Why the NDC Must Pause and THINK!

Sat, 18 Jun 2011 Source: Dadson, Ewurabena

Why should the NDC take time off to think? Why rock the boat at a time when everything seems so comfortable?

After all, the NDC is “in power.” It control the governance of Ghana. A lot of positive things are being done and many people appreciate this. President Mills is well-liked for his personal modesty and decency. He and the NDC have a fair chance of winning the 2012 elections.

So if some of us feel a need for a stronger leadership, WHY NOW? Why not wait for 2016, when Mills will step down and there will be no risk of splitting the NDC?

If we wait, it will be too late. By 2012, there will be little difference between the NDC and any other self-seeking party. The flame of social justice and selfless service which illuminated the birth of the NDC will have dimmed or even gone out.

Many of those who flocked to support the NDC have been growing increasingly disillusioned and lukewarm in their support. Some of them make embarrassed and half-hearted excuses, such as, “It’s not Prof’s fault. It is some of the people around him.” Others have withdrawn altogether.

This said situation is not something that has suddenly happened since December 2008. It has been gradually creeping into the NDC for a long time. We can all point to individuals who gave years of dedicated voluntary service during the 1980s, but who, on being elected to Parliament after 1992, suddenly put on, together with their well-tailored suits, an air of pompousness and excessive concern for fatter emoluments and car loans. Some NDC functionaries failed to remind themselves that they were in danger of becoming the very same type of elite “establishment” power brokers against whom they had revolted in the 1980s!

Only constant reminders from President Rawlings held these negative tendencies in check until January 2001.

Eight years of the NPP’s “Property-owning Democracy” let loose a torrent of institutionalised greed which did the same moral and social damage to Ghana as “Reaganomics” and “Thatcherism” did to the USA and the UK in the 1980s.

There were some within the NDC, including some of the “old hands” as well as newcomers who climbed on the bandwagon, who watched the NPP’s plunder with secret interest. Whilst publicly condemning what they saw, they were privately thinking, “Just wait until it is MY turn!”

Indeed, their turn came with the NDC victory in the 2008 elections. A few individuals were bold enough to say openly to those whom they assumed to be of like mind, “Now is our chance to make money.”

With this cancer growing within the NDC, the first priority of the leadership should have been a no-nonsense call for a return to the party’s first principles, in order to reassure the NDC rank and file that there would be no compromise on probity and accountability within their party. Only this can provide the moral authority to check wrongdoing outside the party.

Unfortunately, this has not happened. Instead, there is a pervasive air of defensive cynicism among many government and party functionaries. Relatively minor officials drive around with outriders and sirens, just to go from home to office. Mistrust hangs over dubious procurement procedures. Genuine NDC supporters who criticise, even privately are ostracized. The disappointing outcome of the government’s rather feeble effort to prosecute those responsible for the blatant corruption perpetrated in connection with the 50th Jubilee “Celebrations” was not due to a bad or biased judge. It was caused by lazy legal “experts” who could not be bothered to draw up an appropriate legal basis for the Commission set up to enquire into “Ghana@50”, and instead saved time and effort by simply copying whole chunks of Kufuor’s “Reconciliation Commission.” As a result, evidence adduced by the Commission *could not* be used to convict those responsible in court. This was not the fault of the judge, who was compelled to rule by law. It was the fault of a sloppy administration.

A recently published book on life in Northern Ghana humorously alluded to the daily scene in many northern villages of pigs scavenging for food on the local refuse dump. According to the author, the current nickname for these pigs is “Assembly Members,” and their activities on the dung heaps are referred to as “Looking for contracts.” This might seem funny, but it is a tragic indication of the low esteem into which the local government system has fallen in the eyes of ordinary people.

Former President Kufour was accused of nepotism because too many of his relatives were placed in positions of authority. Surprisingly, though, there was little criticism in the case of his brother who was made a Minister. The reason is that the brother was capable and well-qualified and was seen to work hard without flaunting his family connection.

Under the present government, many people both within and outside the NDC are dismayed to see the brother of the Vice President, although he holds no official position, behaving as though he holds special access to the corridors of power. A very successful contractor (who indeed, made a lot of profit from the “property-owning Democracy”), he has no need to exploit his family relationship in order to succeed in life. Many people wish that the vice President would take his brother aside and say, “Look here,Bro, you are not helping my reputation. Why don’t you concentrate on your profession and do so in a way that does not create an impression that you are receiving special favours or status.”

If the Vice President does not do this, it is the responsibility of President Mills to advice him. But how can he, when a special position has been created for President Mills’ own brother?

The two and a half years of the Mills administration have seen many commendable actions, especially in the provision of economic and social development, both in physical infrastructure and in services. Nobody can deny this.

But what of the *character* of the government and the party? Is the NDC losing the image of a clean, efficient, disciplined, selfless and principled party whose members *live by *the principles, which they claim to uphold. To many, it appears that this has become mere idealistic rhetoric, to be brought out when convenient, whilst behind the scenes, all is not well.

If many of the NDC faithfuls are sad and uneasy, it is because they yearn for a leadership which is bold enough to confront the weaknesses within the party and to firmly and decisively bring it back to first principles. They are tired of dubious compromises and “expediency.” Whilst they appreciate new roads, hospitals, school buildings, etc etc, they also know that these are no substitutes for the shining spirit of integrity, which used to illuminate the NDC.

Change always comes at a cost. But if we avoid or try to evade change, the longer we wait, the greater the cost will be.

The greatest cost to Ghana will be if we do nothing and the NDC keeps on trying to convince itself that everything is fine, cosy and comfortable, until it gradually becomes just another bunch of power-seekers and money-grabbers.

I rest my case!

Ewurabena Dadson


Columnist: Dadson, Ewurabena