By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Sunday, December 21, 2014
The 8th delegates’ congress of the NDC has just taken place at Kumasi, producing very intriguing issues worth our bother because they carry weight. Although many issues cropped up, we cannot engage all of them and will settle on only those that have dire implications for our democracy. These issues can be categorized into two: those that affect the collective interests of Ghana/Ghanaians and those that have particular implications for the NDC as a political party.
Let me itemize those issues to create a broad framework for the series of analyses that I will do about them in the various opinion pieces I intend writing to highlight crucial aspects of governance within the framework that the NDC/government is operating:
1. Issues of interest to Ghana
• Scathing criticism of the Mahama-led administration’s performance by Ivor Greenstreet, General Secretary of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), and the rumpus that his verbal attacks have provoked
• Arrest of 9 Azorka Boys by the police
2. Issues related to the NDC
• Abolition of the position of Propaganda Secretary and establishment of a Communications Directorate
• Claims by former President Rawlings that the NDC administration and party officials are part of the problems confronting Ghana and must own up and help solve those problems
• Call by Rawlings to his wife (Nana Konadu) to return to her political family (the NDC)
• Outcome of the elections
I will now isolate these issues for comment, beginning with the speech delivered at the congress as a “solidarity message” by Ivor Greenstreet on behalf of the CPP, which the National Chairperson of the party (Samia Nkrumah) quickly hailed as reflective of the concerns or will of Ghanaians. She consequently endorsed the contents of that speech.
Here is what Greenstreet is reported as saying that:
• it was unacceptable that the NDC was meeting to elect new leaders, when it should have been meeting to re-evaluate its policies, which he said had plunged the country into an economic mess.
• “…Currently nobody, I mean nobody is feeling your better Ghana. Continuous ‘dumsor dumsor,’ corruption from top to bottom, left right inside out, and all the challenges you are facing are suffocating the Ghanaian people.”
• “We would have thought that perhaps you may have used an occasion like this to discuss policies, programmes and solutions to all the difficulties we are facing as a nation, but no, you chose today to share your Christmas gifts with each other.”
• “Ghanaians are not happy at all. This ‘bronya’ is dry. Too too dry… The most painful thing of all is that you don’t care.”
• “NDC continue, we are watching you, Ghana is watching you, do what you want to do, we also know what we’ll come and do…make sure you’ll elect executives who will be able to steer your parties affairs when you are in opposition. Boys abr3.” (See more at: http://graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/35800-sam-george-elevation-comment-about-ivor-greenstreet-sparks-outrage.html#sthash.YHprmKYL.dpuf)
Greenstreet’s “solidarity message” may be regarded as stinging or stinking, opportunistic, or appropriate, depending on whom the cap fits!! He exercised his democratic right of freedom of speech to say what he wanted to say, and should be appreciated as such. Now, what should be done about his message? Discarded as the rants of a disappointed politician or as a nudge in the rib for the government to sit up?
In a quick response to such a scathing and daring verbal attack, President Mahama said, among others, that only people with selective myopia would not see the good works of his government. He made it clear that it wasn’t his responsibility to cure such people of their “selective myopia”. Clearly, the President’s reaction is a veiled disgust for the CPP man’s vitriolic attack on his personality (with the “You don’t care” pinpointed accusation of insensitivity and callousness).
In responding to Greenstreet, NDC communicator, Sam George, posted on his Facebook page that “Ivor Greenstreet apparently needs some elevation to see the Better Ghana”. Critical comments condemning this comment—(mis)construed as a direct attack on Greenstreet’s physical disability (he is confined to a wheelchair) have surfaced; but George has stood his grounds, explaining that his comment had nothing to do with Greenstreet’s physical handicap. He said that by his comment regarding “elevation”, he was only calling for an elevation in the CPP man’s thinking. Here is where ambiguity comes to play. Brofoyedru ampa!!
Taking on Greenstreet from another angle, the Majority Leader in Parliament, Alban Bagbin, said that at the time that he was criticizing the government and the NDC, Greenstreet was possessed by a demon.
Now, here come the main issues arising from Greenstreet’s “solidarity message”. Some NDC buffs are highly incensed that he would abuse the opportunity to undermine the government and their party that way. More so when he brazenly made those scathing comments to the face of President Mahama, Vice President Amissah-Arthur, ex-President Rawlings, delegates of other political parties, and all those gathered at the ceremony to wish the party well.
They are unhappy that Greenstreet chose the wrong moment and occasion to let loose his vitriol, clearly because the timing was bad. The occasion was for solidarity messages, not stentorian condemnation of the government.
How far such sentiments will go cannot be determined for now; but I assume that Greenstreet’s scathing criticism cannot be isolated from all that political opponents of the government have been saying all this while. He chose the moment to place the political noose around the government’s neck as a continuation of the agenda to undercut the government in the hope that it would win some favour for the CPP and others in opposition. That is what partisan politics is all about—close-marking the party in power and kicking it around when the opportunity arises.
What would make the government/NDC expect commendation from its political opponents, anyway? To regard Greenstreet’s comments as a nuisance to be disregarded will be the height of costly childishness. To launch a personal attack on him will only work against the government/NDC’s interests in the long run. A sober and mature reaction to those comments will help the government re-align itself to the aspirations of the people. There is much going on in the public domain that doesn’t redound to the government’s political fortunes. Can anybody be truthful, for once, to admit this fact so amends can be made? That’s all that Greenstreet is suggesting; not so?
Within this context, and granted that what Greenstreet said isn’t anything new that we haven’t heard before, it is better for President Mahama and the NDC to act in a mature manner so they don’t play themselves into the hands of their bitter political opponents to be further damaged in the eyes of the public.
Self-control is required at this stage so Greenstreet’s criticism can be taken in good faith as an eye-opener, no matter how bitter the pill he has forced down throats may be. Equanimity is also required to guide all. After all, if the government is not told such concerns in a language that it can understand, it may continue to be deceiving itself that the path that it is cutting is straight all through.
The government/NDC need such bitter criticisms to wake them up. That is why I want to advise President Mahama and his team to thank Greenstreet for baring it all, no matter how much venom he must have injected into them for saying it as he did. The good part is that once he has let it all out now, the government must know how the barometer swings. Then, if it can do a proper reading, it should be guided in how it does things henceforth.
What Greenstreet said may be difficult to stomach—probably because this is the first time that an invited party representative has turned a “solidarity message” into a poisonous political campaign bait. Never has it happened before that the representative of a political party at such an event could behave the way Greenstreet did. But he did it and was immediately supported by Samia Nkrumah.
Probably, the CPP may feel justified in going that way, having nursed serious grievances at the NDC for being the principal architect of its sorry political fate. The NDC has poached more CPP-oriented elements than the NPP has done. In truth, it can be said that the NDC has virtually invalidated the pro-Nkrumahist front and will not be spared in any encounter.
I have all along said that I see a lot of commonalities between the NDC and the pro-Nkrumahist family, which warrants the absorption of these Nkrumah hangers-on into the NDC. The only thing separating these pro-Nkrumahists and the NDC is the fact that it will continue to be impossible for the pro-Nkrumahists to regain political power in contemporary times while the NDC is quick at opening its doors to all political elements to boost its chances.
The NDC is flexible and more prone to growing than these mushroom parties placarding pro-Nkrumahism but not doing anything to grow. Thus far, the NDC has grown to dislodge both the pro-United Party and pro-Nkrumahist camps, becoming the mainstream political force in Ghanaian politics. That is an enviable accomplishment for which it won’t be forgiven by those constantly disparaging it at will. But their pejoration is vain.
I wish to advise President Mahama and his team to see Greenstreet’s comments as a precursor to the issues that political opponents will harp on to create anxious moments for them. Winning Election 2016 will not depend solely on how many development projects the government has provided. A lot more will go into the electoral decisions to be made.
That is why I don’t see any need to begrudge Greenstreet what he sad. Instead, he should be embraced and encouraged to let out more of those sentiments, which will then turn out to be the compass to guide the government and the NDC on their political journey into the future. So much said for this controversy sparked by Greenstreet. Other issues demand analysis.
I shall return…
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