By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Folks, I have just come across the news report saying what has really made me wonder what is becoming of the Presidential aspect of the 2016 general elections. Just consider this:
"Fifteen presidential hopefuls have so far picked nomination forms to contest in the upcoming general election in December. They are made up of 13 political parties and two independent candidates. The political parties are the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), the All People’s Party (APP) and the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP).
The others are the United Development System Party (UDSP), the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the National Democratic Party (NDP), the United Love Party (ULP), the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP). The Independent People’s Party (IPP), the United Progressive Party (UPP), the Ghana Freedom Party (GFP) and the united Front Party (UFP) picked their forms last Tuesday”.
In truth and all honesty, 15 candidates? What sort of madness is that?
The bad side of democracy or the deep-seated ambition of all these contestants to create the impression that they matter in national politics? Do we really need all of these candidates? I am baffled.
Of course, this is the first time in Ghana's history that so many candidates are lining up to contest the Presidential elections. An improvement in the democratic process? I don't think so!!
Everybody conversant with the intricacies of Ghanaian politics in this 4th Republic will quickly agree that the race for the Presidency is a two-horse one between candidates of the NDC and the NPP. Since the first Presidential elections in November 1992, it has been so.
The participation of candidates from other political parties (most of whom are now defunct, featuring General Erskine (People's Heritage Party), Kwabena Darko (National Independence Party), the late Dan Lartey (GCPP), and many others only added some comic relief to the race.
Neither has any merger helped. When the late former Vice President (Kow Nkensen Arkaah) pushed the pro-Nkrumahist National Convention Party (NCP) into the so-called "Great Alliance" with the NPP to challenge the NDC and its allies in the "Progressive Alliance", the outcome of Election 1996 made a mockery of them.
In our time, we have seen all kinds of faces protruding the scene. Talk about Dr. Edward Mahama/Hassan Ayariga and the PNC, Goosie Tanoh and his National Reform Party, Dr. Obed Asamoah and his Democratic Freedom Party, Dr. (Joseph Yorke) Paa Kwesi Nduom and his PPP, and others.
The emphasis is on the mushroom political parties and the independent candidates who have no support base beyond their small circles of friends and hangers-on feeding fat on their handouts. The truth here is that none of those entering the race has any chance of outdoing the NDC and NPP candidates. The CPP’s Ivor Greenstreet can’t persuade me that he will be favoured. So, why waste resources to compete with the strong NDC and NPP candidates?
What has emerged now to bring in all these 15 contestants can't simply be explained away. It is difficult to know why the contestants cannot simply know what the real issues are, especially regarding their chances or otherwise of losing more than winning the elections.
Why will each pay the colossal filing fee of 50,000 Cedis, knowing very well that they don't have the constituency nationwide to outperform the established political fronts (the NDC and the NPP)? Or could they be up to a game of sorts, putting themselves up as bargaining chips in a run-off? What do they hope to gain? Sowing seeds of corruption in the hope of a windfall thereafter?
On a more ridiculous note, is the desperate move by some of the Presidential candidates to go for citizens of the Volta Region to partner. Dr. Nduom has chosen this Ms. Dzogbenuku beauty pageant (What is beauty in a woman that is lacking in a flower, blooming early in the morning to attract flies seeking its nectar only to wilt in broad daylight when the nectar is all gone before vanishing into scary ugliness at sundown?).
Dr. Edward Mahama has also gone for an Ewe economist Amenuvor who is making his first mistake by opening his mouth too wide to say that corruption is driving investors away from Ghana. When did he get to know about the issue and hasn't spoken about it until now that he has been captured to do someone's bidding?
I can see through this ploy of settling on running mates from the Volta Region: to split the NDC's throat and drain it of its lifeline, its having been favoured by the electorate in this part of Ghana regarded as its "World Bank". Why would they do so? Just to favour the NPP, their ally? (Remember how the PNC "sold" its sole MP (Mallam Issah) to Kufuor's NPP after the collaboration to unseat the NDC at Election 2000 only for him to be set up and sacrificed? He is now in the camp of the NDC).
So, the PNC's search for another sacrificial lamb shouldn't be difficult to know). Both the PNC and PPP are seeking to destroy the NDC in the Volta Region for the sake of their NPP paymasters; but they will fail miserably because those they have settled on as running mates have no constituency to do their bidding by way of votes. They are below zero. A case of political miscalculation to be mocked. Such useless machinations dirty our democracy.
Hindsight from the preparations for 2012 elections may suggest that the APC's Hassan Ayariga and others are also in line to do the NDC's bidding. So far, we haven't gathered anything to that effect; but if it turns out to be so, we will tackle it.
Interestingly, these hangers-on in the Presidential race are even not coming out with anything spectacular about how they will develop Ghana other than what we already know. How to change voter impressions in their favour is difficult to fathom. What parking space do they have at the polls? Yet, they come across as determined to participate in the race. Are they doing so as mere surrogates, knowing very well that they don’t have the wherewithal to reach the finish line or to breast the tape?
Without going any further, it is safe to conclude that these candidates outside the NDC and NPP camps, especially the independent ones, are giving us something to ponder. Is it mere blindness to reality? Or a kind of Pavlov's dog influence, forcing them to listen to the bell ringing in their own ears to participate in the Presidential elections, damn the outcome? At least, the noise from some of them expressing their optimism to win the race makes me laugh myself lame. How can they not know that they are not in reckoning?
Clearly, all these candidates outside the NDC and NPP camps must be up to a game of sorts. Those that have already expressed pro-NPP interests are more than poised to push themselves into that political camp in the event of a run-off. Others not exposing their biases now will be expected to do so should there be any need for a run-off.
But at the end of the day, what sense does it make for all these marginal candidates to waste resources participating in the Presidential elections when they have no locus at all? Who cares about them to prefer them to the candidates of the well-established NDC and NPP?
Or are they willingly turning themselves into surrogates to be used by the more established NDC and NPP? Why so?
Of course, democracy provides room for this kind of exercise of the individual's right to participate in elections. We wait to see what happens next.
In any case, this list of 15 Presidential candidates adds another twist to the comedy that the electioneering process has so far generated. I am laughing myself lame here. How about you?
I shall return…
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