Has Johnson Asiedu Nketia stab Johnson Asiedu Nketia in the back over the December 17 referendum?
‘Certainly No’ if you ask the National Democratic Congress General Secretary. But for the NPP, effectively, it is a YES.
That referendum includes a proposal to allow political parties to contest in local government elections.
But literally shaking his head, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) General Secretary John Boadu said he cannot understand why the NDC has announced a ‘NO’ campaign when it has all along been saying ‘YES’ during consultations.
The NPP suggests if there is anything like back-staging oneself, the NDC General Secretary has done that to himself.
Within the course of 40 days, the NPP says, Johnson Aseidu Nketia has said YES and NO.
How NO campaign evolved
A ‘YES’ vote looked pretty fait accompli for the government quite satisfied that it has done enough consultations to garner wide support from opposition parties, clergy, chiefs and CSOs.
A social media campaign for ‘NO’ largely credited to influential legal practitioner Samson Lardy Anyenini caught fire on some sections of social media.
In the growing apprehension against the idea of allowing partisanship in grassroots politics, the NDC made a big announcement on November 12, 2019.
“The consequence of exporting this polarisation into the District Assemblies is that very soon in our villages, there will be “NDC Communal Labour day” and “NPP Communal Labour day”. There will also be “NDC market” and “NPP market…” NDC National Chairman Samuel Ofosu Ampofo stated.
Stunned, the NPP is digging its archives to find prior statements by the NDC to prove this position is a “hypocritical u-turn” and several other uncomplimentary adjectives and adverbs.
At its retaliatory press conference Monday, a permanent feature in Ghana’s politics, the NPP General Secretary John Boadu found a quote he attributed to his counterpart on the NDC side.
“This is one of the topics [one of the few topics] that both the NDC and the NPP seem to be in agreement. So I will not want to [giggles] I would not want to talk too much about the advantages of having a multiparty election at the local assemblies,” – Asiedu Nketia purportedly said October 2nd, 2019.
In essence, the NDC General Secretary was for YES on October 2 but ‘NO’ by November 12, 2019.
A shift in 40 days.
The NPP’s surprise at the NDC position is corroborated by Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG) founder Kofi Akpaloo who also participated in consultative meetings.
The NDC will find it hard to see what the NPP calls a betrayal.
The party’s leaders including its 2020 flagbearer, John Mahama, has said they want to vote ‘YES’. But it is the NPP government which has put some stumbling blocks in its way.
According to John Mahama, some changes should be made in the proposed amendments if the party is to back a ‘YES’ vote.
“We have to repeal the part that says the President can appoint [10% of] members of the District Assemblies,” he said in Upper West regional capital Wa, last week.
“If they do not do it then it will not be useful to vote YES” the former president threw some lifelines for a ‘YES’ campaign.
Mahama’s explanation is also Minority leader Haruna Iddrisu’s explanation for the NO vote.
He has called the government’s attempt to allow the election of MMDCEs and also introduce partisan elections, “half-hearted” and the proposed amendments, he has called “cherry-picking.”
Haruna Iddrisu has said the Minority has drawn the attention of government to some of these constitutional anomalies. But the Minority feels it being stone-walled.
The NPP has said at its press conference all these concerns raised by the NDC has been agreed by the government.
John Boadu said the government and the NPP has given the “strongest assurance that a bill would soon be presented to parliament to take care of all the consequential amendments.”
If they have to pass the amendments now, it would jeopardise the whole referendum because it means “the bill has to be withdrawn from parliament entirely for the process to start afresh and would take us not less than 3 months.”
There is a ROADMAP TOWARDS ELECTION OF MMDCEs launched by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in July 2017 which details the need to make all these amendments, the NPP has said.
In essence, the NPP exhortation to the NDC is that let’s vote ‘YES’ today and deal with ‘NO’ later.
If the ‘YES’ campaign wins, the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) will come off in 2021. There is more time to make the required and recommended changes, the NPP has said.
But the NDC could argue, if there is more time, then making the other amendments now, wastes no time. The NPP could also say, a lot of money has already been spent and is being spent on the December 17 referendum.
While some NDC leaders appear to open the door to a ‘YES’ vote conditioned on these amendments, other sections of the NDC have locked all the windows and doors to a ‘YES’.
The National Communications Directorate of the NDC has listed 10 reasons to vote NO including the fear that divisive partisanship could destroy grassroot development.
The NPP has said it feels betrayed. And while it pummeled the NDC for its ‘change of heart’ the party also pleaded with the opposition to change their heart back again.
And its because the government needs at least 40 percent of eligible voters turning out to vote and at least 75 percent voting in favour for its ‘Yes’ campaign to succeed.
In effect, if the campaign referendum to make local elections partisan becomes partisan, it is most likely, that local elections will remain non-partisan because the ‘YES’ will fail.