Who can lead NDC into Victory? JM or Alabi?

Ndc Umb NDC would be in serious trouble if it does not put its act together immediately

Sat, 8 Jul 2017 Source: Mavis Jonah

A divided political party rarely win Presidential elections, and if that holds true in the next elections, then the NDC would be in serious trouble if it does not put its act together immediately.

The party division and divisive parliamentary primaries had significant influence on the performance of the NDC in the last elections. This is the time the party needs leadership and character.

The threat of NDC disintegrating is higher when it is divided. Factionalism only serves to undermine the party’s mission to meet the needs of the people.

The differences as one party, one alliance and one national democratic revolution is paling in comparison to the imminent onslaught that awaits the party if it continues to fight over what divides it.

There is growing speculation about a possible return of Former President Mahama to contest the next NDC primaries and the new entrant, Professor Joshua Alabi. Though the NDC is endowed with many people with presidential qualities, it needs a candidate and a leader who can unite the party to ensure victory in the 2020 elections. And it looks like a two-horse race between these two Tamale boys.

These two aspirants have several things in common and the main difference between the two is that one is a unifier, a game changer, a team player and a boss player who does not fear to crack the whip, whilst the other does not want to harm a fly, hence consistently indecisive and laissez-faire attitude. JM’s (as former President Mahama is affectionately called) father (Mr. E.A. Mahama) was a minister in the Nkrumah’s regime and later a businessman and a farmer. He established the Mecilo Rice Mills in Tamale.

Alabi’s father at the same time was a mechanic and a successful commercial rice farmer (Angenu Farms) in Tamale. He received several awards including a grand medal as a farmer during the Acheampong regime. Both families respected each other and are revered in Tamale.

JM and Alabi are both Soviet-trained. Alabi was the NUGS president for two consecutive terms in the former Soviet Union as well as NUGS Europe president for one term.

They both entered Parliament in 1997 but Alabi lost in the 2000 elections in which the NDC lost to the NPP. JM was re-elected in 2000 and 2004 elections as an MP until he was nominated to be the running-mate to the late Professor John Evans Atta Mills in the 2008 elections. In the NDC regime (1997-2000), JM was first appointed a deputy minister for Communication and later promoted to a minister of the same ministry by the then President Rawlings and Alabi was appointed as the Greater Accra Regional Minister and later Northern Regional Minister and brought back as the Greater Accra Regional Minister.

They both distinguished themselves in their ministerial positions. In opposition, JM distinguished himself as a Member of Parliament and director of the NDC’s communications team whilst Alabi also distinguished himself as the Greater Regional Chairman and member of the National Executive Committee of the party. Alabi was also the chairman of Greater Accra reorganization team and later the campaign manager of late Professor Mills’ campaign team in the 2004 elections.

Alabi's elevation to the position of the Deputy Head of the then Institute of Professional Studies (IPS) now UPSA in 2005 compelled him to withdraw from frontline politics and operated from behind the scenes. Professor Mills chose JM as his running mate for the 2008 elections.

At the time JM was being sworn in as the vice president in January 2009, Alabi was taking office as the substantive rector of the Institute of Professional Studies. And later appointed the chairman of the Accra Polytechnic Governing Council and the Ghana Book Development Council by President Mills.

When JM became president by default as a result of the demise of President Mills and subsequently won the 2012 elections, JM appointed Alabi as the chairman of SSNIT board in 2013, a position he held until NDC lost and handed over power to the NPP in January 2017. Alabi also completed his second term as vice chancellor of UPSA in January 2017.

Just as the two buddies and frontrunners in the NDC leadership race, they have their strengths and weaknesses.

JM is financial entrenched and has developed a financial empire that can sponsor his campaign. But if money was the only determining factor in winning elections, then the NDC would have won the 2016 election, just as the NPP would have won the 2008 election.

JM is perceived to be popular by virtue of the fact that he was the vice president and president. But did the popularity transformed into votes? And why did he lead the NDC into the greatest election defeat in the fourth republic?

Though JM is a good orator, who can talk fish out water, but not to garner votes to win him an election. President Mahama became president by default and had all the resources including state machinery and yet led the party into a humiliating defeat. The NDC lost close to one million votes.

He presided over the division NDC in the last elections will be making a wrong move if he attempts to lead the NDC into 2020 elections because he will exacerbate the in-fighting in the party that is likely to lead to the disintegration of the NDC. I doubt if President Mahama would have had guts to contest the primaries if President Mills had served his two terms.

It was under the leadership of JM that the NDC was framed as the most corrupt government and his immediate family members, including his brothers and wife and the family have been accused of engaging in dubious deals with impunity. JM will be an excess baggage for the NDC. At best he should rather support the NDC candidate.

Party members who are against the candidature of JM are not enemies of the party. When everyone in the NDC understands this reality then the NDC will start to recover from the damage of its past.

JM will attempt to masquerade the primaries as a contest of principles, others will perceive his ambition to come back as the conduct of public affairs for private advantage. If JM becomes the flag bearer, NDC will always be on the defensive. An opposition being on the defensive all the time cannot campaign on its manifesto.

The NDC under the leadership of Alabi presents a better chance and hope for the NDC. The political party is like a football team. If the team manager is giving all the resources including the best players and yet team fails to deliver, the manager has to resign or be fired.

Alabi, on the other hand, is joining the race on a clean sheet and a track record from his little corner. He transformed IPS into one of the leading public universities in Ghana to the admiration of many including JM. This earned him several awards for his leadership qualities and visionary leadership. Information available reveals that JM's camp are doing their best to find faults of Alabi not only at SSNIT where he chaired the board but the institution where he worked in his lifetime (UPSA). Interesting times ahead

Though Alabi may not have the financial muscle and the incumbency “advantage” he will be a link between the North and the South, youth and the elderly, the old and the new guards of the party. The old guard were literary abandoned at the expense of found friends who do not have constituencies.

Alabi is perceived to be as “zongo boy” and a grassroots and has no corruption label on him. Alabi has a better chance of leading the NDC to victory in 2020.

Apart from his leadership qualities, he cannot be framed negatively as was and still done to JM. JM has a slim chance of leading the NDC to victory in 2020. NDC under the leadership of JM would be smeared with several substantiated and unsubstantiated corruption allegations and labels.

Ghanaian elections as any other is often determined by floating voter and these floating voters will be swayed by the integrity of a party’s leader. Alabi has a better chance of wooing the floating voters and rejuvenating the enthusiasm of party loyalist and the cadre front. If JM announces his intention not to contest the Ndc primaries more names would come out and is what some believe JM is trying to avoid.

Politicians should know when to bow out. JM should be seen to be contributing towards uniting the party by not contesting the primaries. Those behind the scenes pushing him to contest are doing for their selfish interest of push him into political liability.

Columnist: Mavis Jonah