Election 2016 in focus: It is not publicity that Akufo-Addo lacks

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Folks, I have continued to deride these NPP people for not being politically savvy enough to do productive politics. Their members rush to insult me for daring to question their political jingoism; and I laugh them to scorn.

As I said a few weeks ago, I am working on an opinion piece to explain what exactly lies beneath Akufo-Addo's desperate struggle to become Ghana's President. He has already thrown his weight about to say that he is not in politics to enrich himself or that he is neither corrupt nor corruptible. Hogwash!! Complete nonsense. Which Ghanaian politician will announce his intentions to the electorate and expect to be believed? Thieves, liars, and self-centred abusers of opportunity they all are!!

Does Akufo-Addo even have to declare his rationale for being in politics for us to place him where he rightfully belongs? As the MP for the Abuakwa area for 12 years, how did he perform? And as a Minister in the Kufuor regime, what lasting positive impact did he leave at the two Ministries (Justice/Attorney-General's Department and Foreign Affairs) to warrant his being elevated to the highest office of the land in the hope and expectation that he will uplift standards for the collective good?

That rub aside, when he said that he has enough "energy" and "commitment" to floor President Mahama at Election 2016, he threw himself open for needless scorn. We have already made our comment that it doesn't take "energy" or "commitment" to win general elections. It takes a good connection with the electorate on the basis of uprightness and good public image to do so.

Even before the dust settles on our assessment of his desperate politicking, we have received news that Bernard Antwi-Boasiako (the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the NPP) has begun "flooding" streets in Kumasi with Akufo-Addo’s posters and campaigning for him, a whole year before the electioneering campaign season opens.

And he is reported to have said that he will take the next one week to "flood" the entire country with such posters. (See https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=344387&comment=11320527#com).

Indeed, he has set himself a yeoman's task, probably in pursuit of his boasts to win one million votes in that region for the NPP at Election 2016; and I commend him for choosing the wrong strategy at the wrong time for singing Akufo-Addo's song—or what my friend calls a “cacophony of music”. Here is why:

The records have it that for the 2008 and 2012 general elections, Akufo-Addo had more exposure than all the candidates (including the former President Atta Mills) but couldn't prevail at the polls. Here is a recap of what happened.

The 2008 campaign season saw the NPP marshalling all forces (including mobilizing Ghanaian artistes and musicians) to organize political carnivals during which the kangaroo dance and appellations for Akufo-Addo took centre-stage. Political rallies by the NPP attracted merry-makers who responded vigorously to earth-shattering calls to put Akufo-Addo in office.

The NPP's campaign paraphernalia dotted every nook and cranny of the Ghanaian political landscape, even as the party's slogan dominated the airwaves. The "Eshi wurado... wurado" thunder clapped everywhere, creating the impression that Akufo-Addo's victory was more than assured/secured. And the national rally at Kasoa to crown all efforts drew the kind of crowd that every political analyst would perceive as "mammoth" to seal Akufo-Addo’s political fortunes on Election Day.

If such a huge following at the NPP's rallies had translated into practical votes, Akufo-Addo would have laughed all the way to the Osu Castle (or Flagstaff House). Unfortunately, the huge difference between SEEMING and BEING materialized when he won the first round narrowly only to slip in the run-off. Or, should we blame the electorate in the Tain Constituency for dashing his hopes? Why would they do that to him, anyway?

Grieving over that loss, the NPP moved to use its allies in the judiciary to subvert the voters’ will; but the intervention by the voices of reason (former President Kufuor and the late B.J. da Rocha) prevailed to make Akufo-Addo accept his sorry Fate in suppressed silence. The agony of that bitter loss remained and undergirded what he did for Election 2012.

He began marketing himself and used every resource provided by the NPP and its known and unknown allies (both home and abroad, Ghanaian and non-Ghanaian) to have a head-start advantage in the electioneering campaign race. For two clear years, he had begun reaching out to Ghanaians, even before the other candidates could put together their strategies for campaigning. He went to many towns and villages all over the country, using his running mate’s Muslim persuasion to lure voters from that community. Promise-making took a better part of his messages. He even promised to establish a “Zongo Development Fund” and build hostels for female vagrants (“Kayayei”). Seeing him at the Presidential Debate organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs might make one conclude that he would win the elections. And he gloated a lot in the limelight provided by the favourable mass media.

The NDC’s John Mahama was a very late comer, clearly because of the troubling circumstances surrounding the sudden death of ex-President Mills and the make-or-break efforts that led to his choice to lead the NDC. In effect, President Mahama used barely three months to campaign for Election 2012. Of course, having been the Vice President and replacing ex-President Mills had given him enough visibility, even though the performance of his government was one major area that his political opponents highlighted to checkmate his quest for the mandate.

What happened in the end? Akufo-Addo won in only the Ashanti and Eastern Regions while eight (8) out of the 10 Regions of Ghana went for President Mahama. Even in those two regions rooting for Akufo-Addo, a scrutiny of the quantum of votes showed that he lost the edge that ex-President Kufuor had established in voter support for the NPP. There was a tremendous retrogression that gave President Mahama a huge fillip to add to votes from the 8 regions to trounce Akufo-Addo.

As would be expected of malcontents so full of themselves and unwilling to accept reality, the defeated NPP flagbearer and the entire NPP leadership and unwitting followers rose up in protest, dragging matters to the Supreme Court, using useless arguments framed around technicalities (the “Pink Sheet” fallacy) to attempt twisting arms. We all saw how they were humiliated in the end. They are still nursing grievances and are unwilling to accept the fact that they lost the elections and should better put their house in order if they really want to gain grounds in future elections.

The electorate were firm in their rejection of Akufo-Addo, clearly because he didn’t satisfy their aspirations. They had known Akufo-Addo more than any of the contestants, at least, judging from his own “Meet-the-People” door-to-door campaign stunts (some of which he used to descend from his high horse of arrogance and to pretend to be rubbing shoulders with the common people whose “ampesi” and other “delicacies” he enjoyed on such campaign stunts).

In effect, Akufo-Addo was well known for what he portrayed. The voters didn’t have any need for anything more than what they had known him for, clearly because of who and what he is to them. To buttress this aspect, one needn’t go any length but turn to the single most important argument that his supporters in the high echelons of the NPP used to reinforce his quest to lead the party for the third time. They said he was the most marketed person in the party for that contest and should be endorsed, which won the day for him (even though some “takashi” also played a huge part in dirtying Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, his main challenger). It’s a common dog-eat-dog episode in that cabal.

The nub of it all is that Akufo-Addo is no stranger to anybody as far as contemporary Ghanaian politics is concerned. Why waste resources publicizing him again? The people know him for diverse reasons and won’t change their impressions unless he provides anything new to register something else hitherto unknown about him. Voters who don’t want him as Ghana’s President will dig in while those with the expectation that he will be their saviour will root for him. The die is already cast.

Thus, any effort to produce posters or any other campaign material with the sole purpose of publicizing Akufo-Addo will be a waste, a misplaced priority. His image already looms large.

Folks, my main point is that it is not publicity that Akufo lacks. He has it in over-abundance. What he needs to win elections goes beyond this publicity stunt that this Antwi-Boasiako and others will be wasting resources on.

To save them from wasting resources on such a misplaced agenda, let me simply draw their attention to what they are missing: a careful assessment of voter sentiments about or against Akufo-Addo and carefully wrought campaign messages on issues of governance and problem-solving, not ethnicity, insults, or mere militancy. Can these people really see things in their proper perspective to be able to fashion out workable and productive campaign materials?

I know they are already armed with hordes of allegations and mouthful criticisms of incompetence against President Mahama and his government, which they will harp on to a fault. Drumming on such issues without coming out with solutions won’t change any voter’s mind to root for Akufo-Addo who himself hasn’t demonstrated any firm leadership quality.

Folks, these NPP people will be quick to ratchet up their anti-Mahama politics and bore the electorate with overly obnoxious flogging of a dead horse; doing so will alienate the electorate instead of wooing them. I know why. Apparently fixated on “book” politics, they cannot free their minds and connect with the electorate to be seen as problem solvers. They will insist on being perceived as undisputable winners of Election 2016 and fail to read between the lines. In the end, that balloon of self-satisfaction will explode into smithereens of disappointment. Then, they will go haywire and do things to deepen their woes for the future.

If I were to advise them on other issues, I would caution them not to misread the political barometer. It is not lack of exposure that is Akufo-Addo’s bane. It is lack of insight into Ghanaian politics, his own personal liabilities and shortcomings, and inability to connect with the voters that is his undoing. I have had my say; now, let his followers come out to attack me as hating him.

I shall return…

• E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.