Ghana: As the NPP’s woes deepen…. And Akufo-Addo digs in… (Part II)
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Now, to the main issues that I consider as the real causes of the NPP’s defeat. The “Yen Akanfuo” label made the NPP an anathema to those who felt slighted or endangered. It is one major problem that the NPP failed to address, which was reflected in its winning again only two of the regions as it did in the 2008 elections while President Mahama was all over the regions, even garnering votes in the NPP’s strongholds. This particular limited scope presented the NPP as a cabal for the Asante/Akyim elements.
Although there is satisfaction that the party increased its Parliamentary seats from four to 10 in the Northern Region, it is no confirmation that the voters have ceased to regard the NPP as “tribalistic” in scope, form, and function. No need to belabour this point.
Another albatross which caused Akufo-Addo’s defeat and will hang on the party for future elections is the failure to use strategies other than personal attacks and vain promises. So satisfied were the NPP organizers with that approach that when they added the fee-free SHS promise to it, they thought they had sealed their success, especially in the light of the so-called endorsement of that promise by diverse segments of the society who created the misleading impression that the promise was the key to unlock the floodgates to harvest votes for Akufo-Addo. Unwavering belief in that tip took their attention away from the huge iceberg of mistrust, distrust, and disdain lying beneath the surface.
As the situation would turn out to be, though, everything that was coming from those purportedly supporting that promise was a hoax. If it wasn’t, the votes would have flooded in from parents and students. But they didn’t, apparently because the voters knew that the demerits of that promise far outweighed any merit that might have prompted Akufo-Addo to go on that wild goose chase.
Inability to assess issues beyond their own self-serving perceptions was another factor. The NPP organizers concentrated attention on inciting segments of the society against the NDC, as was the case of Mensa Otabil and the Christian factor. The NPP organizer who said he would be shocked if Christians voted for the NDC was just being petty, and must have seen the harm only at the end of the elections. Recourse to religious sentiments won’t win elections because the Ghanaian voters could sift the chaff from the grain to know better than the NPP organizers did.
Many other factors could be cited to account for the NPP’s fate, but I won’t bore anybody with them because the negative backlash of the party’s own self-fulfilled prophecy has already taken the center-stage in the aftermath of the elections. The ongoing protests and threats to go to court to seek redress clearly explain the extent to which the reality has sunk in. And it is a painful reminder not to count one’s chickens before they are hatched.
As Akufo-Addo digs in and refuses to concede defeat—while the international community continues to commend Ghana for holding free, fair, and transparent general elections and to congratulate President Mahama for being victorious—the NPP’s intransigence is leading it to only one end, which is a gloomy future.
So far as the impact of this agitation on the party is concerned, I am in no way deceived that not only will the events characterizing the elections be difficult for the NPP to tackle, but the post-election conduct of its leaders and followers will be difficult to gloss over by the electorate in future elections. It is just like how people easily recall the heady days of the “Mate Meho” debacle to make their political decisions.
For the NPP to rebuild public trust and claw back the goodwill that it is fast losing, it has only one course of action: to go to the Supreme Court as it has threatened to do to seek redress. Even then, if the decision goes against it—which I foresee already—it will harm it all the more.
The repercussions may not be tolerable. The NPP followers are likely to turn the dagger on their leaders for hyping their expectations only to be faced with the difficult situation of remaining in the opposition. They will call for the heads of their leaders, especially that of Akufo-Addo.
For the sake of rebranding and repositioning the party, immediate steps will need to be taken to inject new blood into the party’s leadership. Akufo-Addo has reached a disastrous end of his political career and must be relegated to the background. So also must Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey and all those youthful elements more invested in causing trouble than working for the good of the party.
The Anthony Karbos, Sammy Awukus, John Jinapors, Kennedy Agyapongs, Lord Commeys, and many others whose counter-productive manner of politicking has led the elephant further into the thickest thickets of national politics should be set aside if the NPP wants to make a good name for the future.
Even former President Kufuor shouldn’t be spared. Had the NPP won the elections, he would have been proud and resolute to declare himself a lucky man. Probably, the victory would have been dedicated to him because December 8 was his birthday. But because the NPP lost the elections, that day passed off without notice as such.
Kufuor expended energy but hurt Akufo-Addo more than contributing anything meaningful to his worth. All the unguarded utterances he made in the vain attempt to denigrate President Mahama boomeranged because Ghanaians were quick to judge his own performance in power to conclude that he was more corrupt and incompetent than those he was accusing.
Ghanaians read deeper meanings to his utterances and judged rightly who should be their leader. Kufuor might have been stepping up his game to discount allegations of not helping Akufo-Addo’s campaign efforts in 2008; but all that he did amounted to nothing productive. He was a huge liability and will be again if used.
As to how they manage to come out with a Presidential Candidate who is already not tainted with the “Yen Akanfuo” stigma to make the difference in 2016, I have no idea. One thing I know for sure is that the NPP has a Herculean task to reposition itself for its own good in the future. If it wants to regain power, it will do more than what it did for the 2012 elections. Who wants it back in power, though?
As its current leaders should have known by now, the Ghanaian electorate are far wiser and more intelligent than constructed and perceived by them. The fate suffered by them at the polls could have been averted had they known how to use modern-day tactics to do politics instead of relying on the anachronistic ones that won’t cut butter. I hope they are now wise after the fact. This is where I pause with this wisecrack: Counsel them; if they don’t take it, let experience teach them the bitter lesson.