You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2014 08 03Article 319474

Opinions of Sunday, 3 August 2014

Columnist: Nyamekye, Kwabena

The 2016 presidential election and the voter from Asuogyman

By Kwabena Nyamekye

No one really knows what makes voters decide to support or reject a political candidate. Fact is however, that it is neither down to the candidate’s economic performance alone for if it was this criterion coupled with corruption allegations against an incumbent voter, then Africa should have the highest electoral turnover in the world. Even if we discount electoral fraud, something that is increasingly difficult in a world of sophisticated technology and political awareness, we should see the demise of so many candidates anytime there is a general election in Africa. However this is not the case as sitting governments remain extremely difficult beasts to defeat.

Perhaps nothing supports this claim of mine than the 2012 constituency election in Asuogyman in the Eastern region. Currently occupied by one of my favourite politicians, Kofi Osei-Ameyaw, it is a constituency that voted skirt and blouse by voting for President Mahama of the NDC and the Parliamentary seat to Osei-Ameyaw of the NPP.

The NPP victory at the parliamentary level was by a mere 3% of the vote. When I saw this I was stunned with disbelief on the day but this later reinforced my view that voters tend not to unseat incumbents. The sitting MP Jones Asare-Akoto was involved in the judgement debt scandals that rocked Ghana about 2 years ago. The allegation against him, for which he was brought before Justice Elizabeth Ankumah of the High Court was that he had pocketed 20 million cedis meant for Asuogyaman as compensation for government taking over their land. The compensation was to be used for the provision of social amenities.

Given the levels of poverty in the constituency, I was sure Osei-Ameyaw was going to destroy Asare-Akoto in the 2012 election and that the voters will add President Mahama for good measure given the NDCs woeful economic performance as an added factor. It was a surprise to me that when the vote was counted more than 18,650 voters told the world and the NPP that we don’t care if Asare-Akoto can’t account for our money – we still want him as MP! Osei-Ameyaw got 20,750 votes. Thus if just another 1,051 voters had backed Asare-Akoto he will still be MP. Moreover a majority of the voters refused to tag Mahama with the corruption allegations against his party and duly voted in favour of him against NPP’s Honourable Akuffo-Addo.

What does this tell the elite leaders of NPP especially the graduates of Legon, Tech, Harvard, Yale, the Sorbonne, Cambridge etc who show off their academic credentials at the drop of a hat? It tells themthat poor economic performance by President Mahama and allegations of corruption alone against the NDC will never bring you power! It does seem however that our elite leaders in the party are ignorant of this. Somehow they have convinced themselves that appearing on Asempa, Joy News file or Peace FM with figures, facts and analysis about the cedi and the national debt is enough to win power.

Someone has forgotten to tell them that Sefa from Goaso in the Brong-Ahafo Region doesn’t give a damn for your knowledge and ability to dissect Ghana’s problems. He knows people in government are corrupt. Also all his life Ghana has never been as prosperous as even Brazil so what else is new?! All parties say they will improve the lot of Ghanaians and so economic promises are not unique to him. In voting he does not limit himself to economics. If he had done this in 2008 then we will never have lost the 2008 election.

If poor performance alone is a key to deciding to deny someone please explain to us the foot soldiers how come my uncle Essel continued to support Kumasi Cornerstones when he had successful Kotoko with its rich history of success as an alternative? From a distance it does not make sense yet Corners supporters continue to support the team, buy tickets to their matches, attend supporters meetings, pay membership dues etc even though Corners continues to make no impact on football. Thus even a bad organization has its supporters and followers. In effect NDC might be a useless organization but nothing suggests it is facing defeat in 2016.

Fellow Delegates, it was President Siaka Stevens of Sierra Leone who said that is was “sense that makes the book and not book that makes the sense”!! Tell this to those who have PhDs in finance, first class degrees in mathematics, 25 years’ experience as Managing Director, and 20 years as an MP sitting on the Science and Technology committee when they come round in their big cars telling you to invest your time and effort in a failed venture that has denied us power since 2008.

An election is not won on economics alone –it is won on how the voters see the candidate. The voters observations about how you walk, how you talk, how you relate to ordinary people etc are just as important as your message –probably even more important for this matter.

I keep saying we the delegates own the party. We put in the effort to bring the elite to power. Look at how we dispatched the old executives in April this year. This action was not personal – it was business and I am calling on all of us to deliver the final blow when we choose a flag bearer in October.

Please circulate this via social media and if you know of a delegate who does not have access to modern technology please print it off for him or her. In circumstances where the person is illiterate, explain the contents of this posting to him or her.