Twice this month, the NDC led by Ex-President John Dramani Mahama first in body and second in spirit at Tamale and Accra respectively has embarked on walks, aimed to unite the rank and file of the party after they produced the worst ever result of a sitting government in the 2016 elections.
Contrary to repeated claims by the ex-president ahead of the elections that the party was the most united, defeat to the NPP revealed massive cracks in the spine of the party that were hidden by power.
It became apparent that there was a gap between the party and government, and that key party supporters were overlooked for people who didn’t contribute much to the attainment of power.
To get to root of their defeat, Prof Kwesi Botchwey and other eminent members of the party were tasked to investigate the issues and inform executives of the umbrella family accordingly.
In June 2017, Prof Kwesi Botchwey Committee submitted their findings to the party.
Until now, no one outside the inner circles of NDC knows the full details of the Prof. Kwesi Botchwey committee and the recommendations provided to re-organise the party ahead of the major Congresses and the 2020 elections.
The defeat to the party revealed a lot of issues including discontentment resulting from the conduct of the few who benefited while in power and the greater majority who remained in the periphery over the eight year period.
With such issues already known to the public even before the committee set out to unravel the not so hidden facts of their defeat, one would have expected senior party executives meeting and making conscious effort to appeal to the angry member and preparing the ground for proper re-organisation.
If that is what you expected, you know by now that you were wrong.
Strategically, President Mahama decided to walk the party out of the problems in what he dubbed; Unity Walk.
My question is; Since when did a walk become a unity building tool? Is that the best way to address problems that caused a party like the NDC to trail the NPP by 67 parliamentary seats?
My answer is No. The walk is a conscious effort by President Mahama to test his popularity and prove to the NDC and those eyeing the position that he remains the man of the people.
The Tamale one was very well attended and so was the one in Accra which arguably eclipsed the one in Tamale in spite of President Mahama’s absence made known to party supports before the Accra version.
Until now, the exact assignment that took the former President away from the walk he personally sanctioned has not been communicated to Ghanaians.
President Mahama has been ever so quick to update Ghanaians about his travels and what takes him away from Ghana but this one remains a mystery.
In politics, only a few things happen by accident, President Mahama’s absence in my honest opinion was staged to prove a point. A low turnout in his absence at Accra would have played into the game plan. The mammoth turnout even without busing arrangement simply means that what the teaming supporters of the NDC need is for the party to bounce back again: with or without Mahama. It is worth nothing the people were bused to the walk at Tamale when the President was in attendance, but similar arrangements were not made in his absence.
That said, unity that leads to progress can only be achieved if, the party returns to its strategy of making the ordinary foot-soldiers feel important and an active contributor to the fortunes of the party.
The NDC now has become an elitist party that relies on money and the influence of a privileged few to win elections and this practice is very much against what the Cadres and the many people who identify with the party are used to.
The party must return to it old strategy of proper grass root mobilisation.
President Mahama should shun his personal ambition and be a team player by looking at the long term future of the party.
Within 20 years of active politics, he has served as a Member of Parliament for three consecutive terms, Deputy Minister and Ministry of State, Vice President and President. Such a dramatic rise should bring most people to a place of thankfulness and satisfaction but not Mr Mahama: he still wants his image on the ballot party, travel all over Ghana and if he wins, wake up each morning to insults and accusations.
Add this to the fact that constitutionally, he can only be president again for not more than more term.
Truth is, even the most optimistic NDC sympathiser or any politically informed person in Ghana will tell you that 2020 is close to impossible for the party.
In view of this, the best thing for the NDC is to present a new candidate for 2020 and use the elections to market the person against 2024. Bring Mahama and losing 2020 will mean repeating him for 2024 with the knowledge that he can go for just one term.
I can bet on the NPP being in power for the next 12 years if the former president leads them to the 2020 elections.
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As a father of the party and someone who has benefitted from the umbrella family than arguably any single member, I expect Mr Mahama to demonstrate magnanimity and support the party with his knowledge, experience and resources.
The truth though is: his mind his made up and wants to run for the presidency again in 2020. If he is not advised to change his mind, the healthy horse he left lame will be totally broken.
As I have always maintained, he will win the primaries if he contests but the future of the party will be bleak.
Politics is gambling. The most important thing every gambler needs to know is when to go on and when to bow out.
With Hon Bagbin and Prof Alabi known to be interest, Mahama should rest in the fact that the party has quality if not better replacement to take over the mantle from him.
The NDC needs a new face, a new direction and unity will be achieved without much difficulty. Walking to JM 2020 won’t change much.
Divided people don’t walk to unity, they talk.
By: Isaac Kyei Andoh