NPP's Defeat- The Akufo-Addo factor.

Fri, 8 May 2009 Source: Haruna, Mahama

The NPP's Defeat has been a big blow to many NPP members, and I cannot bring myself to understand how we could let it happen. Even though we all know that several things accounted for the defeat, I still would want to think every single NPP member including the writer of this feature should be held responsible and it is only through a proper analysis of the role of each an every member, starting from former President J. A. Kufour to Nana Akufo-Addo downwards to the lowest person in the party that we will know where we faulted and how to make amends in our quest to come back to power in 2012.

As human as he is, the Presidential Candidate of NPP for the 2008 elections Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo engaged in certain acts and took certain decisions that were detrimental to the success of the party. I explain these as follows:

Campaign team.

"...I for my part will do everything possible to promote our unity and will ensure that if indeed I am your choice today, all my fellow aspirants will work hand-in-glove with me to realise the vision of the pioneers of our movement who sought to build a free, just and prosperous society..."

This is a quote from the speech of Nana Akufo-Addo delivered on the election day of the 1998 Congress of NPP at Sunyani. True to his words Akufo-Addo carried this idea to 2008 after winning the Presidential Primaries. I did not understand why Nana felt it was his fellow competitors that would win the election for him hence over relying on them. Some were just square pegs in round holes. Imagine Dr Arthur Kennedy- the Communications Director of the campaign whom I respect so much telling the public the people of Ashanti voted massively for NPP in the first round of the elections because the Asantehe- Otumfuo Osei Tutu II told them to do so. Should we then begrudge Togbe Afede- the Awomefia of Asogli Traditional Area for instructing his people to chase all strangers out of the Volta Region on the election day of the second round? What about the role of Dr Konadu Apraku and some others? The least said about their role, the better. Akufo-Addo should have entrusted some of the roles given to the former Presidential aspirants into the hands of his tried and tested lieutenants like Victor Newman, Nich Darko, Carlos Von Brazi and others who did it for him during the Primaries.

Also while Akufo-Addo was seen as very honest, same cannot be said of some key people at the top of his campaign. Some were people with questionably characters. Some of the people in the campaign team were not supposed to be part of it in the first place. There were reports of money not getting to the right places and campaigners diverting resources. People who had problems paying their rent all of a sudden put up mansions within a short spate of a short time after they were given certain roles in the campaign. Moreover I have a strong belief the campaign team did not do enough to get floating voters to NPP.

Campaign message/strategy.

The campaign message of Akufo-Addo was hinged on the performance of Kufour which to me was misplaced. He told Ghanaians J.A .Kufour had performed very well as President and so he was coming to continue from where he left off. Akufo-Addo for once never criticised a single policy or act of Kufour. I just think Nana should have told Ghanaians that although he was part of Kufour's government, he would offer policies relatively new yet continuing with the positive policies of the Kufour regime. To me Akufo-Addo should have simply distanced himself from Kufour's mistakes or negatives, but he overly praised Kufour to the chagrin of many.

In the 2000 and 2004 elections, Atta Mills did same and failed woefully because Ghanaians did not appreciate many of the things Rawlings did when he was in government. We were not guided by the fact that, Ghanaians were peeved and disappointed in Atta Mills when he declared he would consult with Rawlings 24 hours if he became President. In Nigeria then candidate Musah Yar'adua condemned certain policies of Olusegun Obansanjo before some Nigerians developed confidence in him and therefore voted for him. Yes Kufour did a lot of good things for the NPPÂ just as he did a lot of bad things for the party.

Many are those who argue Akufo-Addo stuck fast to Kufour's achievements because he had no personal accomplishments to campaign about. Throughout the campaign Nana never mentioned one accomplishment of his. He could not tell Ghanaians what makes him a better candidate than his opponent. One would think he would have made known his accomplishment to the voting public but that did not happen. I strongly believe that if he had enumerated his ministerial performance on platforms before the election, he would have gotten enough votes to win. His often repeated saying that whatever he did as a Minister was for Kufour and not himself was not good judgment.

Few in Ghana did not know about his decades of service to Ghana , his breath-taking heroism as the main architect of the "Kumepreko" demonstrations, his foreign policy expertise and his ability to reach across all shades of people. His credentials are numerous but were not packaged well.

Added to this is the inconsistency with regards to his demeanor and attitude. When the Institute of Economic Affairs organised the Presidential debate I was hopeful it would reveal Akufo-Addo as the candidate best qualified for the job. I however came to the conclusion that if there was no second debate, Akufo- Addo would have been in trouble regarding the perception of Ghanaians about his grasp of issues, temperament and attitude. During the first debate he tried confronting Atta Mills, but was never able to shake the man's unnatural cool. At times, Akufo-Addo seemed to be trying to keep a simmering rage under control, which brought negative coverage. The second debate revealed the best in the man.


In terms of strategy I realised the campaign was too centralised. Most party members wanted to get the attention of the Candidate and therefore followed him around instead of going to their constituencies where they were most needed. We simply did not use the bottom up approach. I am also convinced that if we had made it clear to the grass roots that- 'This is your campaign, you own it, and you can run with it,' they would have responded better than they did.

Communication Strategy.

In modern-day politics, image and perception count a lot as one my favourate mailers to ghanaweb explained. This brings us to another important factor that needed serious consideration: communication. The party’s communication or PR machine was not up and running effectively. I would not be surprised if somebody in the party’s leadership had persuaded him-or herself—during the 2008 elections—into believing that the party was doing a “heck of job” in the communication frontier. We know that there are different levels of communications. Communication is not only a message delivery or an information transfer. In fact, one of the effective ways of communication is when the message is wrapped in the package of strategic control. This means not only that communication is used as a tool for controlling the environment, but also to choose communication strategies that are suited for attaining a specific desired goal(s) in these case winning elections. This can also mean we have to define our message concisely, efficiently, and present it before your opponents seize the chance to define the message for you. The NPP was not showing any tangible initiative or creativity, needless to say a sustained interest in sending certain messages across. The opposition parties, especially the NDC, spearheaded by Rawlings, was easily handed the task of defining NPP’s messages and its policies in the later days of Kufuor’s administration and during the campaign.

NDC members are subscribers of communist inferior tactics. They are professional liars who strategically fabricate and churn out lies about their opponents. The NDC succeeded in painting the NPP government in a negative light. They engaged in complete ethnic politics and politics of deception in specific regions and I wonder why we did not do same in the regions we were supposed to do that. We could not design counter messages but chose to campaign on our achievements only.

Also instead of taking proactive road, the best Akufo-Addo and the Campaign team could do was to always react to accusations leveled against the party. Perhaps the conventional wisdom of the party leadership was that Ghanaians would not give NDC a chance because of the party’s misrule under Rawlings. But, as I said, efficient communication can somehow change long-held adverse perceptions and images.

Cocaine Smear.

It should rightly be pointed out that Akufo-Addo was extremely moderate and gentle in his campaign. Akufo-Addo for reasons best known to him allowed the opposition to define him in very negative terms. He and his Campaign team failed miserably to respond to all felonious charges made against him by the opposition in a timely and cogent manner. Every team needs a rapid response when unfounded allegations are made against their candidate. You do not allow the charges to hang in the air like that, and wish it will soon go away. No, it does not go away! By that action Akufo-Addo gave credence to the lies and distortions of the NDC.

Akufo-Addo should have defended himself against accusations of cocaine use. He should have gone to court against those making those accusations and seek damages and an injunction. He and his campaign team could have used that 'jerk' and ' junker' Kofi Wayo for this purpose but surprisingly allowed him to say all sorts of things without proof and going scot free. We should have done some “negative politics” of our own against the NDC. Clearly election 2008 was not about issues, it was about propaganda. Some of our people said they hate such politics but history has shown over and over again that it is effective and the NDC is best at it. At a minimum, we need such politics in order not to allow our opponents to redefine themselves more positively and paint us in negative terms. It is simply not true that Akufo-Addo is a cocaine addict but we allowed NDC to repeatedly use that as a campaign message and my Communication Studies tells me a message repeatedly used gains effect.

False Image.

Akufo-Addo should have presented himself as he is ; the eloquently outspoken, no nonsense, firm, strong and self confident type; instead of morphing into a humble and gentle guy (The Kufour type). One of the reasons he became very popular in his political career is because of this attitude. It does not mean arrogance, far from that! As a young boy, I remember being enchanted by Akufu-Addo, particularly by his way of putting issues across. He spoke with vim and vigour and the masses got attracted to him because of that. I vividly remember his role in the 'Kumepreko' demonstrations In fact I supported him during the 1998 Primaries of NPP because I felt he was stronger in terms of character and could match the NDC firebrands boot for boot. For what ever reason he changed completely thereby disappointing many people who liked him for who he is.

Grace Omaboe (Maame Dokono).

I do not understand why Akufo-Addo allowed Grace Omaboe to take front line role in the campaign. Her comment that she is now going to vote for her Akyem brother (Easterner) played to the NDC's advantage in the Central Region and some parts of Northern Region. The NDC was smart; they simply recorded those comments and played it in the Fante areas of Ghana . It was a serious blunder Akufo-Addo needed to correct. We should not have allowed the NDC a chance to pounce on this to convince Fantes to vote for it. They packaged the message very well and used it to prosecute a serious ethnic campaign in Central Region. Some parts of Northern Region also picked it up. In the Gonja areas, we were told to vote for NDC because John Mahama hails from the area (notwithstanding the fact that he did not performed creditably as a a Member of Parliament and Minister). Grace Omaboe's 'ethninocentric comments' were used to buttress their point. The NDC'S tribal politics was simply too strong for us to counter. For Maame Dokono who even contested a seat on the ticket of NDC in the Eastern Region in 2000 to say this smacks of nothing than ethnocentriticism.

Danquah Institute.

It was believed the Danquah Institute which was formed shortly after Nana Akufo-Addo became flag bearer of NPP and which was headed by hardworking Gabby Asare Otchere Darko had hijacked and run the 2008 campaign. Some party members believed the Institute was formed to champion Akyem Abuakwa hegemony and should not have involved itself in the campaign. The office of Director of Communication of the campaign for instance was at the Danquah Institute and not Campaign or Party office. This alienated many party members from the campaign especially those from the Ashanti region. I personally overheard a leading party member (name withheld) vow never to step there because the place was named after Danquah- minus Busia and Dombo. Notwithstanding all the good work of the Danquah Institute, there was so much uneasiness and suspicions within the NPP when it was established.

It was said even Lord Commey, (whom some people attribute Akufo-Addo's victory to) went into an outburst over the way the Danquah Institute 'hijacked' the campaign by handling all issues of procurement and printing of materials for the party.

Data Bank.

The movers and shakers of Banking in Ghana felt threatened and uneasy over an Akufo-Addo Presidency and simply worked against him. This was because they feared Data Bank which has Ken Ofori Atta, a Cousin of Nana-Addo as its Director would have been directing banking in the country. They simply "protected" their banks and businesses from a "wolf". Fred Adu of Cal Merchant Bank, Togbe Afede of African Securies, Kwabena Dufour of Uni Bank etc, it has now been established bankrolled the NDC. As smart as NDC was, a propaganda message was simply floated that some $10 million came from Hugo Chavez-President of Venezuela and this interestingly was taken in by the NPP and was subject of intense discussion within NPP circles especially before the run-off. I can dare say that, the NDC received not even a penny from Chavez. All their money for the election was raised in Ghana especially money used for the run-off through the personalities mentioned above. That might be the reason they were all appointed members of NDC's Transitional Team with one becoming the Minister of Finance just to enable them reap their investments.

In the case of Togbe Afede, there were rumours he had personal scores to settle with Ken Ofori Atta over some business concerns. They were partners and even established Data Bank together but parted ways later on.

The point I am making here is that Data Bank was too engrossed in the campaign and the affairs of NPP when Akufo-Addo became candidate, a situation that cost the party because the Banking community ganged up against NPP as a result of this. They could have done many things underground as the others did for NDC. It was not uncommon to hear party campaigners say 'we are waiting for money from Data Bank'. It is also rumoured the interest of owners of Data Bank gave the NPP Bawumia who was simply a disaster to the party.

This also reminds me of the Michael Adenuga Jr and Globacom links to Akufo-Addo. It is believed MTN- the largest mobile Company in Ghana allegedly sponsored the NDC to spite Akufo-Addo because of fear of a fierce competition from Globacom due to government backing (as happening in Nigeria now).

Akyem or Kyebi Mafia.

It is also said Akufo-Addo surrounded himself with the 'Akyem Mafia' whose membership although could not be determined might be Akufo-Addo's immediate relations or personalities who hail from Akyem Abuakwa like Bumpty Akufo-Addo, Ken Ofori-Atta, Yaw Kwakye, Gabby Asare Otchere Darko, Nana Fredua Agyeman, Nana Asante Bediatuo, Nana Yaa-Ofori Atta and others. Some party members believe they were actually in charge of affairs and formed a stone wall around Akufo-Addo. There have been accusations that the 'Akyem Mafia' displayed cockiness forgetting that politics is about numbers. They have been accused of operating a closed door policy that seemed to regard only members of Akufo-Addo's close inner circle. There was this ridiculous rumour within NPP circles they had 'shared' cabinet and all other government positions to themselves and cronies even when the party had not won. These allegations (although not true) infuriated many party members especially those from Ashanti . As far as I am aware, the likes of Victor Newman, Nich Darko, Alhaji Business, Mustapha Hamid, Carlos Von-Brazi, Obiri and Ellis were those calling the shots in Akufo-Addo's set-up and not the so called 'Akyem Mafia'

Government and Party Relations.

To me Akufo-Addo did not do enough to correct the bad-blood and incompatibility between Government and Party from the National level to the District level. There was no proper collaboration between the two and this greatly affected the NPP.

A certain Maame Coomson who is said to be Mr Oteng Kufour, son of Professor Kufour of the University of East London ( a close ally of Kufour) said after the 2008 elections that former President Kufour stayed home and did not do any proper campaign because his office repeatedly contacted the campaign team to ask for their daily itinerary so he could adjust his schedule to meet theirs and thus campaign together, but the campaign team never replied to this request. Maame Coomson said it even got so bad that there were times when party members would tell Kufour's entourage that they should keep their President and they will keep their candidate. The problem was worse at the Regional and Disrict level. Akufo-Addo should have corrected this situation.

No matter the complexities of the situation then, Akufo-Addo should not have waited after the election was over before going to hold a meeting with Kufour on how to keep the Party United in opposition, strengthen its structures across the country and sharpen its arsenal to win power in 20012. If that was done before the elections, the NPP would have been in power.

Unhealed divisions.

I have always maintained that if there is any body who has worked to unify the NPP, then it is Nana Akufo-Addo. After he failed in his bid to win the NPP's endorsement as the Flag bearer in 1998, he became a unifying force despite the fact some elements in the NPP at that time embarked on a campaign of victimisation, vindictiveness, denigration, abuse and harassment against him and his supporters. Despite agitations from many quarters that Nana-Addo breaks away to from the NPP to form his own party due to alleged irregularities at the Primaries in Sunyani, he rather pledged his support and also showed loyalty to J. A. Kufour- the elected Presidential Candidate, the NPP and the Danquah-Busia Political Tradition. He also disengaged his core support group and many of them accused him of neglecting them.

After NPP won power in 2000, Akufo-Addo never reacted negatively when NPP gurus who supported him like Victor Newman and many others were sidelined. Notwithstanding this, Nana-Addo could have done better in uniting the Party especially at the grass roots where some members of the party saw themselves as belonging to the Friends of Nana Akufo-Addo (FONAA) or 'KALAMARI'- a network Alan Kyeramaten used to prosecute his 2007 NPP Presidential Primaries.

Selection of Vice-Presidential Candidate.

I was surprised in the midst of the hullabaloo surrounding the nomination of the NPP's running mate, a prominent figure in the party said it was the Presidential Candidate that would win the election for the party but not the running mate and that the bottom line in the selection was not about who would add more votes to the Presidential Candidate but one who would show loyalty and also effectively partner the candidate without problems. After Dr Muhamadu Bawumia was nominated, we were told Akufo-Addo nominated him because he wanted a technocrat for a smooth, effective and efficient running of Central government business. In fact Akufo-Addo handled the issue of running mate as if he had already been sworn in as President.

In the choice of a running mate, one picks someone who would add more votes to the ticket as is done all over the world. It is undisputable that John Dramani Mahama added a fair amount of votes (especially floating voters) to Atta Mills and the NDC. What did Dr Muhamadu Bawumia 'the technocrat' brings to the NPP in terms of votes? To me nothing!-The reason being that he is simply not a politician.

To me Alhaji Boniface Sadique or Alhaji Nurideen Jawula would have added some potential NDC votes from the Zongos and would have done better than Bawumia in the three Northern Regions. I still cannot come to terms with the fact that the NPP lost all four Mamprusi Constituencies in the Northern Region (including one NPP won in the 2004 election) although Bawumia hails from the area. In contrast the NDC won all six Gonja Constituencies in the Northern Region and this is attributed to the fact that John Mahama hails from the area.

Many Ghanaians did not see Bawumia as a Politician and believe Akufo-Addo only foisted his running mate slot on him. The "Hawks" in NPP saw him as an intruder and one who is not originally NPP and so many (including leading members) who have been part of the history and struggles of the Danquah-Busia tradition were not happy.

I conclude by saying that some of the mistakes and shortcomings explained above could be corrected and should be corrected by Akufo-Addo in 2012 and I believe he will be sworn in as Ghana ’s next President (inshah Allahu!).

Dear reader due to consistent pressure from highly placed personalities, friends and well-wishers to stop writing my series on the factors for NPP's Defeat, I will no longer be able to post features on the topic. In fact I have on my file the following: "NPP's Defeat- the Akufo-Addo factor.

Part (II)"; "NPP'S Defeat-The Alan Kyerematen Factor"; "NPP's Defeat- The Bawumia Factor"; NPP's Defeat-The Aliu Mahama Factor"; "NPP's Defeat-The National Executive Committee Factor"; "NPP;s Defeat- The Ethnicity Factor"; NPP's Defeat- The Selection of Presidential/Parliamentary Candidates Factor"; and NPP's Defeat-The Economy of Ghana Factor".

Sorry for disappointing all those who enjoy reading the series. I will be back!

Mahama Haruna.


Tel.- 0243-313-113

The writer holds a B. A. Degree in Communication Studies (with Specialisation in Journalism) from the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ). He was a former Secretary of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS). He was also a former NPP Secretary for Bole-Bamboi Constituency and former Political Reporter for ',The Statesman', newspaper.

Columnist: Haruna, Mahama