Opinions Mon, 7 Sep 2015

Why has NDC Leadership Gone Bonkers Over George Boateng?

Mr George Boateng, the Oyarifa Constituency Youth Organiser of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) intends to challenge President John Mahama for the party’s Flagbearer to represent the party at the 2016 Presidential Election and heaven has broken loose within the NDC leadership with torrent of insults from those who ought to know better.

So, what is NDC afraid of and why is the leadership scared of Mr Boateng’s candidature? This is analysis of the irrational and undemocratic responses to Mr Boateng’s decision to contest the incumbent President.

The first point of call for any Ghanaian who wants to contest for president whether as independent or candidate of a political party, is Article 62 of the 1992 Constitution because one must satisfy the requirements set out in that article before embarking on such important national task. Otherwise, any such ambition would just be a dream. The next stage if contesting on behalf of a political party must be the requirements set out by the party. However, in this case non fulfilment of the party requirements would not automatically end the ambition as the person can always go independent if s/he satisfies Article 62 criteria.

As far as George Boateng is concerned, he appears to satisfy Article 62 requirements and therefore qualified to contest for the President of the Republic. He is also not only a member but a Constituency Executive Member of NDC and therefore qualified to seek and gain the party’s Flagbearership nomination. So, why the hue and cry within the NDC leadership? Is it simply because the leadership wants President Mahama to go unopposed and if so, is this the best way to achieve that goal?

I do not believe that NDC leadership is merely opposed to Mr Boateng challenging President Mahama because it wants a coronation and not a competition but the hostile reaction is for other reasons. First, the leadership believe that George Boateng is smokescreen and sponsored by outside forces such as the leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and former First Lady, Nana Kondau Agyeman Rawlings. Second, they are also aware that Mr Boateng if allowed to contest in the primaries could cause collateral damage to both President Mahama and the party and potentially dent their chances in December 2016. Last but less important is for the party to claim that the President’s achievements are such that no one challenged him and unlike Nana Akufo-Addo who was contested by six others. It is for these reasons that all the NDC arsenal of verbal missiles has been turned on George Boateng to shoot and destroy him beyond resuscitation.

But has the strategy been effective? Absolutely not. In fact, it is having the opposite effect and given Gorge Boateng more publicity that he does not deserve. He has been interviewed by BBC and now known globally, which would not have been possible had the NDC leadership not attacked and insulted him in unprintable words. Had the leadership kept quiet and allowed him to make a fool of himself, he would have withered into insignificance with his presidential ambition suffering stillbirth syndrome.

What is bizarre about NDC leadership reaction is that, George Boateng will not secure the support of all the ten Regional Executives to endorse his nomination form so that alone will disqualify him even if he could afford the filing fee of GhC 50,000. The fear that Mr Boateng causing irreparable damage to Mahama if allowed to contest the President is therefore, at best, the fear of the unknown. In any case, whether he accuses Mahama of being a failure or not is insignificant because he has no clout within the party, neither is he a force to reckon with in Ghanaian politics.

On the other hand, should personalities like Spio Garbrah, Hannah Tetteh or Alban Bagbin challenged and accused President Mahama of being a failure and that is why s/he is contesting him, NDC as a party should be shivering but not someone who until his intention became public, no one had heard of him. In fact, anyone from within the NDC who accuses President Mahama of being a failure to beat him at the primaries will only be digging his/her own grave at the national polls because it would be difficult for that same candidate to persuade the electorate that the previous NDC leader failed so vote for me and I will not fail. It may make sense to NDC members but not Ghanaian the electorate.

Moreover, whether NDC likes or not, President Mahama’s challengers in 2016, especially, Nana Akufo-Addo will accuse him of being a failure because he has failed to improve the lives of Ghanaians and the economy is in worse shape than he inherited from the late President Mills. Dumsor has killed many businesses as well as jobs and despite numerous assurances, dumsor is no near resolution. The cedi has depreciated faster under his watch and all these are against the background of additional revenue from oil. Last but certainly not the least, corruption by politicians is at its apex. These are not secrets and surely President Mahama will have to defend his stewardship for the last six years and that is what is important and not what non entity Goerge Boateng says.

Instead of sober reflection, NDC leadership has turned this into a circus, comedy of tragedy and abusive competition. Different explanations have given including the form paid for and collected by Mr Boateng not signed by Mr Asiedu Nketia and therefore not valid, the form being a copy or a draft and others. Two employees who received the fee and gave out the nomination form to George Boateng are dismissed. Is that how a national/ruling party is mismanaged and disorganised?

The above speak volumes as to what is happening to Ghana’s economy and the lack of seriousness in resolving dumsor which would have improved the economy considerably and contribute to the cedi’s appreciation in value against the dollar. The Bank of Ghana’s quantitative easing of dollars to support the cedi is ineffective because without the backing of productivity (goods and services) more dollars into the finance markets only benefits speculators as well as increase money supply causing higher inflation. Speculators can just change cedi into dollars and take them out of the country, resulting in dollar shortages and more pressure on the poor cedi and further depreciation.

The gospel fact is that, NDC as a party does not believe in democracy and competition. What is happening is undemocratic and in fact, a violation of Civil and Political Rights enshrined in the 1992 Constitution. They are ridiculing themselves with the name calling and causing more damage to the party’s image than George Boateng would have done. The leadership of the National (Un)Democratic Party should bow down their heads in shame for how they are handling this matter. George Boateng is no threat to President Mahama but only the proverbial nuisance fly.

NDC can prevent George Boateng from challenging President Mahama at the party’s primaries through machinations but they should remember that they cannot stop Boateng from going to court to place an injunction on the November 7, 2015 National Delegates Conference. That would be more embarrassment to the party and could cause them not only financially but even votes. For example, an independent voter who is a true democrat and considering voting for NDC in December 2016, will be put off by the undemocratic and uncouth behaviour by the party leadership. There could more of such voters in their hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands. These are potential votes NDC could lose through this pantomime by the leadership.

There is an Akan saying in Ghana that, when one is in the bathroom and a naked insane person steals your clothes and runs away, you must first find alternative clothes to cover your nakedness before going after the naked insane person in the streets to retrieve your clothes. Otherwise, no one will notice the difference between the two of you since both of you are running naked in public. That is exactly what the NDC leadership has done in this instance. The leadership accused George Boateng of being insane but they are equally insane through their responses so what is the difference between insane George Boateng naked on the street being chased by sane but naked Asiedu Nketia, Koku Anyidoho and others? In Ghanaian parlance, they are all mad.

Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK
Columnist: Ata, Kofi