Feature Article of Tuesday, 8 January 2013
Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Friday, January 4, 2013
Those of us who set ourselves apart to criticize the NPP knew what we were about and did things as we deemed fit. So, if we are accused of directly working against the NPP, it shouldn’t be strange. We didn’t do so for its own sake. But the same cannot be said of those who came across as NPP members, sympathizers, and apologists yet did irreparable harm. I think the difference is clear.
That is why the NPP must devise better means to restructure itself in readiness for future elections. If it relies on the very anachronistic electioneering campaign strategies that have led to its defeat in all the elections that it has protested against since 1992, the situation for it will continue to be dismal. For the party to re-position itself to win public goodwill, it will have to break with the past completely.
Here is why. So far, we can tell that the party needs more than the votes of its core supporters and hangers-on to win elections. Obviously, the 5.2 million that voted for Akufo-Addo can’t all be said to be NPP supporters. We know that uncommitted voters went for him for various reasons. Others might not have voted at all but will have to be persuaded to vote next time. Such voters are unstable.
That being the case, why won’t the NPP strategize properly to expand its catchment area for votes? It needs to go beyond merely relying on its core support base so that it can reach out successfully to uncommitted voters or even win others from the camps of the other parties.
Doing so will not come easily. It will call for a consistent and viable political roadmap that will be devoid of all the negative tendencies that have so far made the party unappealing to the majority of Ghanaians. Those who don’t like the NPP need to be approached in a better manner to be conscientized and won over. It’s a difficult task but must be done if the party needs to survive the whirligig of future elections and stop complaining at every loss.
The events that have so far characterized Election 2012 have combined to dent the party’s image all the more. Truth be told, those still supporting the lines of action so far dictated by the party’s leaders and taken to pursue the party’s interest can be said to be the “choir” that doesn’t need any further preaching to.
They will never turn against the NPP, rain or shine. Yet, their votes alone cannot place the NPP in power. So, why not go beyond their level to reach out to the silent majority whose support can make the difference?
I think that the NPP’s strategists should break away from the blueprint that has guided their politicking all these years and go for a better one. To be honest, let me say aboveboard that the existing blueprint is based on aggressiveness or “takashi” and narrow-minded approaches to public outreach.
We saw how the NPP’s electioneering campaigns for Election 2012 focused on superficial issues that didn’t gel with the deeper-level aspirations of the voters; hence, the failure to garner the quantum of votes that would ensure the “one-touch” victory to eliminate the head-butting going on since the Electoral Commissioner announced the results to dismiss what the party’s General Secretary had overshot his mouth to announce even when the majority of votes hadn’t yet been tallied.
I bet you, had the NPP done its homework well to win more votes all over the regions, the story we’ve been hearing since the results of Election 2012 were published and gazette would have been different.
But little was done to go beyond the self-serving agenda that the campaigners concentrated on in the hope of winning the elections (judging solely from their own sound bites and high-sounding promises) and misreading of the barometer to predict a one-touch victory for Akufo-Addo. Too much fluff!
The Ghanaian electorate have grown past mere massaging or tickling and need more sophisticated electioneering stunts to win over. Of course, some pettiness boiling down to inducement through material gifts and other forms of corruption still pervades our national and local politics. But a serious political party will not settle on those material gifts alone to win the day for it. That is why it behooves its leaders to devise campaign strategies to keep themselves in tune with voter sentiments, aspirations, and instincts.
The NPP has for long been perceived as ‘elitist” but its main functionaries have been quick to dismiss such a perception as misplaced or mischievous. It is not so, my dear friends. What all the people say cannot be dismissed as a lie.
The party needs to cast itself in a more appealing guise/mould and shed off that coat of elitism if it wants to be related to better. I am saying this because it is one of the major problems that made it difficult for the party to connect with the electorate.
Shedding that coat of elitism shouldn’t be done only through cosmetic measures like what Akufo-Addo did, descending from his high horse to walk about in some towns and villages only at campaign time, eating unusual meals with the poor people among whom he found himself just because he needed their votes to be in power. And speaking English or French to them!!
When he chose to ride “tro-tro” from Kwame Nkrumah Circle to Osu in the heat of the 2008 electioneering campaigns, he drew more disdain than goodwill because the people saw through that gimmick as a dangerous ploy to win their votes only. They knew that he wasn’t wont to lying so low among them. It was a hoax that did him in. For Election 2012, he chose other means which didn’t help him either. The problem is not the means but rather the nature of the person mingling with the people!
He did the same thing when he chose to go on foot, sweating profusely under the sweltering sun, and rubbing shoulders with the poor rural folks to whom he was merely snuggling for votes; then, if Lady Luck were to smile on him, he would ascend back to his high horse and be in his true element of elitism. No one who does politics that way should expect to win.
Unfortunately for such people who dominate the NPP, their ploys easily turn out to be double-edged swords that cut deep into them at election time. The NPP has done its politics that way for far too long and must change its tactics for the better. That start must begin now so by 2016, the difference can be seen. The start has a lot to do with the calibre of leaders too. We’ve said it already but it is worth repeating.
I wonder if, from the manner in which the party is handling its affairs now it can reclaim lost grounds. There are more people who don’t agree with the agitations going on because they want to put Election 2012 behind them and move on with their lives. They are easily being angered and turned against the party. Let those who are interested in the wellbeing of the party read between the lines and react.
These people being irritated are the silent majority who will come out again to determine candidates’ fate at Election 2016. That is why even though the NPP is in court, it has to tread cautiously so it doesn’t lose the very constituency that it will look up to in subsequent elections. Its own core supporters won’t let it down; so, why not go the extra mile to attract the millions who will make the difference on election day?
Rebuilding the party must not be done in any half-hearted manner. At least, the NPP can learn useful lessons from how the NDC stood its grounds despite all the factionalism and breaking away of Nana Konadu’s gang to form the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the refusal of Rawlings to participate in the electioneering campaigns.
The party put its acts together to shock the NPP, not because it could rely on its core members’ goodwill but because it knew how to connect with the uncommitted voters as well. That’s the game plan, which the NPP will have no option but resort to. After repudiating the door-to-door campaign strategy and going for it as a lifeline, what can’t the NPP learn from its main opponent to tap into? It is better to rebuild now or leave matters to chance. But we don’t want any more howling at Election 206.
The party has come too close to the precincts of Canaan but failed to set foot on the soil because of its own miscalculations. Can’t it learn not to dissipate energies and resources running around in circles and blaming others for its electoral woes?
I shall return…
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