John Dramani Mahama should contest for president for the NDC in the 2020 General Elections. * Read below Press Release;
CENTER FOR PROGRESSIVE GOVERNANCE (CenProG)
Credible and Accountable Opposition: The Way FORWARD for the NDC
The Center for Progressive Governance (CenProG) having followed closely happenings in the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), in the aftermath of their loss in the 2016 general elections, and the possible effect on Ghana's democracy, has done an assessment on the way forward for the party.
The assessment takes a look at certain factors that have the possibility of affecting the party's electoral fortunes and then CenProG provides a verdict based on findings from a research conducted after the NDC lost the elections.
The CenProG assessment on the way forward for the NDC is as follows:
1. JOHN MAHAMA'S SECOND TERM BID
CenProG agrees with a section of the NDC supporters that former President John Mahama represents their best chance in the 2020 elections but disagrees strongly that no one should contest him in the party's presidential primaries. A healthy internal contest will be a win-win situation for the NDC because it will dispel the notion being pushed by the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) that the NDC is short of Presidential material hence their over reliance on John Mahama. President John Mahama travelling to meet with the grassroots to canvass for their votes will be good for both his presidential candidature and the spirit of the grassroots and so going unopposed in the party's primary should be the last thing the NDC pushes for.
There is also a section of the NDC supporters who believe that John Mahama should not run for the Presidency again and allow for a fresh face. CenProG believes these calls are genuine if the NDC is looking beyond the 2020 elections.
CenProG's verdict: The decision to contest the party's primaries should solely be left to President John Mahama to take. No persons or group of persons should force such a decision on the former President, for the consequences will be dire in whichever case. The NDC should try to conduct a healthy primary and not be too worried about who or who doesn't emerge as flagbearer.
2. THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE PARTY
The Executive Committee from Constituency to National have tried without success to absolve themselves of blame for the NDC's electoral defeat. The NDC must collectively accept the blame for the loss and their executives played varied roles in that. The use of the biometric register for the party's presidential and parliamentary primaries was not thought through as evident by the number of parliamentary seats they lost. The NDC should have piloted with the presidential primary because their candidate was going unopposed and stuck to their very tried and tested delegate system for the parliamentary primaries. Using an untried system heading into a crucial election left them exposed and with little time to correct the flaws.
CenProG also noted that the NDC prioritized some parliamentary seats over the Presidential elections and hence the reluctance to send resources to certain constituencies. The worst of it was the unwillingness of certain constituencies and regions to facilitate the travelling of voters from their constituencies/regions to others because they were fixated on only helping people who were coming to vote in their constituencies/regions.
CenProG rejects the claims of neglect being used as a defence for their inefficiency by some executives of the NDC. The party gave birth to the government so it is a clear admission of failure if an executive's defence for his/her inefficiency is the neglect by government. How then is this executive going to be of help to the NDC in opposition?
CenProG's Verdict: Most of the NDC's executives have no business leading the party and so the party should take steps to bring on-board very committed and competent hands if they are to return to power anytime soon. Wholesale changes of executives may be required in certain constituencies but the party must strike the right balance between new and experienced faces. The power to amend the NDC's constitution is vested in Congress and so any such amendments should give the executives more powers rather than make them weaker. CenProG advise that the party's National Executive Committee (NEC), going forward, should exercise all discretionary powers devoid of biases.
3. THE PARTY'S FOUNDER
The NDC's constitution is very clear under article 6 as to who the founder of the party is. Former President Rawlings continues to enjoy a lot of support from members of the NDC but lately he has had to swallow his own bitter pill of 'Positive Defiance' from most of the people whose support he has enjoyed over the years. Both the NDC and former President Rawlings need each other and CenProG believes it is in both their interest to bury the hatchet and look for the way forward.
Some utterances of the party's founder especially in the last elections did not augur well for the NDC. Coming from someone considered to be an inside man, his comments carried weight and the NPP rightfully made good use of any such commentary by President Rawlings. However, Mr Rawlings must note that his relevance in Ghana's politics is tied to the survival of the NDC with or without him and so whatever affects the NDC directly or indirectly affects him. His inability to call National Council meetings due to his stance and relationship with members of the council of which he is chairman should send a signal to him that he ought to change some of his ways.
CenProG's Verdict: The NDC can win elections with or without Rawlings if only President Rawlings is not all over the place trying to run down his own party. CenProG advises the NDC to amend its constitution to allow for National Council members to elect a chairman with a defined tenure rather than the founder being the lifelong chairman. So that there would be a body in place to arbitrate between the founder and party whenever the need arises.
The party should take steps in the meantime to mend their relationship with the former President so that he is measured in his attacks against his party. On the other hand, President Rawlings should take a cue from President Kufuor in how the latter handles issues, with regards to his party, in public.
4. THE PARTY'S IMAGE
The NDC would like us all to believe it is a social Democratic party and that it is the party for the ordinary folks. In recent times, however, the party is only socialist by mouth but not by deed as most of the upcoming members of the party do not even know the tenets of socialism. An NDC Government no longer pursues vigorous pro poor policies and so the socialist claims no longer sell.
The NDC has also subconsciously ceded being elites to the NPP as if being an elite is a bad thing. The NPP has gradually equated being an elite to being a literate and/or more intelligent and so more and more graduates/students feel much more comfortable aligning to the NPP. For a socialist party, being considered as 'ordinary' would ideally be a good thing but the 'ordinary' parent/grandparent is more likely to be swayed by the 'elite' son or daughter. This has contributed enormously to the massive good will the NPP enjoys from Ghanaians.
The NDC's continuous and seemingly endless banter with the media, civil society and even some religious leaders have not augured well for the NDC's electoral fortunes because there are a good number of people who are of the view that this group of people hold objective views and so any attempt to discredit them would rather end up spiting their unrepentant followers.
CenProG's Verdict: The NDC should commit resources to the establishment of their proposed party school so that they can really impart socialism into their members to ensure that the party demonstrates socialism by deeds. CenProG admonishes the NDC to make good use of their large pool of professionals in various fields to make it attractive to graduates/students. This can be done by encouraging such professionals to take up leading roles in the party going forward.
The NDC must be committed to accommodating the views of some religious leaders and rather not fire salvos in return. They can gradually work overtly and covertly to win the sympathy of these people especially in opposition. The same approach should be adopted in dealing with civil society groups and the media.
After CenProG's assessment of the 100 days of President Akufo-Addo's government, not a lot has changed and so the NDC could be on its way to the Presidency if they put their house in order.
It is CenProG's believe that the best path to reclaiming power from the NPP is for the NDC to provide credible and accountable opposition.
God Bless our homeland Ghana and make it GREAT and STRONG.
Sawadogo Mahmoud Executive Secretary, CenProG 0504607005
Mallam Yahya Mohammed Executive Director, CenProG
Cc: The National Democratic Congress (NDC)