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Opinions of Saturday, 9 April 2016

Columnist: Appiah, Papa

Why NPP will lose 2016 - The Glove does not fit

I have been voting for the winning president since democracy began in Ghana but I am afraid in 2016, I'll be voting for the NPP, but the NPP will lose. They will lose, in spite of the harsh economic climate Ghanaians have had to endure as a result of the mismanagement and corruption within the NDC. They will lose in spite of the nearly three years of dumsor Ghanaians endured. And in spite of Woyome, GEEDA, SADA, Bus rebranding and the favourite of NPP, national debt.

The NPP just do not get it! It may sound impressive to the party elite in Accra to give intellectual speeches about national debt. But believe me, the pregnant woman in Dodowa who has just seen a new ultra- modern hospital spring up in her community really does not care whether the money was borrowed or whether indeed, the minister took a 10 % cut, as bad as that may be. Tell me the farmer in a village in the western region who has seen a tarred road in his village for the first time in his life cares where the money is coming from. Tell me the school teacher in the Volta Region who can now afford to take her child to the Medical School in her community really cares whether the money for establishing the university was borrowed.

And so, the NPP have just been completely outwitted by President Mahama, who, even those of us who do not trust him, cannot fail to appreciate his skill as a politician. Nowhere was this more in evidence, than in his State of the Nation Address, where much to my annoyance and I believe that of many Ghanaians, he decided to parade ordinary Ghanaians who had benefitted from some of his policies in the public gallery, waving white handkerchiefs. It seemed to me at the time, that this was as low as any president could go. But it worked. And it worked only because the NPP parliamentarians, in their naievity, started booing these people.

These were ordinary Ghanaians, from waakye sellers to poor students whose families, whose villages and indeed whose whole districts must have been glued to TVs up and down the country, proud that one of them was in parliament at the invitation of the president. It would have been a proud day for all of them, only to have their day marred by these parliamentarians booing from their ivory tower. You can boo the president, you can boo General Mosquito, you can boo Anyidoho and co, but what you cannot do, is boo the ordinary Ghanaian whose vote you need to come to power.

Giving big speeches has its place, but connecting with the masses is what wins elections. And if anyone can connect with the masses, President Mahama can. President Mahama is not Akan, but he communicates better in twi than his opponents. He comes across as a tolerant gentleman who accepts criticisms. He knows what to say at the right time, as was evidenced in his recent remarks after hugging one of his biggest critics, Prof Martey, at a public event. In an interview after that, he alleged, that he never takes criticisms personally, because he is aware that others may be right and he could be wrong. That connects with the Ghanaian. Ghanians respect humility. So why am I not voting for him? I cannot forgive their misdemeanors in government and I think Ghana needs a change. But believe me, many others will vote for him.

Akuffo Addo may be incorruptible and clever and may have all the answers to Ghana's economicmproblems, but to be able to do that, he needs to do the politics, as sad as that may sound. Nobody is going to gift him the presidency. and so a man who is hardly ever heard in Ghana and only in some refined queens language or broken twi, and who leads a party that, perhaps through no fault of his, appears not to be able to tolerate dissenting views, is in trouble. And he is in trouble, also because despite evidence to the contrary, his party people still believe that they actually won the 2012 elections and all they need to do this time, is to pressurize the Electoral Commission to do things their way and the elections would be theirs. How naive!

I recently watched a drama on the OJ Simpson murder case where the prosecution had surprisingly asked OJ Simpson to try on the gloves found at the murder scene. The gloves did not fit. While being lambasted by her boss for the mistake, Marcia Clarke, the prosecution lawyer tried to reassure the boss that the DNA evidence would be enough to convict OJ. The boss was fuming!

" Who cares about DNA?" he said "Who understands DNA? Everybody can see if a bloody murder glove does not fit!!

So, in the same vein, who cares about clever intellectual speeches about national debt? How many Ghanaians, myself included, understand economic theories? How many Ghanaians really care about an Electoral Commisiion that has held 6 successful presidential elections. Who cares about STL? But everybody can see a leader who does not connect with the masses and a party in turmoil.

So......good luck NPP!

Papa Appiah