Insults, insults, more insults… won’t win Election 2012

Over the past one week alone, several pronouncements from the NDC camp have focused on the NPP’s flagbearer, Nana Akufo Addo, to such an extent that no single day passes by without anything damning being said about him. All these pronouncements have one common pinpoint: highlighting the negative aspects of Akufo-Addo’s standing.

Indeed, the pronouncements have centred on his past, present, and future, creating the impression that he is not fit to be Ghana’s President. Reading news reports on these pronouncements, one might be tempted to conclude that the NDC camp has found an antidote to the NPP’s campaign of demonization and outright condemnation of everything done by the NDC and its government.

By this approach, I think that the NDC is certain that its campaign to paint Akufo-Addo black and make him unattractive to the electorate has really taken off. Of course, Akufo-Addo himself has also come to notice for bad-mouthing President Mills (as visionless and incompetent, for example) and must have invited all the hell and brimstone being poured on him.

Probably, his utterances at the Tertiary Education Students Conference (TESCON) of the NPP at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi last week in which he called for “visionary leaders who think big, act big and do big things to develop the country” must be the cause.

The screaming headlines in the online media (JoyFmOnline and Ghanaweb.com) conveying these pronouncements against him are enough to tell us how he is being sent to the cleaners. Here are some of those pronouncements that put him on the spot:

1. “Baba Jamal: Notorious Nana Addo talks big, delivers little.”
2. “Mills: I chuckled over Nana Addo’s election taunts.”
3. “Nana Addo will frighten himself not Ghanaians in 2012—Koku Anyidoho.”
4. “Jamal dares Nana Addo to reply Cameron.”
5. “Nana Addo’s Better Ghana promise “is a wet dream”—Felix Kwakye.” A member of the communications team of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Felix Kwakye Ofosu, has questioned the aptitude of the flag bearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to deliver a Better Ghana Agenda when voted for as president. He said Nana Akufo-Addo is visionless and a “belligerent braggart” who is prepared to plunge the country into anarchy just to win power in 2012.
6. “Nana Addo will never be president—NDC MP.”
7. “Arrest Nana Akufo-Addo—Kofi Wayo.”
8. “Nana Akufo-Addo had Third Class at the University—Baba Jamal.”
9. “Nana Addo’s warlike comments confirm his state of mind—Twum-Boafo”

Probably, a somehow passionate appeal by the Managing Editor of the Al Hajj newspaper, Alhaji Iddrisu Bature (an NDC sympathizer) says a different thing. He urged Ghanaians to sympathize with Nana Akufo-Addo rather than condemn him. He observed that the desperation of NPP flag bearer to become president was very visible in his recent comments at the Africa Conference in Germany and that he should be pardoned for making such blunders. “Nana Addo should be seen as a victim. There have been so many conspiracies played out against him which would make it difficult for him to lead this country” he said.

All these pronouncements against Akufo-Addo alone were made in just one week! Something unusual must be happening for this barrage of utterances to be unleashed against him. Regardless of what he might have done or said to provoke that much ire, I think that there is more to the issue than we can fathom now.
But that’s not how to take the bite out of Akufo-Addo. It is not how to deflate him either. Indeed, such vain propaganda won’t win the elections for the NDC. In effect, that’s not how to win elections.

There is nothing new about Akufo-Addo that Ghanaians are looking for to help them decide whether to reject him again or give him the nod this time. All that there is to know about him has been in the public domain ever since he emerged as a Presidential Candidate. It is no exaggeration, then, to say that those who want him to be Ghana’s President will not change their minds just because he is being dinged.

In the same vein, those like me who don’t want him to rule Ghana will never change our minds, no matter how much whitewashing he goes through. That’s the picture, which reduces to absurdity any pre-occupation with him at this stage. The government has better things to do and must do them.

Probably, Rawlings’ claim that President Mills’ poor performance has made Akufo-Addo the most popular politician in Ghana today should have been framed otherwise: the NDC camp’s pre-occupation with throwing mud at him won’t necessarily derail his campaign efforts nor will it wash with the electorate unless better means are used to reach out to the electorate, basing campaign messages on the government’s accomplishments and its plans for a new four-year term if retained in office.

For far too long, the wordy warfare between the NDC and NPP camps has angered the people instead of creating any good will for either. Indeed, comments from public-spirited personalities and the widespread condemnation of the ongoing politics of insults suggest that the electorate are looking for better messages. They won’t fall easily for any of the camps that insults the most. The electorate want issues-based campaigns and will be turned off by what the NDC camp has resorted to.

Of course, politics involves rhetorical manouevres aimed at persuasion but when the main tool being used is nothing but the undermining of political opponents and outright call to arms, one should be worried. The perpetrators should expect some boomerang effects.

From what has happened in just this past week alone, I am not persuaded that our politicians want to indulge in clean electioneering campaigns. We expect the political waters to be muddied all the more as we approach the major campaign season.

As the tension mounts, fear looms large. The government must ensure that it sustains the peace and tranquility that Ghanaians need to live their lives even if they are complaining about the harsh conditions of life and blaming the government for it or listening to the scathing comments from its opponents. The government must do all it can to prevent anarchy while ensuring that it doesn’t itself become a vicarious participant in this dirty politics. It shouldn’t succumb to pressure to engage its political opponents in anything unruly. It has better means to market itself and must use them to advantage.

The fear is that in a system like ours in which virtually all institutions of state and human affairs have been tainted with partisan politics, no one seems to trust anybody; and if care is not taken in responding to the taunts and threats posed by its opponents, the government may end up taking desperate actions that will provide ammunition for its detractors to create chaos in the country. Ghanaians are peace-loving people and shouldn’t be threatened in any way. No one should be allowed to overstretch his political ambitions to the breaking point to cause mayhem.

In democracies that are designed to succeed, insults don’t become the main weapon. Politicians win elections through sound reasoning and cogent policies and programmes that endear them to the hearts of the electorate. Our Ghanaian politicians need to learn such a lesson. But will they?

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

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