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Opinions of Thursday, 5 April 2012

Columnist: Jackson, Margaret

NDC Can Win The 2012 Elections If….

By Margaret Jackson

There is some apprehension in certain quarters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) regarding its chances in the 2012 elections which is barely 8 months away. This nervousness is making many NDC folks to weigh many options and also to float many strategies on how the party can put its acts together to focus on how to win the elections. They need not be so nervous! This is because, the NDC as a party has three major things that they need to do to win the 2012 elections hands down.

Firstly, the NDC party should focus on selling its accomplishments to the Ghanaian electorate. The party has done so much, yet only few people know what the NDC has achieved within the past three years that it has been in power. As a result, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has mesmerized the NDC by belittling its accomplishments. It is about time for the NDC folks to roll up their sleeves and get to work! Nobody will speak for the NDC people if they fail to tell Ghanaians what they have done and what they intend to do if given the second term. Those NDC members who are comfortable now should not think the 2012 elections is already a done deal for the NDC. It far from that! The NDC party needs to work hard to win.

What the NDC needs to do going forward is to craft a campaign strategy that ropes in its accomplishments to sell itself to voters. To date the NDC government has done very well in the agriculture sector, the economy, transportation, road sector and education among others, but many Ghanaians especially those in the big cities notably Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Sunyani and Koforidua claim they are unaware. I believe either these people are feigning not to know what the NDC has done or the NDC is not getting its message across to them.

Judging from how the political barometer is trending in Ghana, it would be safe to predict that the 2012 elections would never be won on insults and lies. It would largely be based on bread and butter issues. Therefore, the NDC should move to battle the NPP folks by drawing clear distinctions between what they have been able to do to make life bearable for the majority of Ghanaians and what the NPP failed to do in the 8 years that they were in power. The “Setting the Records Straight” series by the NDC is a good start but it is woefully not enough. The NDC has to move the series from the capital city to the regions and the districts and tout what the government has been able to do. The NDC also has to break down the language of its achievements. The language has to be clear and cut for the ordinary man on the street to catch it. If you just talk about inflation going down, even many educated people in Ghana have a high time getting it. What needs to be done is talking about how a lower inflation has had a positive effect on the prices of general goods on the markets.

If you talk about the construction of a major road in a certain area, you need to let voters know the positive effect that road brings to the area. If that area is a cocoa, cassava, plantain, bauxite, timber or cotton growing area, you need to let Ghanaians know the upside benefit that would come from the construction of that major road. Just saying the government has spent so much money to construct that major road would not cut it. That is why is has become a common feature for people to ask, “Are we going to eat the roads or inflation?”

I am therefore, urging the NDC to do a better job and sell the government and its achievements. What the NDC has so far done is surface scratching. The NDC members have to delve deep and advertise the party. Too much radio and television talk is not getting the job done. Also, the party has to bring in new faces and new voices to its communication team since “too much familiarity is breeding contempt.” If the NDC is able to sell its own story, it would greatly help the party to win the elections without much sweat.

The second thing that the NDC has to do, is the get President Mills to start his re-election campaign soon. Ghanaians are itching to hear from him to tell his own story. Therefore, it would be better for the NDC to let President Mills to go out there and campaign sooner than later. If President Mills is able to tout his achievements by touring the country he would be able to cover a lot of political grass in the country before the first vote is cast.

I will never support the idea that it is too soon to campaign since it took President Mills who was then a candidate two long years to sell himself to the Ghanaian voters, which largely helped in putting him in the highest office of the land in the 2008 elections. The more President Mills sits at the castle, the more the NPP castigates him and the more the NDC looks terrible and disjointed to the voters. Therefore, President Mills has to go on the ropes and ask Ghanaians for a second-term. This year’s elections would not be won with softball tactics. The voters want to hear from the candidates and how genuine they sound in whatever they say. And being the incumbent, President Mills needs to get out there quicker and woo the voters.

The last but not the least, is for the NDC members to cease insulting NPP’s presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo. Akufo-Addo is no story when it comes to real achievements in the country, so the NDC should not insult him to let him gain public sympathy. It is okay when NDC members question his moral character or judgment on issues but nobody going forward should heap insults on Akufo-Addo. Anytime any member from the NDC insults Akufo-Addo, he gains public sympathy, and the more he gains public sympathy, the more he chisels votes from the NDC.

It is important for the NDC to draw clear distinctions between President Mills and Akufo-Addo without insulting Akufo-Addo. If the distinctions are clear and glaring voters are bound to draw their own conclusions as to which of the two candidates can better manage the country. Therefore, the NDC party executives and members should continue to question Akufo-Addo’s character but not insult him.

If the NDC is able to sell its story better, get President Mills to start campaigning early and also desist from insulting Akufo-Addo, it would be NDC’s to lose the 2012 elections.