Feature: The vote that has paralyzed the NDC

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) is in a state of national mourning. There is no official announcement of a death in the umbrella congress. But within and without the Adabraka head of office, where the third floor was once dedicated to propaganda, all fasces are long and grim.

It all started in the wee hours of Friday, March 24, 2023, when the House decided to take a simple vote on a matter of national interest. In the visitors’ gallery was the General himself, apparently to put the fear of God in all the 136 party representatives eligible to vote. The unwritten instructions were all over to feel. Reject all the President’s men or feel the power of the Chairman.

And what was the party line – With ‘Boshieba’ John Dramani Mahama lacing his boots for a third round battle with those seeking protection under the elephant, the ground rules were that all 136 members were under orders to reject all six of the President’s men.

To the NDC, the Friday evening vote was a matter of ‘Do and Die.’ When the Electoral Commissioner in the person of Mr. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, announced the results, all six sailed through. They were helped by more than 20 rebels who defied the whip provided by General Mosquito himself.

If the outcome was dramatic, the manner of the announcement was hilarious. When the Speaker cleared his throat to pontificate on the outcome, all was quite on the usually noisy floor. One could hear even a pin drop.

“Honourable members, at long last, the coalition of votes has ended…” The Speaker said there were 275 eligible voters, with three absentees bringing the electoral register to 272. Out of this figure, Mr. K.T. Hammond, the President’s nominee for Trade and Industry, has 154 yes and 116 No, One rejected ballot and One abstention.

Minister of Agriculture nominee, Mr. Brayn Acheamong received Yes=167, No=98 Rejecte-1, Abstention=3. Mr. Stephen Asamoah Boateng, Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture, was credited with Yes=147, No=122 and Abstentions –3.

Mr. Mohammed Amin Antah received Yes=152, No=117, Rejected=1, Abstentions=2 to be approved as Minister of State at the Presidency. Mr. Osei Bonsu Amoah, Minister of State-designate for Local Government and Decentralisation, was credited with Yes=149, No=120 Abstentions=2. Mr. Stephen Amoah, Deputy Minister-designate for Trade and Industry Yes=146, No=123, Abstentions=3.

The announcement of the results by the Speaker silenced the vociferous NDC Minority in the Chamber and created confusion which was still raging at the time of going to press last night.

Former President John Dramani Mahama said he was disappointed in his NDC parliamentarians who have, as it were, stabbed the party in the back. Read his lips: “Unfortunately, Ghanaians were sorely disappointed yesterday, when several members of the Minority, for some parochial and personal interest, voted against the principled position adopted by the party.

“I am also disappointed,” the man strapping his boots for a third attempt to return to Jubilee House is said to have posted on his Facebook page. “Those responsible for this betrayal,” he warned, “must do some serious soul-searching and learn to place national interest over personal interest.”

What the former President is refusing to acknowledge is that those who rebelled against the NDC in the Chamber, were clearly rebuffing the brute show of force exhibited by Asiedu Nketia as the Chairman of the party with clear instructions from the man seeking to return to Jubilee House.

I am told that NDC serial callers and communicators have declared a strike action over the vote. Like Chinua Achebe described in ‘Things Fall Apart’, the centre cannot hold.

It is normal in democracies for some members of Parliament to rebel against the party line. But, when as many as 30 members flout an official directive in a Minority Caucus of 136, there is a problem which could not be resolved by simply labeling the dissenters, rebels, traitors and other negative descriptions.

The truth is that the NDC, as a political concept, is split down the middle. The road to the party primaries has thrown up a number of refusniks who believe the ND is not open enough.

The problem has been compounded by the unilateral decision to weed aside the minority leadership in the House. Whether the likes of Asiedu Nketia, author of the Kwasia Bi Nti concept of politics, and his boss seeking re-election like it or not, the likes of Haruna Iddrisu and Muntaka Mubarak could not just be cast aside with the swing of one political arm.

I have heard lame excuses from some refusniks who insist that the President’s men ought not to have been approved. I cannot count myself among political gurus in this country, but I dare state that leaving those ministries without political heads would have amounted to sabotaging the system.

The rebel group in the NDC has sent a clear message to be more consultative than authoritative. All may not be well under their watch. They are on notice to change tactics or be prepared for another fruitless trip to the Supreme Court come January 2025.

I feel very sorry for Dr. Caisel Ato Forson, the new leader of the Minority in Parliament. What happened in the House on Friday should send a very powerful message to the Member for Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam that he is presiding over a divided Caucus.

His demeanor as the television cameras captured him in the cauldron of the House after the vote was the very embodiment of a vulture beaten by the rains.

Just by the way, where are our vultures? These days one does not capture the sight of vultures circling round in the sky, looking for carcasses. It is not the very best of descriptions, but I dare state that on that Friday evening, the Minority Leader looked completely overwhelmed by what was happening around him.

The Akans would tell you, Se Wosusu Preko Pow Wose A, Mogya Na Eba. If you shine your teeth all of a sudden, you only succeed in drawing blood.

The lesson in this for the man they call General Mosquito, party leadership is better executed through tack and diplomacy, rather than brute force. Force has a way of intimidating some people some time. For most people, force only leads to rebellion. It is never the solution to major political problems.

I have heard many commentators stressing on using the vote in the House to paralyze the system. I do not believe the answer to the myriads of economic problems facing the country could be solved by paralyzing the Central Government. We all appreciate the enourmity of the problems facing this society. The solution, dear reader, lies in our ability to be honest to ourselves and the country that props all of us up.

I shall return!

Ebo Quansah in Accra


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here