How To Lose An Election The 2016 Elections: A Desktop Review Of The Performance Of The Ndc
In writing this review, declare that the entirety of any interpretation and opinion contained in this review is my own, original opinion; that I had not, prior to its authorship, been encouraged or instigated by any person or organization to write it. For the avoidance of doubt, I declare that I have not been hired by any person or organization to undertake this review. Where I have made reference to or quoted from the work of others, I have endeavoured to acknowledge the source except where, for the sake of confidentiality, I have refrained from specifying the source.
It sounds trite, although true, that in electoral politics, there will always be a victor and a loser.
To the victor, the initial euphoria of winning the elections makes them forget to retrace their steps to find out the real reasons for the victory. This may lead to a dangerous condition of complacency whereby it may be thought that their superior message was the main reason for the victory.
To the loser, the initial shock of having lost completely dis-orientates them. In Africa and other emerging electoral democracies, such a shock may take them through a mourning process which may include, blaming the victor for rigging the elections. As the days wear on, they may begin to look into themselves to find the reasons. Instead maintaining a cool head to undertake a 360 degree self-appraisal, the anger stage may tempt some of them to blame external factors or bogeymen who might have interfered in the electoral process to cause their defeat. They may also direct the knife unto one another, blaming other people within their political grouping for not working hard enough or jumping into bed with the opponents against their own political grouping.
While such things happen, the losers may be less likely to undertake empirical research to understand clearly the real or possible reasons for the behavior of the electorate in not voting for them.
For this reason, I thought of undertaking a desktop review of the 2016 election results in order to establish the extent to which there is a relationship between the electoral figures and the anecdotal claims by NDC functionaries and leaders.
INTRODUCTION AND STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Since the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Ghana, while the victor (the New Patriotic Party) has been busy patting one another’s shoulder for a good-job done, the main loser, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has been going through a dozy mourning process.
Initially, they could not even believe that they had lost the elections. I understand that about twenty minutes before President John Dramani Mahama conceded defeat, some NDC leaders, including people who claim to be non-NDC but in reality are more NDC power-brokers than most of its leaders, were assuring people that the NDC was winning. “Wait for the Electoral Commission’s results: we are winning”, one of them is reported to have assured a concerned observer of the events.
When President Mahama finally conceded defeat, and the Electoral Commission also came out to confirm the results, they then began looking for reasons. Initially, the spotlight turned unto one Joe Anokye, a Ghanaian who had reportedly worked within the US Space Agency (NASA) in a telecommunication role and who the NPP had reportedly engaged to help them to electronically collate their results. The conspiracy theory was that Mr. Anokye had hacked into the system of the Electoral Commission and had changed the results coming from the polling stations and constituencies. This was the initial belief of several NDC members some of who initially even asked for the Mr. Anokye to be arrested.
As the days wore on, various NDC members began to throw accusations, blaming one another, for being the reasons behind their defeat. Most of the accusations were based on anecdotes, without any empirical basis. In the light of this, the National Executive Committee set up a Committee to find out the reasons for the defeat.
The membership of the Committee is interesting. It includes at least one person who, himself, is supposed to have a keen eye to be the next flag bearer of the NDC. In addition, at least two other persons on the Committee are in the private camp of the aspiring flag bearer. Whether the report will be objective and not skewed in its findings (including the temptation to cast slurs on other potential contestants), will be known when the Committee publishes its “findings”.
It appears that the main methodology of this Committee has been to go round the country to solicit the views of local party executives and activists as to what caused the defeat.
From the various press reports, it looks likely that rather than researching for empirical evidence, the Committee may be tempted to rely on the subjective claims of NDC functionaries, who thought they were left out of the gravy train of election funds.
Press reports are replete with claims and counter claims by various NDC people regarding the “reasons” why the party lost the elections.
Initially, some NDC people pointed accusing fingers at Ex-President Rawlings for the defeat referring to his alleged anti-NDC innuendoes and “smear remarks” about the loss of direction of the NDC leadership while extolling the virtues of the NPP leader. Not long after that, the recrimination moved unto some members of the NDC National Executive. They were accused of keeping campaign monies, instead of distributing them among party branches and “foot-soldiers”. The accused party executives then hit back, claiming to have been sidelined by “Flagstaff House” (an apparent jab at President Mahama and “the people around him”)...
Some of the claims against “Flagstaff House” were interesting. There were claims that “Flagstaff House” funded their separate campaign outside the party instead of funding the party structure. Such critics point to the sudden appearance of hitherto unknown groups, which I will refer to “Mahama groups”, celebrities and other actors and actresses from the Kumasi film industry. It was asserted that funds that could have been used for effective collective campaigning were spent on such groups and individuals, including others such as Madam Akua Donkoh and Osofia (a Nigerian actor who was imported to feature in NDC adverts). In addition to these groups were the pro Spio Garbra camp, who may have been funded from different sources.
However plausible some of these assertions may have been, they bring to the fore serious issues regarding party funding. Where did the party hierarchy expect “Flagstaff House” to get party funds from? One would have thought that it was rather the party structures that were expected to raise funding. It will be very strange, indeed, if the Party structure can say they did not raise any funding at all and only expected the President to raise funds. If they did, what did they do with the money? (This would be the subject of a later discussion).
Soon after, the floodgates were thrown wide open. Everybody who thought they mattered and should have been given a substantive role started throwing accusations. There were also others who, in their guilt, felt that the best strategy to extricate themselves from potential blame was to throw some accusation first.
Among the serious pitfalls of the NDC government admitted by a former NDC government official was the “Bus branding saga” (when the NDC government handed out a contract of GH¢3.6 million to the wife of an NDC functionary to label public transport buses in 2015). According to that government official the bus branding issue was an “avoidable” mistake .
A former Ambassador under the NDC government was also reported to have blamed the defeat on the “unattractive image” of the NDC government. [ii]
A group calling itself Action Movement of the National Democratic Congress also blamed President Mahama’s siblings and his wife for causing the defeat of the NDC. [iii] Among their reasons were:
- That President Mahama had described himself as a ‘a dead goat’ who was impervious to criticism and insults;
- That the President’s wife printed 20 million T-shirts in China when she could have given the job to local printers to provide opportunities for Ghanaians;
- That the President’s brothers were allocated major contracts in the country including contracts “from Airport, Roads, Cocobod, GNPC, ECG , VRA, Ministry of Power and all major contracts in the country.”
- That “If you don’t see JM brothers, you cannot get a contract and if you see them, then you have to pay money before you get the contract, frustrating foreign contractors and companies by taking Ghanaian contractors for granted and creating enemies for the NDC party,”
- That the appointment of the Campaign Coordinator by the President was a misjudgment since the latter was ineffective;
There were other grievances given as reasons for the defeat, some of which were:
- The President did not heed to wise counsel from senior party members but relied on “young, inexperienced handlers”, who “suppressed dissenting views in the run-up to the elections”[iv].
- Dr. Kwabena Adjei, a former National Chairman of the party, was so peeved that he blamed the NDC loss on the party’s refusal to re-elect him at the last NDC Congress. “Nobody involved me in the campaign; I involved myself…no I wasn’t invited…I tried to get access to the President and I didn’t get access. When I noticed things were going wrong, I tried and tried and tried but I didn’t get access so I mobilized myself…and did what I could do,”.(ibid)
- Party leaders such as Koku Anyidoho, Deputy General Secretary; Anita Desooso, Vice Chairperson; Joseph Bipoba Naabu, NDC MP for Yunyoo; Yaw Boateng Gyan, former National Organizer, all queued up in a chorus that the NDC lost because, the President “sidelined most of the executives and dealt only with the young guys” (ibid)
- Baba Jamal, a defeated NDC MP also stated that the NDC’s process for the selection of parliamentary candidates, allowing MMDCEs and Presidential staffers to contest sitting MPs, as well as appointments to sensitive positions of people hitherto “detached” from the party but who, once appointed, treated authentic party members as second-class citizens, accounted for the defeat.
Even a Minister under President Mahama, waded into the blame game. He stated, among other things, that perception of corruption, the opulent lifestyle of government appointees, (except him), “dumsor” the IMF conditionalities, neglect to undertake projects in NDC strongholds, showcasing the Kumasi Central Market in the Volta Region, and improperly articulated campaign messages all combined to cause the NDC’s defeat [v] .
The electoral figures speak for themselves. However, it is the analysis of those figures and other objective factors that should be of interest to the non-partisan observer.
PURPOSE OF THE REVIEW
The aim of this review is to look at the electoral figures to ascertain the attitude of voters in the 2016 elections. It is also an attempt to interrogate some of the issues of the campaign, some government actions or inactions, and other issues that were generally raised by some members of the body politic before the elections.
This review does not claim to have all the answers behind the loss by the NDC of the elections. However it is hoped that it may assist in raising certain issues that can be properly linked with the attitude of voters. Although some of the issues relating to low voter turnout are already well-known, the review attempts to examine further where these issues were more pronounced and what possible factors may have accounted for those.
For example, to what extent could the “liberation” of campaign funds by NDC Executives (a friend calls it “editing”); or Ex-President Rawlings’ utterances be attributable to the NDC losing the elections?
This review was conducted by looking at the figures contained in the 2016 presidential and parliamentary election results. Apart from the summary of the results released by the Electoral commission, it was not possible to obtain the detailed results on constituency basis from the Electoral Commission’s own website. Up till the time of writing this review, the Electoral Commission has not been able to publish the detailed results on their website; unlike in the 2004 elections and those before it. (It is sad that not even the 2008 and 2012 election results have been detailed by the electoral Commission on their website)
I therefore had to rely on publications from Ghanaweb, Peacefmonline and Citifm. Sometimes, there have been slight differences between the figures of the various publications. However, the differences are not significant in making the observations contained in the review.
I also relied on news items and feature articles from a variety of websites, and publications, some of which have been credited.
There were also random discussions with certain individuals in the period before the elections regarding their standard and quality of living, vis-à-vis government performance, which have also been part of the basis of this analysis. Although these discussions were not conducted along the strict lines of social research methodology, I believe that they are helpful in determining how the voting pattern turned out.
Unlike most social surveys, where outcomes are measured in percentages, I decided to use the raw voting figures. However tedious this type of presentation might seem, it is intended to achieve the effect of making the reader realise how, in numerical terms, the actual votes moved.
There was one assumption in the determination of the voter turnout. Considering that Ghana has no systematic system of recording deaths, which could have enabled the Electoral Commission to accurately eliminate deceased voters from the register, and considering that there has been no new electoral register since 2012, it was assumed that up to 500,000 voters might have been deceased. This figure is generous but it may help in my analysis.
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Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Kwasi Adu and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana.