President Mahama, listen to the cries of your own people (Part II)
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Thursday, July 18, 2013
The President is enjoined to make such appointments in accordance with Section 243(1) of the 1992 Constitution and Section 20(1) of the Local Government Act 1993, Act 462. Nobody doubts the enormous powers vested in him by the Constitution. He can exercise these powers as he deems fit, but it will be politically suicidal for him to think that he can exercise such powers without recourse to the barometer reading concerning the sentiments of his own party’s members. After all, he is in office because those party members put their shoulders to the wheel to mobilize support for him at the elections. These are the very people not to annoy.
Apparently, Sarpong might be so full of himself and be over-bloated with the political power injected into him by his being appointed and shifted around as a Regional Minister. But at the end of the day, he and the appointing authority cannot enjoy their status without the total backing of the very people being undermined. What irks me the most is that these are the very people that they will rush to at election time to do the dirty work for them to remain in office. And in office, they think they are on top of the world.
These negative developments also reflect on the NDC itself, which reminds me of the internal crisis that shook the party long before the 2012 general elections and the frantic efforts made to patch up differences. Although a common front had been forged to ensure victory for the party at the general elections, the internal crisis isn’t over. It has only been massaged to the point of allowing for the garnering of votes. Everything points straight to the fact that that crisis still exists.
Apparently, the clipping of the Rawlingses’ wings seems to deceive some that the party’s woes are over. They are not. The Rawlingses may no longer be the be-it-all-and-end-it-all in the party or they may not be jumping on President Mahama as they did to the late President Atta Mills but it doesn’t mean that all is well within the party. The fact that they no more be the potentates that they had been before being neutralized but they still command a good following within the party and can depend on them to muddy the waters if need be.
And that good following is made up of cadres of the party (the foot-soldiers) who are now up in arms against the nominees at the District, Municipal, and Metropolitan Assemblies. Sadly, these are the very people on whose shoulders the party hangs for survival. These are the very people who sacrifice their lot for party work but end up not gaining anything when victory is won.
They are the very people who do the dirty work for the party’s leaders at various levels, risking their lives and resources without necessarily expecting to be compensated. After all, they are not motivated by the kind of greed that propels their leaders at the various levels—constituency, regional, national. They do so because of their commitment to a cause that they have identified with and defended with their sweat, blood, and tears ever since the Rawlings phenomenon registered itself on the Ghanaian political map.
Most of these cadres are in the rural areas and know how to make ends meet without necessarily being at the beck-and-call of the powers-that-be. They have been so all these years and not wavered. Had they not been so, there would have been little left of the NDC. These are the people whose voices are loud and clear today that they don’t like the imposition of these nominees on the Assemblies. Unfortunately, their voices are not being heard.
A major problem that the NDC has failed to solve over the years is this tendency to disrespect the sentiments of the cadres, especially after they have been exploited for political power to be gained. The spate of demonstrations and acts of indiscipline that characterized the government-cadre relationship under ex-President Mills clearly explains the extent to which this problem has calcified in the NDC.
Under President Mahama, it is still evident. The street demonstrations in Tamale, Wulensi, and other areas—leading to the destruction of the NDC’s paraphernalia and property—is the direct upshot of that problem. When these cadres can no more bottle up their sentiments, they resort to such physical acts. After all, when the hearts if full, the mouth speaks!
I am disappointed that President Mahama has not been proactive in this area to listen to the cries of the very people whose toils put him in office—and who are determined to back him all the way to 2016, regardless of the NPP’s petition challenging his legitimacy. Everything points to them as the backbone of the NDC and it doesn’t make sense for them to be maltreated or treated with scorn.
Nobody is saying that the President should be subservient to such people; far from that. But it makes sense for him to keep his doors open so they can reach him with their grievances instead of taking to the streets and being “physical”, which runs counter to what democracy entails.
Regardless of whatever the motivation for rejecting the President’s nominees may be, one fact stands out glaringly for attention, which is that most of the complaints verge on incompetence, corruption, and arrogance on the part of those regarded as impositions.
We have been given to know that those nominees have served a term already and proved not to be the problem solvers that the people are looking for. What is it that should make the President retain them in office? Is it because they are the only viable people in the NDC or the various communities? Or that they contributed more toward retaining President Mahama in office and must be compensated with the re-appointment?
Clearly, those kicking against the nominees are the real observers of their performance and attitudes and should be given the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think that they are against the retention or appointment of these CEOs out of spite or jealousy. They are doing so because they have genuine concerns that the President should have listened to long before the official announcement on their nomination.
No grassroots consultation took place in some cases. In others, where such consultations were done, the line got distorted and those fingered for appointment were sidestepped for new faces that are unknown. Several examples exist, but one is Delphia Fafa Agbai, who has been nominated for North Tongu. Evidence exists that she wasn’t part of those interviewed for the position. So, how come that she was brought in after the interview had been concluded to be appointed?
Allegations are rife that some people have bribed their way through. Others are that some considerations verging on immorality and nepotism influenced the choices made by those responsible for the nationwide interviewing and recruitment of the personalities to head the Assemblies. It is the usual Ghanaian thing, which casts a huge doubt over the integrity of the government machinery.
All said and done, the implications are dire, and President Mahama has to place his best foot forward to prevent any worsening of his relationship with his party’s base in these communities. If governance should ensure the improvement of conditions for enhanced living standards, it shouldn’t be a tug-of-war affair in the choice of CEOs for the Assemblies. A proper groundwork could be done in consultation with the various stakeholders in the various districts, municipal and metropolitan areas so the best candidates can be identified and given the job. What is too difficult about this approach to scare anybody?
I want to say at this point that the ongoing demonstrations against the President’s nominees don’t speak well of the President himself, especially in terms of his governance style. A lot of thinking has to be done to address the problem so President Mahama can continue to retain his accolade as an “affable” personality. Ghanaians respect him for all that he is and he must not allow what is happening at the local level to tarnish his image and detract from his political worth.
It is only a celebrated fool in the NDC who will not cringe at the impact of these goings-on. More intriguingly, it is only a certified dunce in the party, especially in its high echelons, who will do things to worsen the government’s credibility problems and rejuvenate the party’s own internal crisis.
As the situation stands now, unless the President moves fast to undo the harm that his action has done, there will be no other option for the aggrieved people to “advise” themselves, which will simply translate into losing confidence in him and choosing to be apathetic to his cause. Is that what he needs at this time? And is that how to grow our democracy? I don’t think so.
I shall return…
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