By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Folks, the Talensi by-election is over and victory belongs to B.T. Baba and the NDC. This victory underscores the NDC’s strength in that area and others that it can clinch despite the dry, irritating noise made by its opponents. Those rooting for the NDC do better in political mobilization than their loud-mouthed opponents can ever do, which explains why despite public outcry against existing conditions in the country, reinforced by the NPP’s campaign of disdain, the party could still bounce back to reclaim the Talensi Parliamentary seat. It can do so in other areas if need be because it is connected to the people.
Not so for its opponents, especially the NPP, which is still stuck in anachronistic political gimmicks and self-righteous postulations on governance. And their reaction to their electoral defeat? “NDC shared state money to Talensi voters to secure Parliamentary seat” (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/NDC-shared-state-money-to-secure-BT-Baba-Talensi-seat-NPP-367202).
Circumstances surrounding Tuesday’s balloting suggest a lot that the NPP should learn if it wants to do anything good at Election 2016. I will attempt to outline some of the issues that contributed to the NPP’s defeat in Talensi and suggest that the kind of “booklong” and “rogue” politics that it is fixated on won’t put its Akufo-Addo in power in my lifetime.
The NPP approached the Talensi by-election from a position of “heritage”, deceiving itself that once its former MP had assumed the status of Talensi Paramount Chief, he would use his influence to pave the way for its candidate’s victory. That explains why Akufo-Addo visited the area to campaign for the candidate but failed to reach out to the electorate. Instead, he over-stretched himself and the party’s resources, narrowing his politicking to chiefs and prominent citizens of Talensi. I wonder why he thought doing so would push the button for the NPP candidate. Akufo-Addo and his team failed to reach out to the electorate and concentrated efforts on persuading the prominent citizens of the area to do the job for the party.
Beyond that narrow-minded approach lies the controversy surrounding the visit to the shrine of the Tindana, which portrayed the NPP in a bad light. Only immature politicians would do what Wontumi and his followers did, showcasing it on social media and drawing needless negative reaction. By that singular act, they created the negative impression that they were seeking the spiritual powers of the Tindana for their candidate. Everything backfired to doom them. Elections are won at the polls, not at the shrines of spiritual leaders who themselves may turn out to be political opponents!!
Behind it all lies the fact that the NPP people couldn’t do any intelligent analysis of the political climate in Talensi to know how to do things. Indeed, the former MP had been known as a strong NDC follower who became disgruntled because of manouevres by the long-serving MP, John Akologo Tia, and camped with the NPP for Election 2012. He won, clearly because John Tia had lost favour with his own people Thus, the former MP couldn’t be embraced as a hardcore NPP politician. He joined the NPP only to punish the NDC. Of course, he was well-placed in the Talensi area, which explains why he would become the Paramount chief. Relying on him was a huge mistake. When chickens return home to roost, they know where to peck for food. No genuine NDC member will turn coat to doom his/her political family.
The NPP under Akufo-Addo couldn’t do any proper homework to know that having dominated the hearts and minds of the citizens of Talensi since the inception of this 4th Republic, the NDC has deep tap roots there that mere negative propaganda by them can’t uproot. Considering this fact and juxtaposing it with current happenings, one can say that the NPP is the cause of its own undoing in the by-election. It reposed too much trust in self-delusional impressions about voter sentiments. If its leaders had sat back to do a diligent analysis of events, they would have known that Talensi would revert to the NDC. All exhortations that the electorate should vote for the NPP candidate as an honour to the former MP fell on deaf ears because the NDC had already done its homework to plug holes. The NPP couldn’t penetrate. It is now time to lick the gaping wounds. I’ll see how they do so; but knowing their “Kwaku Ananse” tactics, they will seek to divert attention to extraneous issues like bribing of voters, violence, etc.
The arrogant manner in which the NPP campaigners approached the by-election is another aspect. Nana Akomea, sitting in the comfort of his home-base in Accra, was quick to say that the electorate in Talensi would teach the NDC a bitter lesson. Akufo-Addo toured the area to reinforce that noise and repeatedly irritated the voters with criticisms of the Mahama-led administration without providing solutions. He made promises that the people dismissed as a ploy. Winning elections goes beyond such superficial and deceptive gimmicks.
Now comes the nub. The NPP is a fractured party that needs a lot of tactical management to regain its momentum. The internal wrangling that has virtually “emasculated” Paul Afoko and Kwabena Agyei is one major flaw. From the list of those who campaigned in Talensi, we can tell that Afoko and Agyei were not involved in any activity at all, meaning that the coup d’état launched by the Akufo-Addo camp against them has succeeded. That explains why Freddie Blay (a so-called Nkrumahist now parading as a Danquah-Busiaist) would be in charge of affairs and surround himself with characters like Gabby Otchere Darko (a nephew of Akufo-Addo) to campaign in Talensi. (They should thank their stars that they survived the violence).
The electorate aren’t so stupid as not to know that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Why, then, should they go for the NPP when they have a stronger political home to gravitate toward?
We are saying here that the Pyrrhic victory won by Akufo-Addo against his own party stalwarts has manifested negatively in the humiliation suffered in Talensi. For the avoidance of any doubt, let me say here that neither Afoko nor Agyepong played any role in political mobilization in Talensi. How can a political party behaving this way hope to draw public support?
More importantly, the turning of the NPP into a militant organization by Akufo-Addo only scares the citizens. A political party that is always issuing threats and using force rather than persuasion won’t attract voters to its cause. Reports on the violence that occurred in some parts of Talensi mentioned the Bolga Bull Dogs as an NPP militant group that stood toe-to-toe with its NDC counterpart, the Azorka Boys of Tamale. Shame unto all those forming such groups and manipulating the unwitting youths to resort to violence.
The creeping of militancy into the NPP runs counter to the tenets of the Danquah-Busia ideology. In truth, then, the seeds sown by Akufo-Addo are maturing dangerously to the NPP’s disadvantage. The party doesn’t need this kind of misguided militancy to succeed in its quests. Neither will this militancy ensure party unity. We saw what happened when the Invisible (or is it Invincible?) Forces went into action at the party’s national headquarters, kicking out Afoko and Agyepong just because Akufo-Addo wanted them to be out of his way. Such misplaced militancy will destroy the NPP itself.
We want to say at this point that what has happened at Talensi should be properly analyzed by the NPP people so they can find better means to strategize toward Election 2016. As President Mahama has already said, Talensi will be a dress rehearsal for Election 2016. The fact that the living situation in the country is challenging doesn’t mean that the people will automatically reject the NDC and put Akufo-Addo in power. This is a lesson that the NPP people need to learn; and they must re-orient themselves as well so they don’t waste resources fighting the wind.
The voters in Talensi know better to push Mr. Baba into the corridors of power where he stands a better chance of representing them in government than voting for someone who will be in opposition and function only as part of the “Concert Party”. They would have made a tragic mistake had they voted for the NPP candidate to join the bandwagon of opposition MPs who are recognized only for the amount of empty noise they make in criticizing everything done (or not done) by the Mahama-led administration.
Talensi has spoken and those who have ears must hear. Welcome aboard, Mr. B.T. Baba.
I shall return…
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