Politics of Wednesday, 3 April 2013
Even before President John Dramani Mahama marks his hundredth day in office as Ghana’s president, he seems to have fallen out of favour with his own party as some peeved senior members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) are seriously contemplating making him a one-term president.
Less than two weeks after our admonitions to President John Mahama to ‘sit-up’, The Al-Hajj can today authoritatively report that some top brass of the ruling party are re-grouping into blocs with some of them seriously lacing their boots in a daring bid to ruffle the feathers to challenge the president at the party’s congress to elect a flag-bearer ahead of the 2016 election.
This paper can say on authority that, so far about four names are being considered by the ‘aggrieved’ NDC stalwarts as possible challengers to President Mahama in the run-up to the elections of 2016.
“The idea is to get someone who can successfully dethrone President Mahama from the leadership of our party and then go ahead to win the elections against whoever the NPP would present as a candidate,” a senior member of the party who is part of the plot told this paper on condition of anonymity.
“Make no mistake, this contest will not be like the one in 2011 between the wife of the founder and the sitting President, the late Professor Mills that the sitting President routed the former First Lady.
“This time, I can tell you, President Mahama, though a sitting president, would not be able to defeat whoever would emerge as our consensus candidate. We did it before. We worked for the late President Mills in the contest against the former First Lady and also lobbied around in the party to push Mahama by consensus to lead our party to the 2012 elections after the demise of our dear President,” a senior member and former NDC office holder told this paper.
According to the angst-ridden senior members of the NDC, President Mahama has not been able to fight the temptation of tribalism and politics of identity, saying his administration is skewed towards one particular group of people.
Paradoxically, key Northern elites in the NDC who spoke to The Al-Hajj and are part of the plot to oust the president in the run-up to the 2016 election, said they were not amused with the appointments of the people from the North so far made by the president adding most of those appointees are cronies of the President and not necessarily loyalists of the NDC party adding, “we don’t know them in any party organisation”.
Unlike the exchanges of political jabs in the run-up to the 2011 Sunyani congress of the umbrella party between Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, the wife of the NDC founder and the then president, the late Professor John Evans Atta Mills, the contest ahead of the ruling party will be exceedingly unprecedented and will pale the significance of the Sunyani contest due to the political heavyweights involved and its likelihood of shaking the foundation of the NDC.
“The figures involved or behind this ‘revolution’ are people of strong mettle and they have the financial wherewithal to prosecute this battle to the end. They did it for President Mills to become the leader of this party and they did it for Mahama when we lost President Mills in the middle of last year and they will do it again to whoever would emerge by consensus to challenge President Mahama for the leadership of this great party, the party I consider as the most democratic party today in Africa if the not the world at large,” an anxious party stalwart pointed out.
When prodded over the source of funding for this politically risky and financially burdensome agenda, the source was unwilling to give details but explained that “President Mahama knows the people am talking about, their pedigree and their burning desire to achieve political results once they are committed into something, money is the least thing in their mind. I can tell you that the funding is already available for this agenda, they have done it before and they know they can do it again that is why they are venturing”.
Even as The Al-Hajj has decided for now to shield the identity of the potential NDC presidential contenders that are being considered by the senior members of the party, intelligence filtering into our office indicates that the party stalwarts have resolved to sieve through the four names and get only one credible person to contest President Mahama.
“Out of the four names I mentioned to you, we just want one credible contender who has the pedigree and the political visibility nationwide to contest and hopefully oust the sitting President in the coming presidential primary,” the senior NDC member added.
Interestingly, almost all of the names picked up by our radar featured prominently, and played key roles in President Mahama’s campaign in the run up to the 2012 elections, but have suddenly felt disenchanted with the President either because they are themselves sidelined, or their supposed ‘Godfathers’ in the party have been marginalised.
Ironically, two out of the four names potentially to contest President Mahama are appointees of the President, but have nursed presidential ambition for many years now.
So far, three groups have emerged made up of the Volta cabal, the Northern group and a new bloc, which draws its strength directly from the Kokomlemle headquarters of the party in addition to the already vibrant Fante caucus, and are said to have started marshaling all the needed arsenals to pave a smooth way for a proliferation of affiliate youth groups to herald their agenda.
Reports are that, whilst the Northern unit is in its nascent stage, the Volta group is said to have already landed on a formidable candidate. Though that “would-be’ candidate has not personally disclosed his presidential ambition on any platform, he had hitherto hidden under the cloak of party foot-soldiers to put his name on the lips of people when the position of vice president became vacant following the unfortunate demise of the late President Mills.
The Al-Hajj can confidently report that there was a meeting at a hideout in the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi, some two weeks ago followed by another one at a Hotel in Sakumono, all in preparation towards actualising their agenda.
At these meetings, subtle moves on how to have their grips on the party and to make their various campaigns easier featured prominently, with the thorny issue of the funding already concluded.
Representatives of the various groups have since been dispatched to all the 275 constituencies to begin underground work on who becomes polling station executive, who would then elect the constituency executives that will form the Electoral College to elect the regional and national officers of the party and eventually the flag bearer.
Information available to The Al-Hajj has it that, as a strategy, the party stalwarts will want to have their preferred choice controlling the party structures, from the polling station level to the national level in order to be able to match the President, whom they claimed will rely much on incumbency advantage.
Reason for this development in the ruling party is not farfetched; unlike the case of Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings where FONKAR was used as a conduit to run down the late President Mills on charges of unfounded corruption allegations in an apparent quest to make him unpopular, what has necessitated the current resentment in the NDC according to a senior member with sympathies to one of the groups and who pleaded anonymity, “is as a result of the President’s ‘one-man’ show”.
A senior party member who is also part of the stratagem to oust the President said even though they know President Mahama means well as head of state, he has failed and, or refused to include and consult leading figures of the party who stood by him and fought tirelessly for him to be elected as President. According to him, “President Mahama has suddenly turned into a domestic dictator in our party; his humility has turned into a façade to hoodwink the general Ghanaian population” adding that leading party members are afraid of raising their voices for fear of being victimised.
“It is pathetic that the once easily reached John Mahama is now the most inaccessible President… in cases where you manage to meet him, it would be in the midst of some ‘strangers’ surrounding him and who will stampede you to end discussions,” the source lamented.
The common denominator in all the agitations is that the President has suddenly found new pals to the total neglect of leading party stalwarts who were in the trenches to make all things possible for him to chalk such an enviable feet.
The Al-Hajj has gathered that, what is holding the various groups from making open comments and organising overt activities to champion their agenda is the stiff challenge been mounted by Akufo Addo and the New Patriotic Party at the Supreme Court against President Mahama’s legitimacy.
“I can say that the challenge on the legitimacy of President John Mahama at the Supreme Court by the NPP is worrisome and we consider that as an attack against our party and by extension all of us that is why we are quiet on the internal contest now and trying to support the President against the NPP and their petition in Court,” the senior NDC member said.
“It is not too late for the President to make another study of his relationship with his party and fully unite it for the battle ahead if he is to avoid even more worrisome situations going forward.”