Opinions Wed, 6 Jul 2016
By Dr. Michael J.K. BokorSunday, July 3, 2016
Folks, I have read and unpacked the news report suggesting that Ghana's Foreign Affairs Minister (Ms. Hannah Tetteh Kpoda) is unhappy that the Outreach Director for the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom, Colin Bloom, has made public utterances favouring the NPP's Akufo-Addo and creating the impression that there is doom and gloom for the incumbent at Election 2016.
According to the news report, Mr. Bloom said, among others, that:
1. Ghana needs to change government ahead of this year’s elections and that the people of Ghana deserved better.
2. "Those of us in the Conservative Party, we can choose where in the world we work; we can work in the Caribbean, we can work in Latin America, we can work in Europe, we can work in Africa…we choose to work in Ghana because we believe in the man [Nana Akufo-Addo] who is going to speak to you next; we believe he is a man of both great intelligence and also great integrity.”
3. “Akufo-Addo is someone, who will transform Ghana; he is a man who will, we hope and pray later this year, take on the leadership of this nation…because we know and you know that Ghana deserves better.”
4. Akufo-Addo is the “the next president of Ghana”.
Mr. Bloom said so when speaking at the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) ‘Freedom Forum’ organised by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Accra last week, (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Mind-your-own-business-Hanna-Tetteh-tells-top-UK-politician-452364).
As is to be expected, Ms. Tetteh has reacted strongly to these public utterances by Mr. Bloom, using the opportunity to ask Mr. Bloom and the political system that he represents (Great Britain) to "mind its own business", apparently referring to the Brexit thunderstorm that is tearing Britain apart. She is right on that score; but there is more to the issue.
Instead of being angered by Mr. Bloom's utterances, Ms. Tetteh and the entire NDC family should ponder seriously over issues and plug the loopholes seen by Mr. Bloom and all others thinking that Akufo-Addo can do better than President Mahama has been doing so far.
I don't see anything particularly new about Mr. Bloom's opinions except that they are coming from him as an outsider. But what should we expect from someone like him speaking on a political platform commonly binding his cause with that of the NPP? And where was he before Elections 2008 and 2012, anyway?
News reports have already told me how local chiefs and others have mounted the rooftop to project Akufo-Addo as Ghana's saviour. The latest has come from the Chiefs of Nsawam/Adoagyiri, Aburi and Anum Boso. The truth, though, is that Ghanaians know what is what and will make their electoral decisions at Election 2016, no matter what comes from any detached foreign observer.
That is why it is needless to take umbrage at what Mr. Bloom has said. If anything at all, his utterances should be an eye-opener for the government to do whatever it can within the few months left for Election 2016 to plug the holes through which the Akufo-Addo admirers are seeing him as a redeemer. Doing so means addressing issues properly to allay fears, doubts, and suspicions that a renewal of President Mahama's tenure won't worsen the existential problems that the people are grumbling about.
Whatever the government can do should be done and a heart-to-heart conversation held with the people. Only then will the truth save anybody. Anger will not do so. Neither will any other measure that doesn't address the concerns of the people.
Mr. Bloom’s blast and bluster won’t really turn my crank, anyway. In such situations, people say anything to captivate the crowd!! Although his utterances may be regarded as an instance of a subtle interference in Ghana's political affairs by a foreigner like him, I think that some slack can be cut for Mr. Bloom, especially given the political ambit within which he made those utterances. Whatever binds the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) and the NPP is a pure ideological strand that need not be contested.
The NDC also has its affiliations with foreign political entities and can look up to them for whatever fillip it needs to reinforce its relevance.
What matters most is the reality on the ground. No amount of whitewashing by outsiders can influence the outcome of Election 2016. Once the voters know who is who and what will inform their electoral decisions, they will go where they deem fit to choose their national leader. That is why Ms. Tetteh and others thinking like her must seize the opportunity to cash in on Mr. Bloom's timely expression of opinions to do serious introspection of their performance so far. If they know where they are lacking, nothing prevents them from making amends and connecting with the voters to be sympathized with, appreciated, and supported to remain in power.
Whether the voters will agree with Mr. Bloom or not is in the womb of time. And whether President Mahama's performance will ensure a renewal of his tenure is on the laps of the voters. But much has to be done and seen as such. Over to you, Ms. Tetteh, President Mahama, and all. No need for anger at all. Instead, there is a strong imperative for actions to speak louder than words.
And for Akufo-Addo, particularly, if reliance on such "external damage-control doers" becomes the political tool for influencing voters, I say "Due"!! The reasons for Akufo-Addo's defeat at Elections 2008 and 2012 have nothing to do with the opinions of characters of Mr. Bloom's type. Has Akufo-Addo been able to deal with those inadequacies? If not, let him know it now that no matter who says what for him or about him, he can't jump the hurdle.
What Election 2016 will bring about cannot be narrowed down to mere speculation on the basis of emotions or wishes. And Ms. Tetteh and Co. need to know that the challenges facing Britain as a result of Brexit will also have a bearing on Ghana in one way or the other, which they must factor into local politicking!! So, even as it may be right to ask Mr. Bloom and the British establishment to mind their own business, there is need for us in Ghana to gear up too for the fallouts.
Whether the Brexit crisis is handled successfully by Britain or not—and whether Mr. Bloom has any role to play in it, which may warrant why Ms. Tetteh has asked him and his political front to "mind their own business"—the implications of Mr. Bloom's utterances are clear that the outcome of Election 2016 in Ghana means a lo, not only to Ghanaians but also to outsiders. That is why all must work hard to ensure that everything leading to it is transparent and honestly pursued to give the country only what it needs to move on.
Those who have already taken a pre-meditated stance and threatening mayhem had better behave. And all that has to be done to smooth the rough edges must be done in accordance with the constitution so the voters'; decision will fetch the best for Ghana. A democracy that is designed to grow (to create conditions for decent living by the citizens) doesn't need anger, subterfuge, or mayhem. It needs level-headedness and a genuine, conscientious approach. That is our challenge today.
Once there is a common understanding that wishes are not horses for beggars to ride, those who seek political power must ensure that they do what will win the goodwill of voters just as it is for those already wielding political power to ensure that they use the mandate to justify their retention in power. Senseless muscle-flexing and abuse of opportunities won't solve any problem; it will only compound existing ones and create new ones to bother the system. Ghana doesn't need that woe!!
I shall return…
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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.