Has President Mahama really abandoned the Volta Region?

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Folks, I have already expressed my opinions on whether the Volta Region will remain as the NPP’s nemesis at Election 2016.  I have done so, guided by history, precedent, and a good sense of what has been happening in our Ghanaian political situation over the years. In politics, tradition counts.

Not to be glossed over also is the stated opinion of the NPP Establishment that has created the impression that the people of the Volta Region are averse to the NPP, which explains why much stake is being put into the electioneering campaign to change that trend at Election 2016. That explains why Akufo-Addo is telling the people of the Volta Region that he wants to build a new relationship with them and that he will not discriminate against them if elected President. He needs their support for that matter.

Akufo-Addo’s four-day tour of the Volta Region and matters arising have exposed certain grave issues on that score to consider. That tour has so far taken him to Southern Volta Region, particularly, Anloga (Anlo constituency), Aflao (Ketu South constituency), and Mafi-Adidome (representing Tongu South and Central constituencies). These are the constituencies which have always voted massively against the NPP.

News reports of Akufo-Addo’s interactions there provide enough food for thought, which I will position myself to raise and digest in this opinion piece with the view to casting light on hidden truths, conjectures, and apprehensions that are crucial to the political discourse on the place and role of the Volta Region in shaping the fate of the NDC and NPP at Election 2016.

The other political parties are a complete washout that need no mention in this rhetorical setup. At best, they are mere fodder for the NPP and NDC. They could do better by collapsing themselves into these main parties. For instance, Dr. Nduom and his Progressive People’s Party are fit for the NPP while the other mushroom parties (PNC, Ghana Consolidated Popular Party, Hassan Ayariga’s APC, and all others claiming the Nkrumahist bent) are fit for the NDC.

The others claiming to be operating as political parties with no office anywhere in Ghana are fit for nothing but abolition, which the EC should muster up enough courage to do. Madam Akua Donkor’s Ghana Freedom Party has already identified with the NDC and must be advised to fall in step appropriately. Others led by Odike and Co. are mere irritants to be squashed out of existence if they can’t reason properly to know where to belong). Too many political parties of their kind only end up spoiling the broth.

In any case, sentiments expressed by the chiefs and opinion leaders in their interaction with Akufo-Addo need expatiation. News reports bluntly stated that the chie3fs and people expressed grave concerns (or disappoint) that although the Volta Region has sustained the NDC in power, it has been neglected. The implications are far-reaching, especially if we place them in the context of Election 2016. The most obvious one is that the Volta Region won’t go for the NDC again.

Let’s weigh some of the reported utterances of the spokespersons for the people in the areas toured by Akufo-Addo. At Ashaiman, leaders of the Ewe Community accused President Mahama of abandoning the Volta Region, creating the impression that they would shift toward the NPP but needed firm assurances from Akufo-Addo that he would deal properly with the Volta Region. Others came from elsewhere:

MAFI ADIDOME

“Togbui Atatim IV, Chief of the Mafi Traditional Area in the Volta Region has condemned the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) for abandoning developmental projects in the area started by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) when the party was in power. According to him, the unfortunate action by the NDC government which has got massive support from the Volta Region has stalled development in the area.

Speaking on behalf of Chiefs of South and Central Tongu, in a meeting with Nana Akufo-Addo, in Adidome, over the weekend, Togbe Atatim IV was speaking on cited some projects which has not seen continuation under the NDC government.

“In Central Tongu, the construction work on a Police Head Quarters in Adidome which was started by the NPP government but has been put to a halt by the current NDC government. Work on the fence wall for the Teraferi Dam was expected to be continued by the NDC government after a plan had been drawn and started by the NPP government on this project but nothing has been done since. In fact there are numerous other such projects in both South and North Tongu that will be mentioned at the appropriate time. We know that you Nana, you are capable of rising to the occasion and will not disappoint us.” (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Volta-Chief-condemns-NDC-for-abandoning-projects-started-by-NPP-440836).

AFLAO

The Paramount Chief of the Aflao Traditional Area, Togbe Amenya Fiti V, has refuted claims making the rounds that he, in 2013, promised to deliver 100,000 votes to President John Mahama in the 2016 elections. According to him, those reports are false, and his statement made on the day have been deliberately twisted by some media houses to put him in bad light.

He said a lot more to create the impression that he personally benefited from Akufo-Addo and Alan Kyerematen’s interventions when they were part of the Kufuor government. (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/I-never-promised-Mahama-100k-votes-Togbui-Fiti-V-440817)

PRESIDENT MAHAMA’S DURBAR WITH ANLO CHIEFS AND OPINION LEADERS

At that durbar at Anloga, the chiefs and people of Southern Volta Region expressed grave concern about hardships and lack of support for initiatives to develop the Volta Region. President Mahama made assurances to reverse the trend.

SOME GRAY AREAS

Why didn’t Togbe Fiti refute those publications at the time but would do so now and turn round to retrace his connections with Akufo-Addo and Kyerematen? (Togbe Fiti was cited for fraud and was to be prosecuted but set free because of our deplorable justice delivery system. Much still exists to incriminate him over the Diamond Cement issue).

What has become of the water project that President Mahama and Faure Gnasingbe of Togo jointly announced to commence in the Southern Volta Region, water being tapped from the Ada estuary for that purpose?

Has the NDC administration really abandoned the Volta Region? How? What exactly does the Volta Region need that the government has failed to provide so far to warrant the complaints and threats to shift political allegiance (as if one should expect a herd mentality in the electoral decisions that people make in that part of Ghana?).

What have the various local authorities been doing such that they cannot connect with the people to solve problems? And why should the matter degenerate to the point that these chiefs and spokespersons are holding President Mahama to ransom as they express favourable interests in Akufo-Addo? Are they to be trusted, though? Why is the impression of a herd mentality being created by these chiefs and opinion leaders as if the voters in the Volta Region aren’t free to make their own electoral decisions?

Of course, they are individuals with opinions and votes that they cannot force others to accept. Their agitations may not fetch anything politically useful for Akufo-Addo, given the fact that in the polling booth, they won’t be there to dictate to the voter how to vote. So, the arm-twisting manouevres emerging now may not cut butter. That’s what Akufo-Addo has to be wary of. If he buys easily into what is happening now, he will end up more disappointed than ever on election day. What happens when someone manages to please these seemingly disgruntled chiefs and spokespersons to eat back their vomit on the quiet? In politics, anything can happen.

It is still too early in the electioneering campaign period for utterances of this sort to be stamped as a fait accompli to determine the fate of the incumbent or those challenging him. A lot more is happening on the quiet that may not easily come to notice but which will determine the outcome of Election 2016. That is why it is advisable for one to be circumspect before jumping to any conclusion on the basis of the sentiments being expressed.

In our part of the world, politics is very much influenced by on-the-spur-of-the-moment considerations, even if we appreciate the fact that certain electoral decisions made over the years appear to have given us a pattern of “for or against” as regards the fate of the politicians and their political traditions. That pattern explains why the Volta Region is easily established as the stronghold of the NDC and the Ashanti and Eastern Regions as those for the NPP.

Infact, swing regions hold more for these parties than their strongholds do. So, what is the big bluff about strongholds worth? Only for purposes of reinforcing bragging rights? And what are the benefits of those bragging rights? Just to feed into the negative politics of ethnicity or whatever!!

I wait to hear what these very chiefs and opinion leaders will say if President Mahama happens to visit their domains on his campaign tours. For now, we wonder whether the government isn’t being blackmailed or held to ransom by these disgruntled chiefs and opinion leaders. How the government wriggles itself out of the tight corner should open us new windows through which to see things as efforts continue to be made to improve governance.

Indeed, doing so goes beyond mere political rhetoric and assurances of redemption. The people’s ears are stopped to such high-sounding promises. Folks, the stage is set for more of such somersaulting sessions, especially as the main electioneering campaign starts.

I shall return…

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