched at the lower levels with the “strongman” mentality, flexing his muscles and exuding the very militant spirit that launched his “revolutionary” political career many years ago.

Politics in Ghana after him has taken a different turn that cannot be rewound to ingest that kind of “revolutionary fervor.” With the determination to manage their political lives through the mechanism of the ballot box, Ghanaians have indicated their strong resolve to do things as prescribed by the Constitution. There is no room for a “strongman” mentality, which Rawlings should have known by now. But he hasn’t, which is the NDC’s jigsaw puzzle.

Rawlings hasn’t grown politically as one would expect him to. Had he done so, he would have foreseen the futility of attempting to impose his will on the Presidents who have succeeded him. He wouldn’t have been in a vain battle with these successors to call the shots for them to govern as he would wish. He would have seen the futility of his attempts to foist off his ideals on them. That these successors have resisted those attempts and virtually reduced him to a pitiable character in the political equation is a clear demonstration of his stunted political growth. Were the issue to end there, no one would complain. But it doesn’t.

Rawlings has turned his dagger inwards and is stabbing at the heart of the NDC. With the persistence of the party’s internal problems, the picture is gradually emerging that the NDC is obviously reaching out for the long rope with which to hang itself at the polls.

These are damaging issues that Dr. Kwabena Adjei and his cohorts should concern themselves with instead of biting off more than they can chew. The Judiciary may have its own problems (as a human institution) but Dr. Adjei and his team must not attempt cleaning it through the mechanism of the NDC. As things stand now, it is the NDC itself that needs cleansing.

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.