The Centre for Social Democracy (CSD) and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), in conjunction with the leadership of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), have started a series of debates for aspirants seeking to contest the national executive positions of the NDC.
The debates are aimed at providing an opportunity for delegates of the party to hear at first hand the visions and missions of the aspirants in order to make informed decisions.
The NDC is scheduled to hold its annual congress on November 17, 2018 during which its national executive would be elected.
Prior to that the Youth and Women’s wings of the party would hold their conference at the Pentecost Convention Centre at Gomoa Fetteh to elect their leadership.
Three aspiring women’s organisers absent
At the first of the five series of debates for the youth and women organiser positions held at the conference room of the Faculty of Law of the University of Ghana last Wednesday, only one aspirant of the four vying for the position of the Women Organiser was present.
Apart from the incumbent, Madam Zaynab Joyce Mahama, who was present, the three others, Hajia Tawa Zakari, Madam Margaret Chiravira and Dr Hanna Louisa Bisiw, were absent and according to organisers of the debate, they had not given any reason for their non-attendance.
However, there was full representation by the three aspirants vying for the position of national youth organiser and they were Mr George Opare Addo, Mr Yaw Brogya Genfi and Mr Wonder Madilo.
Addressing the gathering prior to the start of the debate, the acting Director of Elections of the NDC, Mr Bede Ziedengm said being the first of its kind, the functional executive committee (FEC) of the NDC had bought into the initiative by the CSD and FES.
He described the initiative as laudable, noting that in the past, debates of that nature had been limited to only presidential candidates and later to their running mates.
The Programmes Director of the FES, Mr Michael Nii Abbey, said the FES believed in the promotion of social democracy and development.
The belief of the FES, he said, was that in the consideration of every democracy, the electorate ought to be abreast of issues through a contestation of ideas by those putting themselves forward to contest elective positions in order to make informed decisions.
The Chairman of the Debate Advisory Board of the CSD, Ambassador Lee Ocran, urged the aspirants to espouse their visions and ideas to lead the NDC to victory in the 2020 general election.
Responding to questions from the moderator of the debate, Hajia Zaynab Joyce Mahama said she had a line-up of activities aimed at revamping the women’s base of the party towards re-capturing power in the 2020 polls.
One of those activities, she pointed out was to work assiduously to empower the women of the party by establishing skills development centres to train women for various trades with a view to empowering them to rally behind the NDC.
Her next line of action, she narrated, would be to establish a special female force that would play a major role in spreading information and campaigning towards election 2020.
The special female force, she said, would also have a mandate to supervise polling stations during the 2020 elections.
National youth organiser
Mr George Opare Addo, a former Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for the Akuapem North Municipal Assembly between 2009 and 2016 and a current student of Ghana school of Law said it was a reality that the youth in the party had been neglected and that was one thing that the party ought to work on.
When given the nod, he said he would encourage young people to work hard for the party so that when it returned to power, they would be honoured.
For his part, Mr Yaw Brogya Genfi said he had served the party, from branch organiser to regional youth organiser of the Ashanti Region.
With a sharp focus on victory 2020, he was strongly of the belief that the party needed people with experience to lead the youth wing in transforming the electoral fortunes of the party.
Mr Wonder Madilo, who is from the Volta Region, said he had been part of the party from 2008 till now.
He said he envisioned an active youth wing who were prepared to effectively canvas for votes towards the new victorious future of the party, saying “It’s my dream to turn up the vote pattern of NDC. The youth wing is calling for autonomy. We must change the front.”
Neglect of the youth
Mr Genfi was of the view that the party had lost track of a good number of its members who felt neglected, stressing the need to go back and make amends while Mr Madilo posited that as a party the NDC had moved from social injustice to social inequality.
“I am an encouragement to many youth since I came from a background where my family is not known in the political space,” Mr Madilo stressed.
According to Mr Genfi, “we have many youths in the party who have contributed to the cause but they feel neglected. We must first recognise that and go back to the root and find solutions to it. Like I said, politics is about numbers.”
However, Mr Opare Addo was of the firm view that the youth ought to add value to themselves in order to be relevant and be recognised by the party.
“Let nobody tell the youth in the party that there is no neglect. It’s time for us to go back to the basics,” Mr Opare Addo maintained.
On the spate of vigilantism, Mr Brogya Genfi was of the view that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government under President Akufo-Addo had failed the youth, adding that “they rode to power on lies, saying the NDC needed an attractive point to sell to the youth in order to win them over.
Mr Opare Addo said given the nod, he would encourage a government of the NDC to meet land owners to work out an arrangement for the youth to enter into agriculture, saying “we must also look at the issue of sports and mining to attract many youth.”
Mr Madilo said he was more interested in a youth wing that would be ready for battle and in response to vigilantes from the NPP, stressing that “let's meet them at any point in time. We will match them boot for boot.”
For him, the time had come to combat the NPP because it was a known fact that the NPP would lose the 2020 elections.