Ghana: Madam Hawa Yakubu must be laughing in her grave
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
The NPP may continue fretting and protesting (whether legally or through riotous behaviour by its activists), but its leaders seem not to know that their fate had long been decided before the 2012 elections were held. Hawa Yakubu will be asking from afar: What are they disputing?
Two main issues account for their defeat, she will say. Call them the lighter and heavier issues.
The lighter version borders on the superstitious but shouldn’t be discounted because superstition is part of our national psyche. This lighter version has three main aspects. Whether you believe in superstition or not as a factor to influence voter decisions, here are these aspects for you to ponder.
Superstition number 1: The defeat of the NPP may be too difficult to accept by the NPP leaders and followers, but it is nothing strange happening out of the blues. Let them cast their minds back to recollect what one of their staunchest bigwigs (Madam Hawa Yakubu Ogede) had foreseen before passing on into the life beyond. Did she not predict victory for President Mahama, even long before he could climb to the citadel of power for which she said she would vote for him if the NDC ever chose him as their Presidential Candidate?
She said so, and many in the NPP were taken aback and failed to see things the way she did. Today, her optimism has yielded substance. Should it surprise, shock, or annoy anybody?
Nobody but Hawa Yakubu could tell us what she saw about John Mahama to declare her support for him even at the time that he wasn’t well-grounded in national politics to be perceived as a Presidential Candidate. He was just a Minister and MP, but endeared himself to Hawa Yakubu’s heart because of what she might have perceived in him. And what the Ghanaian electorate would also perceive at 2012 the polls.
She couldn’t have said that she would vote for him if the NDC chose him without knowing why. That was even at the time that the NPP was in power. Had the NPP leaders followed up to know why, they might have been better informed about how to deal with Mahama at this year’s polls. But, as is characteristic of people absorbed in themselves and full of their own self-importance, they didn’t. They trusted their horses and chariots.
Superstition number 2: Then, comes in the Ata Mills factor and the possibility of “sympathy votes” going the NDC’s way. The circumstances surrounding his death, burial, and appeal to conscience from his own brother (Dr. Cadman Mills) to Ghanaians to honour his brother’s memory by retaining the NDC in power did its trick. If you believe in superstition, know that ancestral worship, which is part of our African traditional religious set-up, did its trick to help President Mahama win support from voters who grieved at President’s Mills’ death. You will be wrong to dismiss this aspect.
Superstition number 3: Do you remember the NPP’s Kwame Pianim’s biting comment at the time Akufo-Addo was chosen to lead the NPP to the 2008 elections? His pronouncement that “any fool can bear (carry) a party’s flag”—as a demonstration of anger at the snubbing of his favourite candidate (Dr. Frimpong Boateng)—created the impression that Akufo-Addo wasn’t appealing.
His retention for the 2012 elections didn’t erase that impression; it intensified it, as we could tell from all the negative references to the streaks of his character that his opponents and social/political commentators pointed to as major flaws that won’t make endear him to the hearts of the electorate. Akufo-Addo didn’t do the right thing to either own up or explain issues to allay public concerns.
Instead, he hid behind his legal team to issue vain threats of court action against those making the negative allegations against him. The matter refused to be brushed under the rug and exploded in his face as part of what caused his defeat.
On the heavier side, we have to turn to the major issues regarding the parties themselves (internal issues, the individual Presidential/Parliamentary Candidates, strategies for political organization and public appeal), public perception of them, their campaign messages, historical antecedents, and many others. When properly analyzed, these issues will open our eyes to why some of the parties couldn’t get voter support while others did enormously. I suppose you already know the strengths and weaknesses on this score and won’t go any further for fear of boring you. But because the NPP is up in arms after losing the elections, it presents a good case for expatiation.
Let me isolate it for special analysis to bring out why it failed in its bid to dislodge the incumbent. We have already identified many factors and commented on them, but want to say that a major problem that the NPP created for itself was to be overly confident of victory because of self-assurances that its campaign messages had done enough harm to the NDC’s interests. They harped on corruption and incompetence, which didn’t assuage the doubts and fears of the electorate.
Then, the NPP made a terrible mistake by gravitating toward the Rawlingses and using their new-found warm relationship as an indication of their damaging the NDFC’s underbelly. Of course, we all know the problems that the Rawlingses had created for the NDC, which undercut it a lot but didn’t undermine its formidable nature. But, unfortunately for the NPP, it was a different story.
Once they found a way to snuggle themselves to the good books of the Rawlingses, they counted on that niche to assume that the NDC would suffer a negative backlash at the polls. Of course, the Rawlingses knew what they were doing. While Nana Konadu persisted in her public condemnation of the NDC and showing signs of preferring the NPP’s Akufo-Addo to the NDC’s Mahama, her husband and spokesman (Kofi Adams) were rooting for Mahama.
The kind of game that the Rawlingses played was too intricately woven to outwit these NPP organizers. Unfortunately for them, they rushed into the bosom of the Rawlingses without pausing to reconsider any hidden motives. This marriage of convenience betrayed the NPP’s vulnerability. Apparently, voters were skeptical of the Rawlingses and didn’t hesitate to transfer that skepticism to Akufo-Addo.
A careful appraisal of the situation has revealed to me that voters in many parts of the country disliked Nana Konadu’s treachery against the NDC and voted in protest to benefit President Mahama. News reports that Nana Konadu’s NDP was funded and supported by the NPP to undercut the NDC further worsened the situation. Unfortunately, Akufo-Addo couldn’t see anything beyond his nose to know that he was dining with the very people who would create unfavourable impressions in the minds of voters.
Nana Konadu particularly came across as odious and once the voters associated her with Akufo-Addo, they did what was to be expected and voted according to their conscience. That President Mahama won massively in all the regions except the Ashanti and Eastern Regions testifies to this observation. Even in those regions, he made forays into the Akufo-Addo’s strengths. The quantum of votes he had from there boosted his overall harvest.
So, many factors converged to give Akufo-Addo the nightmare that he can’t recover from till death do him part. Undeniably, this defeat means the end of his political career. No matter for how long he chafes, he can’t come out unstuck. What is written is written! The decision to contest the election results at the Supreme Court won’t restore the light that has been turned off for him. Political doom is his lot, which he must accept and move on with his life as a lawyer in private practice. That is where his perch lies!
But he seems not to be able to reconcile issues to know how to behave. He is digging in and refusing to do what all sportsmen/women do: contest but be prepared to concede defeat when defeated! He is still adamant, supported by party leaders whose own inadequacies contributed to his defeat as well.
The NDC prevailed but couldn’t get the chance to celebrate on any massive scale, apparently because of the dissension from the NPP and the riotous behaviour of its followers that endangered peace and public order. As they continue to bare their teeth and issue threats all over the place, the situation is still dicey.
Until their leaders go to the Supreme Court to be hit with the truth: that they genuinely lost the elections and should concede defeat and comport themselves, any attempt to celebrate the NDC’s victory may pour more fuel on the volatile situation in the country.
The Kumasi Peace Declaration, which I have already described as worthless because it has no provision for implementation and sanctions, is just for the records. As the NPP activists continue to threaten peace and public order in registering their anger at the Electoral Commission, the media, and the NDC for “tampering” with the election results to favour President Mills, many tongues are wagging in relationship to this Peace Pact.
The Asantehene, who was instrumental in the enunciation and signing of this Peace Pact, hasn’t so far made any public pronouncement, even though life and limb have been threatened by the NPP followers. On the contrary, the Ghana Peace Council, another institution that played a pivotal role in this Peace Pact, has already been bold enough to accuse the NPP of doing acts to threaten the peace of the country and called for restraints.