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To GIMPA Professor: Sir, go ahead and vote for your man

Voting Ballot Box Electorates wait for their turn to vote at a polling station. File photo.

Thu, 3 Nov 2016 Source: Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin

Journalists are like lawyers; we look up to our seniors and quote them freely, even when the reference is far-fetched. Right here in these pages, I have celebrated a few of the men and women who blazed the trail and braced the odds, clearing the way for some of us to come along. How can any young journalist forget Merari Alomele or Ajoa Yeboah Afari? Only two weeks ago, I invoked the venerable Alomele when I suffered a temporary logophobia (fear of words); today I have reason to borrow from Auntie Ajoa.

Ajoa Yeboah broached a very worrying subject in the October 28th, 2016 edition of the The Mirror. The veteran journalist chose a very tantalising yet intriguing caption for her column: “When readers write.” We spend time to research and write volumes of readable content for the consumption of a literate population who palpitate at the sight of the newspaper. It was bad before technology came in. Social media only made it worse. Beyond 14 characters, it is a complete chore to read anything these days.

Voting pattern of intellectuals

So, when a reader writes to you to tell you how they felt about something you wrote, it is a real delight. Ajoa asserts: “…if there is no reaction, one has no way of knowing whether the article or one’s opinion, made sense to readers–or if anybody read the piece at all.” Ajoa received some of these reactions to her timeless writings and felt the occupational itchiness to share them with us.

If those who have left footprints of journalistic excellence–the likes of Ajoa Yeboah Afari–experience reader feedback drought, then it is surprising that our Tissues of the Issues get as much as a quick glance from the busy reader. It was one of those issues that irked a GIMPA professor when I wrote about the presidential debates last week.

The professor sent a very intelligent email to me after reading my analysis on presidential debates in Ghana. I wrote: “We are not even sure whether our intelligent minds–the likes of lawyer Ace Ankomah and Dr. Esi Ansah–would shift their positions on account of a great argument in a presidential debate….” The academic found my prognosis disappointing, warning that it is dangerous to pontificate in matters when you do have expert opinion.

However, he agreed to my assessment of the messages of the candidates, and remarked: “It is obvious that Papa Kwesi Nduom is the leader Ghana needs at this time. We have tried the NDC and NPP and we know it is not working, so why can’t we let a more capable hand provide the leadership we need.”

Floating voters and party apparatchiks

He also challenged my misstatement that Ghanaian intellectuals are so consumed by political ideology and tied to the apron strings of party traditions, assuring that most of them are persuaded by intelligent argument. In the next line, he waxed philosophical and almost prophetic, declaring that the Ghanaian electorate is more sophisticated than the politicians think. Finally, he warned that this year’s elections will see many upsets.

In my response to the professor, I was unashamed to eat a humble pie. I couldn’t have spoken for all professors in Ghana, hoping that no one will find me out to teach me a few lessons about Ghanaian politics. The voting patterns may not have changed much since 1992, but there have been some revealing moments that have sent pundits wondering and naysayers cursing. We are not dealing with absolutes and certainties in this election; it could be anybody’s win and anybody can lose.

There are increasing fears that disillusioned party supporters and floating voters may decide the direction of the votes this time. The arguments from the NPP and NDC about who borrowed more and did less, and who stole more and did much less, have become boring and less edifying for the Ghanaian mind. Must every debate on radio or TV centre on infrastructure, as the NDC communicators are doing? Could the NPP think beyond the word ‘incompetent,’ and at least, use some of its many synonyms?

Party communicators

We do not lack political debates on radio and TV; in other jurisdictions, there is no liberty to criticise government. What we do not have are clear and cogent arguments about why the parties think they are a better group to govern, without explaining why the other party cannot do it. Sometimes party communicators spend so much time denigrating, impugning and maligning the opponent. They have very little time to talk about their programmes and policies. The tired listener is lost in the sea of invectives.

The Ghanaian electorate notices this gap. People like the GIMPA professor are looking for intelligent argument to decide how to vote. They are beyond NDC and NPP palabra; they look at the issues through the prism of the Third Way. In a free market place of ideas, only viewpoints that make rational appeal win the day. That is democracy.

The Third Way does not only seek to locate the convenient centre between the extremes of right-wing and left-wing politics; it is sometimes the supreme alternative which cannot be replaced by the best of both wings. That is the kind of political arrangement Ghanaians are yet to experience. The public conviction is that where the NDC and the NPP have faltered, the PPP will prevail.

Our man is back

That is why the EC’s disqualification of the PPP in the Presidential elections was worrying. David Ampofo, one of the trailblazers, opined that Papa Kwesi Nduom’s disqualification would have denied millions of Ghanaians their constitutional right to vote for their candidate. It is for the good of our democracy that Dr. Nduom is coming back to the ballot paper. Well, the EC is going to the Supreme Court. It’s their right.

After the High Court ruling last week, the chances are brighter and the prospects are higher for the PPP in the Election 2016. “Our candidate is back,” the people of Elmina cheered and screamed. The PPP has awoken to the fears and anxieties of Ghanaians about the management of our country and the future of our children. As for the EC suit at the Supreme Court, Kwesi Pratt says: “Dr. Nduom brings something to the elections; he must be part of the elections.”

My professor friend described Dr. Nduom as “my man.” Well, sir, please go ahead and vote for your man. And while at it, please tell your colleague professors to also vote for your man. One man at a time, one idea at a time, one vote at a time: That is how the PPP has built a formidable political movement in Ghana. Awake. It’s our time.

Columnist: Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin