Former President Jerry John Rawlings
Founder of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), former President Jerry John Rawlings, Thursday shocked many observers when he declined to give a detailed speech at the party’s ongoing Silver Jubilee Anniversary celebration.
He said he had just spoken quiet extensively in Wa at the rally marking the 38th anniversary of the June 4, 1979 uprising and therefore was not ready to take the shine out of the party’s anniversary activities.
When he was called upon to address the gathering at the end of the event, the former president declined to make a statement and said, “You know as well as I do that I just have to cough and everything that’s been said will be lost.”
Strangely, immediate-past President John Mahama was conspicuously absent as if he was avoiding the NDC founder who tongue-lashed him (Mahama) at the June 4 rally in Wa.
Mr Rawlings apparently called for total overhaul of the leadership of the party when he addressed the Wa rally on Sunday.
“How we can grab so much money and now use it as political weapon to perpetrate and be kingmakers,” he queried when he said the party had veered from its principles of probity, accountability and transparency and was mired in corruption. He underscored, “If I was doing it this way, if any of my colleagues and I were doing it this way, would any of them be where they are today? No! We believe in justice and fairness, true democracy.
“Not too long ago, I thought we heard the jockeys training the horses were responsible for this disgraceful failure while one of the horses was bold enough to lay the failure at the doorstep of the jockey. For me we lost our masses because we betrayed the values of the June 4th. However, if this horse jockey business cannot be resolved comprehensively, allowing integrity most of all to prevail, then let both of them step aside and allow for fresh leaders with solid integrity to provide the needed leadership.”
Yesterday the NDC held a panel discussion at its headquarters chaired by veteran Alhaji Mahama Idrissu, a former Defence Minister.
Panelists included former General Secretary Alhaji Hudu Yahaha, former Trade Minister Dan Abodakpi, former Council of State Member Ama Benyiwa-Doe, Madam Edith Haizel, a leading member and Alban Bagbin, the former Majority Leader who has not hidden his intention to challenge former President Mahama to become NDC’s flag bearer for election 2020.
Mr. Bagbin said that there should be a total makeover of the processes leading to the selection of political leaders in the country since the entire political system has been monetized.
“One of the serious challenges in this country is how we can handle sycophants, hypocrites and bootlickers. That is a serious challenge, but it is because of the system, the process of getting into office. It is because of that process…….,” he told Class FM on the sidelines of the discussion.
“As a country I believe strongly if we really want to develop, we have to relook at our electoral system, how we elect leaders. We have to regulate it. We have to reduce the monetisation of politics. We have to let people know that it is public business, it is not private business…
“What we should do is that the state must play an active role and platforms must be created by the state for the candidates to come and compete there. The state must be involved in the crafting of manifestos so that when people are writing something you know it’s not implementable, it’s just a path, you will let them know.
“The candidates must be able to declare their sources of income, where they are getting the money to campaign, and they must also tell you how they utilise the money. We must be able to reduce waste. These billboards, vehicles and motorbikes – it’s too expensive to be a political leader in Ghana and that is the beginning of corruption, because the people who give you that [money] are investing and so when you are in that position you have to pay back.”
Instead of helping to tackle the NDC’s current internal problems, Mr. Bagbin, who has been in parliament since 1992, rather chose to attack the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) saying they are going to implode very soon. “Very soon they (NPP) will start fighting among themselves,” he noted.
He claimed that historically, the NDC is not in the good books of the media and that had given the NPP the advantage to operate freely.
“We were depending on the state media. NPP decided to invest in the private media. They still take care of the media than NDC even when we were in power,” he recounted and expressed disappointment over the fact that the NPP has grown to become majority in parliament.
Mr Bagbin claimed that the NPP might be boasting of professionals in their rank but the NDC has the numbers as far as grass root participation in politics is concerned, saying “They have a few lawyers who are just good at writing and talking. But we have the men and women more than they.”
Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu was interested in the way the NDC can close its ranks and forge ahead in unity.
He said the disunity in the party cost it the 2016 general election in which they were walloped by then opposition NPP.
By William Yaw Owusu