The battle lines are drawn for Election 2016

Sun, 18 Oct 2015 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Friday, October 16, 2015

Folks, I have been monitoring happenings on the political scene and noting salient points/issues that are gradually emerging to shape the strategies that the various political parties will use in their electioneering campaigns for Election 2016.

Without belabouring any point, let me say upfront that the battle lines have already been drawn: The NPP is poised to do all it can to drag the NDC down. From how it has been doing things all this while, it is clear that it will use any means available to it to undermine President Mahama. What does he and his government/NDC have to counteract such detraction?

On the surface, the picture is clear. The incumbent administration will dig in and present itself as championing the cause of Ghana and its citizens, citing development projects and national stability as its main accomplishments. In truth, the government has done a lot to prove that it is using the mandate given John Mahama at Election 2012 to keep the country together despite biting challenges that its opponents are quick to cite as instances of its incompetence. Unfazed by such detraction, President Mahama and his team think that they can pull together, solve pertinent problems (especially the energy crisis) and move on to justify why they should be retained in office.

But will that be enough to assuage doubts, fears, and concerns about the future? No!! A government that deserves a renewal of its mandate is expected to do more to assure the citizens that its handling of affairs will endure beyond its tenure in office. If it lays or consolidates the political structure and builds a strong foundation for the economy, it needn't fear losing the people's mandate. is that what the government is doing? Answers differ. The "Dumsor" crisis is a major negative for it to contend with; and those suffering from the scourge won't forgive it at the polls!! A lot is going on, which its opponents are glibly talking about but not offering any solution to, knowing very well how to whip up mere sentiments for political expediency!!

On the other hand, opponents of the government are up in arms, doing everything they think will undermine it and saying just anything to reinforce their bitter opposition against it. They are led by the NPP and its legion of nay-sayers who are hell-bent on putting Akufo-Addo in office at all costs. And from how they have started doing things, we expect a lot from them to push the government to the wall. How will it rebound to reassert its influence?

A careful appraisal of the situation has revealed a lot to me, especially considering the current stentorian demand for a new voters register for Election 2016. The NPP has been abroad with its claims of that register's being bloated, flawed, and unsuitable for Election 2016. And its main architects have drawn one conclusion: unless the register is changed, there will be violence in Ghana. A scary proposition!!

Interestingly, it was this same register that has been used for bye-elections after Election 2012 that the NPP actively participated in. Could the register be regarded as flawed on a global scale but accepted by the NPP on a local scale for bye-elections that it participates in? The Talensi bye-election was held with that register. The NPP had hopes of retaining that seat but lost even though its Akufo-Addo and all those who matter in the NPP actively campaigned in the area. When there is no basis for an electoral victory, no amount of singing "Halleluia" all over the place will make any difference.

The scenario will likely be repeated in the Amenfi West Constituency where the NDC's MP has passed on. Will the NPP participate in the bye-election with the very register that it is raising hell about? If it does, what does it say about it?

We can tell from what the NPP is doing that it is already geared up for Election 2016, using any means to push its case and relying on its lackeys in many sectors of national life. It considers Election 2016 as a "do-and-die" affair. What for, I don't know. What I know is that by being so grounded, it is creating the impression that it will be nothing in the absence of Akufo-Addo. What happens if Nature calls him unto its own before Election 2016?

And in its pursuits, it is bent on mobilizing support from just any constituency that it thinks can help it prevail over the Electoral Commission to renew the register. We already know of all that has happened, including the activities of its surrogates (Let My Vote Count Alliance and others in responsible positions all over the country) and the comments of notable Ghanaians---the clergy (Christian Council of Ghana, especially), Jerry Rawlings and his wife and former President Kufuor. The impression created by all of them is that the voters register has to be changed for Election 2016. Otherwise....

(As Dr. Amoako-Baah foolishly put it, the EC should declare President Mahama the automatic winner of Election 2016 even without any elections being held. Eventually, then, if the voters register is renewed, the EC should automatically declare Akufo-Addo as winner of Election 2016; not so? Such a lazy, lousy, and clumsy political thinker and lecturer at the KNUST!!).

We don't want to bother our heads over such inane comments (or threats) from Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey and Dr. Amoako-Baah. They have openly predicted WAR in Ghana if the voters register is not changed for Election 2016 and come across as overly misguided. I wish they knew what WAR really is!!

To land, let me say that the NPP is already mobilizing support for its cause and doing all it can, using every means available while the Mahama-led administration and the NDC sit at the back burner. The NDC had initially made its position clear that it doesn't support such a move but has softened that stance. Others like Dr. Nduom and his PPP are not keen on a complete renewal of the voters register but the use of a consistent and foolproof national identification process to forestall electoral malpractices. The PNC and CPP are neither here nor there. As for the other political mushrooms, nothing has come from them worth commenting on.

So, folks, we are where we are now. The NPP seems to be raking up much dust; the NDC has taken the back stage, and the political environment remains agitated. And it will be more agitated as time flies without the NPP's demand being met. Although Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings thinks that the EC doesn't have the sole responsibility regarding the voters register, there is nothing anybody can do if the EC doesn't act on the NPP's demand.

For war, we may not be prepared; but if it has to be fought, it will be fought.

I can tell from how the NPP is doing things that it is poised and determined to use whatever it considers as an opportunity to push the government to the wall. From all the criticisms levelled against the government so far, it is clear that the NPP is implementing a strategy that will make the Mahama-led administration an underdog. The private media are more than eager to support it in this bid.

Meantime, the government remains lamely reactive instead of being proactive. Why is it so? Apparently, the very problems that it needs to solve to claw back public goodwill are either worsening or remain intractable. Unless it moves fast to deal with what is already angering the people, it risks being further torn apart, especially now that its critics have found a way to use the voters register as their main trump card to fight it. Credibility counts.

Folks, as public intellectuals, we will continue to comment on what we see and hear about happenings that affect our country's interests. No matter how we position ourselves, we know that we have a stake in our country's future and will ensure that our voices are heard.

So far, the government that is to provide funds for any exercise to renew the voters register hasn't bowed to the NPP's pressure. Already, the country's coffers aren't strong enough for such a venture. So, what can anybody do to "force the there to be there"? If only the NPP and all those calling for a replacement of the register can raise funds for that purpose, there will be good news to celebrate. But is anybody really thinking outside the box?

Kufuor's opinion that the country can borrow money to renew the voters register is as lame as coming from someone who ruled Ghana for 8 years but didn't do anything to reform the electoral process or retool the EC. Lousy talker!!

For now, let us be reminded that a renewal of the voters register cannot necessarily assure victory for those calling for it. Victory at the polls calls for more than the ugly noise that we hear from the anti-Mahama camp. My thoughts!!

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.