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Opinions Sat, 25 Jun 2016

It’s another season of defections

Election 2016 is just about six months away and the race to the Flagstaff House, the seat of government, is gathering momentum. The ambitious political parties have already selected their flagbearer and parliamentary candidates.

Even though the campaigns and manifestoes of almost all the political parties have not yet been launched, the flagbearers and other political party bigwigs have already started criss-crossing the country to solicit votes from the electorate, especially the floating voters.

The President, whose position is at stake with as many as 10 other party flagberarers moving heaven and earth to take him out of that prestigious seat, is also leaving no stone unturned as he goes around the country showcasing what he has done for the people and the various communities in the last four years under the ‘Accounting to the People’ tour, during which he is inaugurating projects that have been completed and promising the people more of such infrastructure.

In the same vein, the biggest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), is continuing its campaign across the country aggressively and working hard to get over the lapses that might have cost them victory in the last two elections.

The party’s campaign is now a two-pronged affair with the flagbearer and his running mate firing from all angles and touching base with the people. This time the party has injected some innovations that could be in sync with the people into the campaign.

The long and short of all this is that the campaign to the Flagstaff House is in progress and the drama that characterises these campaigns, defections or carpet crossing have begun in earnest.

Carpet crossing and defections, which were prominent during the First Republic, have come to stay and in this Fourth Republican dispensation it is more dramatic.

These defections were part and parcel of the political game in all the republics and it is more interesting under the current dispensation.

The defection of Alhaji Issaka Inusah, onetime Campaign Manager of former President John Agyekum Kufuor in 2000 to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was arguably the high-profile defection recorded in the Fourth Republic.

There were also the likes of Madam Grace Omaboe aka Maame Dorkunu and Frances Essiam both of whom crossed over from the NDC to the NPP. There is also the case of the former Member of Parliament for Zebilla and ex-member of the People's National Convention (PNC), Mr John Ndebugri who defected to the NPP.

The defections have continued unabated since then, especially in election years. There are the grassroots defections as well as the high-level ones. In all these instances, the publicity that characterised these defections were extensive and intended to hurt the party that was hit by the defection, while the party that benefitted jubilated over the gains it had made.

Now that the elections are closer, it is about the ‘cocoa season’ for the major political parties who always try to dig into the arsenals of their opponents and make some gains.

Just last month, there was a defection of NDC faithful including one of the parliamentary aspirants in the Awutu Senya West Constituency to the NPP.

As retaliation or what I may term ‘reprisal attack’, the NDC also has enticed 25 key polling station executives of the NPP in that same constituency to abandon their party and join them.

The report of that event was shown on some television networks and it vividly portrayed the jubilation in the NDC camp after that successful onslaught.

At the moment there are pockets of defections going on across the country because both the NDC and the NPP who are good at instigating defections have their machinery in motion and they are working around the clock to cause each other more pain.

Sincerely, I see defectors as traitors and opportunists who always want to reap where they have not sown.

The question that one will obviously ask is whether party faithful trust defectors who join them and malign their previous parties?

Let’s keep watching the unfolding developments as we draw closer to the November/December polls.
Columnist: Vance Azu