A great feat for popular democracy was achieved at last Saturday’s congress of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) when the voice of the people, exhibited through protests in the instance, led to a deferment of an otherwise planned key amendment to the constitution of the party.
In what seemed like a sudden revolt following former President Jerry Rawlings, the founder of the party’s call on party faithful to “listen to ourselves”, the large gathering of about 9,350 that had filled the Fantasy Dome of the Ghana International Trade Fair Centre, voiced out in a rather vociferous manner their opposition to a move to make the positions of Communications Officer and Treasurer at the regional and constituency levels of the party appointive rather than elective.
The positions of communications officer and treasurer, per the constitution of the party, had been elective as a norm until the national executive committee (NEC) of the party, as part of moves to incorporate changes into the party’s constitution, advised the need to make those positions appointive.
The concerns that informed the revolt, from interactions the Daily Graphic had with a number of delegates, was that it would be dangerous to bring a professional onboard who might lack the requisite party discipline and whose actions, in the estimation of the appointee, might not be subject to party discipline as the case would have been if the occupants of those offices had been elected.
In what could be described as an unexpected revolt the delegates broke into an endless shout of “no vote”.
No amount of attempts to cool down the swelling noise yielded any positive results. No matter how the master of ceremony, Mr Kofi Adams, the then national organiser of the party, impressed on the gathering to keep mute for him to make an important announcement, would cool them down.
Ultimately, the Chairman of the party, Mr Kofi Portuphy, announced that the amendment that had generated so much hullabaloo had been deferred.
The next words from him were “it’s finished. Yes; can we continue?”, but the gathering would not budge from the frenzied mood and would not mind the order from the topmost man of the party.
Then, he went on “please, can we continue?, it’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok.” But at that point in time, the delegates, turned much more into spectators at a football match, started singing “oley, oley, oley, oley, oley, oley” as is typically done, especially in the English Premier League (EPL) matches.
Then, Mr Portuphy called on Sammy Gyamfi, a National Communications Officer hopeful, through the microphone to “tell them we have deferred the amendments.”
Those pleas, despite emanating from the loudspeakers, fell on deaf ears until Mr Adams handed the microphone to Mr Ken Dzirasah, a respected former Deputy Speaker of Parliament, and the Chairman of the Legal Committee of the congress, who attempted bulldozing his way through the commotion to announce the next item on the programme.
But he was also caught in the same milieu and pressed on in a manner characteristic of parliamentary proceedings, saying “we want to assure our friends on this side of the aisle that we do not intend touching the subject of communications officers, so they should please keep quiet and let us conduct the business for the day. “Ladies and gentlemen, we do not intend touching your concerns so please take your seats and let us proceed.”
He, penultimately, after some work had been done by some of the party’s communicators with the delegates, had his way by ignoring the noise and continuing.
Finally, when the delegates who had gone berserk had had enough of their blues, they returned to their seats and normalcy was restored.
Thereafter, the rest of the amendments were introduced and voted on by acclamation for acceptance.