By Margaret Jackson
Political parties throughout the world coast to victory largely through the good grassroot and campaign works of their supporters across the board. These supporters campaign non-stop by expounding on the manifestoes, visions, aspirations and campaign themes of their parties in their locals. Whilst advertisements help parties to bring their campaign messages to the living rooms, offices, market places and community outdoors of voters, it is a known fact that these die-hard supporters do most of the leg work by selling the parties in their localities.
It is commendable to note that many of these supporters some of whom put their life on the line for the sake of their parties and its leadership, perform these campaign works essentially for free. To be brutally frank, after an election victory and the chips are down, only a few of these party stick-in-the-mud supporters are normally recognized and rewarded for their good works whilst majority of them are chiefly marginalized.
In Ghana these die-hard supporters who are found in every constituency are today generally referred to as party foot-soldiers. These foot-soldiers are known to troop from house to house to sell the visions of their parties to voters. But it is very important to note that foot-soldiers in Ghana generally do not have their own means of transportation and principally do the door-to-door campaigns on foot. Another issue that needs to be taken into account is that majority of these foot-soldiers are unemployed (unbiz). Therefore, I would qualify it by saying that any die-hard party supporter who campaigns fiercely by going from door-to-door on foot can be considered as a foot-soldier.
When an election is won, every party looks deep at its available human resources and fill sensitive and essential positions to get the government machinery up and running. It is however important to state that since there are limitations to available positions not many of the foot-soldiers get roped in by way of getting some jobs to do. As a result, many of these foot-soldiers tend to become angry, frustrated, disillusioned and sometimes damn the leadership of their own parties for failing to put them into gainful employment after elections. Whilst it is sad, it is very important to also drum home the fact that it would be impossible to reward every single foot-soldier by way of employment at the expense of the majority of other citizens many of whom tend to have better skill sets and experience on the job market.
The above discussion explains the dilemma and problems that has engulfed the ruling NDC government for the past three years it has been in office. Many of the NDC foot-soldiers who were in the political wilderness for eight years that the NPP was in power saw it as a golden opportunity to lay their eggs and butter their bread “small” when the NDC came to power in 2009. But their hopes of making it in terms of landing their dream jobs seems to have been dashed as most of them continue to be in the same situation they were in four years ago. As a result, it has become a common feature for the NDC foot-soldiers to channel their frustrations and anger at their party’s leadership on air anytime they found the opportunity.
Whilst it is good for the foot-soldiers to let the NDC leadership to know their predicaments so that something could be done to improve their lot, sometimes they resort to some unorthodox means which leaves much to be desired. But there is one principal thing that I would like to pulsate home to all the NDC foot-soldiers. It is extremely important that they note what I am going to say and take it to the bank because it is something that would help them to think deeply and make the right choices and judgments during the 2012 elections.
When the NDC lost power in 2000 and stayed in opposition for eight long years, the party’s foot-soldiers found themselves disorganized and in pathetic situations. Whilst their spirits were conked out and crestfallen, they had virtually no one to turn to or anywhere to go. In fact, majority of the foot-soldiers could not even go to the leaders of the NDC to discuss their problems. Such was the situation when the NDC was fallowing in the political wilderness during that eight long years.
But today the tide has changed. The foot-soldiers can walk to the party’s offices and to their MP’s and Ministers to talk about issues confronting them. Even though most of their issues remain unresolved, the good thing is that when these foot-soldiers are leaving the offices and houses of these party officials, they are at least given something small (Noko Fio) for transport. That is the spirit! That is something the NDC foot-soldiers cannot afford to lose if they let their nets down and allow the NPP to win the 2012 elections. Even though the “Noko Fio” is nothing compared to being gainfully employed, it at least better than nothing.
Therefore, anytime the NDC foot-soldiers remember their Days in Zion (8 years in opposition), where they sat down and wept bitterly as the NPP taunted them with splashes of opulence, disrespect, arrogance and insults, they should know that if they make the onerous mistake and stop campaigning and allow the NPP to sneak back to power, they would be doomed forever. Even the “Noko Fio” they get today shall be taken away from them. Period!
The 2012 elections is going to realign and redesign the political landscape of Ghana. Any of the two major political parties (NDC & NPP) that would lose the elections, is bound to suffer untold consequences. I am even predicting that any losing major party is bound to suffer a breakup since whoever wins the 2012 elections will try its best to consolidate its hold onto power by rolling out credible development programmes to win the hearts and minds of Ghanaians in the coming years.
As a result, if there is any time that the NDC foot-soldiers have to think twice, stop the in-fighting and bickering and look beyond what they did not get out of the 2008 sweat, and move into full gear by whipping up the enthusiasm of their members and campaign relentlessly to ensure victory, it is now. Tomorrow might be too late. Remember in the 2012 Elections, Everything Is On The Line. The “Noko Fio” even will not be spared. And if the NDC foot-soldiers hear their NPP counterparts charging that they must win the 2012 elections at all cost, this should be enough signal to whip them up and bring them together for the major work ahead.
The 2012 elections is not going to be a cake walk for any party. The elections have to be won through real sweat on the campaign trail. The NDC foot-soldiers have to sell their party by highlighting its achievements. They know what the NDC government has done in every locality, therefore it behooves on them to let the voters know. This is their duty. This is their job. They should talk about the construction of roads that have opened up commerce and business n Ghana. They should highlight on the classroom blocks that have sprinted up in all the regions removing schools under trees. They should not forget to talk about the construction of storm drains that have stopped people from carrying their property on their heads anytime there was a downpour, the low inflation rate being enjoyed by Ghana for the first time in decades. They should also highlight on the economic strides that has made Ghana one of the fastest growing economies in the world. And of course they should also talk about the reduction rate in armed robbery which was very rampant during the Kufour regime, and the fact that the NDC has not abandoned any project initiated by the Kufour administration. Yes, they should talk about the gargantuan humility and selflessness of President Mills, who came to politics to serve than to be served. They should also not forget to draw sharp distinctions between Kufour’s first four years in office and that of President Mills. They should let voters know that the “Better Ghana Agenda” is on course, up and kicking and on fire, and that Ghanaians are seeing the results.
The NDC cannot afford to let internal infighting to sway it away from its message. The NDC’s internal in-fighting has been going on for far too long and it’s not helping anybody. The party’s dirty linen is all over the place. With the parliamentary primaries over, the NDC need to come together because the big umbrella is far bigger and stronger than any one single individual in the party. The 2012 elections is not just about winning. It is more than that. The NDC foot-soldiers must know that the election is not about them alone. Whilst it is for the better future of the country, it is equally for the better future of their children and children’s children.