So, what are the political parties telling the electorate?

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016

Folks, we are in the major political electioneering campaign period for Election 2016; yet, nothing specific is at issue to help us know what the various political parties are about—whether complaining against or supporting. Everything is in flux, unlike what happened in previous periods.

Let’s just say here that there is too much doing the rounds this time, which makes it difficult to know how each party is projecting itself or damning its opponents. I will take on the two major parties (the NDC and the NPP) for analysis and chip in whatever there is about the minority parties to suggest that the stunts for Election 2016 aren’t as meaty and exciting as they were for previous elections. It appears that the NDC has more to gain than its opponents do. Mere criticisms and appeals to sentiments can change the paradigm easily.

What is at stake, then?  Let’s simply isolate some for purposes of suggesting that the ongoing campaigns are either boring or bereft of substance, which makes me wonder whether our politicians are really interested in contributing anything substantial to grow our democracy.

We begin with the NDC front. Of course, being the incumbent, the NDC administration has an onerous responsibility to tout its accomplishments as its main political strategy to woo voters. And it has as tall list of such accomplishments at various levels, especially in infrastructural development. Every part of Ghana has something to prove that the Lion of Gonja has done a lot to give the people projects dear to their hearts. No need to itemize those projects. The evidence is glaring. Only handicapped political miscreants will say otherwise.

The NDC administration will also thumb its chest for ensuring national security, peace, and stability despite all the challenges posed by deviants in the system. Under the Lion of Gonja, Ghana remains united and stable, fully secured for whatever purpose that its citizens or foreigners seek to achieve.

Isolated major problems in this area remain to be solved. One is the activities of the Chinese undesirables who are on the rampage all over the country, indulging in illegal gold mining, timber/lumber prospecting, or any other that has irked Ghanaians because of the massive negative impact (environmental pollution, especially). That’s a major source of threat to national security to be addressed.

Whatever else there is to boost the NDC’s political rhetoric can be better seen than described. over to them. I hope the launching of the party’s manifesto on September 17 will be used to instill hope in the people about what the government can do for them after all that it has done thus far. That moment shouldn’t be missed.

The NPP, being the main opposition party seeking voter support to unseat the NDC, doesn’t have any clear message for the electorate. Its campaign efforts appear to be unfocused and too broad to create the negative impression that it is not prepared for the power that it is direly seeking. Why so? Just a few instances. It comes across as disorganized, especially if one considers its power structure and the fact that it is entering the elections with tentative officers at the helm of its affairs. It has an Acting National Chairman (a political turncoat ridiculed as Fraudie Blay) and an Acting General Secretary who also doubles as the National Organizer (John Boadu).

Too much flip-flopping here to erode confidence. Never before has the Danquah-Busia front been so undercut by its own flagbearer. But that is what Akufo-Addo has reduced the NPP to at this point. I don’t know how the party can circumvent constitutional provisions on the endorsement of the flagbearer by a substantive Chairman or General Secretary. If care is not taken, these Acting National Chairman and Acting General Secretary problem will pose the greatest challenge for the party and reduce it to rubble. Mark my words here, folks!!

Beyond this administrative hiccup are major problems as far as the messages to drive the NPP’s campaign efforts are concerned. Nothing new is coming from it. All that Akufo-Addo and Bawumia have been sending out is stale and unattractive to the electorate. They are behaving as if they don’t know how to undo the incumbent. So far, the campaign stunts by Akufo-Addo have raised more controversies than prospects for success at the polls. In Northern Ghana, he hit a brickwall when all that transpired and received much publicity was rebutted by the chiefs with whom he interacted. That’s a terrible backlash.

His tour of the Ashanti Region—considered as the birthplace of the NPP sand, thus, an automatic safe haven—hasn’t sunk well. He was reported as saying that 80% of votes from there could get him CLOSE to the seat of government, leaving people to wonder why he would say “close to” and not “into” the Flagstaff House (that he defiantly labelled as “Jubilee House”)? Diffidence here? I don’t know.

As if that limitation is not enough to detract from his worth, a statement from a group calling itself the Ashanti Youth (or something like that) quickly reacted to what it considered as the NPP’s negative politics against the Asantehene. In a statement, the group made it clear that it didn’t like the way Akufo-Addo and his NPP are playing the Asantehene against the government and warned of dire consequences. The NPP hasn’t reacted to that vitriol. Any careful observer of the situation can see a lot here to suggest that the Ashanti Region is open for the grab and not exclusively set aside for the NPP. That’s a serious point for the NPP to consider.

Beyond this issue is the fact that the NPP machine hasn’t refined its strategies to uplift its campaigns to a higher level than what it presented at Elections 2008 and 2012. It’s all about personal attacks, intimidation, open threats, and what-not!! The electorate are constantly being bombarded with ear-piercing complaints about President Mahama’s “incompetence”—even when the voters know that he is competent, at least by way of what he has given them so far to accept as their part of the national cake—and nothing else.

Even when given the moment to brighten their own corner with what they have to supplant President Mahama’s accomplishments, they can’t use it. They are not sure when to launch their manifesto or what exactly they have up their sleeves that Ghanaians haven’t seen before. All that the NPP is doing now is raising ex-President Kufuor’s performance as the hallmark. Akufo-Addo is in the forefront, praising Kufuor for initiating social interventionist programmes (NHIS, Schools Feeding Programme, etc.), seeking to use that as a crutch for his own campaigns. How ignorant couldn’t he be? Do the voters not know what went abysmally wrong with the Kufuor administration to spell Akufo-Addo’s doom at Elections 2008 and 2012? Why re-open that wound now?

In truth, the NPP doesn’t have any specific campaign prop. It is lost. At any rate, its book and rogue politics won’t permit it to go far afield for anything that can appeal to the electorate. That is why the lecture on Ghana’s economy that Dr. Bawumia delivered on Friday adds to the tall list of inadequacies facing the NPP in this electioneering campaign period. Nothing encouraging came from that lecture to suggest that it will earn the NPP any vote. So, where else will anything come from to boost the NPP’s chances? The expectation that the government will make mistakes in its dealings with the people between now and Election Day? Or the hammering on the supposed failures of the government? Will it be recourse to tribal politics (Where is Kennedy Agyapong now?) or to narrow segments of the electorate such as teacher or nurse trainees whose allowances have been redirected to a broader scope to serve them better than what they’ve been hooked on all these years? Will it be the impulsive “One District One Factory”, or “One Village (in Northern Ghana) One Dam”? What else?

Folks, you can tell that for Election 2012, Akufo-Addo led the NPP’s armada with the knee-jerk promise of free senior high school education, which the uninformed people bought into only to be bounced by the better informed voters who endorsed President Mahama. And from all indications, the construction of state-of-the-art community day schools all over the country and the government’s management of affairs in the education sector, including the progressive free education policy of the government, have reduced Akufo-Addo to rubble on that score.

That is why he is no more talking about that promise. He has gone haywire, bringing in other promises to enrich the NPP’s “Concert Party” enactments. Such a huge joker is leading the NPP astray. We wish him well in London as he graces the birthday p[arty for his nephew at a time that he is needed in Ghana to lead his party’s campaigns. Such a character!!

So far, so good for an analysis of happenings at the NDC and NPP fronts. It must be clear at this point that while the NDC is determined to project itself on the basis of what it has done so far to warrant its being retained at Election 2016, the NPP under Akufo-Addo is fixated on fault-finding in the mistaken belief of a “try-me” political breakthrough. He says he won’t stop begging Ghanaians to put him in office to replace the “incompetent” Mahama. Meantime, he hasn’t shown Ghanaians what makes him “competent”. What exactly is his campaign message apart from this Quixotic venture and blowing of hot air by him and his running mate? I don’t see it. Do you?

I have little patience for the minority parties because they have no traction. They are either following in the footprints of the NPP or can’t come into their own to prove that they can break the NDC down. What I know them for is simple: that they are gearing up to turn themselves into bargaining chips should there be a run-off. Becoming bargaining chips means looking for favours, which breeds corruption. I don’t want to waste my breath on them. if their leaders can cough out the filing fee that the EC is demanding without knowing that they don’t matter to the electorate, so be it.

Putting everything together, though, we can say that the political parties need to add value to their campaign stunts so the electorate can see Election 2016 as a drastically improved version of the previous ones. Otherwise, the value will remain the same. Our democracy cannot improve that way.

I shall return…

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