General Secretary of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu Nketia, has said that former President Jerry John Rawlings is too old to campaign for the NDC, as the party seeks re-election of President John Mahama.
He admitted that the NDC would go into the 2016 campaign without President Rawlings, who founded the party, but claimed that the ex-military leader was in the ‘background’ doing some work.
The absence of the former president on the NDC campaign trail in recent times has been so conspicuous that it has become the talk of the town.
Apart from Cape Coast where the NDC launched its national campaign in August, Mr Rawlings has not been seen at any major campaign event, including the manifesto launch of the party in Sunyani in late September.
He refused to endorse John Mahama when he attended the NDC Cape Coast campaign launch but asked the party supporters to wait till after the elections before he would go round the country ‘to rebuild the party.’
Insisting that the party’s founder has not been sidelined, Mr. Asiedu Nketia, fondly called General Mosquito, preferred to play the age card of Mr. Rawlings to justify the founder’s non-involvement in the NDC campaign of late.
“If Jerry is your father will you pull him to campaign at this age?” he asked on Joy FM recently, pointing out that the party was content to engage the agility of the younger ones “whilst he (Rawlings) stays in the background” to proffer counselling.
He said, “We have benefited from the toil of this man so at this age he needs to rest for those he trained to do the work.”
The NDC was able to wrestle power from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in 2008 largely due to the untiring efforts of President Rawlings.
Akofa Segbefia, a communication expert and associate of the former president, did not take kindly to Mr. Asiedu Naketia’s comment and said any attempt by the NDC to relegate the ex-president to the background on grounds of old age would be disastrous for the party.
He told Joy FM recently that “Jerry Rawlings is one person who cannot be put in the background.”
Mr Segbefia added that “he is the founder of the NDC, the daughter is contesting a parliamentary seat on the ticket of NDC and the wife is a founder of a party (NDP) so the thread of allegiance should be of concern. I do not know but if he has been contacted, I think people will speak to the issue else any form of argument will only be conjecturing.”
Cape Coast Sermon
When he attended the party’s campaign launch in Cape Coast in August, ex-President Rawlings, used the occasion to warn the party against ‘mimicking’ the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
“This campaign is going to be a challenge and more demanding,” he said, adding, “I can tell you that the NPP can’t be underestimated. You know it and I know it…Mimic them as some of us are doing and we will run into problems.”
Mr Rawlings rather used the platform to call for a clean campaign.
Ex-President Rawlings had said that the December 7 contest is not an easy one and added that the NDC had become weaker because it abandoned its core values but it could not fight the NPP without its values.
Warning the NDC about the threats posed by the NPP, the former president said, “The nature of who they are, what they are, where they have come from is something they are happy with and they will be there for a long time.
“The calculation I want to put before you is that by virtue of who and what they are, their character and mannerism, will necessarily give rise to what you and I are in the NDC. In other words, by virtue of who we are and where we have come from, how we came about into being, I keep saying that we cannot afford to fight them on their terms.”