Emmanuel Victor Smith and James Victor Gbeho
Former Eastern Regional Minister, Emmanuel Victor Smith, says experienced diplomat and former Foreign Affairs Minister, James Victor Gbeho and his associates have personal scores to settle with former President John Dramani Mahama.
According to Victor Smith, Mr Gbeho and other old guards of the party, who are against Mr Mahama’s comeback, are full of bitterness.
“Comments by Victor Gbeho and the others are just a collection of personal grievances but I wonder why they are trying to damage the goose that lays the golden egg,” he said on Asempa FM in Accra last Thursday.
Mr. Smith’s comment is coming in the wake of a statement issued by a pro-NDC group called Social Democratic Forum who attacked some NDC gurus in the Volta Region for undermining the Mahama’s second bid to lead the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the 2020 election.
The group, which issued a statement through its spokespersons- Manan Mustapha and Alhassan Issahaku- played the tribal card and virtually pitched NDC supporters from the northern regions against their counterparts in the Volta Region.
They claimed Mr. Gbeho, Ken Dzirasah, a former deputy Speaker, and Richard Quashigah, MP for Keta, as well as many Volta chiefs and MPs, “are still very much active in the plot to fight JM’s comeback. We have seriously interpreted these actions as an attack on the North.”
Former President Mahama’s office has dissociated itself from the ethnocentric comments of the group but did not condemn them.
Victor Smith, Ghana’s former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), was not happy with the public condemnation of Mr. Gbeho and some of the elders of the NDC.
“When I heard Victor Gbeho’s comment about Mahama, I was very hurt so I called him because all the grievances are being taken care of within the party,” he said.
Mr. Smith’s statement lends credence to the fact that there is serious division in the NDC ahead of the 2020 general elections.
He said the opposition party has a big opportunity to win the 2020 election but admitted that such ‘misguided’ comments by leading members could rock the boat for Mr. Mahama and the NDC.
“We have a big chance to win, don’t spoil it. Let’s not destroy this opportunity with our bitterness,” he said.
There has been an uneasy calm in the NDC since they were sent packing by the electorate in favour of the New Patriotic Party on December 7, 2016, making Mr. Mahama a one-term President.
It heightened when it became clear that Mr. Mahama is preparing to contest the presidential election once again, using the NDC Unity Walk as a stepping stone.
Some elders of the party, especially those from the Volta Region, which is the NDC’s stronghold, have dumped Mr. Mahama for Joshua Alabi, the immediate–past Rector of the University of Professional Studies (UPSA), to lead the party in 2020.
Mr. Gbeho took a swipe at Mr. Mahama recently when he called him a failure for leading the party to a miserable defeat in the 2016 election.
The experienced diplomat said the time has come for the party to rebrand and build on its shortfalls in 2016 by electing a flagbearer, who has a better chance of leading the party to win the 2020 election and said he sees those qualities in the former rector.
“The reality now is that we are rebranding everything. In all democracies around the world when you go to an election and you lose as badly as we did, the leadership steps aside not because you want to sack people, but it gives the party an opportunity to rebrand itself to look at its faults and change its ways and that is what we are doing now,” Mr. Gbeho said when addressing NDC faithful at a meeting in Ashaiman.
He said the NDC would make a big mistake if it relied solely on appearance and votes for Mr. Mahama again for the next election, saying it would be wrong to just follow somebody because he looks good.
“My brother (Hon Ken Dzirasah) and I sat down one afternoon by the riverside in Sogakope. We thought a lot about our party. We thought a lot about the younger generation. And we asked ourselves who can lead us now? After consultations, we agreed that our best hope was in no other person than Professor Joshua Alabi,” he asserted.
A former Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ken Dzirasah also said Mr Alabi is more marketable than former President Mahama.
“I want to say that after several reflections on the way forward for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), myself and my good brother, Ambassador Gbeho, conducted few investigations and came to the conclusion that the most marketable personality that could carry us into the year 2020, as a flagbearer, is Joshua Alabi.”
By William Yaw Owusu