A while ago, Parliament was worried about the death rate among its former members. There was what appeared to be a survey that suggested that people who leave parliament have shorter life expectancy that was likely worse than the national average. After their glorious days in parliament—whether through being booted out or other means—our former legislators waste away so fast and sometimes tragically. That’s no-good news.
Should another survey be conducted on other political office holders, I believe the result would not be any different. There is a real problem that needs solution. While this phenomenon is nationwide, I am more inclined to discuss that of my party, the National Democratic Congress.
The recent seemingly rogue actions by some former senior officials of the party, as far as I’m concerned, should not be taken lightly as part of the natural course in the life of a party. It is a psychological problem that demands psychological solutions. Some of our former senior officers and members who occupied positions are suffering from withdrawal symptoms of power.
This is basically the challenges individuals face when they are no more in a position of power with its attendant attention and privileges. Often people summarily dismiss this as a real challenge. They believe that life is not static and therefore being out of office should not in any way affect one’s personality. They argue that if you received hundreds of calls yesterday and no one responds to your own calls today, you should move on. Collin Powell once posited ‘Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with.’ It is the best advise a politician can get, but as it were, not every one may timely come by this.
Many are those who handle power withdrawal symptoms well. These may be those who understand very well, the dynamics of power or have experienced so much instability that a change from a higher position to a lower kind would not shake them in any significant way.
Currently in the NDC party, the challenge of withdrawal symptoms of power is eating into the fabric of unity. Most of the people who seem to be against the mainstream modus operandi of the party, and often make utterances about concerns they could have used internal channels to convey, are former officials. While some may have a disposition for being politically candid, I think majority of them are suffering from the psychological challenge.
They are not able to handle not being in power and issuing orders. It can happen to anyone. They are actually victims of a problem they have no control over. We must make them know. Perhaps we may find solutions to the challenge after it is identified and accepted. They are sane; they don’t need psychiatrists. They just need Psychologists.
If not for these symptoms, how on earth will a former MP who had a Research Assistant after December 9 not know that the 2020 election results—if the EC’s is anything to go by—produced the best percentage increase in Central Region for a party that has been in opposition for just four years since 2000? He blames a quintessential female running mate for the party’s so-called poor performance in the last elections. The elections that produced the closest parliament in the country’s history, and currently the closest in Africa—most likely. This can only be a symptom of you-know-what…, sure you get it.
In a few months before the general elections in July, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman was selected by His Excellency John Mahama as his running mate. It was the first for a major party. Interestingly, she was selected at a time a global pandemic was at its peak and ravaging the world. Consequently, the campaign faced the challenge of not doing the orthodox things in a time of social distancing and mask wearing. There was a consensus on not organizing mammoth rallies which effectively increased the number of towns and villages candidates had to engage.
The Professor hit the road and with a rigorous campaign tour that could make any under-thirty envious of her energy and resilience. In the short period, she travelled the entire country and visited some regions more than twice. She met hundreds of traditional authorities and interacted with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people in mini rallies across the country. Intermittently, she met various interest groups in well put-together fora, exchanged ideas and in the process explained the party’s 2020 manifesto in a more targeted manner. These were things expected of a running mate of the largest opposition party, and she indeed delivered!
This may not be the time to project the credentials of Prof Naana, as they are well known by Ghanaians that gave John Mahama and herself over six million votes, and the NDC a majority in parliament—except some people were killed to prevent the latter. However, it is highly unacceptable to blame a noble woman who has distinguished herself both in public and private life as well as in political campaigning for what you—a former member of parliament who has been rejected by the grassroots in a primary—see as bad performance.
The MP went an extra mile, ’a Ga should pair our Gonja Former President Mahama to win the 2024 elections.’ No student of political history in Ghana will take this statement seriously. In intellectual discourse, that can be categorized as ridiculous. As a unitary and well-integrated country, we all look forward to the day two people from the same ethnicity will run as candidate and running mate on a party’s ticket. No matter how utopian this is, it wouldn’t be a bad wish. However, for the foreseeable future in Ghana, that won’t happen.
You don’t go into an election in Ghana as a serious party by ignoring the largest ethnicity in putting your tickets together. While some in the NPP are bent on projecting the Vice President in an effort to take the ‘Akan’ tag off the party, we cannot push away our Akan running mate in the last election to remove the ‘non-Akan’ tag on us. It’s that simple. There is a course available in Political Science in the University of Ghana, ‘Electoral Politics in Ghana’. Honorable should consult and get empirical with his argument. To say Prof Opoku-Agyeman should be changed is wrong, based on her record and competence. But to go further to suggest she should be replaced with a Ga constitutes a display of one’s ignorance about electoral politics of the country. Like all other ethnicities, Ga people will sooner produce an elected head of state for the country, albeit impracticable with the current permutation.
After the honorable left office, he has been in the news for many reasons. Before he left was his allegation that he has been robbed at the party primaries that ushered him out of parliament. Afterwards, he ambitiously—had the right to—run for a seat with the Council of State. The result was clear. After that was a rather explicit response to his ex-wife about an issue he had long ignored. That should have been discussed privately. He has also spoken about the Achimota issue, where we share position. But generally, it is obvious he has to take it easy. Respectfully, honorable you may have to see a psychologist.
I have seen enough around the world to appreciate the qualitative rise of Prof’s gender. From New Zealand through Germany to currently, Tanzania; Jacinda Adern, Angela Merkal, Hajia Hasan and many more deserving women, are changing the world in ways that have caught every one’s attention. We won’t be different.
As a party we need our former executive and senior members. At least, we need to tap into their experience. After all, the party gave them the opportunity to garner such experience. I humbly posit that the party as part of its education system, should have a resident psychologist or a team of same. The function of this should be to work on party members before and after they have occupied positions. This will not gag people from expressing their views after office, but will reduce the number of-ex officials who go ‘rogue.’ They will learn to manage the withdrawal symptoms of power. Recently Trevor Noah asked Former President Obama about his ability to talk when necessary, after being in office for eight years as the most powerful man. His answer was intriguing. You may listen: https://web.facebook.com/watch/?v=2160829074051918. Prof Naana is our Jewel. 2024 is ours, and everyone is needed. God Bless us all.
By: Fidel Amakye Owusu.