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12.12.2012 Feature Article

Nana Akufo Addo – the final hurray?

Nana Akufo Addo – the final hurray?
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Just like he did in the 2088 polls, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo came very close to winning the 20212 presidential elections.

Alas, once again, one of the best educated one of the most capable and the best prepared presidential candidate failed to win the trophy.

This time the man that lost to the late president Mills by a paper-thin margin of 0.46% lost by about three percent.

This must be a particularly grueling time for Nana Akufo-Addo.

He had spent the last three years campaigning for the presidency. He did everything humanly possible to recast himself as a man of the people. He had the best vice-presidential candidate in the mold; he ate Kenkey at roadside kiosk; traversed the length and breadth of the country; danced himself silly at innumerable rallies and he proposed the most radical campaign message: Free SHS Education, now!

And yet, he lost!
This must be particularly painful and he must be left wondering what went wrong.

I think what Nana and the NPP gurus failed to note is that in politics, as in life, perception is everything.

Once people tarred you with a tag, however unjustified, you're done for.

As they head to the Supreme Court and their vociferous supporters wreaked havoc, once again, in the nation's capital, the NPP should try and do some sober refection and do some internal auditing on why they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and lost an election they could easily have won.

Whilst the rest of the world congratulate the nation on chalking another impressive election outing, Nana Akufo Addo and his chieftains of the NPP sulked and appeared to the world like sore losers.

Very few elections in the world have ever been devoid of malpractice. What happens is that politicians take it in stride. They know that it is a game and games must have winners and losers. So, they lick their wounds, accept defeat with dignity. From the ashes of defeat they pick themselves and plan for the next election – just four short years away.

Does this mean that thieving and election-rigging should be condone?

Far from it.
But it looks like the NPP believe that each and every time it loses election, cheating has to be blamed.

This type of mindless arrogance is what continue to haunt the party, and it will continue to be their nemesis so long as party leaders refuse to accept that their actions and inactions should partly be blamed for their rejection by the Ghanaian electorate.

Since they lost in 1992 and cried “Stolen Verdict,” the NPP set the pattern and appeared to have the mindset that only rigging could deprive them of victory.

This conceited mindset makes the NPP appear condescending to the electorate and is paints the picture of a people that believe that: “We are Born to Rule.”

No one, not even the most illiterate of Ghanaian voters, wants to be taken for granted.

Dr. Arthur Kennedy, one of the brightest minds in the NPP firmament, wrote an excellent book on why the party lost the 2008 elections.

But it appears that party leaders did not bother to read the book and drew some useful lessons from their failure in 2008.

Although many people confuse the N in the NPP for National (actually it is New); the party has not being successful to shed the tag of being the vanguard of an Ashanti\Akyem hegemony.

The party lacks the national spread of the National Democratic Party (NDC).

Apparently believing in the superior numbers of voters in its Ashanti 'World Bank,' the party has consistently failed to assiduously court the electorate outside of its stronghold.

The behavior and utterances of some leading party members also did not make the party attractive to non-Ashanti\Akyem.

Like it did in 208, the NPP claimed that the 2012 elections were also stolen and Nana Akufo Addo vowed not to accept the result.

What is worrisome is that NPP supporters have this penchant to troop to the streets and cause mayhem at the slightest provocation.

How could a party that claims it is all for law and order appear to have\harbour so many lawless members?

How does the bashing of the heads of journalists help the cause of the NPP?

NPP officials claim to have the evidence to support their claim of rigging, but when he addressed members of the party in Accra, the vice-presidential candidate, Dr. Mohamadu Bawumia said that by the estimation of the party, the NDC stole by over 100,000 from about 28 constituencies and called for proper investigations to ascertain the truth of the matter.

According to the figures the Electoral Commission released, the incumbent president won by a margin of some 300,000 votes.

Methinks that the NPP should advise itself, withdraw its challenge, call to congratulate the winner and allow the country to move forward.

Apart from the stupendous amount expended on the exercise, the international image of Ghana is at stake.

Pictures of rioting NPP supporters rioting and stabbing people on the streets of Accra is most unedifying and it cast the NPP in very bad light.

Our country is touted as the beacon of Africa. It is an image that does not come easy.

There is little doubt that Nana Akufo was the most prepared person for the presidency. There is also little doubt the man he chose as his vice was the most qualified.

This might explain why the loss is so difficult to accept. Age is also not on Nana's side. This might well be his last campaign. The NPP will be ubber stupid to put forward a 72-year old man as a presidential candidate in 2016.

So what the party needs to do now is to gracefully lay its Old Guard to pasture and promote a new crop of leaders.

The main task of the new team should be a massive revamping of the party. On top of this should be the promotion of non Ashanti\Akyem to prominent positions in the party. The next presidential candidate should come from another region, for a change.

A Mohamadu Bawumia partnered with Alan Kyeremanteng will present a better face for the NPP than the recycled, tired old faces.

There should also be more conscious efforts for internal discipline in the party. A serious political party should never allow loose-cannon in its midst. No political party that hopes to win a national election in Ghana could afford to harbor characters like Kenneth Agyapong.

It is difficult to estimate to what extent the pronouncement of people like Agyapong contributed to the electoral woes of the NPP, but I wish Nana has listened when advised to distance himself from people like Mr. Agyapong.

In an article I wrote for the AfricaWatch magazine, I very presciently predicted that Nana Akufo Addo will come to rue the actions of some of his party men.

This is what I wrote concerning the failure of Nana Akufo Addo to condemn Kenneth Agyapong incendiary statement:

“On hearing about his arrest and detention, NPP supporters took cue for what is fast becoming the culture in Ghana whenever people of substance are arrested. Huge crowds of party supporters wearing red head and arm-bands besieged the police CID headquarters in Accra and became rowdy.

Whilst party gurus parlayed with police, the raucous supporters took to the streets and vent their anger by wantonly destroying properties.

The spectacle of NPP supporters running riot and destroying properties was most unedifying and it surely was a PR disaster for the party.

What message exactly was the NPP, a party that claims to stand for law and order, trying to send out?

Are they telling Ghanaians that it was OK for a member of their party to incite ethnic violence or that it was OK for party supporters to besieged police stations and intimidate officers performing their lawful duties?

Why did the party that tried to tag the rival NDC as a party of revolutionary hotheads failed to condemn acts of incitement and anarchy by its own members? Has everything being reduced to mere political calculations?

It is difficult to imagine what exactly was going on in the minds of those mindless NPP supporters as they went about their orgies of destructions. Did they truly expect to win hearts and souls by such acts of wanton violence? Did they and their cheering chieftains stop to think what would have happened had the NDC mobilized its own supporters to confront them? What sort of anarchy were they courting with their senseless destructions? Or do they believe that they alone possess the capacity to cause mayhem?

Many people were simply appalled by the type of senseless but muscular violence NPP supporters displayed during their solidarity rallies with their 'hero.'

And that the man who declared war on his country is hailed as a hero is simply beyond comprehension.

Whichever spin we try to put on it, it is difficult to make sense of Mr. Adjapong's threat. It is simply too stupid beyond any measure.

And when he came out to address the NPP rabble-rousers, the chairman unfathomably failed to condemn the reckless behaviour of his faithful; rather he dwelt on thanking them for their support.

It also did not bode well when the Secretary-General of the NPP, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, also known as Sir John, came out to say that the party stands solidly behind their errant MP.

Sir John facetiously told the nation that Ken Agyapong's ordeal has brought a new enthusiasm and courage to the party.

When the errant MP was finally released on bail, he was carried shoulder high and paraded like a conquering warrior. He later went to his party's headquarters to thank the supporters and party chiefs for the support they extended to him.

These are spectacles that will surely come to haunt the NPP.

NDC strategists must be toasting themselves and thanking their stars for this PR windfall they have been given by their NPP opponents, who appear hell-bent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Were I an NDC strategist, what I will advise is that the only thing party aspirants need do in both the Volta and Greater Accra Regions is to get the biggest ghetto-blasters and the loudest loudspeakers to play Kenneth Ohene Adjapong's incendiary threats and ask: “Would you vote for a party that will annihilate you?”

And most unfortunately, the NPP flag bearer, Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo, failed to rise to the occasion.

A strongly-worded statement disassociating himself and his party from the outrageous statement by the loud-mouthed MP would have been a big plus for him and would have earned him enormous kudos.

Such a powerful statement would also have gone some ways to disabuse the minds of people who harbour the belief that the NPP is essentially an Akan party.

Many believe that this year's elections could well be the last opportunity for the 69-years old Nana Akufo-Addo to contest or win the presidency, so it beggars belief that he became so loud by his silence, when a top member of his party declared war on two important tribes of the country.

He was reported to be meeting US State Department officials, but that is hardly an excuse as both Paa Kwesi Nduom and ex President Kufuor issued their statements from the US.

Kenneth Adgyapong threat could be the ill wind that blew away his party chances at this year's elections.

Given the perceived weakness of the incumbent president, the economic hardship in the country, the sinking national currency which is fast turning into monopoly money, strings of scandals including the Woyome case that has engulfed the ruling party, plus the apparently irreconcilable split within the ruling NDC party, the chances of the NPP appeared bright indeed.

That was until their delinquent Assin North MP put his foot firmly in his mouth and decided to antagonize the people of a region that could have won the elections for them.

Nana Akufo-Addo could have come out smelling like roses had he come out with very strongly-worded statement clearly dissociating himself and the party from the mindless jingoistic threat of their MP.

At the very least, he should have recommended the suspension of the errant MP from the party and haul him before party disciplinary committee.

He might not have meant it that way, but Nana Akufo-Addo came across like someone that will put party's interests and the winning of votes\elections ahead of national interests.

And this is sad, indeed!
The NDC sacked their founder's aide for lesser offense. They also did not waste time to haul their financier, Woyome, to court following a scandal. One is left to wonder what exactly Nana Akufo-Addo is waiting for before he cracks the whip in his party.

He was offered the chance on a platter of pure gold to appear presidential and statesmanlike, for reasons best known to him, he blew it.

Is he telling Ghanaians that meeting a mere Assistant Minister in US State's Department is more important than dousing the threat of tribal war in Ghana, or that not offending a party money-bag is more important than national security and cohesion?”

As Nana Akufo Addo enters the twilight of his political career, he can look back with huge satisfaction. Very few people have been so blessed and fewer have achieved as much as he has done. There is absolutely no doubt that he would have made a fabulous presidents; his ideas are simply fantastic and bold. He appears to have the vision to move the country to the next pedestal.

But Ghanaians have spoken and who are we to say something else?

We say our Big Hurray to the man destiny did not favour to rule his beloved motherland.

Femi Akomolafe
Femi Akomolafe, © 2012

The author has 236 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: FemiAkomolafe

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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