It is trite that one of the avoidable factors that contributed to the National Democratic Congress’ excruciating defeat in the 2016 election was apathy. Voter turnouts from the party’s strongholds support this observation. Without any scientific research, the figures show that our core supporters failed to visit the polling stations to vote. In instances where means of transport was provided to encourage them to move to the voting centre to cast their votes, they refused to discharged their constitutional duty in protest of what some of them justifiably attributed to the party’s insensitiveness to their already precarious plight. Gazing into 2016, political watchers forecasted a dystopian scene for the NDC but we comforted ourselves with a foggy hope of victory.
Apathy, the deadly political disease that denied us victory, comes in many forms. One of the factors that contributed immensely to apathy ahead of 2016 was the choice of parliamentary candidates in some constituencies. In some constituencies, ‘unknown faces’ emerged with their money bags and snatched the parliamentary slots from ‘known faces’ who have worked tirelessly in the respective constituencies. Out of pain, supporters of the defeated loyal candidates decided to protest the ill treatment by failing to vote in the 2016 election.
These unknown faces who eventually got the slot were persons who only transfered their votes or ‘membership’ to the constituency few months, weeks, or in some cases, days, to the constituency. Unfortunately for the party, leadership failed to enforce our party’s constitution to check this deadly move which eventually nailed us into opposition. These are useful lessons we have to learn as we prepare to elect parliamentary candidates for the 2020 elections.
The framers of the NDC Constitution anticipated a situation where desperate political profiteers will be running from constituency to constituency in pursuit on their legislative ambition. To checkmate this, the constitution requires that, for an aspirant for Parliamentary candidate to qualify for the election, he/she must have been an active member of the party at the constituency level for at least four(4) years.
For the avoidance of doubt, I produce article 41(8)(b) of the NDC Constitution. “A member shall not be qualified to contest the primaries for a parliamentary seat if the person: (b) is not an ACTIVE MEMBER of the party at the CONSTITUENCY LEVEL for the four (4) years IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING the date of filing nomination (emphasis is mine). The following scenarios best explain this provision which has not, needless to say, been amended.
Scenario 1: Alata Yaw contested parliamentary primaries in Domeabra Obom constituency but was unsuccessful. Sensing that he could make it in his hometown, he took advantage of the party’s re-registration in 2017 and registered in Abetifi constituency. He is hoping the Electoral Commission will give the greenlight for transfer of votes so he could quickly seal his eligibility by transferring his votes from Domeabra Obom to Abetifi constituency. Since 2017, he has been visible in Abetifi and has become the sole financier of the NDC in that constituency. He has paid all his dues from 2017 to 2020. He did all these to demonstrate that he is an active member of the Abetifi NDC.
Scenario 2: Elizabeth Afibiyesan was the MP for Bortianor Ngleshie Amanfro constituency. She managed to sail through an acrimonious primaries to represent the NDC in the 2016 election. Unfortunately, she lost the election to the then opposition NPP candidate. She has since registered as a member of the NDC in Tema West constituency were she was born and bread. She hopes to stage another legislative bout in the Tema West constituency. She sponsored some aspirants during the constituency election and has majority of the executives on her side. She is a paid up member of the party in Tema West.
Scenario 3: Nii Otoo Adjenor is teacher who was transferred from Accra to Keta in the 80s. He has been an active member of the party in the Keta constituency. In 2017, he decided to transfer his membership to Krowor constituency where he hails from. Due to his generosity, the youth have approached him to contest the parliamentary primaries. He has ceded to the appeal and has been preparing to stake claim to the slot.
Scenario 4: Dr Obed Nipayebad served as General Secretary of NDC. Until 2017, he was a registered member of the party in Korle Klottey constituency but votes in Sefwi Akontonbra constituency. He was dislodged as General Secretary of the party at the just ended congress. Because he does not want to be irrelevant in the party and knowing that he has transfered his membership to his hometown constituency, he is nursing parliamentary ambition. He hopes to use his money and influence to get the slot to represent the NDC in the 2020 election.
The four scenarios present a case where resourceful persons in the party got registered officially as members of the party in a ‘new’ constituency they hope represent as MPs. Though they all stand as members of the party in good standing, they will not meet the ‘four years immediately preceding the date of filing nomination’ requirement stated in article 41(8)(b).
Regardless of their status in the party, the NDC, particularly the current leadership, is not ready to repeat past mistakes, hence all these perons, if they indeed file to contest, may be disqualified. The outcome of Congress has shown that NDC is ready to reward loyalty. I do not hold brief for the current leadership, but the Constitution will serve as their useful guide in the selection of parliamentary candidates for 2020 elections. The best repellant for ‘apathy’ is article 41 of the NDC Constitution. All those with parliamentary ambitions but fall within these categories must begin to revise their notes.
By Amorse B Amos
Okro mouth crescent