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Opinions of Saturday, 22 September 2007

Columnist: Asante, Francis Opoku

NPP Eyes Floating Voters; A Political Gambit

The political terrain of our country is highly intense behind the scenes. As the NPP strategizes to retain power with a convincing victory in the 2008 general elections, the NDC reassesses its performance in the ‘04 election with the aim of recompensing its arsenals to snatch power from the ruling NPP. It is going to be a long political battle but in the end the winner will take it all whiles the loser will stand aloof. Realistically, the NPP has a strategic advantage over the NDC for bringing the economy back on track to a resilient level, embarking upon numerous developmental projects, promoting the freedom of the people, the press and many other achievements. At the same time, the retargeting block of strategy implementations of the NDC will depend upon who emerges as the flagbearer of the NPP. As the selection of some of the aspirants will send shockwaves through the NDC’s stalwarts, there are others whose election will give a form of disguised solace to the NDCs. It is a fact that the NPP will brazenly deploy all its arsenals for a political showdown. However, the propensity of the NPP’s relative comfort will depend upon the selection of a flagbearer who has the ability to court floating voters. That explains the reasons why the NPP is skeptical about polarizing candidates winning the nod. The NPP is also uncomfortable with a candidate without solid political experience and track record winning the nod by chance due to the influx of as many as 17 presidential aspirants. Various messages have been relayed by some of the eminent members of the party regarding the same point I am reverberating over here.

Examples could be cited from Mr. J H Mensah’s declaration of standard of measurement for the presidential aspirants. Words such as “some of the aspirants need to re-examine themselves” demonstrates the concerns of the party elders. No wonder a committee of the eminent elders has been set up to cajole some of the aspirants to bow out of the race so as to give enough room for the “Big Five” to maneuver. I am of the view that the committee’s establishment is very important. However, the committee’s modus operandi is a delicate one since any least mistake could be labeled as undemocratic because in a democratic organization all members should be given equal chances to operate. As the NPP streaks to court the floating voters, names such as Osafo-Maafo keeps showcasing as the man who is equipped to win the heart and soul of the floating voters. Mention has also been made of Osafo-Maafo’s track record on the economy. This seems to be one of the reasons why Hon.Osafo-Maafo was on top of the polls conducted among the prospective delegates by the chronicle until the emergence of the flawed polls purported to have been conducted by the BNI. Even though, the BNI has vehemently denied conducting any polls of such kind. Well, without mincing words, we would dive into the significance of floating voters in the 08 elections, the chances of the NDC snatching power from the NPP, and the chances of the NPP retaining power with a convincing victory.

FLOATING VOTERS AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN ELECTION ‘08

Floating voters are significant voters who do not pay allegiance to any political party. Thus floating voters vote across party lines. The importance of floating voters has brought about the emergence of numerous names such as “the undecided voters” “independent voters” “swing voters” etc. They are neutral in terms of their political affiliations. However, their decision making can always swing the outcome of an election one way or the other. As we consider the NDCs performance (44% of the general vote) in the 2004 general elections even in the face of the enormous popularity of President Kufour as of that time, there is every indication that election 2008 would be decided by floating voters. That explains the early embarkment of the NPP upon courting the swing voters. However, the irony of the situation is that the NDC is secretly making some inroads in courting some of the floating voters and at the same time correcting most of the mistakes of the 2004 elections. We need to sincerely realize that Prof. Mills needs just additional 7% to make up 51% and carry the day! So it is not a mere coincidence as we see Prof. Mills and his foot soldiers trooping into central region day in and day out. Importantly, the NPP’s courtship with the swing voters could be sustained with appealing candidates of the likes of Osafo-Maafo. He has been an achiever in his early career as a renowned economic, accounting and management consultant just as the Prof. has been an achiever in his specialty as a law Prof.

Secondly; these two personalities have the gentle persona that well suites the political dynamics of our time. However, Osafo-Maafo’s solid political achievement in the area of the economy would be something that would push Prof. Mills out of the ring with a disastrous knockout. Secondly, Osafo-Maafo’s positive demeanor as a firm gentleman will diffuse Prof. Mill’s “asomdwee hene factor”. A debate between Prof. Mills and Hon. Osafo-Maafo could be dubbed “the battle of the geniuses”. It would be devoid of insults and rhetoric. Well without too much of a digression, let’s explicitly look into the formidability of the NDC as the main opposition party in Ghana and the bright chances of the NPP with Osafo-Maafo as the flagbearer of the NPP.

THE FORMIDABILITY OF THE NDC AND ITS WINNING CHANCES IN THE 08 ELECTION.

As the political campaign intensified in the run up to the 2004 general elections of Ghana, most political analysts underrated the performance of the NDC due to the enormous popularity of President Kufour and the power of his incumbency. However, the NDC exhibited electioneering agility by attaining 44% of the General votes. Readers will agree that if the central region’s voting pattern had favoured Prof. Mills, the outcome of the election could have been more different from what we saw in 2004. This time round, if Prof. Mills succeeds in courting his home region, (central region) his chances of pulling a run off would be brighter. It will take only a candidate from the NPP who is not polarizing to comfortably diffuse Atta Mills’ inroads. Moreover, Atta Mills is going to dwell on his comparative advantage by invoking his political experience, his achievements at the internal revenue section, his rich experience as a Prof. of Law and finally lambaste the ruling government on any of its shortfalls that are fresh in the memory of Ghanaians. The NPP at this stage will never opt for a run off since in the event of a run off, there is a high probability that all the other opposition parties will join forces with the main opposition party (NDC) to wrestle power from the ruling NPP. That explains why Osafo-Maafo’s name keeps coming up among most of the prospective delegates as the man who is urgently needed by the NPP to lead the party to victory. There is enormous talk within the NPP’s political circles that the NPP needs a heavy weight such as Hon.Osafo-Maafo to take the party to an overwhelming victory without a run off. Now let’s look into the chances of the NPP retaining power in 2008.

THE BRIGHT CHANCES OF THE NPP IN THE 2008

The NPP was built on a solid Danquah-Busia tradition. The founding members formed the party with a sense of collective responsibility with the belief that as a Patriotic Party, the actions or inactions of one member or several of its members can affect the party in its entirety. The Danquah–busia tradition is based on true democracy, the protection of human rights that are entrenched in the constitution and the respect for the rule of law. These virtues were explicitly exhibited by the NPP in their brilliance form. That led to the party’s victory in 2000.These inalienable virtues are always demonstrated by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP). With the advent of the coming into power of the NPP, Ghanaians can now express their opinion without fear of victimization. That is reminiscent of the party’s motto which says “development in freedom” The freedom of the press has also been entrenched. Importantly, with the able leadership of Hon.Osafo-Maafo, the NPP was able resuscitate one of the worst economies in the world and made it more resilient against external shocks. Our credit rating has gone up to a level where Ghana needs no third tiers in accessing external loans. The NPP will therefore capitalize on its comparative advantage over the NDC, by campaigning on the splendid performance of the government in the areas enumerated above. The NPP will then compare and contrast Prof. Mills’ performance during his time as the Vice President with the political achievements of the flagbearer of the NPP who would be elected on the 22nd of December 2007. With Osafo-Maafo as the flagbearer, his monumental achievements in the economy, Ministry of Youth&sports and his visionary acumen, the NPP will win the election with a convincing victory.

THE HOPE FOR GHANA WITH A VISIONARY LEADER.

Fellow Ghanaians, Ghana’s economy is ready for economic take off. Foreign investors’ confidence is Ghana’s economy is very promising. Visionary leaders, who have demonstrated the qualities of a visionary leader in their performance as public servants, will be able to transform the economy into the pockets of the ordinary Ghanaians. Bridge the conspicuous income inequality and make the ordinary Ghanaian better-off. Rapidly growing economies such as South Korea and Malaysia were agro-based economies just as Ghana. However, they moved from agro-based industry to light industries and finally progressed to capital intensive economy. There should be a visionary leader who will make the move and create path where path is difficult to come by. The Honourable Osafo –Maafo has demonstrated these visionary characteristics through out his political career. Significantly, in a period when Ghana’s economy was at the verge of collapsing, he seized the moment and brought investors confidence back into the economy. He brought Ghana’s hope back into soccer by championing Ghana’s course to the world cup tournament. That was monumental as well as historic.

CONCLUSION

Ghana’s quest for economic renaissance is enormous. However, the realization of Ghana’s aspiration would be possible if a visionary leader is steering the helm of affairs of our dear country. As we gear up to the general election, let us all advocate for a sustainable economic development which takes into consideration the needs of the future generation. That is how we can build a better Ghana for ourselves and the future generation!

Written by: Francis Opoku Asante
(Former SRC President of the University of Cape Coast)


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