The NDC, whilst in office, wrote off its charismatic founder but after the humiliating defeat in the 2016 general elections, it is now persuading him to come back and help to prepare for the 2020 general elections.
The NDC founder, known for his charisma and charm, was conspicuously missing in the NDC’s campaign because of disagreement between him and his party, even with a publication linking him to a Parkinson’s disease.
Last Thursday, the minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, led a delegation of NDC legislators to visit the former president at his residence in Accra, where he called for unity within the party towards the future.
The minority leader, who is being touted as going to lead the party for the 2020 polls, reportedly acknowledged that the NDC was not in the best times and said metaphorically that the calabash had been broken and that the pieces could be gathered together again.
“We trust that if you guide us and lead us well and the party goes through a proper process of reorganisation to strengthen its grassroots…we will not be in opposition,” he reportedly beckoned Mr. Rawlings.
The minority leader noted that members of the party could express themselves “but should not be done in a manner that will jeopardise the chances of the party and its preparedness for the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections.”
For Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the party “must take a collective responsibility in accepting the past and a collective responsibility to work together going into the future.”
In what could be interpreted as an attempt to bury the hatchet with their founder, the Tamale South MP asked Mr Rawlings to take up the reigns of leadership, saying, “We want to work with you …We want to act strongly under your leadership and guidance for us to have a united front of the NDC, regardless of our personal differences.”
Mr Iddrisu also touched on the issue of members venting their frustrations at the expense of the party’s image, saying that a member’s expression ought not to come at the expense of the party’s chances in the 2020 parliamentary and presidential elections.
According to Mr Iddrisu, the party as a whole needs to own up for both past mistakes and ready itself for the future.
The absence of the former president on the NDC campaign trail last year was so conspicuous that it became talk of the town.
Apart from Cape Coast where the NDC launched its national campaign in August, 2016, Mr Rawlings was never seen at any campaign event, including the manifesto launch of the party in Sunyani in late September.
He refused to endorse John Mahama as the party’s presidential candidate when he attended the NDC Cape Coast campaign launch, but asked the party supporters to wait till after the elections before he would go round the country ‘to rebuild the party.’
He also refused to disclose whom he voted for on December 7, when asked, saying that his vote was secret.
At a point when everybody was asking about the whereabouts of the former president in the NDC campaign, the party’s General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia said brazenly that he (Rawlings) was too old to campaign for the then ruling party.
He had queried cheekily on Joy FM that “If Jerry is your father will you pull him to campaign at this age?”
At a point, the NDC used Africawatch Magazine, published by Steve Mallory, to discredit the former president, claiming he had Parkinson’s disease – a publication which compelled the former leader to threaten the publishers with libel.
His wife Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings also left the party and there is no indication she will ever return to their fold.
After the humiliating electoral defeat, gurus in the party were at each other’s throat over who actually caused the defeat, with one group insisting that the former president should take the blame.
The Greater Accra Regional organizer of the NDC, Anthony Nukpenu, said that no personality other than Mr. Rawlings contributed to the party’s defeat, claiming that he (the ex-president) continuously painted the Mahama administration as corrupt; and that gave the opposition the weapon to fire more salvos.