The core objective of a flag-bearer is to win political power for his/her party. In this sense, the defeated candidate cannot give excuses for disappointing his/her followers, especially when the defeat occurs twice on the trot.
It is against this backdrop that I put Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on the spotlight for readers to debate whether he was a major contributory factor to the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) electoral defeats in 2008 and 2012.
Admittedly, Nana Addo is one of Ghana's finest politicians. Born into a political family, Nana Addo arguably remains the most popular politician, not only in his party, the NPP, but also Ghana as a whole. He has been in the political limelight since time immemorial and has distinguished himself in all fields of endeavour.
Having fought against dictatorial rule in the late seventies and eighties, Nana Addo became the National Organiser of the NPP; and later the Campaign Manager of the NPP's Presidential Candidate, Prof. Albert Adu Boahen in Election 1992. Nana has more Cabinet years of experience than most of his contemporaries, having been a minister of state for seven (7) years; and a Member of Parliament for twelve (12) years. He has also been the Presidential Candidate for the NPP on two occasions - 2008 and 2012 elections. Nana has more international/diplomatic experience than any politician in Ghana.
From the foregoing, it is difficult to fathom why such a candidate could lose presidential election, not once, but twice on the trot to two different opposing Candidates. For, upon his election as the NPP's flag-bearer in 2007, Nana Addo campaigned across the length and breadth of the country, dubbing Election 2012 as "Victory 2012. However, he lost the election after a run-off under bizarre circumstance. What was even sadder was that, he lost the Brong-Ahafo Region, having won the same region earlier in the first round.
Similarly, in Election 2012, Nana Addo dubbed it; "Victory 2012". And with an expanded electoral college, and new party leadership to reflect regional, gender, and tribal balance, all was set for Nana Addo to become president. He appointed his own communicators, and his Listening, Thank You, and Restoration of Hope Tours connected him to almost every Ghanaian. Nana Addo's Campaign Messages, especially on Free Secondary Education resonated every corner of the country. Special mobile phones and numbers were given to polling agents to text electoral results to the NPP's Election Committee headed by Hon. Mathew Opoku Prempeh and Hon. O.B. Amoah. To remove any act of fear and intimidation among party members, in order to protect the ballot boxes, Nana Addo declared "All die be die". However, Election 2012 passed and the NPP lost for the second time.
Thirty-eight (38) seats slipped through our hands, and the party that used to win six (6) out of ten (10) regions of Ghana maintained only two (2) with a great difficulty. Surprisingly, whilst past candidates like Nkrumah, Busia, Limann, Rawlings, Kufuor, and Mills won their home regions with ease to become presidents, Nana Addo won just 52% in his home region, Eastern. Instead of debating issues, Nana Addo became a victim of incessant verbal abuses by his opponents. Though, such abuses were normal in African politics, those on Nana Addo were abnormal. His personality was seriously attacked to the extent that, not even his law certificate went legally unchallenged. Nana Addo's detractors made it a crime for him to follow his late dad, president Edward Akufo-Addo's foot steps.
Unlike Kufuor, most of the negative things said about Nana Addo nearly stuck with him, and the NPP Communicators had to consume most of their precious political time to defend their Candidate. Instead of the NPP setting the political agenda, it allowed the babies with sharp teeth - Ablakwas, Kwakye Ofosus, Otukonnors etc to set the pace while we took the reactionary approach. On regular basis, the NDC Communicators, in conjunction with NDC press, maligned Nana Addo, making it appear that Nana is a nonentity.
His controversial statements of "All die be die", and "Y3n Akanfo" (We Akans), were misconstrued to portray Akufo-Addo as a warlord and ethnocentric. Could Nana Addo have refined his statements at that particular moment in view of the position he was vying for? But, the NPP as a party resolved to rally behind Nana Addo as the slogan, "All die be die" became synonymous in its campaigns.
The NPP also seemed to have been divided along blocks. The Asante-Akyem blocks, and for that matter, Alan - Nana factions did not help matters. My observation shows that most members perceived to be pro-Alan were not integrated into the NPP's Campaign for Election 2012. For instance, the party's National Organiser, Alhaji Moctar Bamba was virtually seen to be playing the same role as Yaw Boateng Gyan of the NDC. Alan Kyeremateng, the man who delivered many votes to Nana Addo in Ashanti Region during Election 2008 run-off, was not seen much. Could it have been better for Nana Addo to make Alan, his Campaign Manager? Well, I think the "Akyem Mafias", who incidentally became the chief advisors of Nana Addo knew better than I could imagine.
For some strange reasons, Nana Addo's votes have been declining marginally since 2008 elections. He could not use his rich political experience, as done by Kufuor in Election 2000, to woe other opposition parties onto his side when he needed less that 40,000 votes to win Election 2008. But, today, some die hard supporters of Nana do not want us to apportion blame on him..
For me, until every member of the NPP accepts the fact that Nana Addo is not a Saint, but rather mortal soul, it is imperative we addressed some of his weaknesses as a political leader. Those who want to catch Nana Addo's eye since they see him as the obvious choice to lead the party in the 2016 polls should desist from tagging some of us anti-Nana. If Kufuor, the most important personality of the UP Tradition, were not being worshipped like a thin-god, I don't see why Nana should be treated that way, unless their action is sycophantic.
I have some few questions for my readers. Firstly, was John Mahama, a better candidate than Nana Addo, in terms of his appeal to floating voters? Secondly, did Nana Addo actually connect with farmers, commercial drivers, women, petty traders, truck pushers, head potters, and more importantly, the poor and vulnerable in the society? Thirdly, did Nana Addo get it right in choosing Dr. Bawumia as his running-mate? If the answers to the above were affirmative, why then should John Mahama, who became the flagbearer of NDC in August 2012, beat Nana Addo, who has been the NPP's flagbearer since 2007, "one touch"? On the other hand, if the answers were negative, then, a serious diagnosis of Nana Addo needs to be made before the NPP Delegates decide to present him to the electorate for the third consecutive time.
The argument being put forward by his aide, Mustapha Hamid, that the late Prof. Mills won power on his third attempt is untenable. "Mpanin se, 3sono Obirekuo kraa, 3na 3sono Odabo nso de3. As a friend put it jovially; "Elephant Mills, and Elephant Nana Addo". Different factors, such as age and incumbency, come into play in such comparisons. We should also bear in mind that Mills lost to only one Candidate (Kufuor) on two occasions, but on the contrary, Nana had already lost to two different Candidates, and will be facing an incumbent president who used only four (4) months to beat him "one touch" in 2012.
Again, the talk about "sympathy votes" for Nana Addo in 2016 should be scientifically analysed before we are swayed into believing it. The question is, how many NPP members delivered "sympathy votes" to the NDC in Election 2012 because of Mills's untimely death? So, why should anybody factor this into the NPP's campaign strategy, just because Nana Addo gracefully accepted the Supreme Court's verdict? This is a complete wishful thinking. Sympathy votes do not come in a vacuum; a candidate needs to work for them.
Going forward, I think the NPP needs to find out what the Ghanaian electorate want, as far as, the presidency is concerned. We should never attempt to downplay the electorates' intelligence by imposing a Candidate on them. Do they look for demeanour, stature, competence, affability, fame, vision, selflessness, beauty, or somebody who can deal with corruption? For, if the Ghanaian electorate were to use track record, vision, and the zeal to deal with both corruption and poverty as the bases for electing their president, I don't think Nana Addo would be warming the political bench by now. This is a man who has never insulted his fellow politician, in spite of the incessant attacks on his personality. He has also never been cited for any corrupt deal in his political life.
Putting these aside, Nana Addo's commitment, and vision to confront the socio-economic challenges of Ghana through quality free SHS have remained unresolved. So, what does the electorate look for before he/she casts a presidential vote? This is what the NPP needs to find out before it presents a candidate for the next general election. On the funding of Free SHS for instance, the answers given by Nana Addo at the last IEA encounter were not convincing enough. Committing a substantial part of GDP to fund free SHS cannot attract votes. Free SHS can only be sustained by cutting down the unnecessary cost imposed by headmasters, improving agriculture, and setting priorities right.
Also, for me, it does not make any political sense to campaign on free SHS in a typical northern rural area, where one has to walk over 100 km before he finds a senior high school. Already, the people in the northern part of this country are enjoying free education from primary to the university level. What therefore is free SHS to them? Our focus in the north should have been the provision of more quality schools, agricultural equipment, and ready market for their agricultural products. As Election 2016 has also been dubbed; "Victory 2016, it is my expectation that the NPP Delegates would elect 'winnable candidates', but not 'marketed candidates or flag-bearers' to secure the NPP the needed victory. We cannot continue to cry over rigging whilst we have the capacity - intellect, courageous men/women to put a stop to it. Boys 'abr3', Girls 'abr3'!
My next article will be on NPP's Parliamentary Candidates.
God bless Ghana! God bless the NPP!! God bless Kufuor!!!
Source: Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Asante Bekwai-Asakyiri (Free SHS Ambassador) Official blog: (www.katakyie.com) [email protected] 0202471070 : 0264931361 : 0547851100
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