GHANA: Is Sunyani Nana Konadu’s Damascus? – Asks Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

The writer, Dr Michael J.K. Bokor
Certainly, the Sunyani Verdict has shattered Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings’ dreams of high-echelon politics and bruised her ego. So jolted, it must go without saying that she will find it difficult to outgrow that misfortune. On the flip side, however, the Sunyani Verdict has turned out to be the eye-opener, a defining moment, and a Damascus experience for her.

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In writing to criticize her for seeking to dislodge President Mills as the NDC’s flagbearer for the 2012 elections, I adduced several reasons to argue that she isn’t the solution for the NDC’s internal problems or the government’s challenges as far as public perception of its performance is concerned. Deceived that she was in the good books of the NDC’s delegates, she tried to force a river to flow upstream. Thank God, she failed in that bid, forgetting the common saying that clothes put on while running come off while running.

Yet, her husband, former President Rawlings, still insists that she is the appropriate candidate and that for denying her the opportunity she had sought, the party stands to suffer tremendously. In an interview with the BBC yesterday, he raised five main points:

• that the NDC will face grave consequences in the general elections as a result of fallouts from the party’s Sunyani congress;
• that the government orchestrated the unfortunate hooting of Nana Konadu at the congress and will pay for it;
• that he and his wife have taken a break to do what he described as “serious thinking”;
• that his wife will write a book on what transpired at the Sunyani Congress; and
• that he and his wife will never quit politics as long as injustice prevails in the country.

These issues are mind-boggling. Some faint-hearted NDC functionaries may view these utterances as demoralizing or as a harbinger of unpleasant things to happen to the party. Those who are familiar with the ebb-and-flow of Ghanaian politics won’t bat an eyelid.

Of all these utterances, Rawlings’ disclosure about his wife’s intention to write a book stands out for comment. The rest don’t really matter to me because they have no value. Had the Rawlingses been less self-righteous and not too wrapped up in themselves, they would have been pervious to reasoning and done otherwise than rush head-on into humiliation. They would have known that the Sunyani Congress would not be in their favour and Nana Konadu would have abandoned her quest. But they didn’t.

That Nana Konadu lost the election and will write a book about the July 8–10 Sunyani Congress is assuring. As Rawlings revealed, she will repair to the background within the period of the book project. Her being out-of-sight will then become an out-of-mind for us. If writing a book is what will help her re-engineer herself, then, I ask her to do more of it.

I encourage her to concentrate on that project, to remain in the background, and give us some peace of mind. She has a lot more to write about for us to know what happened in the nearly 20 years of her husband’s rule and her own part in it as the country’s longest-serving First Lady. Many events—both good and bad—happened in that period and must be brought into the open.

Her effort throws a big challenge to Rawlings himself. If he can turn to writing his memoirs, he will have less time and energy to continue worrying himself about Ghanaian politics. Nana Konadu’s intention is good and should provide the much-needed prophylaxis or therapy to help the Rawlingses live and let live.

Like Rawlings himself, Nana Konadu may choose not to quit politics, but she risks functioning from the periphery henceforth unless she smooths the rough edges of her political life and re-engineers herself to merit any future frontline role in the party. Both she and Rawlings need to come to terms with the reality of contemporary Ghanaian politics to be able to fit into the NDC’s new agenda of Social Democracy. Unless they do so, they will continue to hit the brick-wall and blame everybody but themselves for their fate.

If the NDC is to be voted down, it will be because it has failed to satisfy the electorate. It won’t be because Nana Konadu was rejected at Sunyani. If they think that the government is an “enemy” and continue fighting it, they shouldn’t make any noise if the NPP returns to power to take them on.

I think that the Sunyani Verdict is strong enough to confirm to the Rawlingses that the party wants to move in a new direction. It doesn’t suggest that the lid has been placed tight on their involvement in national politics.

They still have every opportunity to contribute to governance, provided they will submit themselves to the authority of the party and its government. That’s where their problem lies because they have found it difficult to accept the fact that the party can’t appeal to the electorate if it remains fixated on the Rawlings personality cult.
If divesting itself of that image is what Rawlings feels will cause the NDC’s doom at the polls, so be it. The government’s fate is in the womb of time. After all, the country and Ghanaians need effective leadership, and if the electorate feel the incumbent isn’t living up to that expectation, they will be right to show him the way out of the corridors of power. Ghanaians won’t retain such a President or non-performing government in office.

Indeed, Ghanaians don’t really care which party rules them. But they care very much which government will solve their existential problems. To make utterances suggesting that the NDC has the right to remain in power (and can do so only through Nana Konadu) smacks of shoddy thinking on the Rawlingses’ part.

I want Rawlings to “grow up” and stop deceiving himself. He may still insist that he and his wife will not cease doing politics for as long as there is injustice in the country; but he will be doing himself a world of good if he pauses to do a better introspection to know why the dynamics of contemporary Ghanaian politics don’t justify what he and his wife have up their sleeves.

As the door narrows on their political sphere, they need to re-assess issues and make amends. They can’t return to the citadel of power. Furthermore, they are adding more years to their ages—and it comes with unavoidable natural constraints. With senility comes many problems—and because they can’t cheat Nature—they will eventually find themselves in positions of abject weakness.

They may have a strong spirit to continue making themselves heard and seen in Ghanaian politics, but the downside is that that strong spirit cannot function vigorously in a weak flesh. They may insist on sticking around but will end up as bugbears to be either ignored or dealt with, depending on the degree of waywardness they put up at the time.

The Sunyani Verdict has given Nana Konadu something new to occupy her, but if she continues doing the kind of head-butting politics that she and her husband are notorious for, she will add more worries to what is already bordering her in politics. Enough exists for her to learn from to know that although everyone may claim to be capable of leading the NDC, only those who strike while the iron is hot will prevail. If all seeds that fall were to grow, no one could follow the path under the trees. We need that path to follow.