Swapping horses in midstream won’t help the NDC

Sat, 28 Nov 2015 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Folks, I have read a news report headlined “Replace 'incompetent' Veep with Adjaho—V/R Group” and immediately got angry beyond measure. According to the report,

“A group calling itself Volta Youth for Development, which claims to be non-partisan, has issued a statement describing Vice-President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur as an “incompetent” deputy to President John Mahama, and called for his replacement with Speaker of Parliament Edward Doe Adjaho.

Leader of the group, Prosper Fofo Ndekor said Tuesday that President Mahama and the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) risk losing the 2016 general elections if the former Governor of the Central Bank is retained as running mate.” (See https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Replace-incompetent-Veep-with-Adjaho-V-R-Group-396617).

My immediate reaction was to insult Ndekor as the biggest fool walking around. His is the highest level of inanity in matters regarding the future of the NDC and should be disregarded for a number of reasons:

1. This fluffy group has no constituency anywhere in the Volta Region to warrant its being listened to. No one in the Volta Region but Ndekor considers this group as worth his/her bother. In other words, it is a group that should be disregarded for all that it is and seeks to fight for.

2. The group’s agitation is motivated more by tribal feelings than any serious intellectual assessment of the role of the Vice President. What is the basis for their characterizing Amissah-Arthur as “incompetent”? How have they appraised his performance to jump to that conclusion and to ask that he be replaced with Adjahoe?

3. What has been Adjahoe’s own performance as a politician since he began doing national politics (not to mention the local version)? Of course, he had been MP for the Ave-Avenor (Akatsi) area for many years; but his long service can’t be said to be sterling in terms of his performance. He hasn’t done as well as his constituents would want him to, which often led to agitations for his rejection during the primaries. Burt he managed to sail through. And we all know how politicians of his sort do things to serve their narrow purposes.

4. A Speaker of Parliament, Adjahoe’s performance can’t be said to be stupendous or that he has excelled to such an extent as to be uplifted as is being mooted by Ndekor and his amorphous group. Those who know Adjahoe will tell you that he has the tendency to be autocratic and not as affable as the President and his Vice are known to be. Adjaoe loves power and if care is not taken, he will over-do things to cause trouble for the NDC. I won’t go for him.

5. When then Vice President Mahama succeeded ex-President Mills, he didn’t choose Amissah-Arthur as his Vice just because he was a Fante or to please anybody with Fante sentiments (although some rumours circulated to that effect). He did so because he knew Ghana and the NDC had a lot to gain from him. And he has proved it so far. So, why toss him overboard just because of the ill-feelings of some disgruntled elements who have too much time and too little to do?

Back to my claim that the group’s agitation is purely motivated by tribal sentiments. There has been a feeling that because the Volta Region constitutes the political reservoir of the NDC, it must be compensated with the Vice Presidential slot. I have stood against this kind of porous claim, clearly because I hate tribal politics, especially if it is done at the expense of commonsense and good political thinking. If Adjahoe is behind this agitation, he should desist forthwith in order not to jeopardize his own political future—whatever will be left of it by the time his term as the Speaker of Parliament ends.

I challenge him to dissociate himself from this call by Ndekor and his group for us to know that he is not instigating them to embark on this useless venture. If he fails to do so, I will revise my notes on him.

The NDC administration has believed in continuity since Rawlings’ era and shouldn’t bow to any pressure to complicate matters and erode its support base. President Mahama has made it clear that for all these years that he has known and worked with Amissah-Arthur, he will stick his neck out to defend him as duty-conscious, hardworking, disciplined, and whatever else that he admires. He recently repeated that accolade and even sent Amissah-Arthur to pick up and return his nomination form for him. He didn’t do so because he saw Amissah-Arthur as a glorified messenger to be sent on a fool’s errand and discarded when the mission is accomplished; that is, when he (President Mahama) got the nod of the NDC followers to contest Election 2016.

He did so with the full conviction that he respected and regarded Amissah-Arthur as a trustworthy lieutenant with whom to man the ship of state. The going may be tough but it doesn’t mean jettisoning him just because a group of ill-informed and ill-intentioned elements think that he is “incompetent” (borrowing the NPP’s vacuous buzz-word for political mischief).

I urge President Mahama to disregard agitations of this sort and move on to Election 2016 with Amissah-Arthur, a well-known technocrat, economist, and politician. He may not have the kind of charisma that others have exploited to get their bread buttered; but he has attributes that far outweigh charisma. Those who know him will testify. I have known him since he was the Deputy Secretary for Finance and Economic Planning under Rawlings and will always respect him for his professionalism and decorum. He is not the yapping type, which may deceive ignorant people of Ndekor’s type to misconstrue his political rhetoric or performance in office.

At this time in the preparations toward Election 2016, the least that anybody can do to move the process forward should be done. Those who think that the challenges facing the government can be traced to the “incompetence” of Vice President Amissah-Arthur should be ignored to stew in their ignorance.

All things said and done, those advocating his replacement with a female are equally mischievous. Take the empty talker (Dr. Richard Amoako-Baah of the KNUST), for instance, who is suggesting that President Mahama could consider substituting Amissah-Arthur with a female, possibly Ms. Hannah Tetteh (Minister of Foreign Affairs) or Mawuena Trebarh, CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC). I categorically dismiss Dr. Amoako-Baah’s suggestion as irrelevant. He should go and preach that poisonous message to Akufo-Addo and his wobbling NPP team.

I support strongly the stance of a senior official at development NGO ISODEC, Dr. Steve Manteaw, who has said that the fact that the country is facing economic challenges does not suggest Vice-President Amissah-Arthur is a poor performer because the country's problems are not his creation. His witty question underscores it all: "Who changes a winning team?"

And as he elucidated, "The two of them (President Mahama and Amissah Arthur) went for the contest in 2012 and won; and, so, I don’t expect President Mahama to make a change. You don’t fix it when it’s not broken.” Good observations.

Let it be known now and forever more that unlike other situations where we heard of a constant friction between the President and his Vice (whether between Rawlings and Kow Nkensen Arkaah or Prof. Mills; whether between Kufuor and Aliu Mahama; or the rumoured one between Prof. Mills and his then Vice, Mahama), the relationship between President Mahama and Vice President Amissah-Arthur has been more than cordial and satisfactorily productive. Nothing has cropped up for us to suspect that they have a frosty relationship (mostly if there is a turf war in terms of bread-and-butter—the spoils of office).

Vice President Amissah-Arthur is not known to have offended anybody in the NDC to warrant his being contemned and discarded. He is the gentleman that Nature has made him. In performing his duties, he ensures that he doesn’t step on toes unnecessarily just because he is vested with power and authority. He is not known to have over-extended himself to become a nuisance. So, why put him on the line this way, Ndekor and Co.?

Claiming that he is not visible on the national scene is porous. Vice President Amissah goes wherever he has to go to do government business. He is very much visible in the international scene too, unlike what happened under Kufuor when Aliu Mahama was pinned to Ghana while Kufuor hogged all the foreign trips.

In assessing the performance of Amissah-Arthur, one has to consider a lot more than Ndekor and his group are doing. And any honest assessment of his performance will reveal that he remains an asset to President Mahama, the NDC, and Ghana. Folks, I rest my case for now.

I shall return…

• E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

• Join me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/mjkbokor to continue the conversation.

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.