Polling Station Guards can’t win the elections for Akufo-Addo

Wed, 28 Jan 2015 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Monday, January 26, 2015

Folks, you must have read the news report that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has inaugurated the DAZOTA youth group to protect all polling stations in the Upper East region during the 2016 general elections.

DAZOTA group secretary, Asukuga Adongo George, told Citi News that the group was formed to avert the occurrence of the alleged widespread irregularities that characterized the 2012 general elections.

He said the group will form an effective and efficient communication force and collaborate with existing youth groups in various constituencies in the region and will also adopt available campaign strategies to help the NPP win the 2016 elections. (See: https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=343957)

I laughed out really loud when I read this news report. POLLING STATION GUARDS? What for, when the party would already have had its polling station agents in place? Complicating the situation for nothing? Surely, these NPP people have too much time ( and resources too) and too little to do. The real route to the presidency lies with the electorate. Go to them with good messages to win their minds and hearts, not forming any kind of group at all to display MILITANCY to scare the electorate instead.

Folks, do you see how these NPP people and their “All-die-be-die” mentality works to undercut them? Their inability to read deeper meanings into politically motivated issues will continue to work against them. At a time that the electorate need a different image of Akufo-Addo and those he is leading—at least, to put them at ease and erase the negative implications of the infamous “All-die-be-die” call to arms—no one needs a militant group (as implied by the word “GUARDS” in the title) to scare anybody.

It is not yet known which other constituency has such an organization or whether the DAZOTA will be replicated throughout the country to do Akufo-Addo’s bidding; but what I can stick my neck out to conjecture is that such a group is being set up to pursue an agenda that only Akufo-Addo has in place as far as his crave for political power is concerned.

Whether this initiative qualifies as an introduction of militancy into election-monitoring or not isn’t difficult to establish. The truth, though, is that general elections don’t call for militancy; they call for VIGILANCE, which translates into the willingness of those initiating such moves to fit their agenda into the overall national one that the EC has in place.

Vigilance is positive while militancy is negative, at least, if vigilance entails alertness and militancy, a show of force. In a democracy, vigilance fetches political capital while militancy fritters it away. I am amused by the NPP’s choice of means—turning to militancy instead of vigilance. Both can’t co-exist.

Being vigilant means helping the EC to superintend over the polls without confronting it with a separate partisan political agenda or to intimidate it. Anything bordering on “show of force”, which is what the militancy connoted by the NPP’s “Polling Station Guards” entails, will not force "the there to be there" for Akufo-Addo.

In essence, then, the NPP’s initiative is unexpected, needless, and dangerous. Apparently, the militancy connoted by this initiative suggests that the party’s “Polling Station Guards” will operate parallel to whatever we already have for the accredited national security network as far as security of the polls and the electorate is concerned.

How will these NPP’s “Polling Station Guards” be located in the existing framework? Will these so-called “Polling Station Guards” be the same polling station agents that each political party is allowed to present for election-monitoring functions? Or will they be an additional resource for only the NPP to use?

Folks, I have all along insisted that the NPP people don’t know how to do politics to win power. They constantly deceive themselves that arm-twisting and browbeating techniques will do the magic for them. That is why in their public posturing and utterances, they cannot be humble; they cannot tailor their campaign messages to suit the aspirations of the electorate; and they find it difficult to accept defeat just because in their premeditated manner of doing politics, they consider electoral victory for them as a fait accompli, even before the elections are held.

They have no room for defeat and do all they can to create the impression that any electoral defeat is the calculated manipulation by the EC and their arch political rivals (the NDC). We are aware of their shortcomings and will continue to point them out for redress—but we know they won’t listen to us, having already positioned themselves as the obvious choice of the electorate to be in power. Unfortunately for them, the tide won’t flow the way they wish.

Creating petty pockets of authority and layers of militancy within the party’s ranks will not solve their credibility problems. The main causes of their constant electoral defeat lie within their own make-up, shortsightedness, and character traits that don’t bode well for them on Election Day.

I am glad that speakers at the function acknowledged such internal faultlines: “Even though the party structures may have pockets of misunderstandings, unity is key and all well-meaning party members’ must devise an approach of managing all misunderstandings and organise resources and logistics for effective campaign for victory in 2016,” according to the Upper East regional chairman of the NPP, Mahama Adams.

Then, the constituency chairperson for Bolgatanga Central, Mercy Alima Musah, “bemoaned the sudden collapse of party youth and women groups in the region due to gossips and misunderstanding and the need to revamp such groups”.

The NPP is its own enemy, not the EC or the NDC, not to talk about the security set-up. The party is still operating with an outmoded political apparatus and its operatives/activists find it difficult to reach out successfully to the electorate, especially floating voters. Their inability to woo the electorate with cogent campaign messages will continue to be their bane. But they fail to see the fault in themselves and are quick to harp on the obvious challenges facing the incumbent administration, counting on CHANCE to prevail over the electorate. It won’t work.

Added to this politics of narrow-mindedness are the major problems that detract from the worth of their Presidential and Parliamentary candidates. I will bet my last Pesewa on a gamble to say that the problems that dimmed Akufo-Addo’s light at the two previous polls are still there to hit him hard again. Those that were interpreted beyond his personal negative streaks of character are still ballooning. Not until he demonstrates anything new, the baggage that he has been carrying all along will be too glaring to dissuade voters from lifting him to the Presidency “at all costs” as his “birthright”.

The NPP’s main problem is Akufo-Addo, not the EC or the NDC. If they can tackle him (probably, by helping cleanse the slate for him), he might be seen in a new light. But time is of the essence; and he hasn’t proved yet that he has anything new up his sleeves with which to conjure electoral victory. He is still his old self. No voter who knows him will follow him.

For now, let the NPP go about wasting resources on such amorphous groups as this DAZOTA in the mistaken belief that militancy will be the “Open Sesame” for it. Electoral victory depends more on the ability to connect with voters than on an eagle’s eye watch on Election Day.

The truth is that Akufo-Addo lost Elections 2008 and 2012 because he wasn’t the voters’ preferred choice. No one stuffed any ballot box with anything to his disadvantage. If he really knows how to win electoral victory, he won’t continue to repeat the very mistakes that have been the cause of his woes all these years. Troublemakers full of unspeakable arrogance and mischief won't win the minds and hearts of voters.

Let the militancy continue. On Election Day, it will vaporize into gasps of disappointment. To win the polls, the NPP needs voter support, not the militancy of “Polling Station Guards”.

What I can foresee is the setting up of such groups to confront the national security network, which will be the catalyst for unrests in the post-election period. Such a measure will have dire consequences for the brains behind such quasi-security rag-tag groups and those unwitting idle-hands being manipulated to expend their energy in pursuit of the mirage that Akufo-Addo has placed in front of them.

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.