Lawyer Eric Delanyo Alifo, a former candidate in the Ho West NDC parliamentary primary and an aspirant in the next primary, was the Guest Speaker at the launch of a welfare scheme by the Sakumono South Ward NDC last Sunday, July 3rd, 2022 at the N’Joy Hotel in Sakumono, Accra.
Lawyer Alifo lauded the Sakumono South Ward of the party for their bold initiative, and he advised them in his well-received address, which touched on many subjects, including the stolen verdict of the 2020 general elections; the NDC’s social democratic credentials; the reorganization of, and internal contests in, the NDC; the monetization of elections within the party, and in Ghana; his opinion on the party’s campaign for the upcoming 2024 general elections.
At this juncture, I would like to commend your Sakumono South Ward for this innovative initiative of a welfare scheme to support your members in times of need.” It is the best security for assistance to members and far better than having to look up to others for handouts during your times of need. You have indeed given a real meaning to the social democratic ideology of our party, and your efforts are worth emulating by others. Congratulations, comrades, he happily stated.
He demonstrated immense humility and was gracious for the honour given him when he started as: ”
I am sure many of you did not know me before today.” Many may not have even heard about me anywhere before. I have never been a Minister of State or a government official of any sort. I am also not an executive of our party at any level, yet I have been honoured by you to be your Guest Speaker today. I kindly accept the challenge because I believe I have some good ideas to share with you for the good of our party and nation. Many of you, who may be seen as ordinary members of our party, may equally have great ideas, and I hope that all of us shall have the opportunity from time to time to share our opinions with each other.
In his very skilful delivery, which transformed an expected speech mainly on a welfare scheme to a full-fledged political speech, Lawyer Alifo observed as follows:
“This function is about the launch of a welfare scheme, and to raise some money to support yourselves and your activities. However, all of you are also political activists, who are undoubtedly concerned about the direction of our nation, regarding issues of governance, cost of living, and our democracy.”
READ HIS FULL SPEECH BELOW.
ADDRESS BY ERIC DELANYO ALIFO, ESQ. AT THE LAUNCH OF A WELFARE SCHEME AND FUNDRAISING BY THE NDC SAKUMONO SOUTH WARD ON JULY 3RD 2022
I salute you on this important occasion, and I appreciate your gesture of inviting me not only to participate in this your very special program, but also as the guest speaker for the occasion.
I am sure many of you did not know me before today. Many may not have even heard about me anywhere before. I have never been a Minister of State, nor a government official of any sort. I am also not an executive of our party at any level, yet, I have been honoured by you to be your Guest Speaker today. I graciously accept the challenge because I believe I have some good ideas to share with you for the good of our party and nation. Many of you, who may be seen just as ordinary members of our party may equally have great ideas, and I hope that all of us shall have the opportunity from time to time to share our opinions with each other.
This function is about the launch of a welfare scheme, and to raise some money to support yourselves and your activities. However, all of you are also political activists, who are undoubtedly concerned about the direction of our nation, regarding issues of governance, cost of living, and our democracy. Your vision of seeking the welfare of your members, is intended to help yourselves in times of need, and to attract new members, and ensure that your Ward shall remain strong and viable enough to carry out your political activities for the benefit of yourselves, and of all Ghanaians.
In fact, although your group is an integral part of the NDC, a party of individuals and groups, who share a common determination to build a stable, just, and democratic society, your ultimate purpose as social democrats include fighting for the youth of Ghana, most of whom are unemployed and crying for jobs; for the lowly paid workers and farmers of our nation, who are struggling daily to make ends meet; for our children; the elderly; and the masses, who are constantly calling for development and progress in their lives.
Together, we must be worried about uncompleted government projects scattered over the country; and for our brothers and sisters who have been displaced by the rising sea level at the coastline of Anlo, and are crying for assistance. We must be worried about the excessive borrowing by the government of President Akufo Addo and Dr. Bawumia, and we must be angry that a substantial part of this borrowed funds is spent on exorbitant foreign trips on chattered private jets.
It is important for us to identify with, or join the masses, who are telling the government to fix the country and stop LGBTQ activities in the country. The matters that are causing many of our youths to join the Arise Ghana Movement to rise and demonstrate even in the face of government sponsored brutalities through the police; to wit: high cost of living; looting of state coffers; extreme corruption of Nana Akufo Addo’s NPP administration; the sharing of state land and property among NPP officials; and the ever-rising prices of goods and services, particularly, petroleum products; affect us also.
Accordingly, all of us must be part of the Arise Ghana Movement and demonstrate along others to show our anger and disdain for the corruptors who are ruling our nation and dissipating our resources with impunity.
We must be concerned about the general insecurity in the country for the past six years under Nana Akufo Addo and Dr. Bawumia. This is of extreme worry to all Ghanaians, who cannot step out of their homes freely without afraid of being robbed, kidnapped, or attacked in various forms. Under the present government, the country is in perpetual fear. Citizens are regularly witnessing broad daylight robbery in front of banks, and on major streets.
It is our duty to get all our fellow Ghanaians to understand these concerns, and for as many as possible to come on board to fight for a change, and for the common good.
At this juncture, I would like to commend your Sakumono South Ward for this innovative initiative of a welfare scheme to support your members in times of need. It is the best security for assistance to members, and far better than to look up to others for handouts during your times of need. You have indeed given a real meaning to the social democratic ideology of our party, and your efforts are worth emulating by others. Congratulations, comrades.
Who is Eric Delanyo Alifo, Esq.?
Fellow comrades, may I now tell you a little more about my political activism, which was perhaps the reason why you have selected me to address you this afternoon. I was actually in Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology when the NDC was formed in 1992.
A few of us became strong student activists straightaway. In 1993, the party had started forming the students’ wing, the Tertiary Educational Institutions Network (TEIN).
The first of them was inaugurated at KNUST in 1993 by the likes of the late JJR, and P.V. Obeng, Alhaji Huudu Yahaya, Ibn Chambas, Ohene Agyekum, and others, and I was the first secretary. Since that time, I have not rested. I attended several youth programs, and almost all NDC national congresses until I left Ghana for law school in the United States in 2002.
While in the US, and we were in opposition, I defended the party constantly through writings in the name, “Bishop Dela,” which became a commonplace in NDC circles both in Ghana and abroad. I was acknowledged by many senior members whenever they found out that I was “Bishop Dela.” I had also worked very closely with my friends, Fifi Kwetey, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, Dr. Omane Buamah, Dr. Hannah Bisiw, and others during the 2008 campaign.
From 2007 to 2009, I worked with the United Nations Mission in Liberia, and while there, I was able to visit Ghana regularly to join the 2008 campaign, which elected the late Prof. Mills as President. I was able to also mobilize a few thousands of Dollars from my Ghanaian colleagues at the UN Mission in Liberia, which we donated to support the campaign. I returned to Ghana finally in July, 2009 and founded my private legal aid scheme, HelpLaw Ghana to provide free legal services to the poor. I have operated this charity for over 10 years, while I also became very active with party work in various ways.
I am a key member of the NDC Professionals Forum, of which I was recently appointed as the Deputy Director, Legal. I am very active in my branch and constituency of Ho West, where I contested in the last parliamentary primary. This is me – a simple ordinary foot-soldier like any of you. By my ordinary nature, I am further humbled by your invitation to me to address you this afternoon.
May I now plead that we take some time to address a number of important issues that concern our party, and which all of us have a responsibility to discuss in order to prepare adequately for the 2024 elections. Let me state from the onset that I am not speaking on behalf of the party, and my remarks do not represent any official position of the party. They are solely mine, and based on my close observation of events in the party, and my views on the direction I think the party must move in order to remain attractive to many Ghanaians.
Why NDC Remains the Best Political Party for Ghanaians
Because of its social democratic ideology, our party remains the best political party for a least-developed country like Ghana, where poverty is at its peak. Our social democratic principles distinguish us sharply from the NPP with its property-owning democracy, which does not translate proportionately to the poor and middle class.
In fact, the property-owning agenda does not even transcend all hardworking citizens. You have to be a top NPP functionary, and in the inner circle in order to enjoy the loot from Achimota Forest and Ramsar Site for instance.
The NDC and its antecedents, the AFRC and PNDC have always embraced the agenda of involving the masses in political organization and governance. Many of us were witnesses to how our late Founder JJR had carried students and the people of Ghana along during his reign, and how much he was loved by all until career-politicians re-emerged with greed, hatred, and divisive tendencies. The inspirational ideals of probity, accountability, and social justice were adopted and given life during the AFRC and PNDC regimes. It was no wonder that these principles became the defining character and philosophy of the new NDC in 1992.
Our party’s Constitution, in article 5 provides that “the party is a social democratic party that believes in the equality and the egalitarian treatment of each person irrespective of their social, cultural, educational, political, religious, and economic relations in a multi-party environment.” This ideology underlies every election manifesto of the NDC since the beginning of the Fourth Republic.
Political researchers have established the characteristics that distinguish our party from the extreme capitalist and property-owning NPP as the empowering the ordinary people; equitable distribution of public goods; improving access to social services; and pursuing economic development in partnership with the private sector. Everything you are doing here this afternoon is consistent with these principles, and you must be encouraged to uphold the principles always.
As a matter of fact, these principles, which find huge expressions in our manifestos are what endear our party to the hearts of most ordinary Ghanaians, and it was so in the 2020 elections too.
Victory in 2020 But Still in Opposition
It is heart-breaking, though that we are still in opposition after a tough election in 2020, which I believe we won because of the efforts all of us put into the campaign. The sacrifices of our supporters across the country were truly unprecedented. We had the best manifesto, so it was very easy to propagate our message, and you could see party volunteers out there, everywhere, explaining the contents of the manifesto to the electorate. I believe all of you were also involved.
The campaign itself was not very difficult because unlike in 2016 when there had not been the opportunity to compare the alternative of Nana Akufo Addo and Dr. Bawumia’s performance to the solid records of H.E. John Mahama, the story was very different in 2020, when Ghanaians had already seen the gross incompetence of Nana Akufo Addo and Dr. Bawumia, and their past rhetoric had lost all of its significance. As a result, except for the die-hard supporters of the NPP, and some independent voters who believed that it might be fair to give a second chance to the ever-failing government to see if they could redeem their bad image, the mood of the country was for change, and a return to the good old days of John Mahama.
The fact that eight people were killed by government operatives during the elections in order for both NDC and NPP to have equal number of seats in Parliament; the use of the military, and armed men at multiple election centres to intimidate and maim innocent citizens; the errors in the declaration of the presidential election results by Mrs. Jean Mensa; the circumstances in which the presidential elections result was declared and gazetted; and the refusal of Mrs. Jean Mensa, backed by the Supreme Court, to mount the witness box to give account to Ghanaians of how the election had been conducted and declared were all ample proof that the NPP administration of Nana Akufo Addo and Dr. Bawumia indeed lost the elections. Sadly however, they had managed to get the relevant state institutions to assist them to steal the verdict. This is why we have remained in opposition. It is not because we indeed lost the elections in 2020.
What is Expected of us while in opposition
While we remain in opposition, our responsibility is to remain loyal and dedicated to the party and its ideals. We must encourage the leadership of the party to roll out transparent plans to reorganize the party, particularly at the branches. All of our supporters must show keen interest in the process, and fair elections must be held at all levels to elect hardworking executives to energize the base of the party.
These processes began a couple of months ago, and I can say with confidence that they are not going badly at all. I am involved in some NEC task force activities to assist in the reorganization of one or two constituencies, and I can assure you that we’re on course to winning the general elections massively in 2024.
Competition is a cardinal tenet of democracy, so there must be competitive elections as much as possible to elect our leaders. Even if anyone desires to challenge H.E. John Mahama in our next presidential primary the person must be free to exercise that right without harassment and vilification by any of us. John Mahama shall be our flagbearer, but it is important to allow anyone who wants to challenge him to exercise their democratic rights.
We must not demonize anyone because the person has decided to contest for any internal positions. Competition does not mean division. We have to learn to accept this principle. It underlies our social democratic agenda of giving equal opportunity to all.
But much as we must encourage competition, we must also educate our members to avoid acrimonious campaigns and act in a healthy competition at all times to make our party more attractive to new ambitious members.
Leadership and Internal Elections
As a democratic party with ever-increasing youthful base, it is common to have very vibrant and ambitious members, who would want to contest for various positions to assist in organizing the party. Unfortunately, it would seem that most of us already in leadership positions, are not very anxious to welcome competitive elections most times. In order to keep our party ever-attractive to outsiders, it is imperative for us to be more accommodating to newcomers, and allow competitive contests regularly.
As we yearn to remain the best democratic political party in Ghana, it is critical to encourage the setting up of internal structures to resolve our internal conflicts, controversies, misunderstandings, and disputes. If these structures exist and operate effectively, and in a transparent manner with impartiality, there shall be fewer disputes, and serious disciplinary actions against members shall be rare. Internal dispute resolution mechanisms shall also minimize the tendency of taking our disagreements to the courts for adjudication.
Monetization of Elections in Party and Ghana
Another subject I would like to discuss is the influence of money in our politics. This is a very dangerous development, especially when instead of looking at it as genuine assistance for our hardworking party executives at the branches, most powerful and rich politicians consider it as buying the consciences of these executives in order to influence them to vote for the highest bidder whether or not the highest bidder is the best among the contestants who are seeking a particular office.
These days, because people with very deep pockets can easily buy victory in elections, we are not getting the best people to occupy political office. It is regrettable that some people try very hard to get us to accept this canker as the new norm and to engage in it if we want to serve our people. I am not easily accepting this fact. Because I know the practice is not sustainable in the long run, I would rather recommend a way of rewarding our party executives, such as setting them up in their trades and occupation, so that whatever assistance they shall get from people in high office would go to strengthen their businesses rather than see it as bribes to them to elect a particular person.
When I contested a parliamentary primary in 2018, I proposed to the delegates that I would organize an awards night for them at the end of each year and hardworking executives shall be rewarded. A friend of mine also suggested to me recently that council of elders must be set up at the branches, so that our very senior comrades who have held party positions for a very long time could be retired and appointed into this council. Moving forward, proposals such as these must engage our attention for thorough discussion.
Why NPP is Gaining Grounds in our Strongholds
It is no secret that NPP is making significant gains in some of our strongholds, particularly in the Volta Region. This development must be of great concern to us if we want to remain competitive in future elections. It is absolutely necessary that we maintain our support or increase it in our strong areas, while we strive to make inroads into areas where we do not have much love. The question we must ask ourselves is why our members are leaving and joining the NPP. Why also did many of our members fail to vote in the last two elections?
But before we come to these questions, we have to first understand that our supporters who are deserting the party are not the elderly. It is the youth who are leaving in droves. There are specific strategies directed at them by the NPP to poach them, and the strategies seem to be working to a very large extent. Apart from the dominant complaint that our party, when in government, does not assist our youthful supporters very much, there is also a feeling of alienation of the youth by the party even when we are not in power.
There is also a feeling among most of the youth that our party has been hijacked by a few individuals with deep-pockets, who manipulate the party structures and delegates for selfish interests only. Our youth feel they are unable to influence any decisions in the party, and so they do not matter. This is one of the main reasons why they are leaving and joining the NPP. When they join the NPP, they are made polling station executives, and given other assignments, so they feel they belong to a better family.
In recent times, many of our youthful supporters have deserted the party because they did not want certain aspirants to win elections. Unfortunately, these aspirants have enormous amount of money to bribe the party’s delegates, who do not bother about the feelings of other members of the party. They do not consult anyone before they make their choices. All that they think about is who has given them the most money, and they elect that person. Our youth who normally get frustrated by the decisions of the delegates, just abandon the party and join the NPP.
We have to find a credible solution to this problem in order to maintain our support base and win back some of our people, whom we have lost to the NPP. The best way to do this, especially in opposition is to open our doors and hearts freely to our youths and encourage them to register as card-bearing members of the party, and to contest for positions if they like. Our delegates must also engage members of their branches before they make decisions on their behalf irrespective of whatever they may receive from office-seekers.
What is Required of us for the 2024 Elections
I wish to bring my remarks to a close with my thoughts on the upcoming election campaign. Clearly, there had not been any elections since 1992 that our rank and file had been actively involved in as had happened in 2020. We will not have to change much of that strategy. We must work as hard as we did in 2020, by familiarizing with the party’s new manifesto, and volunteer in various campaign activities in groups and as individuals.
We must intensify our house-to-house exercise and expose the corrupt practices and gross incompetence of the current administration to the people. We must employ the principle of “Do and Die” by being very bold in policing our ballot till they are accurately declared.
The NPP administration of Nana Akufo Addo and Dr. Bawumia, seems from every indication to be the worse government Ghana has ever had. Many moderates and independent-minded Ghanaians are looking for a better alternative. In the past, the NPP tried very hard to demonize our party and made it unattractive to the elite. They succeeded to a large extent, but after they have had the opportunity to rule the nation, it became too obvious to Ghanaians that the NPP is worse in every respect that they have ever accused the NDC of.
This places our party in a good position to win the hearts of many of our citizens, who are looking for a better alternative to the NPP. It places a responsibility on us to work harder to convince Ghanaians that our weaknesses, which are nothing comparable to NPP’s abysmal performance shall be rectified if we should have the chance again to serve the nation. This is why it is important for us to organize our party in a better democratic and dignified manner, with total unity.
Activists like us must be selfless in our service to the party. Leadership must recognize and reward hard-work. Extreme lobbying for positions is one of the reasons why some very competent and hardworking comrades have never served in government at any level. I have always maintained that such lobbying denies the appointing authority the opportunity to spot the best materials for positions.
I am sure I would have been a very ‘big man’ by now if I had lobbied very much for a position in the past, especially during the reign of the late Prof. Mills, after I had gotten very close to him at some point in the United States when I attended his campaign event and spoke at the event. I became a friend to Dr. Cadman Mills through that event, and subsequently became friends with other top officials, but I never lobbied to be appointed into government.
In spite of the fact that many of my former colleagues and friends were indeed given positions, but I was not, it has never affected my love for my party, and it has not reduced my activism. This is how we must move forward, and I believe that in due course, it shall be the turn of many of you, hardworking and loyal comrades to be assigned responsibilities. Let’s remember that our ultimate goal is to get into government and make Ghana a better place for all through good governance.
Our focus should never be the benefits we shall get personally and directly from the government we shall form in 2025. Our goal must be to ensure that our party shall be elected, and all of us shall have the opportunity to help the government in diverse ways to deliver its mandate to the people of Ghana.
I thank you very much for this opportunity. I hope I have lived up to your expectation, and you shall consider me again when another opportunity comes.
God bless you, and God bless our party, the NDC.