With elections 2004 over, Ghanaians can now look forward to four more years of peace, political stability and economic progress.
The ruling party won over 50% of the votes but the closeness of the election results shows the democratic maturity of the Ghanaian electorate. Had it been an easy win for the ruling party, one could have accused it of fraud, election rigging or manipulation. This result shows that what was required of a political party to win the elections went beyond just having a meagre media campaign and organising rallies to present its messages vocally to the public. As in western democracies, telling the public what your achievements have been and what polices you will pursue once elected demands utilising more sophisticated means for your campaign, such as using the media effectively.
In western democracies, the media plays a leading and important role during election campaigns. The political parties, to deliver their electoral messages across to the public use slick, eloquent and creative TV, radio and newspaper advertisements. Billboards fill the streets. As the electorate do not want to be bogged down by too much detail on policies, eye-popping adverts that are short but catchy and can be remembered are the norm. Newspapers are always obliged to support a party. That is expected. The media plays a vital role in winning elections.
Ghanaians are catching on to this concept of how to use the media to win elections. NPP's media campaign strategy was brilliant. By using the media effectively in the form of campaign adverts, the NPP was able to successfully convey to the public what it stood for, its economic successes so far and it future policies for providing economic development and prosperity to the nation. Hence its slogan: So far so good.
The most successful and best advertising companies are always used in the west during election campaigns. NPP decided to stay with their year 2000 winning publicists at Media Touch, which delivered a brilliant PR and Ad campaign. A decision that clearly paid off.
Many astute political observers are convinced that the polished and professional advertising campaign of NPP can be successfully attributed to its PR and Campaign Strategist Ms Oboshie Sai-Cofie of Media Touch and also, to two-time winning Campaign Manager and Media Guru Jake Obetsebi Lamptey. Their multi-layered election campaign was ingenuous and fulfilled its intentions. From adverts of the positive achievements of the nations' development, personality profiles of the President to adverts stating what the government plans for the country would be if re-elected. However, the most memorable and hard-hitting adverts were the 'SANKOFA WHAT? Never Again', which gave Ghanaians a stark reminder of what life would be if NDC were voted back into power i.e. the return of JJ Rawlings and an era in politics Ghanaians would rather forget.
This use of creative, well designed and dynamic adverts proved that as with the west, winning elections is all about how best you deliver your message to the electorate the voting public. A successful media campaign wins elections, a lesson the main opposition and other parties are learning now.
In contrast, the hallmark of NDC's campaign delivered little on policies during their election campaign, which is what Ghanaians wanted to hear: how NDC could improve their lives. It was rather more on unconstructive diatribes. One needed not be surprised that NDC lost, by repeating the same mistakes they made in 2000 and underestimating the political maturity of Ghanaians. Hence four more years in the wilderness with a lame-duck leader. One election lost is not too bad, but two in a row raises serious questions about whether the party can survive.
Although we need a strong opposition party, we want one that realises that the old days and ways of campaigning and providing checks and balances to the ruling party are over. Ghana has now reached a different level in its political development not seen anywhere in Africa. The nation has become the model for the rest of Africa to follow. Thus, the opposition must raise its standards and become more professional in every manner.
Ghana can truly say that it has arrived democratically on the western stage in the way the election was conducted. Democratic maturity results in economic progress and prosperity. Political maturity tells international investors that Ghana is an emerging market worth considering and investing in. International investment filters through the economy by creating more jobs and raising the standard of living for the average Ghanaian.
JA Kuffour and NPP deserve to be congratulated on their election victory. A job well done. We look forward to four more years of their government. So far so good. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.