Where will the next batch of defectors come from?

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Folks, news report have it that “hundreds of NPP supporters in the Awutu Senya (including former regional and constituency executives as well as the council of elders from about 103 branches of the NPP in the constituency) have defected to the NDC. (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/politics/Over-100-NPP-supporters-defect-to-NDC-449428). Indeed, this happening is more than eye-opening; it is nerve-racking!!

Of course, other news reports over the period have it that some NDC members have also defected to the NPP, basing their action on dissatisfaction or discontent against the Mahama-led administration’s performance. Defection here, defection there, means nothing new as such; but what has happened in the Awutu Senya area is peculiarly interesting for all that it says, and we shall unpack it all.

Primarily, the NPP cabal may not like to hear that this defection has occurred at this time that they are expending the party’s resources to intensify the anti-Mahama campaign toward winning Election 2016. But it is not a matter for them to like or dislike. It is simply a matter that reflects a lot for us to ponder because it speaks volumes.

Nevertheless, it is obvious that they won’t like it that instead of winning “souls” from the mass of floating voters or the NDC itself (to confirm their claims that Ghanaians across-the-board are dissatisfied with the performance of the Mahama-led administration), some of the party’s own supporters would choose to jump ship. Their defection and the reasons given to justify it pose a serious credibility problem to the NPP establishment. Ironically, the defection has occurred in an area that the NPP’s candidate challenging the NDC’s Ms. Hannah Tetteh considers a “cool chop”.

The defection occurred just a few days after the NPP’s flagbearer (Akufo-Addo) had visited that area and attracted attention because of utterances from some chiefs that the gods had blessed him to win Election 2016 at his third attempt. The gods must be crazy not to foresee the defection to prevent!!

This defection means a lot for all that it is. I am really not swayed by the mere act of defection; it is nothing strange, especially in our kind of politics. Over the years, we’ve had innumerable instances of defections but can’t say that any instance particularly determined the fate of the various political parties. Even when big shots defected in those days, their car4pet-crossing didn’t have any huge impact on the polls.

Take the defection of the late Alhaji Inusah Fuseini (Kufuor’s former campaign manager for Election 1996) to the NDC at Election 2000. Many in the NDC thought his coat-turning might fetch some electoral capital, but it didn’t. Neither did that of former Rawlings followers like the former Northern regional Minister, Alhaji Fuseini, the late Salifu Bawa Dy-Yakah, Ms. Frances Essiam, Maame Dokono have any negative impact on the NDC’s political fortunes.

Even when Goosie Tanoh and the “old guards” of the Rawlings revolution split ranks to form their National reform Party or when Dr. Obed Asamoah led some aggrieved NDC members to form their Democratic Freedom Party, the NDC still stood tall. What Nana Konadu is leading her NDP to do is like throwing spittle in an ocean. It won’t wash with those who know what Ghanaian politics entails. Defections, therefore, mean nothing to me for as long as they constitute nothing significant to change the political complexion. They are a drop in the ocean, motivated by various factors, unlike what the NPP defectors in Awutu Senya have raised to turn my crank, especially at this time.

But I am tempted to raise their example to point out its peculiar significance. I really don’t care whether the news report is accurate or not, but I am tempted to believe it because so far, none of those quoted in it have come out to deny the defection and the utterances allegedly made by them. In effect, then, the defection portends a lot for us to contemplate as a significant contribution to the discourse on contemporary Ghanaian politics. Why is it so?

Forget about the likely impact of the defection on the NPP’s overall fate at Election 2016. If the reasons adduced by the defectors for shifting to the NDC is anything to go by, I think that it offers us much food-for-thought than our using it to wax in dangerous speculation at this time. We don’t even want to bother our heads over whether this kind of defection will ensure the NDC’s victory at the Presidential and Parliamentary levels in that constituency or nationwide. That’s not our focus.

We are more interested in what the reasons given by the defectors do to us even as we wonder why despite all the noise being made against the Mahama-led administration—and the hyping of hopes that the NPP would win Election 2016—some of its members (including constituency and regional executives) should jump ship to join the political camp being written off as doomed. By defecting from the NPP, have they run against the grain (at least, as the NPP’s stentorian condemnation of the Mahama-led administration would have unwitting people believe?). These defectors are really bold to go this way!!

So, we turn to what exactly motivated this defection and why it is significant for contemporary Ghanaian politics. According to the news report: “the group is of the view developments in the area, may suffer unduly if they change the current Member of Parliament of the constituency, Hannah Tetteh adding that any change would only be for parochial interest.”

Rightaway, we are given an insight into what that “parochial interest” might mean. As reported, Paa Tawiah (the spokesperson of the defectors), said “every four years we change MPs and the next person who comes would want to do something for themselves instead of the constituency… “We want to support the incumbent, Hannah Tetteh, so that she can continue the good work she has started; and when someone is doing something good you have to support them.”

Another defector, called Benjamin Antoson, said, “this woman (Hannah Tetteh) has done much and we have decided to support her for the next four years so she continues developments she has started in the constituency.” In substance, the defectors pledged to support the NDC win the 2016 election in the constituency.

Any headache here? Yes, and it is primarily in the NPP camp, clearly because of the reasons given by the defectors. Selfish though they may appear to be, their action suggests that they can read deeper meanings into issues and conclude that the devil they know who is providing them with social amenities is better than the elusive angel flying all over the place and promising them a free passage to heaven only if it can be helped to land at the Flagstaff House. They clearly have demonstrated that that they don’t know that angel to bet on.

The lessons from this defection are deep. One is that the citizens see what the government and their representative in Parliament have been able to do for them and why they should support that cause to have more amenities given them. They know what the gamble entails and have chosen to go where the trump card lies.

Their move teaches Ghanaians in other parts of the country how to make their electoral decisions, based on performance. If, indeed, the MP is effective and links up with the government to serve their interests, why change him/her or the government just because someone is crying to be in power too?

I salute the NPP defectors for this particular lesson and wish that others in all parts of the country will base their electoral decisions and political allegiance on performance and not mere political rhetoric or manipulation by those seeking to retain their hold on power or to be in power.

We leave you with two poignant questions: As these Awutu NPP members defect to the NDC, what lesson are they teaching us vis-avis Akufo-Addo’s electioneering campaign? Where will the next group of defectors come from?

I shall return…

  • E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com
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