Opinions Mon, 11 Jul 2011

90 Million Cedis and 90 Votes

he first salvo in the “Fonkar-Game” games left a wonderful ring tone with President Mill's laugh in a history-making recording. After the Government denied that they even had 90 million cedis to run a competitive campaign, the country exhaled a big sigh of relief and carried on with our bigger challenges.

But what was the Nana Konadu challenge really about?

A few said “Women power”, some said a “Rawlings hegemony” and for Fonkar itself, was it really a serious challenge against a Government they actually believed had lost its way after the 2008 elections? Was this actually a political in-fight or did the Rawlings' believe they would win this? Many sources claim Rawlings would not do this unless he knew he had a more than a 50% chance of electing his wife.

Paradoxically it was JJ who was on the podium to raise President Mills' hand high after the results were announced. Nana Konadu did nothing of the sort. So you wonder, did JJ secretly not want this fight? Or is he preparing the ground for reconciliation? Did he think that Mills was going to win anyway? Did we just go through a process for JJ to achieve a complex political move? I am not one for conspiracy theories, but I have heard persons argue each of these points cogently. Many people say JJ will still go ahead and campaign for Mills in 2012. But there are some new kids in today's NDC who see all this differently. The “Get JJ out” group in the NDC is getting stronger.

This contest was not about democracy because the NDC party did not welcome the challenge. Up till the last moment, news was coming through that to challenge an incumbent was anathema to NDC politics and by extension, in their opinion, Ghana politics. Would the NPP have done any different?

With less than 4% of the votes, what message is this? In studio with Alhaji Harrunna Attah - publisher of the Daily Mail - on CiTiFm we speculated whether the margin of defeat was important. Alhaji's comment was that the lesson in accepting marginal voting losses was good for our democracy and working at it was the learning principle, so even if Konadu lost by one vote, accepting the loss was the point and not the losing gap. I held a contrary view.

Had Konadu won anywhere close to 40% of the votes, she would have shattered two glass ceilings. One, she would have broken a gender myth in Ghana. Two, she would have succeeded in restoring the myth of Rawlings. At 30% the effect would have been less but still an opportunity to segment a new party with some confidence. At 20% she might still have cut out on her own, claiming the elections were not free of manipulation and make a beeline for the foot soldiers. Below 10% her political career is well out the window, but at less than 5% there can't possibly be any come back. How do you spin a loss like this and get back your political stature? She needs the support of her husband to do this because Nana Konadu is a Rawlings by attachment. She has the political cunning, but she does not the carry the charisma of JJ.

Big question, where were the rest of the delegates who signed her nomination papers and encouraged her to contest, only to disappear on voting day. What treachery!

So, in the aftermath where does JJ go? I recall my key interview with JJ in 2006 in Virginia. We covered a lot of ground and keen to press home a point, I posited to JJ that in my opinion he would serve Ghana best if he took up the challenge of helping to find a solution to the Anopheles mosquito nuisance in Ghana and Africa. He thought about this a while and came back. “I prefer to solve the water problem, it is a bigger challenge and I think that is what I would like to do.“ I have a tape recording.

Have we seen the last of JJ and Konadu Rawlings in Ghana politics? I think they have done enough now, and besides we have to stop politicking and get down to wealth solutions. Time to drop the “Political Kingdom” and solve our poverty crisis. I hope the next government is listening.

So do we forgive the priest who claimed victory for Nana Konadu and admit that she has made history with the challenge? If only the loss had not been so overwhelming.

As we tallied the votes at the end, I made Nana's count as 97 with one more polling station to come. I was surprised when the EC announced 90 votes. I think she got more. Not that it would make any difference, but the coincidence of 90 votes after the 90 million spend is too much for comfort.

By Sydney Casely-Hayford, Sydney@bizghana.com
Columnist: Casely-Hayford, Sydney