By: Martin Amidu
The resemblance between the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) appears to have become indistinguishable to the extent that the leading members of the NDC appear to have turned the contest for the Chairmanship of the NDC into an ethnic conflict for supremacy. As a foundation member of the NDC who was in the room when Mr Justice D. F. Annan advocated for an umbrella party to bring together all those diverse groups of people from other political traditions and the revolutionary ranks who could not join a Nkrumaist formation political party which was in the works by another member of the PNDC, I was shocked to hear the incumbent Chairman of the NDC pleading his ethnicity as a qualification to be maintained as the Chairman of the NDC.
It is a shame that the National Democratic Congress which we founded and nursed to represent the 31st December Revolutionary tradition has now been reduced to the politics of ethnic arithmetic.
“I’m an Akyem, and I become the national organiser of the party. Do you know what I have suffered as an Akyem person to become NDC chairman or organiser?…Today, go to Kyebi and see; my hometown is Asikam, the next town from Kyebi. Roads are constructed in Kyebi, and the construction stops just at the border of my hometown. Not even one asphalt road has been constructed in my hometown…. (Samuel) Atta Akyea (Member of Parliament for Abuakwa South) distributed streetlights and when it got to my mother’s downtown, Akyem Adukrom, they did not even get a light because they vote for the NDC.”
The incumbent NDC Chairman is reported to have said that his citrus plantation was burnt after the 2000 elections and he was nearly assassinated when he was running to become the Member of Parliament for the Fanteakwa Constituency in 2004.
Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo should be appreciated for his commitment and dedication to the NDC over the years but that should not be based on his ethnic origins. Other committed members of the NDC have died since 1992 for belonging to the National Democratic Congress, the latest being about eight dead in the 2020 elections. They did not die because they were Akyems or of any particular ethnic or tribal stock. There were so many Akyems who pitched their camp with the NDC or an NDC affiliate party in the Progressive Alliance since its inception such as Dr Adjei Marfo, the late Fred Ohene-Kena of Kukurantumi, the late Danny Ofori-Atta and Mr Owuraku Amofah of Ofori Panin Fie of Kyebi itself, and others, out of volition.
My disappointment in the banal level to which the NDC Chairmanship election campaign had sunk was aggravated when it was reported that the former Eastern Regional Minister and native of Kukurantumi, Victor Smith, had said that he and other leading members of the party, including ex-President Mahama, advised Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah not to challenge Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo for the chairmanship position since it might create unnecessary tension, but he refused to listen to them. As if this was not enough side-taking by a senior member of the NDC, he added that:
“When the General Secretary called me one evening and indicated that he wanted to contest for the party’s chairmanship position, I told him that he was going to cause trouble in the party. But the general secretary told me that he had already made up his mind…. I told him that his move would lead to people spilling out some secrets, but he did not listen. John Dramani Mahama and the party leaders advised him not to contest, but he said he had already decided and it was a democracy.”
The message that Mr Victor Smith sought to convey by his interview apart from carrying the ethnic undertones of the messenger’s own place of ethnic origin also implicitly sought to inform the public that John Dramani Mahama does not support Mr Aseidu-Nketiah’s bid to become Chairman of the NDC in the upcoming elections. Mr Smith is simply urging Mr Mahama’s supporters to vote against Mr Aseidu-Nketiah. John Dramani Mahama has insinuated that he does not have any preference amongst the candidates contesting for executive positions but one of his ardent supporters just openly contradicted him in favour of the retention of the incumbent Chairman at the upcoming elections.
Then comes a National Vice-Chairman of the NDC openly taking sides in the upcoming Chairmanship elections in a manner which leaves one in doubt whether he understood what he was saying when in the teeth of Mr Ofosu-Ampofo’s plea of his ethnicity as an Akyem as one of his qualifications, Mr Said Sinare said:
“The national chairman that our party, the NDC, needs for the battle in 2024 must be a man who has been de-tribalised, a man whose humanity, humility, philanthropy, and respect for everyone, regardless of tribe, religion, or political affiliation, define him. a man who truly embodies national harmony and puts his party’s interests first…. Voting against Ampofo will be the biggest political blunder or treason our party will ever commit.”
Having worked as the General Secretary of the NDC for seventeen years, Mr Aseidu-Nketiah is entitled to contest for the ultimate position of Chairman of the NDC. Mr Aseidu-Nketiah was also entitled and deserved as of right to have wished to be nominated to be the Vice-Presidential candidate of the NDC in the 2020 elections and committed no sin for that wish. In any case, why single out Mr Aseidu-Nketiah, out of the three contestants seeking to replace the incumbent Chairman of the NDC? How does the publication of leaked audio recordings attributed to Mr Aseidu-Nketiah help the NDC as part of spilling secrets after the Chairmanship elections?
Mr Ofosu-Ampofo, Mr Aseidu-Nketiah, Nii Armah Ashitey, and Mr Samuel Yaw Adusei who are contesting for the NDC Chairmanship position need a level playing field to enable each of them to convince the delegates to the NDC conference of his merit and what he brings to the table so that the delegates may choose who they think can best serve the interest of the NDC. The plea of Akyem ethnicity by Mr Ofosu-Ampofo is negative electioneering and sins against the 31st December Revolution tradition. The interventions by leading members of the NDC who should not openly be taking sides in the electioneering with ethnic undertones as the qualification for election as the Chairman of the NDC is also doing and will do more damage to the Congress we founded in 1992, going forward.
The founder of the NDC, the late President Jerry John Rawlings, and the late Mr Justice D. F. Annan who co-chaired the meeting at the Bluegate to agree to form the NDC were not ethnocentric or tribalistic. The introduction of the ethnic and tribal element in the Chairmanship election of the NDC is a dangerous development that does great damage to the image of the late President Jerry John Rawlings and the late Mr Justice D. F. Annan a few days before the celebration of the ideals of the 31st December Revolution. It can only aid Nana Akufo-Addo’s long game for the election of 2024 to install his preferred candidate as President of Ghana on 7 January 2025. We founded the NDC in 1992 for grassroots citizens. Do not betray the people and the 31st December Revolutionary cause.