Former President Jerry John Rawlings has stated that unity in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) can only work if there is a commitment to truthfulness, integrity and sincerity.
“I am beginning to hear about unity, unity, unity. It’s a beautiful sound and I like it very much, but unity comes at a price. It’s not asking for money.
The theme for the year-long celebration is "mirroring the past into the future."
In attendance were former President Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, former Vice-President, Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur; the National Chairman of the party, Mr Kofi Portuphy; the General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia; the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, and other national executive members of the NDC.
Also present were a former National Chairman, Dr Kwabena Adjei, former appointees of the party, former and current Members of Parliament (MPs) as well as former metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs).
Unity under threat
The former President, who was welcomed to the podium with a happy birthday song in recognition of his 70th birthday (which falls later this month), told the audience that the ball was in their court to prevent the process of unity from being hijacked.
“I don’t think you people (supporters) know how strong you are. I know how strong we are and I did nothing to undermine it. I served for 10 years, went to election twice and served another eight years. I know our political strength and did nothing to and never wanted to undermine it in any way. If I had done so, the 10 years of the revolution would have been the end. Whatever happened? How did we squander it this way?” he asked.
Former President Rawlings said the NDC appeared unable to hold on to its consistency despite its potential to win every election.
He was critical of how the political strength of the party had been undermined and wondered how that potency had been squandered.
“Power corrupts us too quickly, too easily. We need to re-examine ourselves. We need some serious education. The younger generation knows very little about who we are and where we are coming from. If we do not appreciate accountability, how can we correct the mistakes we made?” the NDC founder questioned.
That, he said, was necessary instead of a “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop” approach.
Former President John Dramani Mahama urged members of the NDC to refrain from talks as to who leads the party in the 2020 general election.
He stated that instead of expending efforts on who would lead the party into the next elections, members of the party must join in the reorganisation efforts from the branch to national levels in order to rebuild the party and make it strong.
"If we join forces and reorganise the party well, the person to lead the party will emerge naturally. I am confident that the NDC has what it takes to recapture power if we reorganise well. This is not the time to talk about who leads the party in Election 2020. As the leader who took the party to the last election, I have accepted the blame for our defeat. This is the time to rebuild our party and all must avoid the blame game," he said.
Reorganising the party
Former President Mahama urged party members not to feel downhearted about the party's defeat, stressing that this is the time for all to join in the reorganisation efforts to build the party.
"We did all we could but God did not give us victory. As I said earlier, we lost due to incumbency disadvantage and I urge all to avoid the blame game," he stated.
While acknowledging that six months was not enough to assess the performance of the new administration, former President Mahama said the initial signs emerging from the current New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration did not bode well for the nation.
He cautioned the NPP government against political vigilantism and what he described as wanton dismissal of persons perceived to be NDC sympathisers from the public and civil service.
"It is a bad precedence for our governance system because potentially every four years, government can change and it doesn't mean we need to sack everyone," he added.
He acknowledged the role of Former President Rawlings and other founder members of the NDC for their tireless efforts.
The Minority Leader in Parliament, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said in its 25 years of existence, the NDC had had the opportunity to govern for 16 years during which it left a proud legacy of improving the lot of Ghanaians, deepening decentralisation and unparalleled infrastructure development more than any other political party.
He urged the party faithful to rally behind the 106 NDC party MPs in their resolve to live up to the task of keeping the NPP administration accountable and make Parliament strong.
Mr Iddrisu reiterated the need for NDC supporters to put the 2016 electoral defeat behind them and focus on the future and agenda to recapture political power in 2020.