At the handing over of the 455-page report to the party’s leadership in Accra yesterday, the Chairman of the 13-member committee, Professor Kwesi Botchwey, said it was time for the party to find means of collating its own results from the polling stations to the top ‘independently’.
The assertion of the committee feeds into the widely held perception that the NDC had all along been having a ‘secret affair’ with the Electoral Commission (EC) when it comes to issues of election collation.
It’s being alleged that during the keenly-contested December 7, 2016 general election, the NDC tied results collation platform to the EC’s system and therefore when the commission suffered results transmission breakdown, the NDC was found wanting.
By the time the transmission glitch was restored by the commission, the then opposition NPP had collated more than 80% of the pink sheets which represented over 24,000 out of 29,000 polling stations and knew the (NPP) candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was winning the election convincingly.
In the course of the transmission fault, the NDC told the public that then candidate John Mahama was in ‘comfortable lead’ and that he – who later became the first incumbent president to lose an election to an opposition candidate in the first round – was going to win.
The EC, at an Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting recently, reportedly admitted that the commission had suffered IT system crash during the collation of the 2016 election results.
Kofi Adams, the Campaign Coordinator for John Mahama, also claimed that IT system failed the NDC, without providing any explanation since the country doesn’t vote electronically.
The Prof Kwesi Botchwey Committee yesterday said the report submitted gives a detailed account of what led to the NDC’s humiliating defeat that caused serious agitations in the party.
The committee has listed issues like divisions in the party, especially among the top echelon, the party’s internal biometric registration of members, profligate campaign, diversion of campaign cash and materials, public perception of corruption and complacency among others, as some of the major causes of the party’s defeat.
The committee, in its report with the sub-title, ‘Listening to the voices of the grassroots,’ recounted how the divisions in the party led to its crashing defeat.
The NDC in the run-up to the December 2016 contest, reportedly spent heavily to fuel divisions in then opposition NPP to create the impression that Nana Akufo-Addo was not ready to govern the country.
However, recent utterances by leading members of the NDC have shown that the party was more divided at the top, constituency and grassroot levels than the NPP it had tried in vain to destroy.
Prof. Kwesi Botchwey was optimistic that the recommendations would help the NDC to re-capture power in 2020, if the party is able to follow what has been suggested.
Suggestive of a heavily-divided party, the report said the party should take immediate steps to mend all broken fences and recommended a “peacemaking and healing tour,” describing it as very important.
Prof Botchwey said it would create the “necessary conditions for any serious work that needs to be done” in restructuring the party.
On the internal biometric registration which turned chaotic in many constituencies across the country as the party tried to expand its electoral college, the report said it should be worked on “to restore the integrity of the biometric register.”
The 13-member committee suggested the expansion of the electoral college to include ordinary party members who need to be re-examined to restore confidence in the democratic novelty.
In his 38th anniversary speech of the June 4th, 1979 uprising, former President JJ Rawlings who is the founder of the NDC, suggested in Wa, Upper West Region, that the biometric registration was fraught with irregularities and that might have created enemies from within the party for those who were shortchanged in the exercise.
The committee also touched on the many splinter groups that were formed alongside formal party structures – a situation believed to have resulted in competition for campaign resources – since some claimed the pro-Mahama groups even became more powerful in terms of campaign resources than the party’s structures, including the national executive.
In the run-up to the crucial elections, the NDC, with state resource at its disposal, formed many splinter groups to promote the second term bid of President Mahama.
Groups likes ‘Girls Girls for Mahama,’ ‘Zongo Girls for Mahama,’ ‘Zongo for Mahama,’ ‘Youth for Mahama,’ ‘Celebrities for Mahama,’ ‘Mahama Ladies,’ ‘I Choose JM,’ ‘Ambassadors for Mahama,’ Doves for Mahama’ and others, were formed with massive resources from the Flagstaff House to prosecute the agenda, which failed woefully in the end as Ghanaians overwhelmingly rejected Mahama.
The committee also recommended that the party needs to reconnect with its social democratic philosophy and further pointed out that the NDC has a weak intellectual and research base and recommended that steps be taken to crowd the party with critical thinkers.
The committee also wants the party to strengthen its youth and women’s wings and in a remark, Prof. Botchwey said, “My job is done…it is up to you to implement the recommendations.”
Apart from Prof Kwesi Botchwey, other members were former Speaker Edward Doe Adjaho, former General Secretary Hudu Yahaya, Naval Capt. Asase Gyimah, William Ahadzi (director of research at the NDC headquarters) and Ibrahim Zuberu, (Lecturer at Accra Polytechnic and member of the NDC).
The rest are Razak Abu (Researcher at NDC’s Development Challenge), Juliana Azumah Mensah (former MP for Agotime-Ziope), Barbarah Serwah Asamoah (former deputy minister) and four members from the NDC parliamentary caucus (including the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu).
By William Yaw Owusu