Campaign on issues not on gender or tribe!

Ak Mhj John Dramani Mahama, flagbearer of NDC and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana

Tue, 11 Aug 2020 Source: Sampson Boamah

“Fellow Ghanaians My government, when elected into office by the electorates, has ensured the smooth implementation of Free Senior High School Educational Programme''. The other says

“My brothers and sisters, my next government will see the implementation of Free Technical and Vocational Education”. Even though this has already been done by the current government as part of the Free Senior High implementation. The hearing of these and many other promises blurring out from radio stations, television channels and other means of communicating to the masses or Ghanaians in general puts one on the alert that Ghana is approaching its general elections.

Ghana is four (4) months away from the 2020 general election to elect a President and Members of Parliament (MPs) who will steer the affairs of the country for the next 4 years. A common phenomenon associated with this mood or atmosphere is the unfolding of issues as the country draws closer to December. Judicial notice is taken of the charging up of the political atmosphere during this period accompanied by utterances of some unscrupulous statements and comments, particularly by politicians. On this note, I have singularly taken upon myself the duty to write about this delicate topic to caution political leaders and politicians to run issues-based campaigns rather than focusing on trivial matters which will not profit the country but will rather degrade it.

Ghana has seen her democracy grow so beautifully under the fourth republic with most tenets of democracy gradually being strengthened. The point is made that if for nothing at all this is the 8th election that the country will be heading into come December 2020. Ghana under the fourth republic has seen transitions from one political party to the other on three different occasions and in all of these, an incumbent government has had to hand over political power to an elected opposition party.

As usual, it is usually not expected that the political atmosphere during this period would be peaceful and serene especially because we are dealing with different people from different backgrounds with some differences in ideologies. A biblical allusion is made to the book of Revelations 12:7-12 in the Holy Bible where even in the Heavens where it is believed democracy emanates saw a war (confusion) between Satan and God as to who will come into this world and rescue mankind. The point must be made that we do not accept situations where politicians hide behind their supporters and perpetrate all kinds of atrocities. By this piece, caution is sent out that, the citizens of Ghana will never allow any ‘greedy bastard’ and ‘selfish politician’ to collapse this country. This, we will resist with our life and blood!

One problem identified on the part of the political parties considered as minors is the lack of show of strength coupled with a show of gross unpreparedness going into this year’s election. It comes a source of worry that citizens have not heard from the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), the Peoples National Convention (PNC) and the Progressive Peoples Party (PPP) as to their respective flagbearers heading into the December polls. Even if Ghanaians are fed-up with the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) they do not see any light in any of these minor parties and their preparedness towards wrestling power from the two biggest parties mentioned above. Many have said that these 'minor political parties' have dug their own grave and will find it very difficult to resonate the love of Ghanaians and this is not good for our democracy.

Unlike these minor political parties, the two main heavyweights in Ghanaian politics under the fourth republic are all poised for action and seem prepared adequately for the election. The incumbent party; New Patriotic Party elected its flagbearer in June after phase one easing of restrictions imposed by the President due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in an acclamation which saw the flagbearer who is also the President of the Republic Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo receive overwhelming support from his party. At that same occasion, the flagbearer elected his running mate who also happens to be the current vice president Dr Mahamudu Bawumia for the 4th time who also received unanimous support from the elephant family.

The NDC on the other side elected its flagbearer John Dramani Mahama in February 2019 and the former nominated his female running mate in the person of Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman in July 2020. Her nomination has received a lot of applauds from the Ghanaian people and has sent a severe shock into the camps of the ruling party, the NPP. On 27 July 2020, John Mahama inducted his running mate officially at a ceremony held at the auditorium of the University of Professional Studies Accra (UPSA)

Many have said that this year’s election will be one of the most keenly contested elections under the fourth Republic. The question lingering on the minds of many is why should that be so? The answer proffered by proponents of this theory is that this will be the first time under the fourth republic that an incumbent President is being contested by an immediate former president. Also, this is the third time that the two leading candidates in the persons of Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo and John Dramani Mahama are contesting each other in a general election with the respective candidates having won once when they met. I call this fight the "Knockout Stage" as One will retire the other.

Dear reader, as you may be aware like me, the nomination of Professor Naana Opoku Agyemang as the running mate of John Mahama has sparked some debate centring or focusing on issues of women. This I must admit is the first time one of the two major political parties has done so under the fourth republic. Everyone applauds such a move as it will give voices to the women of this country. The question is, does being a woman necessarily give you the impetus to win an election? Wouldn’t it be better if we focused on the abilities that a woman has and what she brings to the table and whether such potential can push the country forward rather than placing the focus on gender? It is about time these parties brought out policies which will empower and uplift women and not just appointing them to fill up a vacuum. Policies on matters like affirmative action which has seen the Affirmative Action Bill lie in parliament for more than 2 decades needs to be discussed. Again, how the girl child can be empowered and not be discriminated due to her gender needs to be discussed in the policies of these political parties. However, if the argument or focus is only centred on the nomination of a female as running mate without any proper message to the electorates, this can be a recipe for disaster. It will be deemed an insult to women when they are called upon to vote for a political party because a running mate to a Presidential candidate is a female. Being a woman does not necessarily make one competent. It is argued that such a person must showcase her worth for the Ghanaian electorates are sophisticated and discerning enough.

Campaigns on tribal or ethnic lines is an abomination and this kind of approach is defeatist and devilish, and we as a people must make sure these political parties do not tread on such uncivilized and barbaric paths. We have seen how ethnicity and tribalism have ruined some countries on the African continent. Ghana does not intend to tow that path. Campaigns should be geared towards telling the people of Ghana what a particular candidate and his government, when elected, will do when given the mandate rather than trumpeting to the ordinary Ghanaian the ethnic group or tribe one emanates from. Such messages are inconsequential and petty. The development of Ghana can never be attributed to any ethnic group and as such when Ghana develops, it does not develop for one ethnic group or any tribe. Ghana does not belong to any ethnic group. We are all Ghanaians and as such policies must be carved with the sole aim of solving problems to create a conducive atmosphere for the prosperity of the citizenry.

Moreover, it is advocated that campaign messages should be centred on issues of national interest and not on character vilification and character assassination. The era that parties pay their members to attack their opponent should be a thing of the past. Our politics these days has been reduced into who throws missiles of insults as opposed to who can solve problems. It is said that when one is focused and has a message for the masses there is indeed no time for personality attacks. Character assassination and character vilification is a demonic and hellish approach and any party which resorts to that will rot in eternal perdition! Like the former United Kingdom Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher said, “if they don’t have a message, they attack personality”.

It is unacceptable for the electorates to be told to vote for a candidate because the candidate’s running mate is a Muslim or a Christian or that the chosen running mate is a female. It is well known that Christians and Muslims have lived in peace and unity regardless of differences in faith since the time of Gold Coast and after Independence. When campaigns are focused on these themes the effect is that there is an attempt to divide the country and this may not augur well with us as a country. When such a path is taken it gives fertile ground for hooligans and extremists to perpetuate their selfish and insane goals. I have said on several occasions that Ghana is not a Christian country, or a Muslim country and Ghana does not belong to Christians or Muslims. The country is ours and our forefathers fought tirelessly for it. You will shoot yourself when you also campaign on matters like vote for me because my running mate is a woman. That we will not buy. Give out your policies and let the people decide.

How beautiful it will be if these politicians are going to campaign on their achievements for what they did when the people of Ghana gave them the mandate to rule. John Mahama became President when Professor John Atta Mills died on 24th July 2012 and ultimately won the December 2012 election. From January 7, 2013, to January 7, 2017, John Mahama ruled as Ghana's president. During his tenure, there were a lot of developmental projects which his government embarked on. The infrastructural development under his tenure as President such as the construction of hospitals, schools and roads was a sight to behold. Unfortunately, the people of Ghana did not extend his mandate and booted his government out of office in the December 2016 elections.

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his party the NPP won the 2016 general elections. Before the NPP came into office, they had made dozens of promises to be fulfilled when the people give them the mandate. Fortunately, they received overwhelming support from Ghanaians and won the 2016 election. Assuming office, they had many responsibilities on their table to fulfil to the good people of Ghana. Upon the assumption office, they have also been able to fulfil many of their promises. The implementation of the Free Senior High Education policy, planting for Food and One million dollar per each constituency and many other things that they have done which this piece cannot enumerate.

What Ghanaians want to hear is that the NPP should convince voters why they should be retained in power for them to continue what they are doing. The NDC on the other side should be able to tell Ghanaian electorates about why they need to be brought back into office. This should not be reduced to talks but be backed by good policies which in the short, medium, and long term will help to alleviate the plights of Ghanaians. Is this approach not going to be simple and delightful? Is it not going to add value to our already cherished and enviable democracy?

My appeal to all well-meaning Ghanaians is to be vigilant and observant in this year’s election. Listen or read their policies and make the necessary choice. Every Ghanaian, whether you can vote or not, it is your responsibility to condemn any party that will not speak to issues but will rather resort to insults and attacks and will focus on ethnic and tribal politics. All Civil Society Organizations, the National Peace Council, the National House of Chiefs, Traditional Leaders, Opinion Leaders, the Christian Council, the Media and all concerned citizens of Ghana must ensure we go into this year’s election and come out successfully. Any party and its supporters which do not want peace for this country must perish. We have come far!

Ghana must work again, Ghana will work again, YOUNG POSITIVIST, a concerned citizen of Ghana.

Columnist: Sampson Boamah
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