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Opinions of Sunday, 28 November 2010

Columnist: Appiah, Akwasi

RE: Nana Addo, I have never tasted or sniffed cocaine

It is refreshing to finally read that Nana Addo has taken on his political antagonists. I have wondered for a very long time why he never addressed the issue of drug dependence head-on in the past. This past summer, I had a conversation with one of the key funding members of NPP, who also played a principal role in Nana Addo’s 2008 presidential campaign, and I asked him why didn’t the party and the campaign team respond to Nana Addo’s drug allegations? He answered that it was the campaign and party decision not to respond to that assertion. I told him it was a big mistake.

In politics, to win power, it’s about increasing negative associations about your opponent while one seeks to increase positive associations about oneself. Take for example, during the 2008 Democratic Party’s presidential primaries in the USA, then candidate Obama was being branded as one who dislikes white people in that Obama associated with and being a member of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church. What did then candidate Obama do? He delivered a major speech on racism in Philadelphia to nip it in the bud. This in turn put him on the offensive and shifted the momentum back to him.

Nana asked a rhetorical question in his speech, “I have never tasted or sniffed cocaine. Why are my detractors attacking my personality saying that I am a drug addict?”

Simple, it is to increase negative association about you.

Almost, no company will hire a person who is a drug addict. It is for this reason why drug screen and background checks are done prior to hiring.

Why is responding to untruth important? I tell you why, in the words of scripture, “A good name is more desirable than great riches”. It is about branding. This is evident in all commercials running on our TV sets and radio, whether you live in Ghana, USA or you name it.

It is about associations, it is how the political brain works. When you hear the name Jesus Christ, what comes into your mind? Most likely Savior, Lord of all and other highly positive associative words or phrase comes to mind.

Again it is stimulating for Nana Addo to be on the offensive and to put his detractors on the defense. It is cheering that he and the party have decided to deal with his detractors and force accusers resolutely. This will help brand his accusers as liars, increasing their negative association.

In putting his opponents on the defense, Nana must progressively position and brand himself as a clean, principle, peacemaker, unifier, freedom fighter, hater of poverty, compassionate among other positive associations, to voters.

God bless us all and Ghana

Akwasi Appiah