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Opinions of Saturday, 11 September 2010

Columnist: Afful-Dadzie, Anthony

Nana Akuffo-Addo, please give us a break!

Nothing describes so vividly our approach to national politics than a little child who cannot let go her favourite toy. She dreams about it, sleeps with it, chat with it and carry it along wherever she goes. It is a pity we are today wasting so much of our productive time dreaming and as someone humorously puts it, eating politics. Indeed our feet are right in the middle of a quagmire and we are sinking deeply into an abyss day by day. Almost everything in Ghana now is about politics such that were it an industry it would without doubt been the number one contributor to the country’s GDP. But it isn’t. Rather, it contributes negatively to our GDP in a manner so beclouded that few people can realize it. Many cannot comprehend this side effect of our politics because with the exception of some few people the rest of us are dictated by party politics.
There is nothing wrong for political parties and their leaders to ones a while pop in and try to connect with the electorates during political off-season, but in Ghana this practice has become a day to day activity, and one person in particular, Mr. Akuffo-Addo of NPP has taken it all to a new level. Today Nana this, tomorrow Nana that. Are we worshipping Nana Akuffo-Addo? Nobody is against Nana Akuffo-Addo, I have respect for him just as I deeply respect president Mills, but even if he is the presidential candidate of the largest opposition party we ought to muster courage and advise him to limit the level of his campaigns during this political off-season.
It is as if we are in 2012 since it is clear the opposition parties most notably the NPP are, on each passing day sharpening their electioneering tools and cannot wait to unleash their attack for the much anticipated battle of election 2012. This indeed transcends my understanding since it is not even two years that we had the last election. But what do we expect Nana Akuffo-Addo to do when he is been elected the presidential candidate of the largest opposition party two and a half years into the real election. Can we fault him for starting his campaign so early when the NPP have put him in such a bad position? There is no way every sound person in the shoes of Nana under incessant pressure from his party to endeavour to seize the opportunity whenever that opportunity manifests itself will act otherwise. He cannot sit quietly till the middle of 2012 before starting campaigning given the corner he finds himself now.
The NPP are telling us that they are power hungry and cannot wait till 2012. At least the NDC waited till the latter part of December 2007 before electing Professor Mills as their presidential candidate. Couldn’t the NPP have done the same by waiting till late 2011 to elect Nana Addo? But even then here is where I fault Nana Addo the more. President Mills after being elected the presidential candidate of the NDC resorted to low keyed house-to-house campaigning, visiting the electorates and familiarizing himself with the suffering masses in the society especially those in the villages. And to this I will say, is the reason President Mills far understands the plight of the ordinary Ghanaian than Mr. Akuffo-Addo. In my view the president is more connected to the people and seems to know the needs of the ordinary man on the street while Mr. Akuffo-Addo is yet to learn and genuinely appreciate the suffering of the masses. He ought to also go on a low keyed house-to-house campaign if he truly wants to get connected with the masses instead of condoning young foot soldiers who have been employed by some of his greedy party men to deliberately cheer him on anytime he finds himself closer to the president to create the impression he is far ahead in the race.
By allowing the NPP to set such a bad example are we going to chastise the NDC if they adopt this practice in the future? However, the fact that this practice may be advantageous to the political parties does not mean it is beneficial to the growth of the country and the earlier we put a stop to it the better. The U.S went to the polls before Ghana yet none of the parties is permitted to elect a presidential candidate until the end of the first quarter of 2012.
To this I ask, isn’t there wisdom behind the prohibition of electing a presidential candidate before the election year in the U.S? We ought to do the same by enacting a law prohibiting parties from electing presidential candidates until the early part of the election year. The U.S president is afforded time and space to govern and focus on solving the real issues on the ground without having to compete with early elected presidential candidates. In fact he is not compelled to recognize his impending opponents during gatherings such as Veterans Day or at state functions as Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom will want us to believe.
Today, it is as if the opposition party leaders and for that matter Nana Akuffo-Addo is sharing power with the president. The manner at which we are demanding total respect especially for Nana Akuffo-Addo beats my imagination. Until Nana is elected president he is simply as ordinary as the party chairman of the CPP. To this effect I will urge the president not to allow any presidential candidate to be making constant noise and disturb public peace when it is not yet electioneering campaign time. If he is afraid to stop these attention seekers from disturbing our peace then it is better he gives up the job because we elected him to help us do the right thing and maintain peace and harmony in Ghana and not political campaigns on a daily basis.

The point we are missing as a nation is, we are not giving the president space to govern yet we expect him to perform magic within 18 months of assuming powers. How could that be possible if all that we expect from our elected Ministers who are to help the president govern is to spend their precious working hours jumping from one radio station to another answering (on most occasions) useless provocative questions the aftershocks of it plunges the country further into segregation.

Let us therefore be bold and tell the already chosen presidential candidates to either sits quietly till 2012 or better still embark on a low keyed house-to-house campaign to acquaint themselves with the people on the ground. If it is not about greediness and winning power at all cost how on earth any patriotic citizen will decide to elect a presidential candidate so early.

By Anthony Afful-Dadzie (