You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2005 01 01Article 72600

Opinions of Saturday, 1 January 2005

Columnist: Ababio, Akwasi Awua

The WIN WIN Situation - Election 2004

The election is over and everyone is a winner. The post mortem has rightly begun and every party will need to pay attention to all the analysis and comments that will be made or that has been made. Some of the analysis and comments will be unsavoury but others will be complimentary but they will nonetheless be worth noting. All analyst and commentators should endeavour not to mislead, neither should they compromise the truth at any cost.

I will open my account on the current most contentious issue ? the voting pattern in Ghana which many people have expressed their views on. I personally believe there are two main ? catch-all reasons that contributed to the results in the last election.

ECONOMIC The first is economic factor, and by this I mean the part that implementation or non-implementation of specific economic measures bring to bear on everyday life. After all the main plank of the NDC propaganda was ? HWE W?ABORA BO MU? If we are right to believe what the NPP told us, that as at the time when they inherited the reigns of government there was virtual no money in the kitty which necessitated the implementation of series of measures notable among them are the following:

? The declaration of the HIPC status

? The increase in fuel prices vis-?-vis reduction in subsidy on fuel.

? The increase in purchase price of Cocoa and the free mass spraying of cocoa farms.

? The increase in VAT and other economic measures.

? The regulation of the prices paid for utilities services

? Tightening of the measures at IRS for revenue collection.

? The purge of the government payroll

? And many other economic measures.

Collectively these measures have affected the average Ghanaian in several ways and it is arguable whether the net benefit has reflected positively or negatively in the lives of the average Ghanaian.

PRICE OF COCOA AND MASS SPRAYING

One aspect of the measures taken is however of interest to us in the current discussion. If you juxtapose the cocoa growing belt of Ghana on the outcome of the elections an interesting pattern emerges which appears to show that NPP have fared relatively better in the cocoa growing areas. This correlation between the gains made by the NPP and the cocoa growing areas could possibly be due to the increase in purchase price of cocoa and the mass spraying exercises that were carried out. Evidence exists to show that even right up till the election week, Cocoa Board was still engaged in paying bonuses to farmers. Even though there were issues in some places to do with the organisation of the payment, on the whole it would appear most farmers` were happy with their rewards.

Contrast this with the vote for the NPP in the non cocoa growing for example in the Northern and in the Eastern part of the country where there are hardly any cocoa farms. A measure of the impact of the renaissance in cocoa industry on peoples life was attested by my recent conversation with a bloke who works in the City of London as an accountant who said he was looking at the possibilities of investing in cocoa farming in Ghana, His reason being he was aware from some farmers that for once it pays to produce cocoa.

HIPC

Of equal significance are the HIPC and the funds that accrued from it. Even though HIPC projects are widespread across the country, their immediate impacts on people?s lives do not appear to have influenced their voting in the last election, not as yet. There are indications that the NPP is undertaking several of these HIPC projects in areas where they desperately want to make inroads into the stronghold of the opposition. For instance whilst there appears that nothing has happened in say Ashanti Mampong were it is considered a stronghold of the NPP, there is a lot happening in Hohoe and other strongholds of the opposition party NDC. The NDC used similar tactics in the past in Ashanti when they improved on the road network in Ashanti Region but neglected the Volta Region because it could afford to count on their votes at any time. The truth of the matter is that national resources are scarce and some formulae have to be used to share them. In the UK the current economic measures are such that efforts are being made to push more of the national resources into Northern England and the Midlands were they have been neglected in the past. There is nothing wrong per se in doing that as long as over a long period the national cake gets shared throughout the country.

Economic measures have both immediate and long term benefits. The long term benefits are derived with investment in infrastructures and from the building of economic framework. Even though they have limited immediate economic benefits, infrastructure based economic measures do not compare favourably with measures that provide immediate and direct payments when it comes to getting voters support. On the basis of the premises given the conclusion is that the people in the non-cocoa growing areas cannot see the immediate benefits if any from the HIPC projects being undertaken in their areas. What they would have wished for, like their other countrymen in the cocoa growing areas are economic measures that put more money in their pockets. An initiative that could have provided widespread benefits is the Presidential Initiative on the mass production of starch. As poverty reduction initiative the programme has the capability to provide benefits similar to that provided by cocoa. - ceteris paribus - but its impact does not appear to have borne the desired results at least not for now. The initiative appears to be stack in neutral gear.

POLITICS

The second and perhaps the most contentious explanation is political and relates to the conduct of the parties in terms of their presentation, manifesto, shenanigan and not least their orientation and historical background. The small parties are finding it difficult to organised and present themselves to the public. Their ideas are lost in the growl from the two dominant parties. This is always the case irrespective of the country. In the western world, specifically UK parallels can be found in the Green Party and other single issue parties like Independent UK Party. Ghana is not any different and unless these smaller parties in Ghana are prepared to join other big parties they will wallow in the dungeon and sooner or later they will be reduced to pursuing single issues. Given our type of political representation which is not by proportional representation but first past the post, the clich? is ?voting for a smaller part is like not voting at all in the presidential election? It is not for nothing that the cobra pretends to be big when faced with danger. Before the elections all the smaller parties had given the impression that they were bigger than what they really are even when it was obvious they were not going to contest in every constituency. It was not easy to tell because, in the 2000 elections all the parties had a common enemy in the NDC and they were all assumed to have pooled together in the removal of the NDC. The NPP openly canvassed for the support of the other parties even more so when it came to the second presidential ballot, after both Kuffour and Mills had failed to attain the fifty percent votes, thus all the smaller parties had a claim to the defeat of the NDC. The gloves were off this time around and it was ?each for himself and Allah for us all?. Despite the abysmal performance, the smaller parties are to be applauded for staking it out to preserve our infant democracy. As it invariable happens the leaders of smaller parties eventually reap some rewards for themselves.

IMMEDIATE PAST HISTORY

The two big parties have featured prominently in the immediate past history of the country which may have either positively or negatively contributed to their fortunes. At any point in time in every society there are opinion leader, stalwarts, thinkers, chiefs, business leaders and religious leaders who represent their values and what they stand for. Rather than tribal, many of the political allegiance are formed around such local champions. Of course some leaders have influences that are not limited to their locale. Whenever any of these iconic leaders are threatened or removed there follow in their wake seismic change in the local polities. Thus the Dagbon crisis have its immediate impact on current politics just as the AFRC and (P)NDC eras and their atrocious records have their hangover on the current political alignment.

Long before the NRC started hearing cases of abuse most Ghanaians were aware of widespread abuse, intimidation and killings that occurred during the AFRC and (P)NDC era. The major casualties during the reign of terror were the rich and the powerful, the enterprising and the successful business men: the traditional base of the NPP. Examples are the Appiah Menka, Addison, Henry Djaba, Siaw and many more. Most Ghanaians even without the benefit of the NRC report have made up their minds based on what for once they could openly discuss. Even if you discount most of the details the overall picture you get about those periods remain one of intimidation, lost of freedom of speech and use of force and fear. Most people would never ever want to go back to that sort of regime. So when the NDC campaigned for SANKOFA they were drawing attention to a sordid past that few would like to revisit. So the longer the NRC proceeding lasted in the first term the more it suited the NPP more so when John Jeremy Rawlings was not prepared to show any remorse.

With regard to the recent past, the CPP appears to be losing out as it dwells too much on the distant past. Once the bedrock of politics in Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah?s name no longer commands the same attention and emotions that it used to command. His ideas if relevant in the past appear to have outlived their usefulness. Modern society and nation building require new and fresh ideas ? a nurture of a mix of private initiatives and less of government participation. The way forward these days is more of government facilitation and less dependence of the people on government for employment. The clich? is ? ?people empowerment? to organise and take advantage of the economic framework provided by the government. Asking Ghanaians today to choose based on Nkrumah?s values and ideas is like asking the Chinese to choose development along the lines suggested by Chairman Mao.

The overthrow of the PNP by the (P)NDC government should have logically antagonised the CPP against the NDC as it did when the UP remained opposed to the NRC/SMS I/II but as it turned out the removal of the PNP was an own goal by some disgruntled and disaffected CPP youths doubling as social watch dogs. A bunch of Nkrumaist who would have matured today into CPP stalwarts are today dressed in NDC clothes and are too ashamed to belong to their rightful place - the Ahowis, the Tsikatas, Sarah Mensah and P.V. Obeng are the immediate ones that come to mind.

THE VERDICT

A glass half full or half empty is what you would say. I have lived in the UK long enough to see the three main parties each rejoice over election results and I have wondered who the winner was. The NDC just like the NPP have reasons to be happy about election 2004, one was fighting to stay formidable and one was fighting to annihilate the other. As it turned out there was no annihilation and none is as formidable as they would have preferred. Yes power remains in the hands of one but the winner cannot afford not to look over their shoulders all the time - a recipe for true democracy The most important thing any one can do is to respect the verdict more so when the contestants have congratulated one another. The country has delivered its verdict on HWE WABORABO MU and SO FAR SO GOOD. The issues were debated and the verdicts is clear, more than half of the country is happy with the status quo and thinks there are no better alternatives to what is on offer. Again nearly half of the country thinks ABORABO is difficult and something should be done about. Altogether nearly ninety five percent of the country believes the smaller parties have unattainable goals ? you know what I mean but most importantly we need to respect our people. The what-if and if-not analysis is just a cry over spilt milk. On this note I dare say Aziz Zakari Ghana?s representative at the Olympic 100 meters would have won gold medal in the final if he had not suffered an injury.

Long Live Ghana. Freedom Forever

The Writer is a Business Systems Consultant ? Specialising in Business Intelligence and Finance.
Akwasi Ababio MBCS

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