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13.12.2004 Feature Article

ELECTION 2004: Post Mortem Analysis Of Some Voting Patterns

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For all those rushing to blame the Fantes for not voting heavily for Atta Mills, I guess you have misread the Fantes grossly.

Let's look at it critically; the relationship of the NDC to Fantes. It goes without saying that Rawlings thought he could use Fantes to launch a frontal assault on the NPP, which let's be frank, is heavily favored by the other Akans besides Fantes. Pure numbers tell me that for the foreseeable future, the people call Akans, would have a permanent seat on the presidential ticket of any serious political party in Ghana.

I am not tribalistic; neither do I belittle the intelligence, capabilities, and potential of any individual belonging to any other tribal grouping. But the Akans, to the extent that they are the predominant tribal group in Ghana, about 60 % in terms of population, and have the strongest economic weight, would always have a place on a presidential ticket. For instance I can hardly see, say an Ewe-Ga or Ewe-Frafra ticket, making any serious waves to capture the presidency. Not that we can't have two capable individuals from the other non Akan tribes to do the job, far from that, but that our democratic culture and institutions, norms, practices and beliefs have not sunk enough deep roots for that to happen yet, thanks in part to the numerous coups that have destabilized the country for over 30 years. 70% of our population lives in the rural areas, largely uneducated to make critical evaluation of the issues that inform one to make judicial and strategic decision in terms of voting behavior. They vote largely along tribal lines. But let us not be discouraged, this phenomenon would be done away with as democracy digs deep roots in our country.

So what did Rawlings do? From day one he has always employed or contract out a Fante as a running mate, starting with Ackaa and later Attah Mills. But seriously how did he treat them? Ekow Nkensen Ackaa was slapped, publicly humiliated and manhandled by Rawlings (that translated into an Ewe beating a Fante in the eyes of the people). That did not stop there; he repeated the dose with his manhandling of Kwesi Botchwey in and out of his government. That was enough. Rawlings didn't need to say it, but his actions spoke volumes and showed he was just using Fantes to play as spoilers in the number games in Ghana politics. Fantes are not fools, they have seen how Rawlings had even tried to push his will on Kuffour, to no avail, and they wonder what, he and his seemingly Ewe heavy party, would do if Mills were elected. Mills did not help himself. He never ever did anything seriously to shed his poodle image to Rawlings.

Compare that Rawlings behavior to how Kuffour had treated Fantes and Ghanaians in general, his appointment of Fantes and others who did not even belong to his party to cabinet positions. Symbolisms matter and the Fantes are no fools at all. They can trust Kuffour more than Mills and Rawlings, hence the way they voted. The slogan “vote for Mills and you get Rawlings for free” resonated very well with them and they have decided to go pitch their tent and political fortunes with the larger Akan groups. They have refused to be used as spoilers by Rawlings and his heavy Ewe backers.

Rawlings NDC has come about by he Rawlings dismantling and poaching the traditional base of the CPP, which was the main flagship favored by Fantes. Kuffour has met their needs and he has single handedly erased the years of mistrust and suspicion which had its origins deep rooted in antiquity. He has yet to make deep inroads into Eweland which still seems to sulk and hang over the Victor Owusu's spat of calling them “inward looking”. Victor was an Ashanti and that kind of makes all Ashantis guilty of insensitivity and arrogance. The Akans north and south of the Prah River have joined forces and they can play the numbers games as well, if that is what the Ewes want to do. They Ewes have never voted for a party led by an Akan other than a Fante and so shall it be. They are entitled to their votes but they should not cry foul if they don't find their folks largely represented in cabinet positions. No one can deny them their fair shake of the national cake and debt, but you see, you have got to get friends in high places or around the cabinet table to affect and influence the decision making process. You can't eat your cake and have it.

Kuffour and the NPP didn't do very much in the three northern regions and that can hugely be attributed to the government's handling of the Ya Na's death. Kuffour must pursue aggressively the investigation to bring the perpetrators of that dastard act to justice in order for him and his NPP to have any redemption and standing in the opinion of the people of the three northern regions.

At any rate Ghana is the winner. We are not enemies to ourselves. We are all brothers no matter which party one comes from. The election is over; losers should accept the people's decision graciously. The winners should proceed quickly, not gloating, to bring all the people into the one fold, the one canopy called Ghana. Tomorrow the peoples business resumes in earnest; to develop and grow the economy.

All the name callings, insults etc. ended on Dec. 7, 2004. Our mothers and fathers; the people whose sweat and labor pay for our education and place food on the market and raw materials and cash crops for export and feed our factories, expect us to show maturity, magnanimity and wisdom to close our ranks to do what is right for Ghana. Anything less would be uncivilized.

We are not enemies to ourselves but people bounded by history and so many intricate intertribal connections it would be foolish this day and age to see any section of the population as enemies.

The way I see it the government has work to do. So also is the loyal opposition; loyal to the people of Ghana and the constitution. Together we would build a better and stronger Ghana for all of us. The opposition role is even more important. That they become watchdogs for the people, making sure the government doesn't get away with misdeeds and govern according to the constitution. In effect the opposition is the people's auditors.

I will like to add below here, a discussion from SIL contributor, Don Yobo, on the issue of tribal voting in Ghana.

Don wrote, and I quote him, “....If voting in Ghana is becoming a tribal affair, then the blame should be put squarely at the door of the NDC.

My reasons are:

1. The PNDC which gave birth to the NDC that targeted Akans and destroyed their businesses intending to grow a new class of people from mainly the Volta Region and a few minority tribes.

2. In the year 2000 before the elections, NDC vans went round towns especially in Greater Accra to announce that the NPP is an Ashanti party and they should never be voted for. Because the Ashantis are thieves and would drive away people of northern extraction from Ghana on gaining power. Everyone one living in Accra in particular then heard these kinds of announcements.

3. They tried the tribal sentiments again in this year's election. Branding NPP as an Ashanti party promoting their King over and above all others.

4. In 2000 they incited the Ga's that they should not allow NPP to field non-Ashanti candidates in Greater Accra Region. This NPP never yielded to yet managed to snatch majority of Greater Accra seats with non-Gas.

5. Faustina Nelson and Konadu in 2000 told the whole Ghana that Kufuor said Fantis were concert people but never retracted it even when it was obvious that nothing like that was said.

6. In 2000 NDC sent Volta Regional Chiefs to Cape Coast to convince Central Regional Chiefs to vote for their own which was Mills, as if these chiefs in Central Region had no sense of their own?

7. Even Kente which is associated basically with the Ashantis was said to have originated from Volta Region by Konadu Rawlings.

8. A host of other reasons.

Now they have forgotten that not all people with Akan names are Ashantis and therefore by harping on that NPP is an Ashanti party, it was going to incense the Akyems, Kwahus, Fantis, Wassas etc to vote for the NPP. Because the NDC's campaign was geared towards promoting a certain tribe against the Akans in general. They are even lucky that the Ashantis in particular are not tribalistic to vote in such huge numbers for them. If I were an Ashanti and an NDC supporter, I would naturally feel ashamed to follow such a party. Is it not obvious that NPP voters in Volta Region might be migrants from other regions who are settled there, judging by the number of votes NPP obtained in the area? The NDC needs to rethink its behavior towards Akans generally.” End of quote.

You might not agree wholly with Don Yobo or I, but that should give you cause to consider and think of what we are doing to our country. Our country is doomed if we don't get pass the tribal sunglasses when it comes to elections.

Eric Kwasi Bottah (alias Oyokoba) Philadelphia, PA USA Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Ato Aidoo
Ato Aidoo, © 2004

The author has 31 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: AtoAidoo

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