In this second part of my article, I will continue the discussion of the problems emanating from the open challenge from former President Rawlings to President Mills’ manner of handling government affairs, especially in matters concerning the retention of the DCEs and MCEs appointed under the Kufuor NPP administration.

In any sense, getting rid of the NPP functionaries from positions of trust must be done in a manner that will not create any vacuum in the system or create room for mayhem. Democracy abhors anarchy, especially if it leads to the destruction of the very institutions and structures designed to support it.

Beyond that apprehension, I think that there are some constitutional bottlenecks involved too. I know that the MCEs and DCEs are just not appointed by the President to work. They don’t just get into office that way nor is their tenure of office tied to that of an incumbent President.

Their appointment follows a different pattern. They enter office at different times than the President and his Vice. They must first be nominated by the President and endorsed by the two-thirds majority of the Assembly members. So far, we haven’t been told that the tenure of office of the Assemblies that have been in existence so far have expired or that the terms of the incumbent MCEs and DCEs endorsed under the NPP government have ended.

We know that the Fourth Parliament was dissolved just before the new one was constituted on January 7 and President Mills inducted into office. The District, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies are still in force. So, why should the Chief Executives be chased out of office without any prior arrangements to contain the upshot? Should they leave office without properly handing over?

What dismissing them from office means is that there will be a hitch. How does the constitution define this issue in the Local Government system? Does the election into office of a new President automatically nullify the appointments of those MCEs and DCEs? These issues have to be looked into carefully before anybody allows his crave for change to disrupt the running of affairs in the public sector. Our Local Government system is admirable and must be sustained as such.

Before I leave this issue behind, I just want to say that President Mills should blame himself for whatever salvo is being fired at him at this early stage. When he was going about the country, proclaiming his confidence of winning the elections, what did he do by way of collecting or collating the names of possible appointees at all levels of governance? Was he waiting to be voted into office before consulting people for appointment into office?

I daresay that if he had already done enough grassroots consultation, he would have had handy the names of capable people to work with upon his inauguration into office. We would have seen a better move than what is happening now, which has made the NPP’s Arthur Kennedy contemptuously say that President Mills promised Ghanaians that his government would hit the ground running but is now crawling! It is good for him to present a better picture so as to sustain public confidence in his abilities.

Within the context of this early salvo from Rawlings, let me draw attention to some nagging problems that are not conducive to the NDC’s cause. Doubtless, these problems relate to some issues that have dogged the party and will continue to create credibility problems for it, even under a new dispensation being spearheaded by President Mills and his “Asomdwee” mantra.

It is important that the NDC acknowledge these problems so as to find ways to tackle them head-on before they spiral out of control to create very anxious moments for the Atta Mills administration. Although the party’s problems are many, I will restrict myself to just a few. At another time, I will bring up the rest.

First, the emergence of President Mills as the leader of the party is a huge paradigm shift for the NDC which has for long been dominated by the Rawlings phenomenon. It will take much time and persistent effort to tone down on this Rawlings presence. For the first time in the party’s history, a new face has been stamped on the NDC in government. This new face must be allowed to show up prominently so that the critics of the NDC will have something else to occupy themselves with. Let’s see more of a Mills presence now!!

Now, here is the historical aspect of this problem, which is one of the NDC’s major problems. It is the crisis of identity. By its very nature, the NDC is an amalgam of people of different political and ethnic extractions who claim to be bound together by a common strand, which is to work assiduously for the benefit of Ghana.

However, beneath that layer, party unity has often been threatened by a major problem that cannot be wished away but must be tackled in putting the party on a stronger and more even keel. The intra-party bickering between the “old guards” of the Dec. 31st revolution and the “new guards” ushered in under the NDC did much harm to the party’s interests, especially at the 2000 and 20004 elections. This bickering has its own history which can be traced to the early 1990s.

Certainly, President Mills and many others who played frontline roles in the affairs of the NDC under Rawlings were not evidently the same as the “old guards” of the PNDC era (most of whom broke away to form the National Reform Party or simply went underground, having lost their prominence to the “new guards”). The resultant mutual distrust or mere jealousy over political office created problems under the Rawlings government, which problems could resurface now if not solved expeditiously.

As the party’s leader, President Mills must ensure that the NDC work hard to patch the “ideological” gap between the “old guards” and the “new guards” so that the party’s Social Democratic agenda could be implemented smoothly for the benefit of the populace. It is only then that party cohesion can work to the advantage of the NDC. The fault lines must be identified as early as possible and tackled decisively.

Second, the Swedru Declaration that had nasty repercussions for the party in the pre-2000 election is still haunting the NDC. Apart from the internal crises that it generated, it led to a more serious problem that has dented Prof. Mills’s public image in the eyes of his unrelenting critics. Who will soon forget the “poodle” effect resulting from the hostile private media’s portrayal of Prof. Mills as Rawlings’s puppet?

This “kohinko” portrayal is what makes his political opponents insist that he will be tele-guided by Rawlings to do his bidding. In other words, even though Rawlings is constitutionally debarred from ruling Ghana, voting for Prof. Mills (his supposed “kohinko”) means giving him back the reins of government that the constitution had taken away from him.

The crux of the matter is that this image is difficult to erase. It will not vanish just because President Mills has declared (and I agree with him too) that “I am my own man!” Being his “own man” should be demonstrated in practice both in the letter of the expression and in its spirit. It is on this score that I implore President Mills to stand out to be counted as the leader of the NDC in government and not as a ventriloquist who will convey Rawlings’ sentiments and actions of governance to Ghanaians. There must not be any room for any perception of ventriloquism in a rejuvenated NDC government.

Furthermore, there are already thorny problems sitting in front of the Seat of Government to dare President Mills. How prepared is his administration to fulfill the campaign promises, especially the one on the reduction of the prices of petroleum products? The government’s critics have already begun making noise to that effect and nothing should be done at this early stage to send wrong signals. The majority of voters who placed their confidence in President Mills and the NDC must not be disappointed in any way if the government seeks to outdo the NPP for President Mills to have a second term in office or to hand over power to a future NDC President.

As I said in another article sometime ago, it is important for all stakeholders in the NDC to ensure that no one does anything to create the impression that their house is not in order. Any intention to form a cabal of so-called power-brokers who may want to call the shots from outside the corridors of power should be stifled as early as possible. Anybody who has any genuine complaint to give must find better avenues or channels through which to forward it to the President and his team.

After all, any success to be achieved by the Mills government will pave the way for a bright future for the NDC. Otherwise, the party should not be surprised if it ends up where it was under Kufuor and his NPP. If it is terrible to be in the opposition, as the NDC’s bigwigs had not ceased complaining about before the party was returned to power, then, everything that will keep the party in power must be done.

Credit: Michael J.K. Bokor, Ph.D. [E-mail:]