Following the recent round and brazenly public rejection of President John Evans Atta-Mills by the man who thrice imposed the latter on the now-ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), the major chiefs of the Volta Region, the ethnic and ancestral home of former President Jerry John Rawlings, were reported to have scheduled a closed-door confabulation with President Mills in the old slave castle in Accra (See “Volta Chiefs to Meet Mills” MyJoyOnline.com 4/20/11).
While the Ghanaian public was not given a comprehensive detail of what such circumstantially curious meeting entailed, nevertheless, JoyOnline.com, the original source of the announcement, clearly indicated that the meeting had something to do with “what is becoming an acrimonious flagbearership contest between President Mills and former first lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings.”
Needless to say, we have more than a passing interest in the aforesaid meeting between President Mills and the Volta chiefs, as we have always insisted, against vehement denials to the contrary, that the National Democratic Congress is fundamentally more about the political fortunes of Anlo-Ewes, in particular, and the Volta Region, in general, than it is about the cross-ethnic and national affairs of all people going by the geopolitical designation of “Ghanaians.”
We make the foregoing observation, in part, because ordinarily one would have expected the National Executive Committee of the National Democratic Congress to have been in the vanguard of any significant attempt to resolving any perceived signs of internal dissension and/or tensions within the ruling party. Instead, here we are confronted with the regional membership of an institution that is routinely presumed to be non-partisan and apolitical. We must, however, hasten to add that the man who was widely reported to be leading the chiefly delegation to the Osu Castle was Togbui Afede, the president of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs, and one who is known to represent all that is ideologically antithetical to the very institution whose noble values he purports to represent.
As an active member of several cardinal committees on the transitional team of the Mills government, Togbui Afede made some of the most nationally divisive pronouncements against the then-outgoing Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party government, such as the NPP government having made Togbui Afede feel like a stranger in his own country. Ironically, the latter and some of the Anlo people he represents in the Ho area of the Volta Region would be among the first and prime beneficiaries of the Kufuor-initiated West African Gas Pipeline which, paradoxically, during his campaign for the presidency, the then-Candidate Mills had cynically characterized as “a white elephant” (See President Mills’ third State-of-the-Nation Address).
But that the National Democratic Congress as a political machine is first and foremost an Anlo-Ewe affair may very well be indisputably envisaged in Mr. Rawlings’ recent attempt to turn the entire Volta regional membership of the party against the reelection bid of President Mills and hermetically in favor of the vaulting presidential ambitions of former first lady Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings. We intend to more roundly take up the latter issue in another article. Suffice it, however, to observe here in passing that the unsavory politicization of the Volta chiefs, particularly those from the Anlo-Ewe part of the Volta Region, by Mr. Rawlings cannot be either in the long-term interest of the NDC as a legitimate national political organization, or Ghanaian political culture at large.
Still, we must also, for the sake of fairness, at least on the face of it, hasten to add that the meeting of the Volta chiefs with President Mills may have had more to do with the laudable attempt by these invested traditional rulers to publicly dissociate themselves from Mr. Rawlings’ rather crass and infantile attempt to cannibalize and/or commandeer the electoral mandate of the entire Anlo-Ewe membership of the National Democratic Congress in favour of his wife. But whether having perennially toed the invidious political line of Mr. Rawlings, Togbui Afede and his ilk would be able to so readily and easily let themselves off the hook, remains to be seen.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and the author, most recently, of “The Obama Serenades” (Lulu.com, 2011).