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Opinions of Monday, 2 December 2013

Columnist: Amankwah-Sarfo, Fred

NPP going into 2016 elections

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This article is a sequel to an earlier one entitled “AKUFO ADDO ON MY HUMBLE MIND”. In that article an honest introspection of the performance of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the last two general elections was made with effective communication being one of the issues suggested. In the humble observation of the writer, an honest introspection of issues which may have accounted for the performances of the party in 2008 and 2012 elections are necessary as we prepare for the 2016 elections.

This is not a critique of the NPP communication directorate who then director, Hon. Nana Akomea and his team performed excellently with limited resources at their disposal, defending and espousing the NPPs campaign messages and programs on all the mass media and other political platforms. This is a broader review of the entire NPP electoral machinery vis a viz how our communication strategies were implemented.

Members of the party’s communication team are always called upon to defend statements made by some party members in the media, a task which were not always pleasant. The party must not be cajoled into responding to the NDC in manners that can only inure to the benefits of our political opponents. Effective communication skills are imperative for political success. Positive communication will certainly increase the opportunities to win election 2016.

The NPP had the best candidate, Akufo Addo in 2012 and he is still our best choice for the 2016 elections. In both 2008 and 2012 elections, we had the best message and set of agenda for development of Ghana. Our manifesto captured many pragmatic and workable policies and programs intended to transform the socio economic status of Ghanaians. Akufo Addo’s vision for Ghana was succinctly captured. The flagship free SHS project was a huge headache for National Democratic Congress (NDC). The NDC only desperately resorted to giving responses to the NPP’s programs. Collectively, our communications could have been more effective.

Effective communications could be among the plethora of issues which may have contributed to our losses. The first point of call in achieving excellent electoral results may be effective communication.

The working definition for effective political communication in this context is not how we speak and conduct ourselves on radio, television and other political platforms only, but also all the various campaign messages on billboards, t-shirts, placards, leaflets and responses to some party members’ arrest for various “infractions” by state agencies.

Effective communication occurs when a desired effect is the result obtained from intentional or unintentional information sharing. Information may be interpreted between multiple entities and acted on in a desired way. This effect also ensures the messages are not distorted during the communication process.

Effective communication should generate the desired effect and maintain the effect, with the potential to increase the effect of the message. Therefore, effective communication serves the purpose for which it was planned or designed, ie winning votes.

In the political context, the purpose of effective communication might be to elicit change, generate action, create understanding, inform or communicate a certain idea or point of view to the understanding of the electorate as it must be translated into votes for the party.

In 2008 and 2012 elections the desired effect was not achieved. Therefore, factors such as barriers to our communication must be explored, with the intention to discover how the communication was ineffective and adopt strategic planning and implementation programs to achieve the electoral victory in 2016.

Barriers to effective communication retard or distort messages and intentions of the message being conveyed resulting in the failure of the communication process or an effect that is undesirable.

These include filtering, selective perception, information overload, emotions, language, silence, communication apprehension, gender differences and political correctness. It may also include a lack of expressing "knowledge-appropriate" communication, which occurs when a person uses ambiguous or complex legal words, medical jargon, or descriptions of a situation or environment that is not understood by the recipient.

Effective communication means the ability to express political statements well, both verbally and non-verbally, in ways which are proper to our cultures and situations. This does not mean only the ability to express our desires and opinions, but also addressing needs and fears of the electorates. Effective communication involves active listening.

Effective communication is the correspondence between two or more people that allows for beneficial results. Effective communication consists of understanding clear information. Recipients of effective communication should not be given the “mandate” to interpret or misinterpret our messages.

Effective political communication should be done with respect, decorum and circumspection.

In addition to a number of statements which could have been put in a more politically correct manner, a second look may also be taken at the following, going into the 2016 elections: our campaign slogans and music theme; Victory 2012; the battle is the Lord’s; ye ni da wu so among others.

A critical look at these campaign messages could reveal very real yet hidden ineffective communication methods. The intensions are excellent and the concept is great. However, effective communication ends when the intentions of the originator is received and understood by the recipient just as the originator had intended. In communication, the recipients’ understanding is the most important. Our target audience must not struggle to interpret our intensions.

A more detailed analysis of the statements made by some party members that may have contributed to our defeats at the polls has been compiled and would be shared at the appropriate forum.

Going into the 2016 election, effective communication is key.

Let us do something different.

Long Live NPP

Long live Ghana




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