Rawlings snubs the NDC… to gain what? – Asks Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

The writer, Dr Michael J.K. Bokor
As Fate would have it, former President Rawlings refused to participate in the rally by the Greater Accra Regional branch of the NDC at Mantse Agbonaa in James Town, Accra, today (Saturday, March 17, 2012). Kofi Adams, his spokesman, justified that decision, saying that Rawlings had issues with the party and won’t allow himself to be used by anybody to pursue his political ambitions.

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According to him, the former President demands that those issues be tackled successfully before he would consider getting on board the NDC’s campaign train for Election 2012.

Make no mistake to think that because this was a regional rally, Rawlings’ absence doesn’t mean much. It does because it is the first rally that the party has held in many months. It is significant, coming as the first one to herald the major electioneering campaign efforts by the party and its government.

It provided an opportunity for the NDC to disabuse minds of doubts, apprehensions, and suspicions still lingering that the party is disunited and its government not performing well to suggest that it is tottering terribly toward an electoral defeat.

By distancing himself from the party this way, Rawlings has only made a face-saving move to confirm long-held opinions. He had no option but to refuse to attend the rally and to indicate that unless the issues he has are addressed, he won’t be part of the campaign team for the elections.

Issues he may have, but he has already pushed himself to the tight corner and can’t do otherwise in the circumstance. Having all along condemned the Mills-led government as incompetent, corrupt, and made up of “Greedy Bastards,”—which has created the impression that it doesn’t deserve a renewal of its mandate—what moral justification exists any more for him to mount the podium to campaign for it? Will he swallow back his vomit and turn round to praise the government on the occasion? A huge conundrum!
The paradox that Rawlings has woven is too thick to allow him any elbow room in which to undo the harm that he has already done to his own party and its government.

I think that refusing to participate in the party’s campaign efforts will pose more challenges to him than anybody else. For President Mills and the NDC Parliamentary Candidates, there is only one of two results: either winning the elections and remaining in office or losing it and leaving the scene. That is a given in political contests. Winners remain and losers vanish from the corridors of power.

But for Rawlings, a loss for the NDC means more. Will it bring the curtain down on his own political activities? Will he quit politics at that point, knowing very well how difficult it will be for the NDC to rebound into power unless a miracle happens between the time of its defeat and the next general elections in 2016? Or will he remain politically interested but marginalized till his vim vaporizes? What sort of politicking will he be doing in this state?

Time and circumstances may not permit him to continue to be on his feet all that while. So, what will be his over-riding motivation to sit back to see his party lose the elections? What does he hope to gain, anyway?

I have serious doubts whether any persistent distancing of his faction from the NDC’s affairs will help him bounce back or reform the NDC as he might wish to do. The snag is that unless he finds better ways to relate to the government and to do what is required of him as the founder of the NDC, he will be pushing himself out of the equation all the more. If he chooses to quit politics, it won’t surprise me.

However justifiable his anger or resentment of the faction opposed to his may be, he can’t continue to do what will not redound to the party’s fortunes. He is still regarded as the founder and Chairman of the National Executive Council of the party. The “father” aspect is what I am not certain of; but even then, he needs to k now that he has the clout to work for the party’s good instead of using it to deepen the internal crisis.

The more Ghanaians see the party as disunited, viewed within the context of the widespread disapprobation for the government’s performance, the more clearly the danger looming over the party at Election 2012 manifests. In that sense, voter confidence will dissipate and the NDC stands to lose the electoral battle.
Here comes the nagging question: Will Rawlings, then, gear up after this defeat to rebuild the NDC minus the Mills supporters? Or will he sit back to laugh out loud with a contented but misplaced “I told you so”?

If he still cherishes the party that he laboured with others to form, he should let bygones be bygones and look far ahead to ensure that the NDC remains viable as his legacy to Ghana. Having struggled to establish a foothold in Ghanaian politics—and for which the annals of the country’s history will not be complete without a recognition of his accomplishments in office as the longest-serving leader—why shouldn’t he press on for the good of his party and the country?

I regard what he is doing, as defeatist and suggest a change. It must dawn on him that he stands to gain more if he works to sustain the NDC. It doesn’t hurt to place the party’s collective interest above personal considerations.

Obviously, there is something seriously wrong with the marginalization that has gone on as a result of the in-fighting; but as politics is not a one-way street devoid of bumps, those who indulge in it must be prepared for the rainy day as well.

The rainy day has certainly disoriented Rawlings and some who are not in favour of the governance style of President Mills or the failure of his government to do as wished. Unless better means are used to cope with this unfavourable political weather, neither Rawlings nor the Mills faction will come out of the spat unscathed. Theirs will be a collective loss, which will dim the NDC’s future chances of regaining the momentum it needs to defeat its successor in government.

Someone in a responsible position in the party or government must take the first step to right all the wrong that has dampened the party.

By refusing to participate in the NDC’s rally, Rawlings has given a strong but negative signal to foreshadow the difficulties awaiting the party as the electioneering campaign heats up for Election 2012.

Circumstance surrounding this rally give conflicting impressions about the NDC. The denial by Nana Konadu that she and her husband had been invited to the rally and the follow-up warning from Rawlings’ office to the NDC leadership to desist from capitalizing on his image for such campaign purposes give cause for concern.

The organizers of that rally, especially the Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the NDC (Ade Coker) should bow their heads in shame for this shoddy approach to such an event. I don’t want to accept the excuse given for the shoddy manner in which the invitation extended to the Rawlingses was handled. It is clear that Ade Coker’s attempt to invite the Rawlingses was a mere afterthought.
Considering the scrambling that took place after the Rawlingses had issued that warning, I am in no doubt that the original intention was to leave out the Rawlingses. Why should anybody do such a thing? A mere attempt to continue spiting the Rawlings? Or is it just a matter of political immaturity? Probably, the latter.

It is this display of gross political immaturity that has been the NDC’s bane all this while. For, if any serious-minded person in any responsible position in the party had the party’s interests at heart, he would not handle this matter the way Ade Coker did.

It must be clear to these characters that they can’t bend Rawlings’ will to suit their parochial political agenda. The man is far taller than they are and won’t budge to such manipulations. It is for this matter that any effort to involve him in the party’s affairs at this stage must be borne out of respect and a calculated, genuine consideration.

Doing things haphazardly and creating the impression that he is only being used to serve those parochial interests will worsen the plight of the party because his refusal to participate in the events will be more damaging than his acquiescence to do so. Either way, the repercussions are clear and the party has a price to pay.

Of course, this snub has far-reaching implications that will not only continue to destabilize the NDC front but which will also provide the ammunition that its opponents need to continue denigrating it.
This repudiation by the Rawlingses has set the bitter tone for unpleasant things to happen hereafter. It reinforces the threat that the party continues to face but which its leaders aren’t concerned enough to handle expeditiously.

Now that the in-fighting in the party has reached this point, will the party’s leaders heed the call to restore normalcy? The harbinger of the danger that awaits the party has already emerged for all to see and be wary of. Will Dr. Kwabena Adjei and his bunch of party leaders be up-and-doing?

The problem is clearly getting out of hand and unless something miraculous happens to end it, the NDC risks falling apart all the more. What to do to save the party from itself is now the Herculean task.

E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com
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