Former President Jerry John Rawlings has urged the National Democratic Congress (NDC) not to descend into the gutter as the political temperature in the country rises ahead of the 2016 general election.
He said since 2016 is an election year, and as the media is awash with political rhetoric, the incumbent government must be feeling the pinch of criticism, being the party facing critical assessment from the electorate and an opposition hungry to unseat it.
“Tempers may rise and angry words exchanged, but the NDC must not allow its desire to stay in power compel its leaders at various levels to descend into the gutters and contribute to an atmosphere of insecurity and hopelessness,” former President Rawlings stated on Friday in Accra during the NDC’s Founder’s Day.
“We have to accept criticism in good faith and recognise the fact that criticism is the best form of praise. It offers you an opportunity to access your weakness and better appreciate how others perceive you,” he added.
The event, which also marked the 24th anniversary of the NDC, was held to give recognition to the contributions of its founding members and people who in diverse ways have also contributed to the success of the party.
It was attended by President John Dramani Mahama, the NDC’s parliamentary caucus and other leading members of the party across the length and breadth of the national.
Among the numerous founding members who honoured at the function were Mr Cletus Avoka, the Member of Parliament for Zebilla; Mr Jewel Ackah, the composer of the NDC anthem; and Madam Felicia Logo, from the Volta Region.
Warrant Officer Jacob Bonny and Lawrence Kofi Adika were honoured posthumously for their roles in the running of the NDC Headquarters.
Former President Rawlings said: “Today it is not uncommon for there to be multiple and contradictory response from government officials to allegations against the government or party. This is unpardonable.
“The NDC will have to lead the pack in ensuring that this year’s election is conducted in an atmosphere of transparency.
“Ensuring free and fair elections devoid of unfortunate incidents will be a huge credit to the NDC and we have a responsibility to direct all our operatives to comport themselves during the most trying moments of the campaign and election period,” he said.
The former President said: “We cannot win the trust of the people by putting up aggressive and abrasive behaviour. It will sour the electoral result and poison an already challenged political environment.”
He recounted that the NDC was borne out of the sweat and toil of the ordinary people of Ghana, who spontaneously rose up on June 4, 1979 to put an end to the arrogance of power, massive corruption and the denigration of the people of Ghana for well over a decade.
He said the NDC was established on the core ideals of truth, justice, equality, transparency and accountability.
He said the NDC had been in power since 2009 and, undoubtedly, faced some major challenges, including the scourge of the energy crisis (dumsor), a global economic downturn created by falling oil prices and unfair oil prices, as well as an unfair economic order.
“We have to concede, however, that in spite of government’s conscious efforts to ensure that we surmount these challenges, some within the party and government have swayed from the core ideals of integrity and transparency and decided that political authority offers them the opportunity to push the boundary of political decency.”
The former President called for soul searching within the rank and file of the party, where they could candidly look themselves eyeball to eyeball and question their contribution to the success or otherwise of this political force.
Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, the NDC General Secretary, announced that the party’s manifesto for the 2016 elections was ready and would be launched very soon.
He said the NDC’s operational manual, which would guide the daily activities of party officials, is in print and would be launched together with the manifesto.
He said plans are underway to establish permanent structures for the party’s school, to ensure that the knowledge and experience of the older ones are passed to the younger generation.