Apart from the obvious negative and positive responses to the questions raised in my article, the comments expressed by readers also showed other leanings.
3. TITLES GIVEN TO THE COMMENTS
All the responses had specific titles that had a bearing on the actual comments themselves as passed. Peculiarly, the tone of these titles didn’t diverge in any way from that of the contents of the comments. A negative title corresponded with a negative comment and vice versa.
Examples of the 32 out of the 34 titles recorded on Ghanaweb portraying negative sentiments against President Mills included: “A liar and a lazy thief”; “As the Greatest ‘DIVISOR’”; “absolutely a shambolic president”; “Disgraceful President Ever”; “Mr. Promises”; “The visionless and corrupt leader”; “An incarnate Ewe disguised as Fante”; and “Ghana’s waterloo President.”
Of the 34 comments, only two had titles with positive connotations: “Mills is 1 of the best Presidents of Africa”; and “The man who positively changed my destiny.”
In most cases, the titles related directly to the import of the comments; both converged semantically to portray the respondent as either disparaging or praising President Mills depending on what the comment entailed. At a glance, one could tell that the title encapsulated the message contained in the actual comment. Generally, the title alone was enough to convey the respondent’s sentiments.
ANALYSIS OF THE RESULTS
In analyzing the comments, I have chosen only those that convey the sharpest impressions; almost all of them (especially those with negative import) suggest an overwhelming condemnation of President Mills in several respects. Whether related to his personality, the office he occupies, or his performance, those negative comments resoundingly portrayed him as incompetent, a hypocrite, and visionless leader who shouldn’t be retained in office. These are powerful impressions.
From the corpus of comments, I could deduce that the respondents tilted more toward a disapprobation for President Mills’ performance than his personality or the office that he occupies, although some of the responses connected his foibles and frailties as a person to the office he occupies and their consequent negative impact on his performance. It is an intricate web.
Some of the specific comments make clear how the respondents focused on particular aspects to authenticate their poor opinions about President Mills. The majority of them quickly wrote President Mills off in different ways. For example: “Remember?ARE YOU KIDDING ME?This President will not be remembered for anything;In fact we will completely delete him from our memory banks” (PeaceFmOnline).
The data showed that most of those who commented negatively on President Mills based their viewpoints on specific aspects of his personality, the office he occupies, and his performance. Those related to his personality and the office he occupies were outright verbal attacks. For example, this one comment: “LLAAAAAAZZZZZZZZZZZYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY” (PeacefmOnline).
Prominent perspectives on these negative comments are encapsulated as follows:
i. Insults related to failure to fulfill Electioneering campaign promises
The quantum of insults in this regard suggest that the respondents were not satisfied that after glibly making promises all over the place to win voter confidence, President Mills couldn’t fulfill them to warrant a retention of the mandate he had secured at the 2008 polls. The implication is that his inability to fulfill such promises will undo him.
For example, “I will remember as the worst president in the history of Ghana- with lies and general wekness… I voted for him b’cos he promise to cut down a a gln of petro to ghc 2.50 but he rather recorded the highest price of ghc 8.00 in our history – so he go and good riddance” (Myjoyonline).
The respondents didn’t give any reason to explain why he couldn’t fulfill those promises nor did they attempt to rationalize the problem on the basis of the weak national economy, which might not allow for those promises to be made good.
If anything at all, the lesson from this aspect of the reaction must be obvious and learnt by the politicians seeking power, not President Mills alone. Promise-making may make or break their backs at the elections. Those who mount podiums to base their campaigns on promises had better think twice. The awakening is high that voters can now separate the wheat from the chaff and punish political office seekers on the basis of the promises they want to make as vote-winning moves.
President Mills particularly should learn the lesson too as he prepares to dive deep into the campaign mood. What he can do to make amends lies in his own hands. No more promises? Or find better ways to make them, yet based on conditions? It’s a conundrum!!
ii. Political Undertones
The political undertones of these comments betray the political persuasion of most of the respondents, especially those who castigated President Mills on the basis of political differences. Those respondents identified themselves in plain language as political opponents. The most ubiquitous were those calling themselves NPP followers, sympathizers, or activists.
They were brazen in their personal attacks and made no secret of their ill-wish for President Mills. Some even went to the extent of justifying their scathing comments on the basis of the threats that they perceived from President Mills’ spokesmen whom they accused of “hijacking” officialdom to tyrannize political opponents and to undermine their Presidential Candidate, Akufo-Addo.
The comments showed that others disapproving of President Mills’ performance might not be NDC supporters even though they didn’t disclose their true identities. The import of their comments gave them away as members of political parties opposed to the NDC (probably, the PNC, CPP, or any other).
i. Other Aspects of the Comments
Some of the respondents also directed their comments at me, making obvious their sentiments. These comments covered similar angles as they did to President Mills—insults and insinuations verging on lamentations as a demonstration of frustration that my favourite politician (President Mills) had failed; hence, my being unsettled.
Others turned their dagger on me and accused me of being his lackey and failing to acknowledge his weaknesses long ago only to turn round now to do so because of my apprehension that he would lose the elections—as if I have anything personal to gain or lose from that event.
I consider these comments as inconsequential and will let them pass off without any interpretation; but they reflect the general unfavourable perceptions of those opposed to anything NDC. I wonder why they would hasten to label me as an NDC member without any valid evidence. It’s their own cup of tea, though.
Continued in the next installment…
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