What if NDC had won the election?

Ndc Toaso File photo

Sun, 8 Jan 2017 Source: Abdul-Hafiz, Alhassan

In the past couple of weeks, I have read tons of opinions across the political divide, but mainly from NDC members, that have sought to explain the reasons why NDC lost the elections. In fact, to be honest, I have equally subscribed to the reasoning of these people at some point and even shared their arguments on various platforms.

However, just three days ago, I listened to an argument between two football fans and the supporter of the team that lost the game made a statement that I found very interesting. He just said quite simply: “You have won today, so you can claim to know it all. When we also win, I will show you that we know it all.” After reflecting on this statement for a while, I began to wonder whether the current narrative would have been the same if NDC had won the election.

Now I have come to the conclusion that politics is just like any game. When you win a game, you win all the bragging rights. All your tactics are correct; your strategies are perfect; and you got everything right, even if they didn't seem so right during the game. Our attitude towards winners seem to suggest that the winner knows it all.

Take football for instance. A manager can employ very daring and risky tactics during a game. If he happens to win in the end, he is hailed as a good manager. But if he loses, critics would quickly point to those tactics as stupid mistakes that led to the defeat of his team. A classic example in the recent past is the story of my personal favourite coach, Jose` Mourinho, who until recently was held in very high esteem by all Chelsea fans. He won several trophies for them as well as very difficult games. He did this using a set of tactics and strategies that had proven to be efficient. But the moment the wins began to elude him, I saw the very people who used to hail his methods criticizing those very methods that had brought them wins in the past. The situation got so bad that in the end, Mourinho was sacked from Chelsea.

How about Louis Van Gaal? I am sure you still remember his exploits at the 2014 world cup in Brazil. I want to believe that it was based on such sterling performance that he was hired by Manchester United. Unfortunately however, none of the strategies that had served him so well in Brazil could deliver the results that United fans were looking for. And he too was soon shown the exit.

For those who know me personally, they would be surprized to see me talking about Coaches and football because they don’t know me to be a soccer fan. But I am doing it now because I see a similarity between these Coaches and John Mahama in the 2012 and 2016 elections. During the 2012 elections, there were many odds against President Mahama: the short period of time for campaigning; becoming the flagbearer at the last minute against someone who had been there for eight years; campaigning on the shaky Atta Mills legacy, etc. However, he also came into the race as a young, vibrant, attractive, articulate, and charismatic candidate. The campaign team also adopted a popular slogan Edey bee K3k3 that quickly caught on with the people. Armed with a very likable candidate and catchy slogans, the NDC emerged victorious in the election, even after the result was challenged in court.

Fast forward to 2016, the NDC still had John Mahama as their candidate. And he still had all these qualities. The slogans were equally catchy as supporters shouted “JM Toaso” across the length and breadth of the country. Even the NPP’s attempt to play mischief with the slogan was not successful because their version (JM Chuaso) ended up sounding like that of the NDC. But even with all these, the NDC still lost the elections. Why?

One of the reasons that has been given is that by the year 2016, there were so many corruption scandals hanging around the neck of John Mahama that tainted his likeable image and made him unpopular among the people. Well this explanation is plausible, after all NDC lost the election. However, when I think about the victory of Donald Trump and the commentary that followed it, I wonder if this explanation would have been the same had NDC won the election. Donald Trump went into the U.S. presidential election as the most unpopular candidate. His campaign was rocked with a huge scandal of women and womanizing just some few weeks to the elections. He was associated with some of the most obscene statements that any politician could make. His lack of popularity got so serious that even very top guns within the Republican Party, including former presidents called on him to step down. But the man persisted and eventually emerged the winner in that election, to the dismay of many.

Immediately after his victory, I read numerous inspirational messages all centred on the victory of Donald Trump. All of a sudden, we were encouraged to be like Donald Trump because he had endured scandals, opposition from within and without, and had persevered to win a very keenly contested election. From this Trump scenario, I am quite sure that if the NDC had won the election, the narrative about John Mahama and these corruption allegations would have been similar to that of Donald Trump.

As you may be aware, this comment was made in the context of not yielding to undue pressure from labour unions to increase salaries especially during the election year. This was apparently taken out of context and many analysts say it contributed to the humiliating defeat of the NDC in the elections.

What if the NDC had won the elections, would the story be the same? I am aware that for a very long time, many people have said that Ghana needs a leader who would put national interests ahead of political convenience. A leader who would be bold and courageous enough to take progressive decisions even if they were unpleasant in the short term. Even in our national anthem, we beseech God every day to make us cherish fearless honesty. I am also aware that we all have been worried about excess expenditure in election years.

Knowing this, I am quite sure that if NDC had won the election, the analysis would have been that Ghanaians voted for John Mahama because he was fearlessly honest, bold and courageous. He didn’t care about losing elections and he put the national interest first. That he was able to keep national expenditure within limits, even in an election year, a feat that had eluded many presidents before him.  But well he lost the election, so all those things have now become negative attributes.

How about those who have argued that John Mahama wasted a lot of resources trying to woo the uncooperative girlfriend to the neglect of the loyal house wife (Ashanti and Volta regions on my mind). It is true that the NDC sent a lot of developmental projects to the Ashanti region and relatively little to the Volta region and other NDC strongholds.

This was done in an effort to win more votes from the Ashanti region. But in the face of a defeat, it has been described as an ill-advised strategy. But just pause a moment to ask yourself what if it had worked? If the NDC had actually managed to poll close to the one million votes that they were targeting in the Ashanti Region? Wouldn’t John Mahama have been described as a master strategist? And don’t tell me it was not possible because you and I know that these elections were full of surprises. After all NPP was able to win five seats from the Upper West region, a region where they did not have even one seat prior to the elections.

So to everyone out there and particularly to all democrats, quite simply my point is this: there is a time for everything. A time to win, and a time to lose. When it is your time to lose, no amount of strategizing and bewitching can save you. All your plans, ideas, and strategies suddenly become stale, and it is the winner who becomes the master of all planning. Therefore while it may be okay to do some introspection after a loss in order to revise your strategy, don’t be too hard on yourself in the process. The winner doesn’t have any perfect plan. It just so happens that it is his time to win. Therefore congratulate him and bid for your own time to win.

To all patriots, let me congratulate you on your victory and acknowledge that now you have all the bragging rights, so you can brag all you want, after all you have won. And to all democrats, let’s not tear ourselves apart in an effort to determine the reasons for our loss. Whatever reason you may find, it is only a tool in the hands of fate, because even in the absence of that reason, there would have been another reason. Whether the cock crows or not, day will break!!

Columnist: Abdul-Hafiz, Alhassan