Feature Article of Sunday, 4 November 2012
Columnist: Blankson, Nana Kow
By Nana Kow Blankson
Political niceties are normally portrayed during handshakes and smiles. But when it comes to political debates to sell yourself to the electorate and beat your opponent, it’s a different ballgame. You have to fight your way through by removing your gloves to hammer home your points very forcefully. In most cases you leave your opponent shaking with fear and awe whilst you also leave a lasting imprint on the minds of voters when you land good solid political sound bites.
The 2012 first presidential debate organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs in Tamale is over. There have been mixed reactions to the debate. Whilst many pundits scored it for President Mahama for being the only candidate who showed up with a comprehensive policy on the economy and social issues, the NPP will have none of that.
Even though all the vociferous NPP supporters are quietly biting their fingers due to the poor showing of Akufo-Addo who turned into a populist leader rather than someone abreast with economic issues and figures, they are afraid to claim that their candidate did nothing to write home about.
Akufo-Addo, who even claimed during his introductory speech that he studied economics at the University of Ghana, Legon, did not roll out any comprehensive plan on the economy apart from saying a zillion times that, ‘we have a plan”.
President Mahama did very well by laying his vision and landing some solid punches on Akufo-Addo whose numbers did not add up and kept conjuring numbers to confuse the listeners and viewers. But I must admit that President Mahama did not go very far enough.
As we wait for the final presidential debate, those prepping up President Mahama must urge him to fight hard in the second debate. He should not lay back. If he lays back and Akufo-Addo punches with his empty populism he projects his battered image.
Therefore, President Mahama should not be afraid of sounding too aggressive by taking the fight to Akufo-Addo. Remember what happened to President Barak Obama when he laid back during his first presidential debate with Mitt Romney. The pundits declared Romney the winner until Obama punched his way through during the second and final debates to win it all. If Mahama forcefully hammers home his points, he wins.
Remember the one-liner which President Mahama stated that Akufo-Addo sounds confused about the NDPC? Did you not see the reaction of the audience which brought back Akufo-Addo to issue a rebuttal? This is the way to go for President Mahama. He should coin some political one-liner sound bites and use it forcefully to knock Akufo-Addo off his track.
President Mahama should not allow Akufo-Addo to load some unsubstantiated lies before coming out to defend them. This may prevent President Mahama from laying his vision within the allotted time.
Ghanaians will also be happy to hear President Mills chip in the achievements of the NDC at every given opportunity. For instance when the health issue came out, we did not hear anything about the hundreds of ambulances that the NDC government has distributed to all the regions to enhance the health care delivery system in the country.
When education popped up, I would have loved to hear about the hundreds of buses that have been allocated to many Senior High Schools by the NDC government. Many swing voters needed to have heard something about the free high yielding cocoa seedlings to farmers. On unemployment, the taxis given to some drivers through MASLOC should have been mentioned.
The last presidential debate will present President Mahama yet another excellent opportunity to sell his achievements and policies. Akufo-Addo is currently on the ropes with nothing to lose, so he will come out fighting. It is left to President Mahama to knock him off with good sound bites and one-liners to send him packing to the ropes. I very much hope that Vice President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur will also adopt the same approach to put Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia on the defense during their only debate.