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Opinions of Saturday, 18 April 2015

Columnist: Ata, Kofi

Was it “All Die Be Die” or ....

.....Afari-Gyan that Caused Akufo-Addo’s 2012 Defeat?

By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK April 17, 2015

Until April 16, 2012, Ghanaians and the world were made to believe that Nana Akufo-Addo, the 2012 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) lost the 2012 Presidential Election because Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the Electoral Commissioner and Returning Officer for the presidential election rigged the election in favour of President John Dramani Mahama and his National Democratic Party (NDC). Consequently, Nana Akufo-Addo and NPP challenged the declared results at the Supreme Court and for eight good months Ghana was under a cloud of uncertainty over who would eventually become president, only for Nana Akufo-Addo to admit that his infamous “All die be die” mantra contributed to his defeat, (see, “Akufo-Addo: All-die-be-die' comment contributed to 2012 loss”, Adomfmonline/Ghanaweb, April 16, 2015). This article is an analysis of how that utterance and others caused Akufo-Addo and NPP, the presidency in 2012.

There is no doubt that the all die be die declaration contributed to the defeat of not only Nana Akufo-Addo but NPP as a whole in the 2012 General Elections (Presidential and Parliamentary). However, both Nana Akufo-Addo and NPP would be making a big mistake to think that the statement itself was the only contributing factor because the factors were multifaceted.

To err is human and there was absolutely nothing wrong with Nana Akufo-Addo making a mistake by uttering those four words. What was wrong is when the mistake was not admitted. Irreparable damage was caused by the fact that he and his party refused at the time to admit that he was wrong. Indeed, most leading party figures defended not only the choice of words but also defended him. Some even said all die be die would be a 2012 campaign slogan. Others, including Ursula Owusu, now MP printed and won T-shirts with the all die be die slogan on them. It was therefore Nana Akufo-Addo’s inability, unwillingness or refusal to admit his shortcoming at the time and his party’s response that actually cost him votes. Had he admitted his mistake and withdrew the words, many would have forgiven him. Indeed, he would have been seen to be a humble person.

It was not only all die be die but Nana Akufo-Addo and his party’s failure to condemn Kennedy Agyapong’s incitement to racial hatred also lost him and the party votes. Nana Akufo-Addo’s silence and failure to say a word, issue a statement to condemn or distance himself from the incitement (on the excuse that the party had issued a statement so he had nothing to add) gave the wrong impression that at least, he sympathised with Kennedy Agyapong, even if not what he said. Moreover, the party’s hero status given to Kennedy Agyapong on his release from detention (though the government was wrong to arrest and detain him) also did not augur well for both candidate and party.

Last but certainly not the least, Nana Akufo-Addo and NPP’s inability to condemn party members, especially, leading members including MPs but defend them whenever they go astray could lose them votes in 2016. A typical example is the recent statement by Yaw Osafo-Marfo, a leading member of NPP regarding where those managing Ghana’s resources should come from. That statement was and still is in bad taste and I find it difficult to read that Nana Akufo-Addo claims it was not racist (see, “I don't think Osafo Maafo's comment was tribalistic – Akufo-Addo”, Starrfmonline/Ghanaweb, April 16, 2015). Even if it was not racist, is that what someone who was once a minister and a potential minister expected to say? Why couldn’t Akufo-Addo simply say, I do not share his views even if he would not condemn Yaw Osafo-Marfo? It is racist because it was targeted at the ministers and public office holders from the three northern regions of Ghana. Such statements or views can cause disunity in Ghana.

In fact, this lack of willingness, inability or refusal to condemn wrong doing by politicians is not restricted to Nana Akufo-Addo and NPP but even President Mahama and NDC are also culprits. For example, whilst President Mahama acted swiftly to dismiss Victoria Hammah, he has failed, unwilling or refused to dismiss the Deputy Trade Minister, Murtala Mohammed for his despicable radio outburst. Why is he still a deputy minister when he made very serious corruption allegations against cabinet ministers and traditional leaders? Is it because he comes from the same region as the President or is the president scared of what Murtala could expose if he is dismissed?

In conclusion and for the information of Nana Akufo-Addo, it is not only because of what you said (“all did be die”) but most important what you did not say or do thereafter which caused the most political damage to your presidential ambition. These were, your failure, inability, unwillingness or refusal to admit that you were wrong as well as how your party members and supporters defended the indefensible. Finally, your failure, inability, unwillingness or refusal to condemn, or distance yourself from wrong doing by leading members of your party also contributed to your defeat in the 2012 presidential election.

Sadly, by not seeing anything wrong with what Yaw Osafo-Marfo said, you have not learnt any lessons from all die be die and it could detrimentally affect you in 2016 because your opponents will use it against you in the relevant regions. One cannot continue to do the same things over and over again and expect a different outcome.

A humble person is the one who is able to admit his or her mistakes when they occur and that is what makes us human. It is also the humble and good leader who calls his/her people to order and even apologises on their behalf. On the other hand, it is the arrogant who believes that s/he is always right and only admit his or her fault when it is too late , too little and unable to see anything wrong with the lapses of those closer to him or her but first to point out that of those afar. That is exactly what you have are practising (condemning xenophobic attacks in South Africa but keep silence over incitement to racial hatred by Kennedy Agaypong and support racism by Yaw Osafo-Marfo in Ghana). It is also the arrogant who blames others for his/her own faults as you blamed Afari-Gyan for your defeat.

Your admission of all die be die contributing to your defeat in 2012 is an acceptance that Dr Afari-Gyan might not have rigged the presidential election. It is also an admission that even if there were mistakes as evident during the petition hearing, they might not have affected the final outcome. It was an admission that you and your party held the nation to ransom for eight months when indeed, you and your party might have caused your own downfall.

The question is when did it occur to you that all die be die contributed to your defeat in 2012? What in percentage terms did all die be die contribute and whole role if any did Dr Afari-Gyan contribute to your defeat in 2012? Was the Supreme Court petition a ploy? Should you not apologise to the nation for all die be die? Should you and your party not apologise to Afari-Gyan for wrongly accusing him of causing your defeat if you are unable to apportion his contribution to your defeat?

Nana Akufo-Addo, until you learn to admit your mistakes earlier than when it is too late, too little, some people will perceive you to be arrogant. Until you are humble and bold enough to admit your faults when they occur as well as condemn, distance yourself from or disagree with language or actions in bad taste by those around and behind you, especially leading members of the party you lead, irreparable damage could be caused to you and your party in 2016. Your admission of wrong doing on your part is a good start but as long as you continue to share the views expressed by Yaw Osafo Marfo and keep quiet over Kennedy Ayapong’s incitement to racial hatred, your chances of becoming president in 2016 could be insurmountable unless the Mahama government fails to resolve dumsor. Good luck.

Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK