President Mahama Must Face Reality

“As Young Democrats, we believe in youth empowerment and thus have been blessed with the importance and trust the President put in his appointment of young people. However, the experiment has woefully failed the party as there seemed to be no solutions forthcoming to our challenges.” The growing resentment against the President and his government across the country and the pessimism shared amongst NDC party members on the chances of the NDC to retain power in 2016 has drawn us into the fray in cautioning the President, John Mahama to be responsive to the feelings of party members and Ghanaians. It has become a norm in recent times to wake-up to news of NDC group here and there rebelling against decisions made by the President and his government. To top it, is the breeding despondency of even senior party members regarding appointments made by the President. As we in the Young Democrats continue to mushroom our membership in readiness for election 2016, we wish to draw the attention of President Mahama to the fact that his actions and inactions and that of those in inner circles of government are effectively posing overwhelming challenges for us in convincing swing voters in joining the umbrella party for the coming elections. As we tour the lengths and breadths of our country in our mobilization efforts, it has become evidently clear that, President Mahama has lost touch with our party members and the reality on the ground. The lamentations expressed by many of the regional executives that engaged with the Young Democrats had all been directed to the insensitivity of the President. Their beef has also been that, the President has surrounded himself with people who have no previous engagement with the NDC while relegating those who defied the odds during successive campaigns to bring the party to where it is today. Then, unfortunately, we also have a Vice President who is increasingly becoming irrelevant and is being openly challenged by other Cabinet colleagues for future party leadership. Needless to say, how could President Mahama continue to keep a Chief- Of -Staff who once confessed not to have even read any of the NDC party manifestos before his appointment? How could the Chief- Of -Staff (COS) perform in such a strange environment without the knowhow of the platform, institutional culture and dynamics of the NDC party? Is it true that the COS once-battled the NDC Party Chairman at the Flagstaff House to prevent the Party Chairman from seeing the President? Hon Alban Bagbin What about the allegation made numerous times on national radio by now Ambassador Tony Aidoo, when he worked at the Castle, that the COS never responds to mails sent to him. This was identical to complaints by “wiseman” Hon Alban Bagbin that he too could not see the President, and was being prevented by certain people. These allegations are just the tip of the iceberg which forced senior NDC party men to come out in public and complain in the media. We in the Young Democrats agree with the assertions made by party national executives to the effect that Prosper Douglas Bani is the chief architect of the Better Ghana Agenda fiasco. The untimely death of Mr P.V. Obeng, who was also helping the President a lot at the Flagstaff House, makes the void at the top of government even greater. With growing rumours of a mass demonstration during the world cup, on power cuts and the water rationing, it is urgent that President Mahama shows some balls to make radical changes to his government. This is not a time for mere university dormitory room-mates. Reshuffling of deputy ministers alone can only equate to washing a tipper truck. Changes are necessary in top government ministries and at the seat of government. The mediocrity that continue to characterize most of our policy making and implementation process require the urgent need for accomplished individuals with proven track record to effect positive change to the socio-economic woes of a once epitome of a blessed nation. We wish President Mahama acknowledges that, the current state of his government is not what he wished for hence must ignore inconsequential party misgivings and the paranoid of a selected few in order to get on board much more experienced party members to transform our current state of affairs. Young Democrats As Young Democrats, we believe in youth empowerment and thus have been blessed with the importance and trust the President put in his appointment of young people. However, the experiment has woefully failed the party as there seemed to be no solutions forthcoming to our challenges. And this has contributed to the arrogance and impertinence many of the youth and party members are expressing through press releases and protests in the constituencies and regional branches on the President’s appointments. The culture of insolence, impudence and arrogance so far that has developed amongst party members has been unprecedented in our country’s history. Ekwow Spio- Garbrah To this end, and in our party’s interest, we wish to urge President Mahama to solicit the injection of more radical change agents and implementers into his government. The experience and toughness of Alban Bagbin is worth the risk to bring back to government as that may re-energize the change effort. Ambassador Victor Smith too wanted the Chief of Staff post well back since the days of Prof John Mills. Some in the party think Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni could have been a good Chief -of –Staff, but like Baba Kamara it is obvious that Ghanaians will not forgive the NDC for having a Northern President and northern Chief-of-Staff. Then, there is Ekwow Spio- Garbrah who is usually touted by many of the party’s youth and interest groups as the most attractive and formidable candidate for the flagbearership of the NDC, should Mahama lose interest in 2016. Many including top party members can still not come to terms with Spio Garbrah’s inactive role for five years in the NDC governments of Mills and Mahama considering the weight of our socio-economic challenges. As one national executive lamented “how could Spio-Garbrah be of such a great use to the Rawlings’ government, Commonwealth of Nations, and most recently, African Development Bank and yet Mahama could not tap his experience and undisputed technocratic propensity to influence our drive for a Better Ghana Agenda?” Or is Spio-Garbrah facing identity crises in the NDC boardroom that the footsoldiers or grassrooters are not aware of? Many party members have made repeated calls for Spio’s involvement in mainstream government machinery. Others have recognized his astuteness, dynamism, toughness and the high respect he enjoys from colleagues as ingredients for the perfect Chief-of -Staff even in the days of our late Prof. Atta Mills, or any other top appointment. But why has President Mahama remained silent on Spio, to force Spio to seem to turn his back on the NDC party to seek lucrative international jobs? President Mahama could have benefited from Spio- Garbrah’s inventiveness, charisma, global connections and repute, and his attention to fiscal discipline as an effective Chief-of -Staff. Or since President Mahama has such confidence in Hannah Tetteh, maybe he should consider her for the post of COS, if she can manage her co-cabinet colleagues, and free the Foreign Ministry for another appointee. There is also Dr. Valerie Sawyer, who has been Deputy COS for five years and could rise to the top post, if she has enough clout to command the respect of her colleagues. We NDC Young Democrats are not sure Ghana has had a female COS yet, so if these or any woman could do the job well, we are for it rather than Mr. Bani. perfect opportunity Since most Ghanaians have lost confidence in the current team surrounding the President to transform the economy, the perfect opportunity has come for the President to bring in these experienced new faces into government to trigger renewed confidence from party supporters, sympathizers and general public. With roughly a year to correct the mistake before campaign for election 2016 opens, President Mahama must seize the opportunity to impress Ghanaians that he can make tough decisions in the supreme interest of Ghana and not of a selected few within the NDC top hierarchy. If President Mahama is using the reshuffling of deputy ministers as a dress rehearsal for the big shake-up at the very top, then fine. If President Mahama is really following the situation of the National Chairman, Dr. Kwabena Adjei, who has served the party dutifully and diligently since its formation, he would be aware that there are constituency Chairmen and Secretaries who will wish to contest Dr. Adjei. This is due to the anger, despondency, regret and the bitterness with which we in the NDC have gotten into. May you live Long Mr. President. By: Rashid Bawa, Communication Director, Young Democrats