The lessons that Amenfi West has taught us (Part II)

Fri, 18 Dec 2015 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Folks, we continue with the lessons that the outcome of the bye-elections in the Amenfi West constituency have taught us, even as we brood over happenings beyond that level. Here are four more lessons:

5. The peaceful manner in which the bye-elections took place should teach Ghanaians how to conduct affairs at a larger level—the general elections itself. Indeed, the voters and all those involved in the process did well to ensure a peaceful, free, and fair polling, which should be replicated at Election 2016. It is possible if people know that the elections aren’t meant to be a do-and-die affair but the exercise of a democratic right to choose “rulers”. And once the people know that those “rulers” have no magic wand with which to solve problems, they should be prepared to go for the best and not allow themselves to be deceived into causing violence. In a democracy, violence shouldn’t be the means toward solving problems. Is that what the NPP will be comfortable with?

6. The Electoral Commission succeeded in organizing the bye-elections and must be commended, even though it used the very voters register that the NPP and its lackeys in the Paa Kwesi Nduom-led Progressive People’s Party have discredited and are yelling for a new register to be compiled for Election 2016. Having used this register, written off as “bloated” and “discredited” by the NPP and Co., the EC has a good case to insist that no new register be compiled but the existing one “cleaned” well enough for future elections. And it will be right, After all, why would the NPP accept this very register for us in the three bye-elections so far held after its useless petition hearing and still insist that the voters register is bloated and discredited? What sort of murderous hypocrisy is that?

7. Before the bye-elections, we had heard from the suspended NPP General Secretary (Kwabena Agyepong) that Amenfi West would definitely fall for the NPP. He had given a number of reasons to justify his optimism. So also did Sammy Awuku do when the results of the elections began trickling in to give the NPP an edge. In the end, everything went topsy-turvy for the NPP. Premature ejaculation? (Sorry for the offensive play on words here)!! The lesson is that such misplaced optimism has the potential to cause trouble, especially if it succeeds in shaping the minds and attitudes of the party’s supporters. Creating the impression that the NPP was on the winning trail only for the results to disprove that claim is a recipe for disaster and should be discouraged. As is happening all over the place, the NPP leaders are using the challenges facing the government as the basis for preparing their followers’ minds for victory at Election 2016. The danger is that when reality proves them wrong, they will refuse to accept the outcome. That is where unrest begins. Amenfi West has taught the lesson that politicians need to be measured in their speculations about electoral chances and be circumspect in their utterances to that effect.

8. The lower than expected voter turn-out is worrisome, but understandable within a complex context. Clearly, the electorate in the constituency may be wary of voting because they haven’t seen the value of an MP; that is, if the performance of the deceased MP (Gyetua) should be considered in this scenario, which explains why the speedy development projects undertaken before the elections passed off as mere gimmicks to buy votes. But in the end, those projects will serve useful purposes. The lesson here is that our MPs have to do a lot more to serve the purposes for which they are chosen as representatives of the people—mostly, to bring the share of the national cake home. That is what government is about.

Folks, there are many more lessons that we can point to; but we will pause here with our final thoughts. The NDC and its government should learn from the outcome of this bye-election to tackle problems so it can retain its goodwill. The problems that it hasn’t been able to solve have angered the people and it must redouble its efforts to tackle them if it wants its mandate to be renewed at Election 2016. The fact that the margin of votes at Election 2012 in Amenfi shrank drastically in this bye-election is a pointer to be acknowledged and factored into strategies for winning the support of the voters for future elections.

For the NPP, there is an uphill task. I have said it several times and will repeat it at will that the party is being led by Akufo-Addo who easily comes across as not a politician. He isn’t politically gifted to put the NPP in power. Don’t get me wrong, folks. He may be regarded as a “successful lawyer” and patted on the shoulders; but a politician he is not. Evidence exists that he is the architect of his own electoral losses at Elections 2008 and 2012. And he has already prepared the grounds to lose Election 2016 because he hasn’t done anything constructive to change the parameters. If you doubt my claim, just read what Kwame Pianim is reported to have said yesterday (https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Pianim-I-am-frustrated-over-the-troubles-in-the-NPP-401202).

A good politician will use every means available to put his own house in order before attempting to enter other people’s houses to win support. From what is happening in the NPP under Akufo-Addo, when he is tearing apart his own house, one can easily conclude that he doesn’t know what he is about. All these draconian measures against those who would have helped him move on smoothly are counter-productive. As of now, he has lost his focus and doesn’t seem to know where he stands. Contesting Presidential elections for the third time in Ghana with such a torn-apart house won’t help his course.

He needs a lot of introspection to help him focus properly. Otherwise, he will expend all material and human resources only to end up at the electoral refuse dump again. Why is it difficult for him to know that winning elections in Ghana will need more than he has done so far? In the previous elections that he lost, the NPP was united. Now that it is divided, and with little indication that the party is winning the hearts and minds of floating voters, what guarantee is there for him?

He seems to be doing a one-man show, supported by an active cast of “Concert Party” performers whose contribution to the drama scares the people more than wooing them to the NPP’s cause. His constant bashing of President Mahama won’t win him any floating voter. Neither will his insistence on projecting himself as incorruptible. The truth is that the people already know him for what and who he is. And that knowledge won’t turn their crank to root for him “at all costs”.

Thus, instead of projecting his personal attributes, he needs to go higher to tell Ghanaians what he can do to solve problems and support any claim with substantial sensible evidence. Merely presenting himself as not corrupt or susceptible to corruption is the most stupid political move to make. He shouldn’t under-rate the people’s intelligence because they know him for all that he is. They know him more than he knows himself. At least, he has left several traces behind him for that purpose. If he thinks otherwise, woebetide him. And that woe awaits him at Election 2016. He should be the first to admit that his show of support for the NPP candidate in the Amenfi West bye-elections didn’t produce the magic that he had dreamt of. So, what else should he do but change his strategies?

Folks, I have gone all this distance because of the impression already created that Election 2016 would be a make-or-mar case for Ghana. While Akufo-Addo and his NPP are preaching violence (especially if their demand for the renewal of the voters register is not met), the Mahama-led administration is taking everything in its stride, hoping that measures put in place could help solve the major problems that have angered Ghanaians thus far.

The nub is that when these problems are solved, the NPP will be left with nothing to hinge its electioneering campaign on. In that sense, then, policies to solve national problems will be at issue. The NDC administration has made its policies clear and in his first open appearance last night, President Mahama told Ghanaians what his government has been able to do and what it couldn’t (not forgetting why and how it intends to move ahead henceforth). That’s a bold move, which sets the stage for the electioneering campaign henceforth. What does the NPP under Akufo-Addo have to counteract the President’s submission other than the usual rabble-rousing?

Their Dr. Bawumia was at the forum and will be expected to come out with something to support his constant rhetoric about the government’s handling of the economy. How will such a move add any value to the NPP’s politicking? The questions will be asked, and it is up to the NPP people to come out with convincing answers to persuade the electorate that they have a better alternative and should be put in power. If they continue walking the “Kwaku Ananse” path that they have carved, they will end up being defeated at polls. At least, Amenfi West should open their eyes to the reality that they have missed all this while. So much for now.

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.