Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, Minority Leader in Parliament
Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, Minority Leader in Parliament

Changes in NDC parliamentary leadership: MPs, party faithful express varied opinions

Days after the National Democratic Congress (NDC) effected changes in the leadership of the Minority in Parliament, there have been varied reactions by party faithful with some Minority MPs calling on the leadership of the party to reconsider the decision.

While some think the changes would bring vibrancy in the party in preparation for the 2024 elections, others think the timing was not appropriate as the outgone leadership had lived up to expectation and needed to be maintained.

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The party last Tuesday announced changes in the leadership of the Minority Caucus by appointing Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, Kwame Governs Agbodza and Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah as new leaders to replace Haruna Iddrisu, James Klutse Avedzi, Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka as Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader and Minority Chief Whip, respectively.

Until their elevation, Dr Forson was the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee while Mr Armah-Kofi Buah and Mr Agbodza were the Ranking Members of Trade and Industry, Roads committee respectively.

Disillusionment

Speaking to the Daily Graphic, a former Minority Leader, Cletus Avoka, said given the crucial timing of the 2024 general election, the national leadership of the party must consider rescinding its decision to change the leadership of the party in Parliament.

“This will be a good arrangement,” the former Minority Leader said, arguing that in a bid to foster cooperation among Minority MPs, the newly proposed leaders should decline acceptance of their appointments.

“It will be unfortunate if they do not listen to this suggestion and if that happens, I can see the Minority Caucus not necessarily being fractured but some of them will be disillusioned that you cannot get the best out of them again.”

“The discipline may not be the same like the way we used to have where Chief Whip can have absolute control over members and this is something we must try to avoid.

Mr Avoka expressed worry that if the national executive declined his suggestion, “my fear is that the unity of purpose we used to have as opposition may not be the same 100 per cent that we are having now.”

I respect decision but….

The MP for Twifo/Atti-Morkwa, David Vondee, said there were about 50 to 60 Minority MPs that had registered their concerns over the changes made by the party’s leadership in Parliament.

“The concern is about the process, the timing of the change and the way the communication was done,” he said.

In his view, the appointment or election of newly proposed parliamentary leaders, whom he described as very good friends of his, in critical times must not be done in a way that would continuously deprive them of maximum support to enable them to achieve the expected result.

“We are in the midst of the New Patriotic Party trying to bring back to Parliament the Agyapa Royalties deal and playing with the National Cathedral issue which is shrouded in so many scandals.

Mr Vondee noted that the process for change should be conducted in a manner that at the end of the day would allow the new Minority Leader, Dr Forson, and his team to enjoy the cooperation and support of Minority MPs.

“Haruna got the Speaker of Parliament elected, got a whole government budget rejected and so on. He was able to do that because he got the absolute support from the caucus.

“Haruna has become an institution, not an individual, and if you deal with such a person in this crucial time, you need to be so circumspect in order not to lose those clouts around him,” he said.

He added that: “I respect the national leadership position but my opinion is that we can communicate that decision better than we are doing currently,” Mr Vondee said.

Chairman’s explanation

The National Chairman of the party, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, hours after the announcement was made in an interview with the Daily Graphic, explained that the move was part of the party’s ‘reorganisation’ for the 2024 general election.

According to him, there had been a series of changes across all levels of the party towards the 2024 polls.

From branch elections, constituency elections, regional elections and national elections, Mr Asiedu Nketiah said it was now time to introduce new faces to the party’s frontline in Parliament, hence the change.

In his view, the timing is right.

Reactions

However, hours after the announcement on the same day, some aggrieved supporters of the NDC in Tamale besieged the Tamale South Constituency office in protest of the removal of Mr Iddrisu as the Minority Leader in Parliament.

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They claimed that the decision of the party to remove the Tamale South legislator was unfair and unjustifiable, and could cause the defeat of the party, especially in the Northern Region.

They, therefore, issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the leadership of the NDC to reverse the decision or risk incurring their wrath.

Unpopular decision

Mohammed Fugu reports from Tamale that the Tamale South Constituency Chairman of the NDC, Rauf Sumani, described as surprising and unpopular the changes in the leadership of Parliament.

“We have never witnessed anything like this since 1992, we do not understand. Why do they want to sabotage Haruna Iddrisu? The key message we want to send to the party’s national chairman and general secretary is that the decision is not good. Nobody is aware of this. It was only the party leadership that did this. The decision should be reversed within 24 hours,” he fumed.

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A group calling itself Concerned Dagbon Youth has also accused the leadership of the NDC of engaging “in tribal machinations which will harm not only the immediate past Minority Leader but also the party”.

According to the group, the changes were motivated by tribal sentiments and would go on to affect the fortunes of the NDC.

Congratulations

Meanwhile, the leadership of the NDC in the Central Region has congratulated Dr Forson on his appointment as the new Minority Leader in Parliament.

A statement signed by the Regional Secretary, Gabriel Nii Kommey Adams, said Dr Forson's elevation offered ample testament to his hard work and dedication to the cause of the party in Parliament and to the country in general over the years.

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“He joins a distinguished array of sons and daughters of the region, who have brought honour to the region through their meteoric rise to various high offices,” it added.

The statement said the Central Regional branch of the party had absolute confidence in Dr Forson’s ability to perform excellently in his new role of leading the Minority in Parliament to keep the “marauding and underperforming Akufo-Addo government in check”.

That, they believed, Dr Forson could do by subjecting the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) to strict legislative oversight and scrutiny to protect the citizenry from the abysmal and appalling governance they have offered.

Acknowledgement

The statement went on to acknowledge the significant contributions of the immediate past Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, and his leadership team's contributions to the party and the country’s parliamentary democracy.

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