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Opinions Wed, 8 Feb 2012

The Need For Independent “Ndc” Candidates ....

....To Contest The 2012 Parliamentary Elections

By Prosper Yao Tsikata

The NDC at the crossroads.

"HOW WELL WE KNOW WHAT A PROFITABLE SUPERSTITION THIS FABLE OF CHRIST HAS BEEN FOR US" By: POPE LEO X ( K.O.

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The pervasive use of financial and material inducements and the Machiavellian strategies adopted by those in power to cajole delegates to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Electoral College to vote them in the party's primaries should be condemned by all and sundry. The outcomes of some of these primaries across the country leave sour taste in the mouth of many NDC sympathizers, ardent supporters, observers, and democrats interested in the growth of Ghana's nascent democracy. In many instances, it was simply a matter of the man with the deepest pocket who won the day. Any candidate who underrated this influence, believing that it was possible for the delegates to the Electoral College to have acted differently, must have woken up to the sad realities of Ghana's political patronage system popularized by the NPP but now sadly also imbibed by many in the NDC.

In areas of the country usually described as “NDC strongholds,” patronage politics has long-term devastating effects for the development of these areas with implications for other wider socio-economic processes. In the Volta Region, for example, where the phenomenon has been very widespread, it is obvious that the situation has hindered its development fortunes for far too long.

As one observer rightly put it, “even in competitive business environments, Managing Directors and Chief Executive Officers are given the chop when organizational fortunes continue to dip or nosedive, especially if that coincides with continuous increases in the personal emoluments of the leader.”

Extending this mechanism to the political process, all that the ordinary citizens of the land expect from their leaders are education that produce results, health services that have not been turned upside down into death services, and the creation of the enabling environment for each and every citizen to eke his own living without having to be a dependent on others. These are the things that drive the democratic process.

Unfortunately, the current crop of NDC leadership has found it convenient to use the party's Electoral College to hedge their roles in such positions. Paradoxically, in the face of worsening living conditions of their citizens, with standards of education plummeting, water and sanitation crisis continuing to deepen, and unemployment continuing to skyrocket, they continue to increase their own emoluments. It is even malicious for these individuals to now use money and power, through the Electoral College, to foist their mediocrity over the people. There are alternatives and we should all be prepared to show them what the alternatives are when the time comes to stand up and be counted.

To cite a few incidents, in the Keta constituency, where the Propaganda Secretary of the NDC, Mr. Richard Quashigah, contested the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP), Mr. Richard Larsey Agbenyefia, reports indicated that each delegate to the Electoral College received an amount of Gh200.00 from the sitting MP as an incentive to cast his or her vote for the MP. Aware of the implications of this influence on delegates, the Propaganda Secretary of the NDC, Mr. Richard Quashigah, offered Gh250 to each delegate in addition to a small handbag with undisclosed contents. It was simply a show of what the highest bidder had to offer the delegates. To the extent that when one of the candidates, Mr. Chris Ackumey, arrived in his hometown, Anyako and Seva, delegates and folks were condemning him for his inability to follow tradition as the NDC propaganda secretary had done. Observers who had expected policy debates to be the cornerstone of this crucial meeting left the venue disappointed.

In a nutshell, each delegate went away with not less than Gh450.00 or an equivalent of US$300.00. Ironically, this is happening in a part of the country where GDP per capita is many times lower than the national average. Indeed, a conservative GDP per capita in that part of the country should hover around US$200 per annum. The NDC primaries were, therefore, a harvest season for delegates who mortgage the overall welfare of their constituents for the next four years.

The story was no different in the Anlo constituency. The Minister of Sports, Mr. Clement Kofi Humado, who was seen many weeks earlier doling out money to delegates, had a field's day, as his contenders did not have the wherewithal to perform the election ritual. Word also went round that the so-called power brokers of the constituency, whose names and roles would be made available in due course, were also in collusion with some of the influential delegates to advance the grand agenda of retaining Mr. Humado for a third term.

To ensure that nothing was left to chance, the beleaguered NDC financier, Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome and Mr. Dan Abodakpi, who are not Regional executive members of the NDC, became members of its Regional vetting committee, with the former being its Chairman. Interestingly, Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome was accused of intimidating one of the young candidates, Mr. Alex Doe, who seemed to have posed the most formidable challenge to the Sports Minister, claiming some so-called Anlo power brokers had asked him to inform Mr. Doe to step down, according to Doe's aide-de-camp (At the right time we will identify them by name). He went further to play the “age card.” These were his words to the candidate: “you small boy, you want chop MP, huh?”

Consequently, when Mr. Alex Doe was handed a letter disqualifying him from contesting the NDC primaries in Anlo, he already knew that these diabolic men would go any length to ensure their hegemony is protected or held intact after the primaries. Mr. Doe must have been a new kid on the block. He thought by rushing to the courts to secure an injunction he might halt proceedings in order to challenge the decision of the Woyome-led vetting committee. But the injunction did not fly in the face of men united in their machination – the primaries were held and a winner declared.

It also emerged that a candidate was sponsored by Mr. Humado to enter the contest to split the votes to weaken the chances of his contenders.

In another scenario, let's consider a president who is supposedly the “father of all” going public on his campaign trail to endorse a candidate (in this case Mr. Fritz Baffour) in advance of primaries and then proceeding to appoint the same candidate to a ministerial position just three days before what was to be a highly competitive primaries. What did he mean to achieve by such acts? The results of the South Ablekuma are indicative enough that Mr. Fritz Baffour, in spite of all these machinations, has simply lost touch with his constituents (241 votes against 230 votes with all the establishment support?), and 10 good months is a long way to the moon for constituents to consider all the varied shades of possibilities for the 2012 contest. Indeed, it is not going to be a smooth road to paradise this time around!

For reasons above-stated and many glaring manipulations in the just-ended NDC primaries, it is obvious that our constituencies in the Volta Region especially and many others across the country are denied the changes their inhabitants would want to see in the 2012 General Elections. It is, therefore, very essential this issue is taken up, brought to public attention, and to encourage more competent, credible, and community-oriented candidates to come forward to be promoted as independent candidates in areas where candidates to the Electoral College have foisted incompetent, self-centered, and Machiavellian individuals down their throat. The reasons for this action are, therefore, captured below:

I. Failure of the NDC party to heed the popular call by its mammoth members, sympathizers, and the general populace to expand its Electoral College to eliminate or reduce patronage within its ranks to the barest minimum. It is obnoxious that the NDC, a party that claims ideological attachment to the grassroots, would alienate its grassroots from processes to choose their own leadership, while the so-called elitist NPP would expand its Electoral College to extend this opportunity to its members for good reasons.

II. The mistrust, wrangling, and the discredited image of the current NDC leadership make it difficult to even seek arbitration by employing the party structures. For instance, when the former NDC General-Secretary, Dr. Josiah Aryeh, was accused of receiving a bribe of US$3000.00 from Mr. Stephen Nti in the run-up to the 2004 General Elections, he was swiftly disposed of as the party's General-Secretary

(refer: http://www.modernghana.com/news/68048/1/ndc-members-shun-dr-aryeh.html ). Similar allegations are hanging around the neck of Mr. Baba Jamal, Mr. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah who have both been accused on public radio by the maverick NPP politician, Kennedy Agyepong, for receiving monies from him

(refer: http://www.dailyguideghana.com/?p=32952 ). But because the current leadership of the party is lined up with folks whose selfish interest has become larger than party and ultimately Ghana, it is difficult for them to see the damages they have done to their own images and the image of the party. They have reduced the intelligence of all party members who dare speak against some of these reprehensible misconducts of leadership to being simply Rawlings' ideologues. It will, therefore, be imprudent, unproductive, and most of all self-defeatist to even attempt engaging the party hierarchy in some of these important issues.

III. The return of former party Chairman, Dr. ObedAsamoah, who was in alliance with the NPP against the NDC in 2008, and the entry of Major (rtd) Boagye-Gyan, facilitated by the party hierarchy, are examples of how party loyalty, dedication, and support have been sacrificed by those who are supposed to safeguard the tenets that hold any grassroots institution together. These very individuals now turn around to threaten the ordinary party members with expulsion, should they decide to go independent. All dedicated and loyal members who wish to go INDEPENDENT to challenge those who have violated the ultimate principle of fairness and foisted themselves over their constituents through corrupt Electoral College systems should see it as a supreme patriotic duty. The threats of expulsion would not fly in the face of the current dishonest practices that have rocked the party.

IV. Faced with the opportunity to uphold for once the June 4 and December 31st principles of Probity, Integrity and Accountability, President Mills has rather terminated the appointment of Mr. Martin Amidu, who Mills himself thought was good enough to be Vice President in 2000. Rather, Mills, for now has left in office those who the dismissed Attorney General has accused of “gargantuan crimes” against the people of Ghana. This particular development has open bare the moral bankruptcy of the Mills administration for all to see. There are many NDC prospective Parliamentary candidates who would not like to tie their political future to such a failing regime, and may wish to stand independently, so as to not have to defend the indefensible.

V. How will any serious NDC parliamentary candidate defend the poor treatment of its founder to the NDC rank-and-file in the coming 2012 elections? The party goes into the 2012 elections with a father who is officially “homeless” because the “greedy bastards” in the Castle and in the party hierarchy, or shadowy creatures hiding in the dark as Presidential advisers, will not allow former President Rawlings and his wife to be properly housed after their official residence got burned. Some criminal elements within the party even saw it as an opportunity to extort money on the back of his misfortune. How will any NDC Parliamentary candidate who wants the foot soldiers to come out and help him on election day succeed in mobilizing such supporters when they see their political hero so ill-treated by people whose very status, financial resources and political standing depended on him? For many NDC stalwarts, therefore, going independent in 2012 is their only face-saving measure.

I urge constituents across the country, where NDC members would be contesting as INDEPENDENT candidates, to offer them the needed support by creating the needed space for the contest of ideas and policies, a central process in a democracy. These candidates should be bold to espouse their unalloyed NDC credentials, touting their contributions, stating their principles, and the raison d' etre for pursuing an independent agenda. Party unity and loyalty should never be misinterpreted to mean unity to foist evil, corruption, and all forms of manipulation over the people.

Finally, we expect the party founder, former President Jerry John Rawlings, to mobilize his team, the grassroots, and all those who wish the NDC well and would want to see the NDC clean itself of the “undesirable self-seeking elements” who have hijacked the party and government for their own self-fish interest, and to start acting swiftly to avert a total collapse of the party. We are aware any public pronouncement on the part of the former president might divert attention from the unfolding saga, but he needs to act now.

We love the NDC; we pledge to party loyalty and unity; but we do not love our constituencies and Ghana less. Long Live the NDC and Long Live Ghana!!!

Prosper Yao Tsikata

NDC Member and Activist, writing for the Rainbow Coalition.

The Rainbow Coalition of the NDC is an assemblage of individuals who are seeking the restoration of discipline, probity, integrity, and accountability within the NDC with immediate effect.

Prosper Yao Tsikata, Msc.; M.A.; M.S.

Doctoral Student, Health Communication

School of Communication

Ohio University

Athens, OH 45701

Cell: 216 - 316 - 4484

Skype: prosper.tsikata

Columnist: Tsikata, Prosper Yao