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Reflections for the 2016 elections

Fri, 27 Nov 2015 Source: Abdul-Fatawu, Fuseini

The year is gradually drawing to a close. Each and every one of us is contemplating on not only the way forward but also what went wrong in the course of the year.

We have barely some eleven months to the 2016 elections. In this 2015 alone, we have so far witnessed three different parliamentary primaries and two presidential endorsements. The NPP, PNC and the NDC have already had their parliamentary primaries whilst the PPP and the NDC recently had their presidential candidates endorsed. In all these elections there are valuable lessons drawn in them. There are also questions that our lips have always been singing with clear-cut answers not easily comprehensible.

Since I cannot comb all the parliamentary primaries throughout the country, I’ll attempt to concentrate on the lessons learnt from the three parliamentary primaries so far learnt in my constituency, the Sissala East constituency. The first will be the June 2015 NPP parliamentary primaries.

The race was between a well-known NPP figure in the constituency, Amidu Chinnia, and a relatively unknown NPP activist, Abass Ridwan. Not only Amidu Chinnia was well-known he was also the NPP 2012 parliamentary candidate, performed creditably against an incumbent overspending NDC and for the first time since 1992, the NPP parliamentary candidate beating the PNC to second position in that same election. Political watchers and analyst in the constituency all predicted an easy walkover for Amidu Chinnia. To the surprise of all, the relatively unknown Abass Ridwan won the primaries. How come? What happened? Were the questions on the lips of many but the answers were quite evident, COMPLACENCY. This was the first lesson I learnt this year. The defeat of Abass Ridwan was seen as a done deal such that certain serious issues were taken very lightly. In fact, a lot of us underestimated Abass Ridwan, his capacity and political tactics such that we consider him next to nothing. The victory of Ridwan then gave me my second lesson, NEVER UNDERESTIMATE YOUR OPPONENT NO MATTER HOW MINUTE OR INSIGNIFICANT YOU MIGHT THINK HE IS. After all, is the mighty elephant not defeated by the tiny tsetse fly? Is the minute mosquito not sending a lot of us to our early graves?

Then came the PNC primaries. It was also contested between Nuhu Bayorbor and Kanton Kingsley. Among the rural folks, Nuhu was well-known and more popular. However, he was beaten handsomely by Kingsley because to a lot of people he campaigned against the PNC’s legend, Moses Dani Baah, in the 2012 elections. Nuhu’s supporters however deny this allegation. Kingsley on the other hand presented himself as the darling boy of Moses Dani Baah and it worked perfectly for him. The lesson I learnt from this is that if you know you’ll one day come back to your people to ask for something, BECAREFUL OF YOUR SINISTER ACTIONS AGAINST YOUR OWN PARTY. A lesson Nuhu and perhaps Paul Afoko are learning in the hard way.

After this came the extravagant, much publicized and populist NDC primaries. It was contested by five persons with three of them all capable of winning. The incumbent, Madam Sulemana Alijata eventually won despite losing so many strategically big communities. With the NDC primaries, certain smaller communities have more votes than some of the established bigger communities and as such, a very unpopular candidate can still go ahead and win the parliamentary slot. How the NDC will retain the seat is now the bigger challenge with the NPP united after their candidate and a very resurgent PNC? The youthful Mohammed Bataglia had the popular support, won majority of communities but lost the primaries because he was not very active during the registration of the NDC voters and this affected him dearly. The lesson I learn from this is, DON’T HESITATE/DELAY WHEN YOU KNOW YOU WANT SOMETHING. Johnson Saborh on the other hand is the DCE with a lot of resources. He was more on the ground than the others and most importantly, a PNDC cadre. Despite all these, he lost the primaries. He was more hurt with his past actions as a headmaster of Kanton Senior High School than his experience and achievements as a DCE. Almost all persons he ever worked with were against him and as such places he could easily have won, he lost them miserably. The lesson I learnt from this is that when you have an administrative position, do your work diligently and honestly. Respect your subordinates, avoid autocracy and BE VERY CAREFUL OF WHO YOU HARM FOR YOU DON’T KNOW WHEN YOU MIGHT NEED HIM.

These are some few lessons I’ve learnt this year. Moving into the elections, aspirants and political parties can try as much as possible to avoid some of these mistakes.

I shall In sha Allah be back…

Fuseini Abdul-Fatawu

Columnist: Abdul-Fatawu, Fuseini