If there is one single individual who is currently suffering from a massive internal criticism to deliver in her political party today, that person is Madam Otiko Afisah Djaba.
The criticism is not a new one and Otiko is equally not new to this kind of critique. It has always been there and in the run up to the last year`s NPP delegate congress at Tamale, she was one of the personalities in the party which many political pundits thought was going to lose her position as a result of barrage of attacks from her opponents within the party.
To many of her critics, since Otiko landed into the big shoes of Madam Rita Asobayire, the former National Women’s Organizer of NPP in 2009, she has not been able to radicalized NPP`s woman`s wing. The department is a pale shadow of its former self, no meaningful activities take place to help equip women of the party to strategize for effective campaigning in the electioneering periods. This situation culminated into massive attack on Madam Djaba. Her detractors also latched on to make matters worse as she became a target of morbid internal mudslinging against her reputation by branding her a “traitor” due to her hometown (Bole) and blood ties with President John Mahama.
On top of this, she is seen as pro-Kufuor and an Alan loyalist in within the NPP and her non-performance inferred directly as a deliberate attempt at working internally against the presidential ambitions of Nana Akufo Addo. On this particular allegation, Otiko vehemently disagrees and has waged a media campaign of her own to successfully quell to retain her hard earned dignity.
Before delving into the issue of what Otiko is not doing right as the women’s organizer of the largest opposition party in Ghana and how she can best utilize opportunities and human resources at her disposal to ensure the optimal growth, resilience and electoral success of NPP, let us enjoy a personal track record and profile of Madam Otiko.
At 52 years, Otiko Afisah Djaba, the Bole-born NPP women’s organizer is no political naiveté. She was born into a die-hard UP family, her father Henry Kojo Djaba was a millionaire industrialist, former Ghana football Association (GFA) president and a staunch CPP activist turned UPist. Mr. Djaba, a Manya Krobo indigene from Somanya operated the largest Neoplan buses “I shall return,” his unrepentant UP association caused him to be chased into exile by the Rawlings regime. Otiko had her Danquah-Busia-Dombo ideology inculcated into her from infancy.
Otiko is learned, very vibrant, dynamic, innovative and with fresh ideas and holds a degree from university of Development Studies (UDS), Tamale. She has wide experience in development communication and rural development. Otiko held many senior level positions in prestigious organizations as a communications consultant and a development practitioner. She is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer 2002 of Miidan Educational Trust (NGO). She developed top notch programmes for televisions and FM stations across the country.
Before contesting for NPP women’s organizer position in 2009, Otiko has been the Personal Assistant to the late Vice President, Hon. Aliu Mahama. She has also been a parliamentary candidate for Bole-Bamboi constituency in 2008, a member of the National Communications Team of NPP, and as a polyglot, she speaks eight local dialects including Hausa, Gonja, Dagbani, Wale, Twi, Fanti, Ga and Dangme.
With this solid profile, Otiko’s occupation of the NPP National Women Organizer position from 2009 to date is well-deserved.
Despite criticisms against her, she has always shown a superb communications and debating skills that always sent shivers down her political opponents especially those from the ruling NDC government. She has proved herself as a strong and resilient individual who believes in equality for all and an advocate for more women in politics, the right to education for all and above all believes in Ghana.
At certain times when the leadership of the party were tight-lipped about the manner some founding members of the party have ignored the laid down rules and waging a media war against the leaders (especially Nana Akufo Addo) and structures of the party, Madam Otiko took matters to her hand and single-handedly dealt with them in a sustained media banters.
Last year, even when she was being accused of working against the interest of Nana Addo, she shocked her detractors by slamming Dr. Nyaho Nyaho-Tamakloe, Dr. Arthur Kennedy and Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobbey, for what she described as their attempts to run the party, and many of its leaders, into the gutter for their parochial aims. In her anger and a manner uncharacteristic of her, she declared that “God will punish such people.”
Political commentators believe that the finesse with which she tackled the allegations against her coupled with her effective use of her superior communication skills on the media convinced her detractors and well-wishers and ensured her retention as National Womens organizer of NPP as well as enjoying the record as the only old executive that was re-elected among the new executives.
The question of Otiko Djaba`s tenureship of NPP Women’s Wing as a National Women’s Organizer needs a serious dissection and pragmatic solutions most be gathered to help the party win the 2016 elections. Though Otiko has done her best but it was not the best at all. NPP`s Women’s Wing is virtually dead on the ground.
No activities earmarked for a take-off, except that only Otiko is always heard on the radio debating as a panelist or snippets of media reportage of conferences and symposiums she attended are captured. One hardly hears about inauguration of Women’s wing at various regions and districts. It is always about Otiko on the radio or Otiko speaking at a workshop. It is time for Otiko to change tactics and bring her ideas to the grass-root because 2008 and 2012 elections have shown that that media visibility and campaign leverage alone cannot win the voters.
Per the last census, women in Ghana are more than men; and so a party`s ability to fashion out sustained pragmatic strategies and programs to win the women in the country will ipso facto translate into electoral victory. It is against this backdrop that Otiko`s role currently is very important and a daunting task than all his male executive counterparts at the National headquarters. As Eric Bawa, a political columnist in Daily Guide newspaper rightly averred, “the time has come for Madam Afiko Djaba to wipe her lipstick from her lips, learn to wear low heel shoes and jeans because the battle will be tough and there will be no time to show off designer clothes.
The advantage this lady has over other Women’s Organizers is that apart from the fact that she comes from the North, she can speak many languages. What past National Women’s Organizers did not know was that while they sat in Accra and directed affairs, Constituency Women’s Organizers did absolutely nothing. They waited until there was a function or a gathering of NPP followers, where there was a need to cook food, before they were seen in action. In fact, they were Constituency Women Disorganisers. They fought among themselves over who should take more food home after serving the delegates and who should pocket more money when the opportunity came.”
In a recent secret document I sighted on a creation of NPP`s Women’s Wing and strategies mapped out for achieving electoral success by two young, dedicated and politically astute NPP men, the answer to current National Women’s Wing was captured. I was shocked to know that a valuable document like that was sent to Otiko and nothing in its content has been implemented. Otiko has put it somewhere and is gathering dust.
The closest Otiko has come to speak about that document and its implementation was in her “Nkabom crusade” speech after her reelection at Tamale when she narrowly escaped the axe of the party’s delegates by 26 votes to beat her closest contender.
Instead of instituting the parameters in the document of the two NPP researchers within the internal NPP Women’s Wing structures as proposed, Otiko is rather talking about outside implementation with specific regards to upcoming district assembly elections. Here her: “To ensure that more women are elected into leadership positions at the constituency, district, regional and national levels, I am going to work at identifying potential women leaders who will contest both in local and national elections.”
Her main agenda for the upcoming district assembly elections and the 2016 general election is to increase the number of women at the assembly level and in Parliament. She is thus going to work with young ladies, especially those in tertiary institution, queens and other identifiable women’s groups to help increase the number of women in the country’s politics.
Otiko should start implementing the laudable ideas within NPP Women’s Wing document which put the base of the Women’s Wing Structure close to 21,000 Women Organizers at the Polling station level and representing the largest force in terms of numbers across the structures of the wing. To ensure its success, the Women’s Wing must be tasked to embark on a massive recruitment exercise nationwide from October 2015 to June 2016 by targeting females in both the formal and informal sectors of the economy as well as students.
The recruitment exercise should be held in all constituencies, Tertiary institutions and specifically designated points. The Wing should make a conscious effort of registering at least 500,000 females across the length and breadth of the country and when successfully done will translate into electoral victory for the party.
At the Constituency Level, Otiko`s strategy must involve tasking the various Polling Station Women’s Organizers to identify, encourage and recruit females they know to be sympathizers of the New Patriotic Party under the coordination and supervision of the Constituency Women’s Organizer. It should be stated that all within the wing from the polling Station level to the National Women’s Organizer would be expected to identify and register/ recruit sympathizers into the Wing and the party at large.
I will end by quoting Eric Bawa that “Madam Afiko Djaba must draw her programme to include visiting all the Constituency Women’s Organizers to see what plans they have put in place to win more souls for the NPP. There is the need for Madam Djaba to compel these Women’s Organizers to write periodic reports to her office and there is also the need for her to follow up to see what they wrote in their reports and whether any action has been taken. When Madam Djaba wanted to be re-elected as the National Women’s Organizer, she criss-crossed the country and even slept in some villages all in an attempt to win votes. Now that she has been given the nod, she should move from Accra and hit the roads.”