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Opinions of Saturday, 12 May 2007

Columnist: Mensah, Opanin Kwabena

NDC To Win Election '08

If the National Democratic Congress (NDC) continued to strategize the way things are they would win the December 2008 Presidential Election. The party is seriously planning and would take the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) off guard.

One advantage NDC is enjoying is the peaceful selection of its presidential candidate for Election’08. For once, opponents have applauded the party for exhibiting unity in the midst of diversity, purposefulness in the face of diversionary tactics and maturity in the presence of provocation. Such characteristics are the marks for winning elections and/or defeating opponents. It would show that NDC has passed through major obstacles for development from infancy into maturity.

While NDC is marketing its presidential candidate some months ahead of the elections, the ruling NPP is yet to make a decision from among a “pack of wolves”. Since 2000, both NDC and NPP protagonists had criticized Rawlings for making his “Swedru Declaration” by hand picking Prof. Atta Mills as the NDC’s presidential candidate. The problem confronting NPP in its search for a formidable candidate has made Rawlings a man of vision. NPP wish it could have a presidential candidate without going through all those who had declared intentions to run for the position. NPP has to be careful else it would emerge from the exercise seriously bruised, weakened enough to be a mere push over by NDC. NPP would not like to go back to 1979 when the party split into Popular Front Party (PFP) and United National Council (UNC), which eventually cost them both the Presidency and Parliament. Existing intra-party squabbles are tearing the party apart. Greater Accra Region is on the boiling pot with temperature rising to a point of explosion. The latest intervention by the party’s national executives just brushed the surface. At the last count it was headed for the courts. Kwabre-West in the Ashanti Region had never known peace since its creation for the 2004 elections. A District Chief Executive (DCE) in the Eastern Region would not listen to his boss, the Regional Minister and ordered the incarceration of someone. The Krachi East DCE was arrested at the Central Regional Police Headquarters at Pedu for allegedly ordering the physical assault of a police officer in a traffic related offence (The Chronicle 4/27/07).

NDC’s diversionary tactics are working according to plan. In the run up to the Ghana@50 Independence Day Parade the Party successfully manipulated public opinion to its advantage. First it was the $20 million earmarked for the celebration. NDC had never mentioned how much it spent on Ghana@40 but got NPP to come out with its figure. No matter how much was involved, NDC was going to criticize NPP for spending that much anyway. No wonder NDC singled out the number of luxury cars imported for the program and argued that they would be cheaper if hired. NDC knew very well that the country could not compromise the security of its august guests with cost. NPP played into their hands when it failed miserably to explain to Ghanaians what the money was for. Instead of this, J. H. Mensah shouted that the $20 million tag was very cheap for the type of celebration at hand. Kofi Mpiani made matters worse when he could not tell Parliament what he had budgeted the money for yet he claimed to be the boss for the Ghana@50 Celebration.

Second, NDC diverted attention from the program to itself when the Committee for Joint Action (CJA) threatened to boycott the parade and organize a peaceful demonstration to lay a wreath on Nkrumah’s tomb. For a while general discussions centered on NDC in particular and the CJA in general robbing the celebration of the publicity it deserved. Some few days to the parade NDC broke ranks with the CJA, held a press conference to catalogue the benefits of the celebration and stated why it deemed it fit to attend. The party called on all Ghanaians to join in the celebration as if it was the party in power.

The final diversionary tactic came from Rawlings. He boycotted the anniversary parade and got the better part of it. All the various media organizations could not resist the temptation of ignoring his absence. In spite of the heavy attendance at the parade and the spectacular military display, they all spent time either criticizing or castigating him for failing to attend the parade. In effect NDC successfully manipulated the media at the expense of the achievements that the NPP Government had chalked.

NPP has become so much infatuated with the perception that Rawlings is in for a coup that it had failed to attend to some basic security issues that could lead to its fall in Election ’08. First, when JAK mentioned at a rally in Offinso that Rawlings had contacted an oil-rich country for assistance to undertake a coup d’etat in Ghana, could it not have also been interpreted along election lines? Possibly, as a founder of NDC, Rawlings wanted to raise funds to organize a successful campaign to “overthrow” the NPP Government in the impending elections. If this was found to be the case the Government could come out with rules and regulations that seek to prevent or guide the infusion of foreign capital into Ghana’s general elections.

Second, at the NDC-family meeting held in April 2007, it was reported that some seven white men led by a Ghanaian computer programmer were introduced as consultants hired by the party for advise to win Election ’08. This should tell all about how serious NDC was bent on capturing power again in 2008. If NPP were battle ready, it would either not allow scouts of its enemies to enter the country or followed them to wherever they went to let them feel that they were being monitored. On the other hand, NPP could raise a number of questions and look for their answers. Who are these people? Where do they come from? What is their background? Why did NDC choose them instead of others? Where is their track record? Were they involved in the election of Bill Clinton as President in 1992 and 1996 and/or the disputed 2000 US election results? What type of election consultations do they do? – voter registration, voter manipulation, public persuasion, campaign strategies, collation of results, data entry, computer tampering, hacking into data from certain environment etc?

Instead of taking them serious read what the pro-NPP newspaper, Daily Guide (4/11/07) wrote: “Meanwhile, the seven consultants flown into the country by Jerry Rawlings have started a countrywide tour.

The so-called consultants led by the US-based Computer Programmer, Mike Obuobi were spotted in a white Toyota Land Cruiser with Registration number GR 6136 Q, distributing questionnaires and interviewing people for a SWOT analysis of NDC.

In a competitive situation, I would be concerned about anyone who undertakes a research into winning an election. Through research candidate Bill Clinton of US found out that his party lost the presidency in 1988 because their candidate, Dukakas, soon after his nomination, went on a two-week vacation. When he came back, he had lost his 17-point lead in the opinion polls. He could not recover. Clinton did not go on vacation and won the 1992 elections. Candidate Blair of Britain whose party had been out of power for a while came to US to understudy Clinton’s strategies for winning elections and won. NDC had lost two consecutive elections and it had therefore sought external advisors to take a critical look at Ghana’s elections and be offered an objective advice. I would not call them so-called consultants. I guess it was wrong for the Daily Guide and for that matter NPP to underrate NDC’s exercise.

I would also be bordered about someone with a background as a Computer Programmer leading the group. Such people know a lot about numbers and how to handle them. One had to bear in mind that even thirteen year olds can hack into the most secured computers of banks, governments and military data. In 2004 conspiracy theorists in the US held that presidential election results in Ohio State were electronically tempered with and that votes for candidate Kerry went to candidate Bush. This would mean the Electoral Commission’s (EC) data could be venerable. It must be noted that once the EC declared results it would be very difficult to change it. Even where the courts had ruled for the change it had not been easy as it happened in the Ayawaso Constituency in the 1996 elections. What if in the run up to Election ‘08 “America” donates computers to the EC for the conduct of the elections as it was done by Libya in 2004?

In conclusion, it has to be recognized that NDC is approaching Election ’08 with systematic and scientific method by contracting consultants for research and advice. This shows how serious, determined and focused they are. It is an innovation into Ghana’s political parties culture. Anyone who underrates them does so at his/her own risk. Meanwhile NDC’s Kramos have “kram”, their” mpanyimfuo” have “yi appae” and their “asofuo” have “bo mpae” to assure them that 2008 “ye won afe”.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.