Folks, I read earlier in the day the news report that ex-President Mahama had come out boldly to declare his intention to lead the NDC at Election 2020 (See https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Mahama-breaks-silence-declares-intention-to-contest-2020-polls-653293).
My immediate reaction was to heave a huge sigh (of relief?), given the implications of that declaration, which could be best appreciated within the context of all that he has been doing after recovering from the electoral loss at Election 2016 to prove that he is still a force to reckon with in the NDC as far as efforts at re-bounding to power are concerned.
After all, he won’t actively involve himself in the activities of the party if he had no future ambitions to pursue by way of leadership. To him, then, the downfall of a man is not the end of his life.
All the jingoism prior to this declaration didn’t deceive us at all. We knew that he had already made up his mind to attempt another bite at the cherry. Now that he has made it known, we have to scrutinize everything to see the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of his resolve.
Doing so entails a lot of analysis, which I will cut down for the sake of brevity that should spice the discourse on the NDC’s future.
- Nothing left me in any doubt that Mahama had long ago resolved to bounce back to lead the NDC at Election 2020, even though he sought to be evasive by telling us that he was waiting for God to tell him where to go next. Why so? An attempt to hoodwink or to test the pulse of the party’s followers and political opponents? Not a good political strategy.
- Using Facebook to declare his ambition is misplaced and politically unwise. I had the occasion some years ago to warn Mahama and his team of communicators fancying social media platforms as avenues for doing government business to desist from such waywardness, They didn’t listen and paid dearly for it (Now that Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have been exposed for their treacherous mining of information on Facebook users, I hope some of them have learnt to be wise in how to do things online).
Beyond this point, I wondered why Mahama won’t use a better medium or forum to make such an important declaration. Had he done so in an interaction with NDC supporters or at any other important gathering, his declaration would have come out more distinguished than it has done in this case. Using Facebook as such, to me, trivializes it. Yet, his declaration isn’t a trivial matter as far as the internal politics of the NDC is concerned.
Here is an aspect of his declaration that raises eyebrows all the more:
“To you the teeming supporters and sympathizers calling and requesting me to declare my intentions for the future, I wish to assure you today, that as a servant-leader, I have listened to your calls and reflected. I will not disappoint you even as we await the publication of the party’s guidelines for selecting a new leader.”
How many of the “teeming supporters” are with him in his Facebook circle to reach out to this way?
As a “communicator”, Mahama should have been the first to know that using Facebook for this purpose deadens his message. Don’t human beings register emotions better when they interact physically? I’ll leave the rest to dangle.
(In any case, I admire his coinage—“servant-leader”—for what it adds to our political discourse. I hope it offers a useful lesson in our approach to governance and that it won’t turn out later to be “leader-servant” (Semantics at work here, folks!! Brofoyedru ampa!!))
- The active involvement of Mahama in the NDC’s “Unity Walk” agenda is not in question, even if it has raised concerns regarding the maligning of others interested in becoming the party’s flagbearers. The wide publicity enjoyed by Mahama on the occasion has boosted his ego and created the impression that he is the best among the aspiring contestants.
But that still water runs deep. The very “Unity Walk” agenda has become the double-edged sword tearing the NDC apart just because it has featured Mahama more than the other aspirants.
So, now that he has declared his intention to bear the NDC’s flag at Election 2020, what will become of that “Unity Walk” agenda? Will the other contestants be taken on board and given the platform/forum to speak their minds? If not, why not? Therein lies the terrible test for the NDC because if Mahama continues to hog, his opponents in the party will intensify their resistance and bring much weight to bear him down, which won’t help the NDC’s cause.
From exchanges so far heard, it is clear that the gulf is widening. Joshua Alabi is on his feet, saying just anything to validate himself as a viable flagbearer. Alban Bagbin has jumped on Mahama at will to cut him to size so he can have an edge. Sylvester Mensah is being diplomatic but has his own beef that doesn’t favour Mahama.
So, folks, this declaration by Mahama should give the NDC the opportunity to re-define how its “Unity Walk” agenda can be fine-tuned to serve useful purposes instead of dividing ranks.
From what it has helped Mahama say so far about the Akufo-Addo government’s ineptitude—and the vitriolic reaction from the NPP cabal and Akufo-Addo’s family-and-friends government—it is clear that it provides an appropriate opportunities for hitting the underbelly of the NPP. And everything must be done to turn the “Unity Walk” agenda into a viable tool for political mobilization for the NDC, not just to serve the parochial interests of Mahama to the chagrin of the other contestants and their followers.
- Party building efforts must be intensified so that all that isn’t working well can be repaired. From happenings all over the years, we can tell that the NDC isn’t as internally cohesive as expected (Rawlings claims it is the love for money that is tearing the party apart, forgetting what negative impact he and his wife have caused as they dine with the devil in their political opponents without long spoons).
- What next? All efforts must be made to re-build the NDC, using input from all quarters. Only then will the party garner enough public confidence to head-but this damn useless Akufo-Addo government out of reckoning at the polls. It is a task that must be done.
- What happened before Election 2016, during it, and thereafter has given me enough to know how useless the NDC’s national leaders are, so wrapped up in themselves and wearing their power on their sleeves to cause disaffection and disdain for the party. it isn’t too difficult to weed them out when the time comes.
The kind of image that the NDC needs to cultivate and project for Election 2020 demands what these leaders lack. Others at the lower levels (regional or constituency) whose public image/utterances and incompetence led to the NDC’s downfall should be identified and weeded out.
The kind of posturing that will regain public trust, confidence, and respect for the NDC can’t come from such deadwood. No rabble-rousing public talk will do either. That is why steps should be taken to clip the wings of those loud but empty talkers whose misguided utterances hurt the NDC.
HERE IS WHERE I LAND
Now that Mahama has stood his ground, what will it mean for the NDC, especially in terms of the politicking going on by his opponents in the party and those aspiring to dislodge him? A big question with many answers to either make or mar the NDC’s political future. How Mahama and his fellow aspirants go about portraying themselves to catch the eyes of the NDC’s delegates will be crucial to what public image the party builds for itself.
We have already heard a lot of childish talk from some of the aspirants that verge on nothing but vile personal attacks. The NDC doesn’t need that approach to regain public trust.
One expects the aspirants to identify big-picture issues regarding the role of the NDC under them in taking Ghana out of the woods, not by claiming that they haven’t cheated on their wives (In any case, have they been wise enough to know whether their wives have cheated on them?). Foolish talk that won’t grow the NDC must be avoided.
What will these aspirants do to grow the NDC that hasn’t been done before? And how will that growth put it poles ahead of the NPP so it can regain political power for Ghana’s good?
And for Mahama, what will he do new that he hasn’t done before to warrant his declaration to be the NDC’s flagbearer? These are serious issues to think about in the search for the golden fleece. I hope someone is listening.
Folks, there is much to talk about; but I will cut things short here to say that now that Mahama has stepped forward for us to know where he wants to go next, he must do serious introspection too so he can identify the flaws that cost him Election 2016 so he doesn’t repeat them, especially if he turns out to be the flagbearer.
What made the voters reject him at Election 2016 can’t simply be written off. He must be the first to look deep down to know what went wrong and how not to repeat them without within the ranks of the NDC or beyond.
Eventually, though, what happens in the ranks of the NDC should be the first to tackle. That is why team-work must be done by all these aspirants to heal wounds instead of either re-opening dead ones or expanding existing ones to the party’s disadvantage.
We will pause here to continue monitoring the situation. As surely as the day follows the night, we shall return!!
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Sunday, May 20, 2018