NDC Under Mills Is The Same Old Story

It looks innocuous, but the attack on supporters of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, by people said to be mainly sympathisers of the sitting President, after the former First Lady had faced the Vetting Committee of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Tuesday, tells a lot about the tendency of agents of the party to be violent when they perceive any threat to their interests. Over the years, the party has employed intimidating tactics as an ally in dealing with sensitive issues. In December 2008, just before the results of the presidential run-off were announced, Radio Gold, under the ubiquitous James Agyenim Boateng at the Captain’s Bridge, summoned party agents carrying machetes and all sorts of offensive weapons for an invasion on the offices of the Electoral Commission. It is instructive to note that James Agyenim Boateng now answers to the tag of Honourable Deputy Minister in the Atta Mills administration. Prior to the invasion, then candidate John Evans Atta Mills had held a press conference, at which he intimated that the commission was frustrating his efforts to become President of the Republic. By the estimation of the NDC, he had won the run-off. When Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan addressed the media to announce the results, there was the need to organise the outstanding vote at Tain, before finally declaring the final result. From the Koforidua congress, at which then party chairman Obed Asamoah was glued to his seat for nearly 24 hours, to the slaughter of opponents of the party at the Agbloboshie Market, the NDC has tended to use violence to settle political scores. When one looks at the amount of violence and potential threats to peace that have highlighted the party’s internal contest to settle on a flagbearer for the 2012 presidential election, it is not out of place to conclude that violence is threatening to be a political tool in the NDC. For a political party that was born out of the violence that greeted the rule of the Provisional National Defence Council, it does look like the disturbance of public peace is part of the attributes of the party. I am beginning to nurse the feeling that the NDC’s umbilical cord is still linked to the events that begat the coup d’etat of December 31, 1981, and that the leadership of the party by President John Evans Atta Mills has only succeeded in dousing it, not removed the violent tendencies. The Akans, the largest tribal group in this land of our birth, would tell you: Mogya Mpa Hurue Tiri Mu Da! The head of the tsetse fly could not be without blood. In other words, the NDC has not been able to free itself from the circumstances surrounding its birth. In spite of the roof-top advertisements of the leader of the party and sitting president being holier than the Pope, the party is still mired in violence. On Peace FM on Tuesday, Allotey Jacobs, the party’s maverick Communications Director in charge of the Central Region, made an allegation that ought to be taken seriously by the security apparatus of state, as the party prepares for its presidential primary in Sunyani. According to the Communications Director, who styles himself as educated fisherman, but famously known throughout the country for engaging Regional Minister Ama Benyiwa-Doe in that altercation over the sharing of contract booty in the region, some elements within the party are plotting to disrupt the counting process after the Electoral College has finished with voting in Sunyani. For me, as a political commentator, the issue goes beyond the vote in the Brong Ahafo Regional capital. It tells a lot about the way the NDC has been behaving in national politics, particularly, during elections. The population of this country has been inundated with stories about election violence over the years without any proper investigation. In the 2008 presidential and parliamentary elections for instance, Dr. Ohene, junior brother of former Minister of State Elizabeth Ohene, was attacked and seriously wounded in the eye, when he arrived at Abutia in the Ho West Constituency as a polling agent of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). In the same election process, a contingent of the NPP, headed by ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor, heading for the presidential run-off at Tain, made a detour alleging that the tactics of intimidation being exhibited by agents of the NDC was such that there was the fear that if the NPP delegation had hit town, there was the likelihood of a bloodbath. In 1992, when the first vote was organised to usher in the return of Constitutional rule, the whole nation was virtually on a war footing. Many voters were simply too scared to report at the various polling booths and be seen to be identified with the opposition. After nearly two decades of open vote, violence is abating. But, there are still pockets of violence lurking all over the country. The experience at Atiwa, where the Woman’s Organiser of the NDC, Anita De Soosoo (the name sounds more Portuguese than an indigene of this country), had her four-wheel drive vehicle zooming through a check-point manned by the youth of Abomosu, and seriously injuring footsoldiers of the opposition NPP. There is also the well-documented violence that greeted the re-run of the poll in six polling stations in the Akwatia Constituency, during which Baba Jamal, the NDC parliamentary aspirant, invoked the Jihad. Blood was freely spilled. Up till today, nobody has summoned him to answer for that. Rather, the President of the Republic is so pleased with his performance that he has been rewarded with the appointment as Deputy Minister of Information. Like Baba Jamal, Ms. De Soosoo still parades the corridors of power at the NDC Secretariat, without anybody asking her to account for the mayhem at the Atiwa bye-election. It is beginning to look like might is right under the rule of the NDC, headed by ‘Asomdweehene’ Atta Mills. As our front page today indicates, the Chief Executive of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly raided Kapital Radio in Kumasi yesterday, and seized two panelists on a radio programme, because they had mentioned his name in a manner that is not pleasing to him. It is akin to the police raid on an Accra radio station last year, when a pundit, Nana Adarkwa Barfi, Communications Director of a constituency branch of the NPP, was seized. The poor man was dispatched to court under a certificate of emergency, and placed in prison custody. It took a very strong public opinion against the unwarranted use of influence on the part of officialdom, to get the young man released. The NDC and its officials apparently, believe in brute force for solving sensitive problems, instead of dialogue. It tells much about the way the party is nostalgic about its background. Born in violence, violence is virtually a game plan. In all this, evidence is all over the place that the party in government has not imbibed its own gospel of probity, integrity and accountability that has been trumpeted to the high heavens. On Wednesday, Minister of Education Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu made her long-awaited trip to Parliament to answer questions on how the education budget was being handled. According to the minister, who made a hasty retreat from the Attorney-General’s Department, after losing many high profile cases, it cost a whooping GH¢261,681 to construct a six classroom block in the Ashanti Region under Atta Mills ‘Better Ghana’ rhetoric. In the Eastern Region, the same unit block cost GH¢254,570. In a strange system of assessing the same project in the 10 regions, the state is mandated to cough GH¢263,963 in the Brong Ahafo Region for the same project. In 2008, the Kufuor administration pegged the same project at GH¢84,000 in all the 10 regions of Ghana. That is not all. As you read this piece, the Government of Ghana is committing the state purse to a loan of US$1.8 billion for the construction of the Eastern Corridor road from Asikuma, at the interchange of the Ho and Hohoe roads, to the north. Dear reader, in 2001, President John Agyekum Kufuor secured the construction of the Mallam-Yamoransa Road for just about $87 million from Japan. Eventually, the Japanese government made it a grant, meaning that the state never paid a pesewa. The Japanese government dispatched Japanese contractors to execute the job, for which the public purse in the Far East settled the cost. What is interesting about the cost of the Eastern Corridor Road is that the cost is more than 20 times the estimate for the Mallam-Yamoransa Road. I do not believe that the Eastern corridor road, for which oil revenue has been pledged, could even be 10 times the length of the Mallam-Yamoransa Road. Evidence is emerging that the NDC in government is not only learning from the brutalities that culminated in its birth from the Provisional National Defence Council administration. It is learning fast from the many under-hand dealings that characterised PNDC operations. If anybody tells you that this nation has done any good under this administration, tell the proposer, with my compliments, that the NDC had not moved any step away from the brutalities that gave birth to the PNDC, and ultimately, the party. Transparency cannot be one of its major attributes. In case anybody locates Tawiah anywhere, let him send my message to Atta. ENKOYIE!