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Opinions of Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Columnist: Al-hajj

JM, NDC defeat: Diaries from The aL-hAJJ

How did President John Dramani Mahama and the National Democratic Congress lose the December 7 polls? Did the New Patriotic Party put up superior strategy to outweigh the much-touted unprecedented achievements of the outgoing ruling party? Could it also be that the NDC willingly gave away power even if unknowingly?

These are among critical questions many Ghanaians, particularly supporters, sympathizers and activists of the NDC mesmerized by the party’s humiliating defeat at the polls are struggling to find answers to.

To the NDC, the party had at its disposal everything to win the elections, but, was it for “recklessness”?

A 13 member committee led by former Minister of Finance and Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission, Prof Kwesi Botchway, has since been constituted to investigate the NDC’s defeat.

The committee has been given a 90-day ultimatum to present findings from the investigations.

The team however has the mandate to consult with members of the public who may have suggestions regarding the possible causes of the defeat.

The inauguration of this committee is probably testament to the fact that Ghanaians have become so used to the idea that incumbent Presidents seeking second term in office should win elections automatically.

And anything short of this must be thoroughly investigated.

The defeat of President John Dramani Mahama and the National Democratic Congress at the December 7 polls has therefore come as a surprise to many.

What was even shocking was the scale of defeat out-going President Mahama and the NDC suffered at the hands of Nana Akufo-Addo and the New Patriotic Party.

Whiles the NDC’s painful exit from office has come as surprise to many, others who saw it coming aren’t any surprise.

One of such persons is former President Jerry John Rawlings. According to him “It was obvious a long time ago that we wouldn’t make it.

Our general negativity, impunity, disrespect and corruption was taking us further and further downhill.

About the time when most were living in the painful reality with stress and anger, that’s when some of us chose to be more impervious to reality. We had lost so much goodwill,”he added.

Addressing a ceremony to mark the 35th anniversary of the 31st December revolution at the Revolution Square in Accra, the NDC founder added that “I don’t think I was the only one who saw the writing on the wall.

Many people from our very own party I believe could see the writing on the wall that we were going to lose this past election.

Meanwhile, following the NDC’s excruciating defeat by the Akufo Addo led NPP; the party has been locked in heated blame game over who and what caused it.

Several post-election analyses point to varieties of factors including apathy, allegations of corruption, complacency and ineffectiveness on the part of some government appointees; even as the actual cause(s) remain unknown.

While the National Organizer and Campaign Coordinator, Mr Kofi Adams has accepted full responsibility for the party’s poor performance; Greater Accra organizer of the ruling party, Mr. Anthony Nukpenu has put the blame on former President and NDC Founder, Jerry John Rawlings.

But the NDC founder has rubbished that claim, saying "in spite of the defeat some handlers want to promote a lie about the reason for our failure."

According to former President Rawlings "...Rather than facing why we lost, Rawlings was made a scape goat," he stated and blamed the "impunity, disrespect, and corruption" by government officials for the defeat.

He said the uncouth ones did not even have "cognitive intelligence" to recognize the nurtured ones in the party.

Again, while some have also singled out Communications Minister, Dr. Edward Kofi Omani Boamah as the cause of the party’s defeat; other party activists are pointing to appointees they tagged arrogant.

Alhaji Bature Iddrisu and Amos Blessing Amorse take readers down memory trip to find out whether the “supposed” cause(s) of the defeat of the NDC and President Mahama in the just concluded elections were not earlier predicted?

Since the inception of the Mahama/NDC government The aL-hAJJ has consistently and persistently been raising the alarm bells of a possible defeat at the 2016 polls.

Though it was long expected he will be the automatic successor to the late President Mills after his term in office, President Mahama’s meteoric rise to the highest office of the land came as surprise to many.

Indeed, nobody foresaw John Mahama becoming president on the night of July 24, 2012. This follows the sudden demise of the then president John Evans Atta Mills.

Having been satisfied “acting” President Mahama was well groomed and grounded to lead the NDC, kingmakers of the party immediately pushed for him(Mr Mahama) to be acclaimed the party’s flag bearer for the 2012 elections.

And with their support and that of the rank and file, Mr. Mahama easily secured first round victory over Nana Akufo-Addo in that year’s election.

When Mr Mahama won the 2012 election, it was clear that he needed his “own” men to help him prosecute his vision.

But he had the rude shock of his life when party kingpins openly kicked against some of his appointments particularly, the appointment of his boyhood friend, Mr Prosper Douglas Bani, as Chief of Staff.

Mr Bani’s appointment and Mr Mahama’s uncompromising position resulted in strain in relationship between him and some party elders who earlier supported his selection and eventual election as president in 2012

Some kingpins of the party then started to murmur over how Mr Mahama had sidelined experienced hands in the NDC who have been the backbone of the umbrella party since its inception in 1992.

According to many of these people, the President failed to tap into the large pool of human resource available in the party, but decided to gamble by relying on relatively younger appointees some who hitherto; were not known in the NDC.

Subsequent developments flowing from Mr Mahama’s decision to stick to his position ended sore for the President and the NDC in general.

For us at the The aL-hAJJ, President Mahama and the NDC’s defeat did not come as a surprise.

Although we did not wish for this aching calamity to befall the genteel President and the NDC, it is important to underscore how we consistently and doggedly attempted to avert the situation the ruling party presently finds itself but to no avail.

Several publications by this paper cautioning that, the actions and inactions of some NDC MPs, Ministers, Chief Executives and party leadership are likely to cause the party’s exit from office regardless of President Mahama’s unmatched achievements in the provision of infrastructure abound.

Readers of The aL-hAJJ would have noticed that few months to the December 7 election, the paper decided to suspend its usual twice a week publication and instead begun to occasionally; publish in-depth research works and factors likely to determine the outcome of the 2016 election.

In all, six well researched publications were put out between August and December 6; highlighting the things that could possible send the NDC into opposition in spite of its impressive performance in government.

The first “special edition”, published on August 23, 2016 was titled “Can JM Survive…The Journey So far”.

This particular publication traced the political journey of President Mahama and highlighted how he rose from an Assembly man to become legislator, Minister, vice President and later President.

The publication also took stock of the “trials and tribulations” President Mahama has been through, particularly; in his early days as Head of State.

We appraised the economic challenges; cedi depreciation, dumsor, unemployment, hardship and other nail-biting challenges, and how President Mahama weathered the storm.

To cap it, the publication looked at deficiencies likely to hurt the Mahama administration at the December polls.

Among them included appointees’ arrogance, complacency, apathy, neglect of grassroots, corruption perception, unpardonable gaffes and other disturbing developments.

New Nana?

The second “special report” which was headlined “Travails of Akufo-Addo”, published on September 10, 2016, focused on Nana Akufo-Addo.

Though Nana Akufo-Addo was described as an underdog, going into the December election in this publication citing many factors that were likely to work against his possible victory, we were nevertheless; quick to point out that he could spring a surprise.

This particular publication rehashed some of the negative things Nana Akufo-Addo himself said and some of the things his men did for which Nana Akufo-Addo was punished in the 2012 election and that, he was likely to suffer same fate in the December 7 election. We were however mindful of the fact that Nana Akufo-Addo turned a new leaf ahead of the December 7 election.

Going into the election, Nana Akufo-Addo dropped his belligerent and radical posturing and rather portrayed himself as a “God fearing, loving and caring” personality.

This was after he was heavily criticized for his “all die be die”, “yen Akan fuo” and other ethnocentric comments. The “third time lucky” syndrome was also highlighted as one of the factors adding to the advantage of Nana Akufo-Addo’s bid.

New Parliarment

The next two “special reports” were dedicated to analyzing voting trends in the various regions and constituencies. In all, we analyzed constituencies in the Greater Accra, Western Eastern, Central, Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions.

In each of the constituencies analyzed, we highlighted the problems of both the NDC and NPP and how the parliamentary candidates of the two dominant political parties will perform in the election.

In these analyses, we were unequivocal with our prediction that the NDC will be worse hit with possible fall of their candidates.

For instance, we raised red flags over the NDC’s control of the Ablekuma Central, Bortianor Ngleshie Amanfro, Madina and Adenta seats. We also predicted that the NDC cannot win the Weija, Tema West, Tema East, Ayawaso Central and Ayawaso West Wuogon seats it had targeted to snatch from the NPP.

In the Central region, we said the NDC will snatch the Komenda/Edina/Eguafo/Abirem seat from the NPP, but we stated that there were no safe seats in the Central region and that any of the two political parties could win any of the seats.

In the Western region, we placed premium on how the NDC had lost the trust of cocoa growing areas like Sefwi Wiaso, Sefwi Akontombra, Juaboso and other cocoa growing areas, particularly in the Western region.

We cited the NDC’s performance in the Amenfi West bye election as a foretaste of what could befall the party in the election.

The general complain of these rural dwellers who have kept faith with the NDC for some time now was that COCOBOD under the aegis of Dr. Stephen Opuni deprived them of herbicides, Pesticides, fertilizers and other items they needed to enhance their farming business.

In the Eastern region, we warned that the needless infighting among party supporters in the region may affect the party even in its strongholds. We did not mince words on the chances of Hon Baba Jamal in this year’s election.

The Northern, Upper East and Upper West fell on our radar as regions that the NPP could make serious inroads into NDC’s strongholds. Dr Bawumia’s appointment as running mate for the third time was tipped as one of the factors that will play to the advantage of the NPP.
Infighting among kingpins of the NDC in the various constituencies flowing from the party’s primaries to elect parliamentary candidate was one of the factors we highlighted as possible cause of defeat for some of the parliamentary candidates.

On November 24, 2016 we published our last but one “special report” on the heels of Mr Donald Johnson Trump’s stunning victory in the American election.

Following Mr Trump’s victory, the NPP and its media surrogates started drumming the long standing history that anytime the Republican Party won in America, the NPP also succeeds in Ghana.

Based on this assumption, and how it was gaining ground, we decided to draw the attention of the NDC to the fact that this historical facts should not be taken lightly.

This publication also highlighted some of the “sound notes” Nana Akufo-Addo and his party were likely to prosecute in its last minute campaign to topple the NDC.

We emphasized that the third-term argument and the pent-up feeling for change fed into the NPP’s narrative of change. We warned that if the NDC does not take immediate steps to address issues of hardship, discontent among party supporters, opulence and appointees’ arrogance, the election could spell doom for the party.

To our amazement, and usual of the NDC, they ignored our warnings and instead discredited these reports. In some instances, hired media attack “dogs” were goaded to throw mud at managers of the paper as seeking the downfall of the NDC and ex-President Mahama.

Convinced that we were on the side of truth and was discharging our journalistic duties without malice, the paper published the last “special report on December 6, 2016 headlined “Toaso or Change? JM,Nana To Make History after tomorrow’s election”.

In this report, we made the point forcefully that irrespective of the outcome of the election, the two leading candidates will make history. President Mahama, we indicated, if he loses, will become the first one term President in the history of the country under the Fourth Republican constitution.

We however stated that in the event Mr Mahama wins the election, he will not only become the first president to have taken the presidential oath three times, but also the first Northerner to secure a second term in office.

And the NDC under his control will also become the first political party under the current dispensation to have won three elections on the trot.

On the part of Nana Akufo-Addo, we made the point that if he wins the December 7 election, he will become the oldest person in the country’s history to have occupied the seat of government.

However, in the event he loses, he will be the only leader of the NPP to have led the party into three unsuccessful consecutive battles.

We highlighted the positive attributes of the Mahama government and how economic analysts across the world had praise its handling of the economy which will translate into impressive economic growth next year. But we cautioned that this “high card” would not necessarily translate into automatic win for the NDC.
“Speaking truth to power”

The aL-hAJJ did not start raising alarm about what was to befall President Mahama and the NDC in the December 7 election in their last days in office.

Copies of our publications abound of how we started pointing out some disturbing happenings in the Mahama administration right at its inception which we said was likely to send it out of power.

As far back as 2013 till date, series of publications from our stables; warning the government of some of its actions and inaction likely to affect its continued stay in office.

Headlines like “JM Sit Up- The Gaffes are too many”, “Can Terkper Save Mahama”, “President Mahama: Another Failed Northerner”, “Retain Opuni and Win 2016”, “Stan Dogbe: Mahama’s Waterloo”, “2016 Easy for Mahama/NDC To Win But…”, “NDC Losing Zongos,”, “Lordina Mahama Running Parallel Government,” “Bawumia Making Inroads in Zongo”, “Voltarians Angry with NDC,’ “NDC to Lose Five Seats in Upper West,” “NDC Throwing Away Power to NPP” and several others in The aL-hAJJ generated lots of controversy in the country.

Government and NDC functionaries, particularly operatives at the Flag Staff House, fumed over these publications and thought we were doing a great disservice to the party for highlighting some of these disturbing trends in the Mahama government.

These publications did not mince words in naming functionaries in the erstwhile Mahama government, members of Mr Mahama’s household and even NDC kingpins whose actions obliterated gains the Mahama government made.

Well, all these warnings were ignored and today Mr Mahama has made history by becoming one term President and also joining his Northern brother, the late Dr Hila Liman, as presidents who could not secure second term.

The Prof Kwesi Botchwey-led investigative committee should not look further in seeking to unravel what really caused the NDC’s humiliating defeat; the answers are embedded in our publications.

In spite of the outcome of the election, the two leading aspirants have so far shown political maturity and this has further deepened Ghana’s democracy.

No wonder the two, outgoing President Mahama and incoming President Nana Akufo-Addo will both be in white apparels at the swearing in ceremony on next Saturday, January 7, 2016? Indeed, Ghana has WON!

Read below several of the stories The aL-hAJJ published cautioning Mr Mahama and NDC of possible defeat in last December 7 elections which were stubbornly ignored and which has led the party painfully; marching to opposition.

We wish the NDC well, and we say congratulations to President-elect, Nana Akufo Addo and the NPP.