Analysis:The NPP can’t solve its credibility problem by denying it – By Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

The writer, Dr Michael J.K. Bokor
As the electioneering campaigns for Election 2012 heat up, we don’t expect to see anything remarkably different from the strategies used by the functionaries of the various parties, especially the NPP that is hell-bent on undercutting the NDC as a means to regain political power.

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Press conferences will continue to be the most appealing mechanism, especially to those I characterize as arm-chair critics of the incumbent administration. The NPP held one yesterday at which its Chairman, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, set the tone on personal attacks.

His dismissal of President Mahama and his Vice (K.B. Amissah-Arthur) as “spare tyres” that needed to be changed more than gave me a sneak peek into what the NPP has up its sleeves. Of course, that strategy of name-calling is in consonance with the NPP’s agenda of painting the new leadership of the NDC government black. But these pronouncements seem to be made without any reality check being done first to ascertain their value.

Added to that is the fundamental motivation for choosing that line of politicking. In Obetsebi-Lamptey’s words, “John Mahama led the Economic Management Team with now Vice President, Amissah-Arthur in charge of monetary policy as governor of the Bank of Ghana; the same team that failed to deliver on the most important thing in our lives, the economy, is the same team that is in charge now” (Myjoyonline, 8/15/2012).

The NPP Chairman said President Mahama and Vice-President Amissah-Arthur are responsible for the economic hardship that Ghanaians are suffering.

In effect, they are the self-same government functionaries who shouldn’t be retained in office at Election 2012. The clear impression, then, is that both Mahama and Amissah-Arthur are not “new faces” and have nothing new to offer Ghanaians.

Definitely, this is the pivot for the NPP’s campaigns. But it is a pivot without a firm foundation in reality. It is a political campaign strategy that is nothing but demonstrable nonsense. I take up these issues for further explication.

Talk about “old faces” and skepticism or cynicism against their ability to deliver the goods and you will flinch at the reality in the NPP’s own camp. Let’s face that reality.

For how long has the NPP’s Akufo-Addo not been parading the political landscape, participating in governance, yet finding it difficult to win the hearts of the Ghanaian electorate?

Yet another issue. What did Akufo-Addo do after leaving the Kufuor government to suggest that he has added value to himself and is worth regarding as an efficient administrator? Has he learnt any useful lesson to put him ahead of the curb? Not at all. So, what is new about him to warrant his quest to be invested as Ghana’s President?

Worse still, the Northern Ghana card being played in the choice of Bawumia as Akufo-Addo’s running mate has already lost its value. Any hint that he is a future President of Northern Ghana extraction won’t wash with anybody from that part of Ghana (or voters, generally). The truth is that the Northerners already have one of their own (John Dramani Mahama) as the substantive President to be proud of.

Should they throw him away in anticipation of a Bawumia Presidency in a future that nobody knows? A bird in hand will always be worth more than the millions flying about in the bush. Our Northern Ghana compatriots won’t allow themselves to be deceived, tricked into an illusion (as happened in the case of the former Vice President, Aliu Mahama) now that they can identify with John Mahama.

The NPP’s strategies are out of gear, thanks to the absence of President Mills. A careful scrutiny of Akufo-Addo’s campaign efforts reveals nothing significantly new that we didn’t see in 2008. Probably, the only new aspects are the two versions of the erratic regional tours dubbed as “Listening Tour” and “Restoring Hope” (or is it DOPE?). These two campaign stunts are nothing but an adulterated version of the efficacious door-to-door approach used by ex-President Mills for Election 2008, which the NPP derided but is now using as its main clout. Talk about political dogs returning to their own vomit!

The only noticeable difference between what is happening at hustings for Election 2012 and what made him flop in 2008 is the absence of the circus element in the form of carnivals and the kangaroo dance. But wait a minute.

The real moment to usher in the polls is still a few months off. Who knows what will happen before then to make his efforts a direct replica of the 2008 one? Maybe, on this occasion, he will push the circus a notch higher to introduce a “camel dance” as the attraction. And we know how a camel behaves, especially after a good meal. What a sight that will be for sore eyes!

Then again, trust an NPP that is bereft of sound arguments for counteracting those of its opponents to descend into the gutter all the more and indulge in mud-slinging, which is exactly what Obetsebi-Lamptey’s pronouncements at the press conference confirmed. Personalizing matters instead of conducting an issues-based campaign is not only anachronistic but it is also the easiest way to electoral humiliation again.

The fact is that when it comes to personal character, Akufo-Addo has more troubling questions to answer than President Mahama and his Vice who have now become the bull’s eye for the NPP in lieu of ex-President Mills.

Without seeking to re-open wounds that seem to be healing for Akufo-Addo, I submit that those among the electorate who know him for who/what he is won’t be persuaded by any publicity stunt that he is “cleaner” than Mahama or Amissah-Arthur.

Indeed, citing the late Madam Hawa Yakubu Ogede’s own testimony about Mahama’s character traits as an example, we can conclude that Mahama is poles away from Akufo-Addo. Although an avowed opponent of the NDC prior to her death, Madam Yakubu Ogede had stated clearly that she would vote for the NDC if Mahama were chosen as the party’s flagbearer for the 2004 elections.

Generally regarded as affable, Mahama hasn’t changed negatively ever since to repel anybody nor does he have any cloud of suspicion hanging over his head. He has no skeleton in his cupboard nor is he running away from anything out there in the public domain.

Can we say so about Akufo-Addo? Don’t go too far. Need I re-state some of the issues that have made him unappealing? Nana Asante Bediatuo, where are you?

Damaging perceptions of him as arrogant, immoral, self-conceited and—the most troubling of all—narcotic drug use/abuse have combined to dent his public image. No amount of threats of legal action or damage control in media publications have solved the problem for him to date.

Has Akufo-Addo done anything personally to clear his name as one would expect of a politician who knows what awaits him should he be invested with the responsibility as the country’s President? For him, it’s a matter of “ehuro a, ebe dwo” (the steam will soon die down). It won’t.

Beyond such concerns lies Akufo-Addo’s unimpressive performance as a Cabinet Minister in the Kufuor government. But for his incompetence as the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, there wouldn’t have been the need for Kufuor to corrupt the Judiciary by “packing” the Supreme Court in the matter concerning Tsatsu Tsikata and the Fast Track Courts.

Then again, his unimpressive performance at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs left behind a sour and dour impression about his administrative acumen. We have heard of diplomatic passports under lock and key in his office getting missing. Furthermore, he couldn’t handle the case involving the sadistic murder of 44 Ghanaians by the Gambian authorities even though it fell within his purview.

Do all these gargantuan failures redound to Akufo-Addo’s image for which he must be preferred as a better administrator and solver of our national problems? Where is the evidence that he has retooled himself to deserve what he is petulantly criss-crossing the country for? Too many hot potatoes already!

He may have some positive qualities, being portrayed as a human rights activist—which itself is questionable, though. Glib of tongue he may be, but who benefits from such a gift of the garb when all it leads to is the making of weird promises (theories as against practical action to solve existential problems)?

Another element is the barrage of promises that he and his running mate are effusively making wherever they go (free education up to the secondary level, a Zongo development fund, etc.).

Take away these vain promises and name calling tactics and the NPP’s political house of cards collapses. So, what is the justification for Obetsebi-Lamptey’s insinuations against President Mahama and his Vice as if the NPP has an entirely new brand of “tyres” on which to drive Ghana out of the woods?

Added to all these liabilities is the fact that those hanging around Akufo-Addo, making ugly noises to catch his eyes as future appointees in a government under him (May God forbid outright, though!) are the same worn-out braggarts who haven’t given any convincing account of themselves as successful managers of any enterprise. Those among them being deceived by their youthful exuberance won’t turn anybody’s crank to Akufo-Addo’s advantage.

In fine, these NPP functionaries are not helping their party’s cause by hiding behind the wall of facts, which is their undoing, because the facts will continue to betray them. But then, if they refuse to do otherwise and lose the elections, they shouldn’t attempt ruffling feathers. Steel will cut steel, irrespective of their “all-die-be-die” cowardly posturing.

The conclusion is already clear: Ghanaians will certainly not want to jump from a manageable frying pan into an uncontrollable fire at the prompting of a desperate NPP!!

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