Almost two weeks after the largest opposition New Patriotic Party climaxed the penultimate phase of its battle readiness for the 2016 elections with the election of its national officers in Tamale, the Northern regional capital, the ‘Ostrich mentality’ of a UNITED and strong ruling National Democratic Congress is certainly about to give way to the reality on the ground.
Simmering since the heart aching demise of the late President John Evans Atta Mills on July 24, 2012, but had to be shelved in order to confront the ‘common enemy’, NPP, ahead of the 2012 elections; recent indications of enlarged cracks within the ruling NDC could lead to an implosion earlier than thought, The aL-hAJJ can report.
What has lighted the flame in the ruling party is what party sources described as the regrouping of like-minded (kingpins) to put up candidates to take up various positions at the party’s impending elections to elect new national executives.
Reports developing indicate that there is the possibility of two camps emerging from the party ahead of its national delegate’s congress later this year.
The NDC is expected to go to congress later this year or early next year when the party would have concluded a nationwide biometric registration of its members.
Party insiders say heavyweights in the party with interest in the upcoming election have begun meeting to field common but competent candidates to occupy various positions in order to advance their interest.
Classified information obtained by The aL-hAJJ suggests that the presidency is likely to line up potential candidates to square off with the party’s proposed aspiring candidates.
Both the presidency and party are reported scouting for persons to contest elections at the various branches, wards, constituency and regional levels to ‘smoothen’ the path for their preferred candidates at the national congress.
This development, alongside recent happenings within the governing party, political watchers has observed, if not managed maturely risk dividing the NDC party and blighting its chances of retaining power come 2016.
Painstaking investigations by The aL-hAJJ has revealed that, but for the challenge mounted against John Mahama’s presidency by three leading members of the NPP, the ruling party would have long ‘imploded’.
Unity to fight the enemy
Determined to secure a second term, NDC gurus and the rank and file already with scores to settle with the government decided to ‘bury the hatchet’ to support President John Mahama who used a little over three months to beat his foremost contender Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in the December 2012 elections.
However, the strain in relationship among gurus of the ruling party and President John Mahama resurfaced as soon as the latter begun putting in place his government, having been sworn into office on January 7th, 2013.
Some leading functionaries and grass-root members of the party were dissatisfied with the appointments of certain persons some of whom they claimed to be ‘strangers’ to the NDC tradition.
However, for the purpose of repairing their internal difference, the NDC bigwigs who were directly opposed to some of the President’s appointments murmured and whispered to friends hoping their reservations would catch the attention of the President to forestall a possible deterioration of the situation.
The enraged NDC top actors fortunately had a sympathetic ear when their concerns was conveyed to the media by the Managing Editor of The Insight newspaper, Mr Kwesi Pratt Jr, who publicly lashed President Mahama, for example, for appointing a Chief of Staff who was not known to majority of the party members.
The general feelings of the rank and file of the NDC was that of betrayal, that the President had deliberately sidelined prominent party officials who fought for the party’s retention in government, and surrounded himself with persons who had nothing to do with the ruling party when it was in opposition.
However, this worrying development was to be short-lived following the decision by the biggest opposition party to mount a strong challenge against the results of the 2012 presidential election at the Supreme Court.
The grieving NDC functionaries were however, compelled under the circumstance to swallow their anger and grievances in order to support President John Mahama to fight the common ‘enemy’, the NPP.
Even as they held unto their reservations on certain decisions of the President during the hearings of the novel election petition, the party members were to be further infuriated by some of the President’s further appointments.
But unfortunately, the party was left with no option than to unite behind President John Mahama to ensure the NPP was defeated once again.
First to aggravate the difficulties the NDC heavyweights had with the President was the attempt to change the name of seat of government, Flag Staff House to Jubilee/Flag Staff House.
It took the forceful and surreptitious fighting spirit of the party’s General Secretary; Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketsiah to stop the Presidency from carrying out what many an NDC supporter believed was sacrilegious.
The place known as Flag Staff House immediately after independence in 1957 was for some strange political reasoning changed to Jubilee House by ex-President Kufuor few weeks before he stepped down in early 2009.
But the late President Mills was later to return the place to its original name, Flag Staff House upon taken office in 2009. For reasons NDC members found surprising, the late President Mills’ protégé and now President, John Mahama almost did the unthinkable by his attempt to re-name the place Jubilee/Flag Staff House.
The general feeling among party supporters and leading figures of the ruling NDC then was that President Mahama wanted to use his proposed new name for the seat of government to satisfy both the late President Mills and former President Kufuor.
The celebrations that greeted the NDC victory over its fiercest political nemesis, the NPP was overwhelming, it was seen by many as the dawn of a new era. Indeed, the August 29 victory was celebrated as though everything was well within the NDC.
But developments few days after the verdict were to signal that all was not well after all, as some NDC functionaries decided to end their dalliance with President Mahama.
Tried as they could to keep it discreet in order to avoid been seen washing party dirty linen in public, subsequent media reports and public utterances from some leading members of the party brought the ‘rot’ to the fore.
The President’s appointment of deputy ministers and MMDCEs was to worsen the President’s case following widespread rejection of his nominees for Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives throughout the country.
In some districts where assembly members rejected the President’s nominees, Local Government Ministry with support from regional executives of the NDC revoked the nomination of ‘government appointees’ in the Assemblies; accusing them of sabotaging the President.
These government nominees, who were mostly members of the NDC and in most cases constituency executives, were reported to have vowed to revenge their harsh maltreatment.
Elections to later confirm most of the MMDCEs were marred by violence. In the Central region, the “rejection agenda” became so rampant that the then regional Minister, Mr. Samuel Sarpong had to issue a ‘fatwa’ claiming that looking at the rate of rejections; the President would be forced to impose MMDCEs on their respective assemblies albeit, in acting capacities if the rejection doesn’t end.
It was widely rumored then that most of the rejections were orchestrated by disgruntled leading members of the NDC who were peeved with the President over certain decisions he had taken that they think was not in the best interest of the party.
Therefore, as sign of ‘teaching President Mahama a bitter lesson’, they were alleged to be paying assembly members “losing bonuses” to vote against the President’s choice of MMDCEs.
Lordina’s Parallel Presidency
The growing tension in the NDC was to further get exacerbated following media reports alleging First Lady; Madam Lordina Mahama was highly instrumental over who gets what appointment; Minister, deputy Minister or MMDCE posts.
News went viral of how Madama Lordina Mahama had gained insatiable quest for power and influence in government to the extent that; she dictates the manner in which his hubby’s administration was run.
Matters got to fever pitch when the First Lady was alleged to be responsible for who-and-who joined the Presidents’ entourage on foreign trips. Grapevine information had it that people had to lobby the first family’s household in order to be included in presidential trips abroad.
This development was later to be confirmed by dismissed deputy Minister of Communication, Madam Victoria Hammah.
Hammah, who was NDC’s 2012 parliamentary candidate in the Ablekuma West, was caught on tape among other things revealing how Madam Lordina Mahama did a yeoman’s job to ensuring some of them (Ministers & Deputies) were appointed to sensitive positions in the Mahama government. Interestingly, the First Lady has since the allegation taken a backstage.
Subsequent to the First Lady’s episode and reports of President Mahama’s inaccessibility, former Minority and Majority leader and MP for Nadowli-Kaleo, Mr Alban Kinsford Sumana Bagbin went public, chastising the President for running a “family and friends government.”
According to the onetime Health Minister in the late Mills administration and now a member of the defunct “three wise men”, he had on several unsuccessful times tried to reach the President to offer him some advice but to no avail.
Mr Bagbin said due to his inability to access the President, he would advise him in public.
Mr Bagbin was then taken to the cleaners by one of the President’s close aides, Stan Dogbe, who described him as ‘enemy within’. Stan Dobge’s position was further consolidated by Foreign Affairs Minister and MP for Awutu Senya West, Madam Hannah Serwa Tetteh who also counseled the Nadowli-Kaleo MP to apply the same zeal, with which he was publicly criticizing the President, to doing his job, as a Member of the “wise men”.
Crestfallen, and deflated with on-goings in the Mahama administration, the former Head of Policy Monitoring and Evaluation in the Mills administration now Ambassador to The Netherlands, Dr. Tony Aidoo, who hardly comes out to lash his party leaders was forced like a rat being pursued by a raccoon to voice his reservations about the conduct of the presidency.
The outspoken big shot of the ruling party openly accused the Mahama administration of starving his office of the needed funds to function, crying out that his outfit was rendered dormant since the death of President John Atta Mills who created the office.
Before then, an NDC MP for Mfantsiman East, now Ekumfi Constituency and Ex-Board Chairman of Ghana Airport Company, Mr. George Kuntu Blankson, in an unprecedented rage following the dissolution of the board by the President, described as ‘unfortunate the steady phenomena in the country, where leadership ‘rewards’ wrong doings whiles those who seek to correct wrong doers are punished’.
“In this country, when you speak the truth, you are branded as bad, but the one that does the wrong thing is rather protected. If someone is doing something wrong and you speak against it, that person will be shielded, and you will become the target. We leave everything to God,” he told an Accra based OK FM
In what many thought was needless and counterproductive, and having the potential of further deepening cracks in the ruling party, President John Dramani Mahama in a direct snide to Mr Bagbin and all others who had issues with his leadership style advised them to wait since 2016 was not far away.
Addressing an orientation workshop for Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives at the Local Government Training Institute in Accra, President Mahama remarked:
“For those who disagree with me and are anxious to see my back, [they are] not to worry, 2016 is not too far away. I will urge them to be patient; in this difficult job the least one expects is comradeship and solidarity.”
But what many believed could have prompted the President’s cynical response was General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketsia’s reaction to the Bagbin issue that the party “will not fault” the former Majority leader for his criticisms against the president and that the party saw some of the issues he raised as evident in the party.
He said: “We want to tell the general public and our party members at large that many of the issues that have been raised by Hon. Bagbin have been raised in some internal meetings and structures that have been put in place to deal with some of the perceptions that Hon Bagbin referred to.
“I will not fault him as such because during some of the internal communications we had in the party, these challenges were identified in those meetings and we are working very hard to smoothen out the internal communication,” Asiedu Nketsia told journalists.
Peduase Lodge Meeting
When the matter was seen getting out of hand, a meeting was convened at the President’s instance at Peduase to douse the raging tension in the party, an insider told The al-hAJJ.
Apparently, the leadership of the NDC was also said to be planning to summon the president for meeting on the raging issues.
According to our source tempers were high at the meeting but President Mahama, in his usual calmness put up a strong case for his administration.
Party Chairman, Dr Kwabena Adjei was alleged to have told the President in the face that he had surrounded himself with ‘strangers’ at the seat of government thereby making him (President) inaccessible. Dr Adjei was alleged to have said that there was no ‘true’ NDC member at the Flag Staff House.
Overly raged by Dr Adjei’s comments, President Mahama, our source revealed was later to be restrained from making further comments and thus the meeting was brought to an abrupt end.
At the Peduase meeting, composed mainly of senior party officials and some members of the Council of Elders of the NDC, The aL-hAJJ is informed, many party functionaries protested against the conduct of Chief of Staff, Prosper Douglas Kwaku Bani and the ‘shabby’ treatment of Vice President Amissah Arthur.
When confronted on allegations that following the NDC chairman’s ‘unruliness’ at the ‘Peduase meeting’, the President has
Vowed to deploy all arsenals and employ the tactics he adopted to win the 2012 election within three months to ensure that he (Kwabena Adjei) was not retained National Chairman of the ruling party in the upcoming congress of the party; a source close to the NDC chairman told this paper that Dr. Adjei remained untroubled.
In all these heartbreaking developments within the ruling party, outspoken Founder of the NDC, former President Jerry John Rawlings has maintained a relative silence.
Overly cautious of what to do in the scheme of things, especially when his harsh treatment of late President Mills leading to his death was still fresh on the minds of party members and Ghanaians, Mr. Rawlings has been nonchalant.
Mr Rawlings who had referred to some doubtful characters encircling President Mahama as “crookish monsters” and “latter day saints” is reported to be in a quandary as to how to handle the almost one-and-half year old Mahama administration.
Reports are that, he is torn between his wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, who is oiling her political guns to contest President John Mahama in the 2016 Presidential elections.
While his relative silence and description of John Mahama as “too nice a President” is being interpreted by many leading figures in the NDC as someone remotely guiding the President on critical decisions including appointments, the NDC Founder, on the other hand had also been complaining to close aides about the direction of the government.
“Yes I am not unaware of the occasional misuse of my name by elements in the party and government to cover up their own weaknesses. No such list has come to my office. Mr Rawlings recently remarked whiles calling for a reshuffle of Ministers in the present government,
He stressed: “But make no mistake, some of us who are perceived to be part and parcel of the changes or these developments, I hear it also on the air like most of you. I find it extremely mischievous that some of the leaders in the party tend to create this false impression that Rawlings knows and approves of everything going on in government. This is not true. The elected President is the coach as he said and that is where our attention should be directed, and not at me.”
Enter Tweaa DCE
President Mahama and the NDC have come a long way managing their internal differences; since the inception of this administration a lot of water has pass under the bridge.
Realizing all the discreet attempts to get the President back on track was failing, sections of the NDC leadership have decided to change course and are now publicly flashing the hazard lights. It now appears the problems has reached a saturation point that, party members bent on ‘straightening’ matters have decided to damn all consequences, and are ready to roll out their strategies.
Dismissal of the DCE for Ahafo Ano South, Mr Gabriel Barima otherwise known as ‘Tweaa DCE’, appeared to have provided a perfect launch pad for NDC’s impending implosion.
Having survived similar storms in the past, party kingpins are now said to be emboldened and are no more scared of any disintegration or a confrontation between the presidency and the party, if that would bring the kind of “sanity” needed in the party.
In a development that many thought was strange, sections of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of NDC led by General Secretary, Asiedu Nketsia few weeks ago resurrected an almost dead issue relating to the dismissal of the DCE for Ahafo Ano South and publicly demanded the President reinstate him.
In a statement signed by General Mosquito as he is affectionately called, they argued that per their investigations, the Joy FM interview that triggered the dismissal of Mr Gabriel Barima was secretly done and doctored.
But in a quick riposte that startled many, another set of the ruling party’s NEC members led by deputy General Secretary, Kofi Adams vehemently disagreed.
Four weeks after Asiedu Nketsia’s group request, the Presidency is yet to make any pronouncement on the matter. Meanwhile, the NDC’s General Secretary has until recent Tamale NPP conference gone mum, completely lost on the political radar.
With the President’s seemingly contemptuous treatment of the matter and Asiedu Nketsia’s conspicuous silence, it is difficult for one to accurately foretell what the two opposing camps have up their sleeves, only time will tell.
Meanwhile, since the issue has been left hanging, loyalists of the President and those in support of the party’s decision have been at each other’s throat in the mass and social media.
An editorial on the Tweaa DCE issue in one of the pro-government tabloids, The Herald newspaper warned the General Secretary of People’s National Convention, Bernard Mornah who had criticized Asiedu Nketsia for his statement, to leave him alone.
Bernard Mornah in a recent radio discussion questioned the motive behind calls by Asiedu Nketia and the so-called NEC members on President John Mahama to reinstate the dismissed Ahafo Ano South DCE.
But in a response, the pro-NDC tabloid stated “Bernard Mornah is gradually becoming more Catholic than the Pope. He seems to think he wants the success of President John Dramani Mahama, than members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).”
In opposition to ‘loyalists’ of General Mosquito and the party such as the The Herald newspaper, an obvious Mahama loyalist, a Prince Doobia Zangina from Tamale, posted on his facebook wall: “The press statement signed by Asiedu Nketia (General Mosquito) on behalf of NEC demanding the reinstatement of Gabriel Barima, the “Tweaa” DCE was not only dangerous, but also, very EVIL with bad faith. As an activist, I can smell a gorilla cum Militia move to undermine H.E. #let’s think deep#
Clearly, all is not well in the ruling NDC party and the cracks are beginning to widen as the days go by; it may not be long for the NDC to experience a major and deadly implosion, incomparable to the FONKAR/GAMES debacle. Stay tuned.