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Opinions of Saturday, 5 January 2013

Columnist: Yaw Ampofo-Ankrah

Mahama to build on new generation of supporters- Ampofo-Ankrah

If young voters propelled President Mahama to victory as I know they did, then they have the right for their priorities to be addressed by the President.

It was a deal and the youth fulfilled their end of the bargain by giving their all and trusting Mahama. Now they wait for the promises to be delivered. Four years is not an eternity but Mahama is destined to succeed writes Yaw Ampofo Ankrah.

I am not a career politician so I tend to dialogue and disburse what may be considered politically incorrect. No apologies, especially to the intolerant war mongers who predicted hell in Ghana if the NPP lost the elections. You know for so long, the NPP had all the ammunition at their disposal to achieve a home run with ease. I am talking multiple and deadly ammunition to finish off the one touch dream and kill-off the Mahama revolution. I am not even talking about free SHS. That baby grew wings and started to fly much later in the course of the campaign. Folks, have we all too soon forgotten about the Woyome judgment debt scandal?

Rumours about President Mills' health, constant tales of corruption, the snarling of Mr. and Mrs. Rawlings, the formation of the NDP, the NDC's own power struggles and infighting? All these spectacularly fuelled by the media? How on earth did the NDC expect to win the elections faced with these multiple challenges, and not to mention the desperately aggressive, formidable and determined opposition bent on winning power at all cost.

The there was fear. Yes real fear because of the ''All Die be Die'' slogan which later became chants at rallies without shame. It did not look good for the NDC at all did it?

The NPP were growing in confidence and they were loud about it at every opportunity. Yet, confidence is one thing but when laced with elements of ignorance and arrogance by key frontline campaigners, then you have a recipe for trouble.

Call it self-destruction or better still dining with the devil because characters like Kennedy Agyapong appeared to be driven by some unseen agenda that struck fear and revulsion into the hearts of well-meaning citizens. The notion of ''war'' and ''confrontation'' did not appeal to the largest and newest voting bloc- the youth. So imagine the sort of signal a party sends out with their National Youth Organizer Anthony Abayifaa Karbo making reference to the Arab Spring, especially the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, as a motivating factor for the youth to ''rise up'' in Ghana too. If you are an NDC strategist, then your work is cut out. Just preach the opposite of what people fear and do not want to see. This is Ghana. We are liberal West Africans NOT radical Arabs.

At every opportunity on the campaign trail, even after the free SHS message, the NPP would somehow find a way to chip in some threats or ultimatum and defend the ‘’All Die be Die’’ logic.

Having said that, how many people were genuinely surprised when renegades, vandals, hoodlums and criminals set out to cause mayhem in the Ghanaian capital under the pretext of demonstrating against the election results? Those who went about beating and stabbing at Nkrumah Circle were not genuine NPP supporters. No way. We all know that according to our laws, no individual or group should take matters into their own hands should they feel cheated.

The need for restraint, calm and strong leadership was critical immediately after the elections. Imagine if the NDC had preached in the same language and tone and encouraged their supporters to go out onto the streets? After all when you are winning a match or having won the game legally, why would you go on the rampage or indeed provoke your opponents whose only hope of denying you victory would be when there is chaos and anarchy?

The young and the floating voters were key targets of the Mahama Movement Thankfully, the majority of good citizens were, and still are, prepared to hold on their horses until a good case is first presented and then successfully argued in court beyond reasonable doubt for a verdict judgment to be passed.

As the emotional out-pourings of the NPP claiming that ''we have been robbed'' slowly disappears, one truth stands out; and that is, never again will the youth of this country be underestimated or taken for granted. Few can argue against the perception that before the 2012 election campaign got into full swing, the NPP were the more appealing party to the youth. That perception dramatically swung in favour of the NDC because of the Mahama brand. Today, between the two parties, the NDC now has an increasing edge over their NPP rivals especially when you put the Presidential candidates on the same platform ''toe to toe'' before Ghanaians.

From my little experiences on the campaign trail, I can report that Mahama's advantage among young +18 adults and upwards to 35-year-olds has surged because he ''speaks'' their language and delivers in a simple relaxed manner.

For the most part, President Mahama steered clear of accusing or attacking his opposite number by name but rather focused on his own message devoid of aggression, threats and arrogance.

Yet the writing was literally on the wall as far back as January 2012. That is when a Ghanaian columnist by name BB Nkrumah wrote an interesting article in which he basically predicted the self-destruction of the NPP.

It is no rocket science. The old folks do not want to leave the scene so they have to create time and space to remain relevant and pray for the best. But how do you pray against the will of the majority who voted and hope to win?

I know what you must be thinking. What about the court case? Yes what about the court case that is only going to soil the sheets of the ''great'' traditional force in Ghanaian politics.

The speed and urgency with which the NDC moved to embrace the new phenomenon of youth in action is what has dazed their opponents. But guess what? The NPP are refusing to change with the times.

When I first read BB Nkrumah's article entitled ''The Problem with NPP leadership'', I was not really that keen on politics and with all due respect to our dear late former President and his main opposite rival Nana Addo, I found the political terrain boring, hypocritical and so un-inspiring. I mean come on, I'm into football, Rick Ross, R&B, Jazz and I love Obama as well as banku and tilapia. I do not take life too seriously beyond what my conscience dictates.

The irony of my position is that I love the NPP swag and the cocky loud attitude of ''some'' of their leaders. But I don't love them that much as to campaign or vote for their ideologies or their current leader.

What is even more ironic is that I never really fancied the NDC brand either or the seemingly dull and often abrasive style of going about things. Yet I would vouch for their ''socio-people oriented'' philosophy any day. If someone tells you that good policies without the complimentary leadership to carry the message to convince people is enough to carry an election, then I’m sorry that person is lying.

Indeed for me, the just ended John Mahama versus Nana Addo was a straight choice between the past, the present and the future of Ghana and that is why Mahama edged it even though he had only four months to do it.

Let me break it down without mincing words. Would late President Mills have won the recent elections one touch? I doubt he would. God bless his soul for he nonetheless laid the priceless foundations for Mahama to win.

Would I have campaigned for President Mills? No I would not but I would have said my share of prayers for his good health and well-being as I always have. Was Mahama the biggest factor in my decision to get involved? YES! Either I am seeing the whole stage differently to the long line of political experts and commentators or I simply don't get it. Correct me if I am wrong but the vast majority of NPP leadership are aged 60 and above?

And as stated by BB Nkrumah, ''this leadership does not show signs of retiring any time soon'' Unlike the NDC, the great elite that is the NPP have ignored the ''vitality and the effervescence of the millennium babies''.

I can offer personal testimony to the direct support and various roles played by the godfathers of the NDC in the just ended campaign. As I listed in my previous write up, the ET Mensahs, Totobi Quakyis, Tsikitas and the Ahwois did what they had to do. But how many times did you see them or hear from them? You could hardly see their shadows but trust me they were there. Call them old wizards or veterans and you would not be wrong but they were effective behind the scenes.

With the above in place, my own assertion now becomes much easier to justify and that is the fatal mis-calculation of the opposition was to brush aside the sincerity and impact of various pro-Mahama groups.

Youthful, passionate, loyal and seriously alert on issues. Each group felt a sense of belonging and genuine importance in the scheme of affairs that only the NDC party can offer to their followers and even to neutrals.

The NPP's suggestion that all the groups were bought and would run out of steam was not only naive, it was seen as an insult by these groups who were bent of proving that they were ready to go all out for Mahama.

I am surprised that up to now, some elements within the NPP are still hoping to get some sort of compensation-relief from the court.

In times of loss and shock, self-denial can be a great comforter but it is fleeting. When the reality and truth finally sinks in, there is a need for sober reflection followed by action.

Even a political novice like me can sense that time is running out for the NPP to wake up and shake off the slumber before they lose even more ground to Mahama's relentless youth voting bloc.

In the third and final part of his look at the role of the youth in the just ended elections in Ghana, Yaw Ampofo-Ankrah examines the challenges the NDC is likely to face in his first full term of Mahama's Presidency.