The NDC, the Rawlings factor
Observing the trend of events at the National Democratic Congress as an outsider with keen interest in the competitiveness of the two major parties in the country, I am very much worried about what the future holds for this party.
Regardless of which political party you support, we need NDC and NPP to serve as a check on each other and improve governance. In a predominantly two party state, when one party becomes very weak, you are on your way to a one party state and I for one does not think it will auger well for us as a country.
As someone who saw the PNDC metamorphose into the current NDC, I know how the charisma of the then Chairman Rawlings and his evergreen wife Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings resonated with the people and won the hearts of many.
They were people centered and therefore the ordinary people and those we call the downtrodden bought into their style of leadership and cheered them wherever they found them.
From digging the gutters to stepping down from helicopters in his military apparel, every move was cheered and the few cameras in the countries at the time weren’t left out.
In the revolution days, Rawlings was like a demigod even though he did perhaps more than any leader in the history of this country to prove to the people that he was just like one of them.
Then came the political campaign season towards the 1992 elections after we took a bold decision to give democracy a try for the fourth time in our history as an Independent nation
Prior to becoming an Executive President, I was of the view that the people’s man as he was known to be was going to change his posture and take on the known style of most Executive Presidents and get consumed in doing things according protocol and lose touch with the people.
I was wrong, Rawlings never changed. He will always speak his mind, share his worries with the people as though they were his regular friends and empathized with them when tragedies struck.
Every Ghanaian knows that Rawlings is an emotional person who says it as it is because he opened himself for everyone to see what lied in the depth of his heart as a leader.
This is why people love him even though he offended many with his point blank utterances that was in sharp contrast with the trend of modern politics where leaders mostly are forced to speak in a nicely polished fashion.
When you try to speak the hard truth in a nice way, it loses it substance and gives birth to mistrust when reality downs on the deceived after the hard truth has revealed itself.
He was definitely not an angel and made many mistakes within the 19 years of ruling Ghana and makes more even after 17 years of ending his term of office. One thing remains though: Ghanaians love Rawlings and if for nothing at all, the victory of NDC in the 2008 elections which he played a significant role to make happen attest to this fact.
After the Electoral Commission declared the NDC as the winners, the first person the media sort to speak with wasn’t the Candidate Prof Mills but Rawlings the Chief Architect. His reaction was: go to the Prof, it is his day.
Today the NDC as a political party from where I sit is beginning to make grievous mistake that can have serious repercussions on the political future of the party.
It appears that the current leadership of the party prefer to associate themselves with Dr. Kwame Nkrumah than to build on the foundation laid by Rawlings.
Admittedly, Ghana’s first president: Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah is a global icon and a brand the whole Ghana rallies around for continental and global recognition.
Ghana is considered a leader of Africa in spite of being one of the smallest countries because of the vision of Nkrumah to be a leader of the Pan African movement and active contributor towards the total emancipation of blacks all over the world from the shackles of white dictatorship and discrimination.
The hard truth though is that, so far as Ghanaians who matter most in deciding who comes to power are concerned, the Nkrumah factor does not win elections any longer.
The political fortunes of the CPP and PNC that pride themselves as Nkrumaist is enough an attestation that despite the collective reverence for the man Nkrumah, he has no influence in Ghana Elections and hasn’t had one since he lost his seat through a Coup.
As we speak the only time an Nkrumah affiliated party won in his hometown was in 2004 when his daughter contested.
This was made possible because the NPP which was the strongest party at the time magnanimously opted not to contest and campaigned for her. She’d never have won if the NPP contested at the time and that is exactly what happened in 2008.
Today, both the CPP and PNC and to a large extent PPP, the parties birthed from the ideology of Nkrumah don’t have a single seat in parliament.
It is therefore not debatable to say that Nkrumah has lost his mojo as an election winning machine and that has been the case since his days. It is a known fact that Dr Hilla Liman, an Nkrumaist didn’t win because of their attachment to him..
This is why to me; it is strange that the NDC will want to ditch President Rawlings for Nkrumah at this time in our history when the entire nation’s stability is credited to him.
President Rawlings has given West Africa its longest democracy and that alone should be a source of pride for people associated with the party. They don’t need to link the party to any founder of this country to be relevant to today’s Ghanaian.
In terms of governance, Rawlings’ legacy has been the most significant in the history of Ghana.
He is the first to hand over political power peacefully. This is very significant when you consider the fact that he started as a Military government.
It is rare in any part of the world to see such happen but unfortunately, Ghanaians take it for granted because the biggest beneficiaries from his sweat prefer to fight the Nkrumah battle than to build on the foundation Rawlings built.
The good book entreats all of us to leave a legacy for our children or descendants because that is the measure of a man’s success.
For this reason Jesus Christ founded Christianity with his blood by dyeing on the cross and charging his disciples to go to all nations and make disciple which is termed as the great commission in Christendom.
Mohammed founded the Islam Religion and it has lived on hundreds of years after his death. .Siddhartha Gautama founded Buddhism and the story is the same.
In the case of Nkrumah, he was a man who saw himself as the only one capable of running Ghana. He did not even have a vice president to take over in his absence.
His party was built on his singular personality and not on a principle that could stand the test of time and outlive him. This is why when he lost power; his party could not take up the broken pieces and reunite. When Nkrumah left, his party died and that speaks volumes.
Rawlings on the other hand built the NDC, sealed it with his blood on the principles of probity Accountability and development riding on the wings of Social Democracy.
It was done with the downtrodden in mind and if the fortunes of the party since 92 is anything to go by, then one can say that Ghanaians have embraced it.
The recent defeat of the party is largely down to the party losing its identity under the Mahama leadership and began to look like a platform for making money for a selected few.
The embracement of elitism was in sharp contrast with what the foot soldiers signed for when they joined the party and that resulted in the 44.4% dished out to the ruling party.
If NDC lost because they rejected the principles of Rawlings while in power, then their fortunes will be worse if they don’t return to base, rebrand and rebuild.
In today’s politics, the Rawlings factor is more than the Nkrumah factor.
In all of these, two things are clear about these two great leaders in our political history as a nation and that is why the NDC of Rawlings will in the foreseeable future be ahead of the CPP.
1. Nkrumah started as a democratic government in 1957 but in less than 10 years he had managed to hand us over to the military rulers; whiles Rawlings took over as a military leader and ushered us into democracy after 11 years.
2. Nkrumah took over a government given a lot of money by the colonial government to start life and with a population that made us better off than Singapore, Malaysia and many countries but left us in debt: Rawlings on the other hand took over a broke country and without the good will of our development partners due to his military background but managed to keep the nation afloat and left it far better off than he took it.
Between the two, one left Ghana worse than he took it and the other better than he took it. Nkrumah is undoubtedly the greatest Ghanaian but as far as our internal politics is concerned, he has little impact on what pans out in elections currently.
Every political party must be proud of its history and honor the people who made it happen. It is therefore contradictory for the NDC to cry than the CPP because in their estimation Nkrumah is being denied his status as the sole founder of Ghana when at their own backyard, they are denying Rawlings as the sole founder of the NDC.
Rawlings came to power through the barrel of the gun. In view of this they decided to put their lives on the line by handing over power peacefully to an elected government.
This singular act of handing over power peacefully knowing very well that the people he possibly offended the most, being the NPP could retaliate is a huge plus for him.
For this singular reason, most Ghanaians feel they are always indebted to them and for that matter their legacy must still be protected. The legacy of Rawlings is the NDC.
In him, they have an inspirational leader they can rally around.
In conclusion, the NDC without the Rawlingses will be like a nice 4×4 Toyota Land cruiser car without an engine to move it.
I therefore expect the leadership of this great party to be smart enough to do everything possible as a political party and get them onboard else be ready to stay in opposition for a long time because Nana Addo and his men are working hard and bringing Ghana to a place where a Rawlings-less NDC will be too weak to challenge for power.
The result of the 2016 election was no fluke, it was the result of the party’s shift from the Principles of Probity and Accountability that made the NDC the party of the people and the only way out is the return to these ideals
By: Kofi Anokye- CEO
Koans Building Solutions