A former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, on Saturday received an overwhelming endorsement to lead the National Democratic Party (NDP) into the 2016 elections as the party’s flag bearer.
While accepting the endorsement, Nana Konadu said progressive leadership entailed reclaiming the meaning of true citizens’ democracy where there was equity in governance participation and national development.
The former First Lady was endorsed through acclamation at the second national delegates conference of the party held at the Ghana International Trade Fair Centre in Accra.
The congress, on the theme: “United for Change; Probity and Accountability”, also saw the acclamation of a nine- member national executive to steer the affairs of the party into the 2016 elections and beyond.
The colourful event, which had been expected to start at 8 a.m., began at 11 a.m., even though most of the delegates had arrived at the venue earlier.
But the party faithful, particularly the exuberant youth, took advantage of the delay to dance to popular Ghanaian dance hall tunes and the party’s anthem.
Some of the delegates took the opportunity to make some extra money by selling party paraphernalia.
Former President Jerry John Rawlings and two of his daughters were at the congress to support Nana Konadu.
The former President, as usual, stole the show with his entry to the conference ground at exactly 12:30 p.m.
He was received with thunderous cheering, amid drumming and dancing.
Data available at the registration desk indicated that more than 2,000 delegates drawn from the 10 regions of the country had attended the conference.
The NDP, which broke away from the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), went to congress in Kumasi on October 13 2012 to elect its presidential candidate just in time to meet the Electoral Commission’s (EC’s) October 17-18, 2012 deadline for the filing of nominations for the presidential and parliamentary elections.
Nana Konadu was overwhelmingly endorsed as the standard bearer of the party in Kumasi but she was not successful in filing her candidature to contest that year’s elections..
After receiving the overwhelming acclamation from the NDP faithful, Nana Konadu called on the citizenry to demand accountability from the government as part of their civic responsibilities.
To her, citizens’ democracy included “harnessing less fanciful ideas for governance at the community level, instead of the current top-to-down model of governance that had deprived our communities of freedom of self-actualisation’’.
She said the greatest unexploited national resource was not the mineral resource, the oil find or the cocoa but rather the human resource which formed the building blocks of the country.
According to her, the NDP understood the need for participatory democracy necessary for national development and, therefore, the party had been built on the principle of inclusiveness.
‘’The NDP is founded on the ideals of former President Rawlings, which are probity, accountability and selfless devotion to duty which place people and the needs of the ordinary Ghanaian at the centre of national development,” she said.
She said the role of a democratic government was to protect and strengthen liberties and redress the imbalance between the powerful and the weak, as well as the rich and the poor.
Nana Konadu said those imbalances could be redressed through a government which focused on investing in its human resource and, at the same time, was prepared to be accountable to the people for their actions and omissions.
“We can only redress the imbalance if we identify the weakness and emphasise structural changes which would go a long way to plug the loopholes which allow the injustices to be perpetrated in the first place,” she added.
Former President Rawlings urged political parties to preach unity to signify that multi-party democracy had come of age in the country.
He explained that the parties ought to demonstrate that they had matured by eschewing divisiveness, animosity, tribalism and acrimony.
He said political parties should rather embrace unity as a vehicle of development and creative energy for the service of the country.
The former President explained that it was through unity that the best of the people could be brought together for the rapid development of the country.
He called for a level playing field that would ensure free and fair elections to ensure peace and stability during and after the elections, stressing that there would be no peace and stability in the country if the elections were not free and fair.
He called on all stakeholders, particularly the Electoral Commission (EC), to discharge their mandates diligently and transparently without compromise in order to safeguard the peace of the country.
Probity and accountability
Dr Richard Amoako-Baah, a senior lecturer at the Department of Political Science of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), commended the leadership of the NDP for selecting probity and accountability as the theme for the conference.
He explained that the open-door policy of the party which allowed newcomers into the fold was putting in practice the principles of probity and accountability.
Dr Amoako-Baah said some political parties in the country were so corrupt that they had closed their doors to newcomers and new ideas, fearing that their nefarious activities would be exposed. He stressed that there could be no peace without justice and no progress without unity.
He, therefore, called on the EC to structure its operations well and ensure that all lapses were addressed ahead of the 2016 elections.
“If a tradition is becoming non-beneficial and not working too well, it has to be changed,” he said, adding, “We often hold on too tight to tradition and that is hindering progress.”
In their solidarity messages, representatives of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) called on all opposition parties to work together to vote out the ruling NDC and commended the NDP for the near-perfect organisation of the event, although it was a relatively young party.
The national executives elected unopposed at the convention were: National Chairman, Dr Asare Bediako; Vice-Chairman, Mr Anthony Kusi; General Secretary, Mr Mohammed Frimpong; Deputy General Secretary, Mrs Betty Akufo Amoabeng; Women’s Leader, Mrs Peace Aryee; Deputy Women’s Leader, Hajia Salah; Director of Communications, Maame Yaa Edusei; Deputy Director of Communications, Ernest Owusu Bempah; Youth Leader, Dr David Sunu; Deputy Youth Leader, Charles Opoku, and Treasurer, Mrs Margaret Appiah