The NDC’s Phantom Optimism For 2020; Signs of Withdrawal Syndrome?

By Kobby Gomez-Mensah

Call it withdrawal syndrome or something close to that, but the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) hasn’t fully settled into its new status. It is yet to fully recover from the shocks of defeat. Like a spokesperson for their candidate and the President said, the Party thought victory in the 2016 elections was for them, a given.

Therefore you can understand what is happening. In fact, its historic defeat, with the numerous seats lost in Parliament, can make the Akufo-Addo government a proper ‘Yentie Obiaa’.

There are many in social and traditional media who insist the government doesn’t need the minority to take any major decision. It has the numbers in parliament and goodwill among the general public, evidenced by its decisive mandate. The president is thus unlikely to face any significant roadblocks in pursuit of his agenda.

The case is not the same for his counterpart in the United States’ Capitol Hill. Where despite having the numbers, Donald Trump had to withdraw his much touted Healthcare Bill, expected to replace Obamacare.

President Akufo Addo may have 99 problems but this isn’t one of them.

Members of parliament on the government benches, were they even utterly opposed to the current President, are very unlikely to stand in the way of any legislation. They would either be whipped in line or withdraw their opposition for fear of losing their next primaries.

The fate of stalwarts like Enoch Teye Mensah, Alban Bagbin, Cletus Avoka, Joseph Yileh Chireh and others is an instruction in what can befall MPs who are not deemed loyal enough to the occupant of the Flagstaff House. Their primaries were a ‘make or break’. It is widely believed “the system” wanted them out.

These men were not pushovers and were willing to let their experience in the house show, even where it meant taking a different view from the executive they share party colours with. For example, before joining government, Mr Bagbin sided with the then minority and against the Attorney General, Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu, regarding the wording of bills placed before and approved by Parliament. It was obviously an unpalatable moment for the President’s counsel.

However, when it mattered the most they all joined their party to carry through legislations and approve loans. In fact, they all supported the move to change the December 7 voting date when practically, that could have disastrous consequences for the nation.

But the above notwithstanding, the powers that be weren’t happy with them.

Those who won primaries had to battle their ways through the general elections, with little or no support from the mother party and most importantly, the Presidency. They either lost bitter or didn’t care much about what happened to the Presidential elections. After all, the candidate in that election didn’t wish them well. It is still unclear why all those experienced hands lost out of government, making way for obviously inexperienced politicians whose only interest was how to entrench themselves at the center of power.

In the immediate period after the defeat, deputy general secretary of the party, Koku Anyidoho, spoke to GHOne television on its morning programme, GHToday. One of the points I picked from that interview and subsequent ones by other leading NDC operatives, was that political parties make no attempt to learn from what is happening in the opponent’s camp, whether in office or opposition.

Party faithful, including senior operatives felt sidelined, with those closer to the President running the show to the chagrin of many others. It would be recalled that New Patriotic Party Chairman, Haruna Esseku in that interview before the party’s conference in Legon that saw Peter Mac Manu emerging as chairman, alleged that the soul of the party was at the Presidency.

If you sum up all the major concerns raised by senior NDC officials, the stories tally. Observers can only conclude that not much social learning occurs in the political space.

Professor Mills won the 2008 elections albeit by a slim margin, formed government and ruled until his passing in July of 2012. Many credit him for the performance of the economy in the preceding year. But others believe oil production would have spurred growth, regardless of who was running the economy. His economic management also saw inflation tumbling for a bit and relative stability in the local currency against its major trading partners.

Despite the challenges of opposition and bitterly fought electoral victory, the Umbrella fraternity managed to lose the people. In the subsequent elections, the NDC candidate’s victory, would be challenged in court but the Supreme Court will confirm him as duly elected.

However, the President and his appointees carried themselves as though they had the election magic and were insulated against electoral defeat. Their actions were often opposed to the grain of public thinking and were willing to justify murder, if there was one, all in their bid to clench on to power.

But it was time to go and their actions will confirm the ensuing electoral outcomes.

Unprecedented levels of borrowing, taxing of everything from bottled water to kayayes, high rates of sole-sourced contracts, and appointments of individuals with little experience into major governance roles and disregard for the plight of the same people they purported to serve became fancy.

They kept us in the dark for over five years, failed to fulfill many of their campaign promises and turned round to the same people with stolen cash, asking them to return them to further plunder the little left. And to add insult to injury they told Ghanaians JM was the best thing to happen to Ghana, when indeed he was yet to make good the promises he made at the previous elections.

Let me single out Seth Terkper, aka ‘Nana Borrow’, for how he carried himself. Many of his policies hinged on taxing people the more. I remember the minority making clear on the floor of the house, their vehement opposition to many of those taxes. But the politics of some of his economic policies, pleased no one but himself and the Cabinet that hatched them.

Unfortunately, those policies have driven the country into stranglehold. The huge debt overhang will choke the economy and adversely affect public spending for a long time.

Today, less than a hundred days since their bubble went burst, the same NDC that freed ‘Montie Trio’ against superior arguments; the NDC that withdrew teacher and nursing trainees allowances only to pay it on table tops just to win elections; the NDC that said free SHS wasn’t plausible but attempted implementing for political gains; the NDC that had forced many of its experienced hands out of just to get the President’s favorites in parliament; that is the old wife that we crave as husbands?

The same NDC that mortgaged our ‘energy future’ through suspicious power purchase agreements, just to win elections? The same NDC that paid dubious judgment debts to Woyome, ISOFOTON et al? The same NDC that gave our monies freely to Goodwill and Azontaba through leaking GYEEDA contracts?

The same NDC, whose functionaries found nothing wrong with antagonizing journalists and destroying their gadgets at the Presidency for doing their job, wants us to return them to govern this country. Even before the fuller details of the pillage committed by its government functionaries is revealed by the current government, leaving culprits of open thievery in gaol for their sins.

Well, there are no certainties in these matters, however, a shrewd voter population will stay true to the sacred duty of teaching the Party and its operatives the needed lessons. Regardless of how any such lessons tell on their future handling of government business.

I rest my case.

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