By Margaret Jackson
We have this famous quote, that, “The only poll that matters is the one on Election Day”. And I love this other quote by the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu. He stated that, “I always lose the elections in the polls, and I always win it on election day”. Elections, to me are not over, until it is over. If it were not so, President Mills would have folded his presidential campaign more than 10 months before the first vote was cast in December 2008 elections. In view of this fact, even though you may watch the polls whether it is in your favour or not, it is better not to allow it to go too much into your head if you happen to lead or trail in the polls.
Ghanaians who paid closer attention and consumed themselves into the political barometer during the 2008 presidential election can testify that President Mills’ campaign was declared dead by many political pundits, so-called overnight pollsters, international political analysts, spiritualists, musicians and many more, leading the NPP led by Nana Akufo-Addo into falsely thinking that they were going to win the elections one touch.
Normally in every situation, especially in politics and football, when you feel that you have the wind behind your back, it gives you the false sense of hope that all is well, thereby making you lazy and soporific on your oars. Such was the situation that Akufo-Addo found himself in 2008, which led him to become Ghana’s Michael Jackson, who did nothing on the campaign trail by way of articulating his views and visions to voters, but rather resorted to dancing and the waving of his tons of handkerchiefs each time he mounted the campaign podium. The result is what we saw of a disillusioned Akufo-Addo who could not believe his eyes after he had lost the 2008 election, and therefore, arrogantly refused to concede defeat and congratulate the winner, Professor Evans Atta Mills.
I have my own take on elections. I also strongly believe elections are normally won on Election Day. If you believe that elections are won on Election Day, then as a politician or candidate you never allow anything to go into your head, but steadfastly and energetically campaign until the polls are closed. With that, you don’t leave anything to chance but cover every blade of political campaign grass until the first poll is cast. I have said many times that there is no reward for placing second in politics. You either win or lose. Therefore, when people start showering praises on you during the campaign season, you better be forewarned and be careful.
President Mills has not gone on any major campaign trail yet. In fact he has not kick-start his 2012 presidential campaign nor has the NDC officially launched its campaign. I have not seen any campaign leaflets, flyers or handkerchiefs yet. But news have started flying. Issues that have to make you keep an eagle eye and be warned have started coming up. Some people and organizations have started to sing the praises of President Mills. And this is where I get extremely worried.
The Al-Hajj newspaper has a publication that a newspaper vendor who also doubles as a logician has predicted that President Mills would win the elections come December. This is coming on the heels of other predictions that we have witnessed lately, all going in favour of President Mills. It was not quiet long that we also had these victory predictions for President Mills coming from Nana Kwaku Bonsam, Prophet Emmanuel Kweku Kankam of the Freedom Fighters Fellowship of Accra and a Kumasi based spiritualist, Sheik Malam Musah.
On the international level, the London’s Economic Intelligence Unit released its country report on Ghana in January this year and also predicted that President Mills and the NDC would coast to victory in the December elections.
I do not have problems with people or organizations making election predictions. In fact, basically predictions normally produce one result. They either turn out to be true or false. Therefore, when your predictions turn out to be true it boost your ego, whilst if it goes the other way, it makes you look bad and eventually chicken out. My beef however has got to do with how politicians and parties who have predictions heavily favouring them behave with the information going forward in their campaign activities.
I also have this strong conviction in life that normally when your back is heavily pushed against the wall, it makes you position yourself well, move away from complacency, leaving little room for error, and do what it takes to solidly win the day or come out of adversities.
I am therefore, beseeching the NDC and to a large extent President Mills that they should never hinge their hopes on the polls and predictions that are pointing to their favour in the December elections. They can look at the polls, but they should never, ever think those polls and predictions are going to win the December elections. Polls tend to make politicians very complacent and later turn out to be their waterloo.
If the NDC wants to win the December elections, they should be campaigning vigorously. That is the only key. They have to sell their achievements going forward because if they don’t, nobody will. Ghanaians need to know what they have accomplished since they took power in 2009 no matter how minuscule it is. They have to debunk the claims by the NPP that they have done nothing. Yes, the NDC people have to benchmark their four-year achievements to that of ex-president Kufour and let Ghanaians be the judges.
Of course, the NDC should never expect the opposition NPP to sing their praises for them. The NDC has to blow its own horn. The NDC keep quiet at its own peril. They should also remember going forward that, polls don’t win elections, but people do.