It's far from clear whether or not it passes the threshold of policy-centered or conventional multiparty political campaigning, but one thing some of us know for sure is that from now until December 2020 general elections, Ghana's main opposition party – National Democratic Congress (NDC) – under lock and key by the triumvirate crew of John Mahama-Ofosu Ampofo-Asiedu Nketia, will unashamedly intensify the promotion of campaign based on polarization, lies, insults, fear and relief.
As a matter of fact, NDC is already firing all its cylinders with regard to the campaign of propaganda, insinuations, and more prominently, a campaign anchored in fear and relief nearly one or two years ago, and more so the party's operatives are doubling down their sneering efforts as the December 2020 slowly approaches.
For Messrs. Mahama, Ofosu-Ampofo, and Asiedu Nketia, with unexamined support of their teeming followers, the political calculus at this crossroads is to create a dire story of widespread fear/insecurity and immediately followed it by a firm assurance of relief if Ghanaians would become wise enough this time to vote Mahama and NDC into power come 2020.
In fact, the strategy of “fear and relief” is one of the old manipulative techniques that work well among populists and some politicians with no creative ideas or politicians who lack conceivable policy alternatives and want to gain easy advantage in their quest for power. Specifically, in a campaign predicated on “fear and relief,” the perpetrators (as the NDC is doing) always manufacture situations that set off sharp contrast between a sense of insecurity/fear and eventual relief.
The goal is to fabricate a sort of worst case scenario of ongoing doom, while assuring the scared target groups that there is an impending relief or bright light at the end of the murky alley only if the panic-stricken people would change course with the “right guides.” For the most part, this political calculus has been Mahama-led NDC's ironclad method of operation going into the 2020 elections.
Seemingly, Mr. Mahama and his 2020 campaign are not going to stop bewitching unsuspecting Ghanaians with the politics of “fear and relief” in that the NDC's flag bearer has infamously stated that the good people of Ghana are noted for their “short memory” of events. If what the then President J.D. Mahama observed about Ghanaians in general regarding their sociopolitical memory lapses is true, then it stands to reason his ongoing presidential campaign will succeed—to some limited extent—in exploiting and manipulating the people by the use of “fear and relief” strategy.
In actuality, the NDC's 2020 presidential candidate has political surrogates tasked with specific role each/they play in the campaign rooted in “fear and relief” to help the party and all its contestants for public office win or regain power in the next year elections. Thus, whenever anyone hears the NDC's General Secretary Asiedu Nketia “barking” at every twists and turns in terms of the movements of the Electoral Commissioner, Ms. Jean Mensa, it's most likely “General Mosquito” is his party's henchman for the EC.
Clearly, the General Secretary's job is to pick some trivial fights with the EC in every way possible till all those gullible Ghanaians begin questioning the EC's honesty and competence.
Once again, in simple expression, Mr. Asiedu Nketia's obsession and disdainful nitpicking of Ms. Jean Mensa is a clear manifestation of vindictiveness, distorted moral equivalence, and the NDC's concerted effort to generate clouds of fears/doubts among Ghanaians towards the EC and her ability to conduct free and fair elections. The implication here is that if former President Mahama wins back power (unlikely scenario) in the 2020 presidential election, then the NPP-appointed EC is “neutral,” but if the incumbent President Akufo-Addo and his party retain power, then obviously Ghanaians must buy into the NDC's revengeful tale that the election is rigged in favour of NPP.
In sum, it is this “fear and relief calculus” that informed the NDC chairperson Mr. Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo to reportedly plot and encourage his party members to engage in kidnapping and other forms of violence to create a sense of insecurity nationwide that was eventually caught on a secretly recorded audio tape for the whole world to know.
Again, the manipulative strategy here is to get millions of Ghanaians to realize that the entire country is sitting on the dangerous tenterhooks under New Patriotic Party (NPP) government; yet, the only group of people well suited in providing the needed “relief” is when the party of JDM comes to power in 2020. In almost all his pronouncements and other public engagements, the NDC's flag bearer also makes sure his party’s flawed narrative of fear and relief is told over and over into the “short memory” ears and brains of Ghanaians.
To a larger degree, these sly trio of Messrs. John D. Mahama, Ofosu-Ampofo, and Asiedu Nketia, and backed by their “insult-experts” communication team, have almost appeared to succeed in “hypnotizing” a number of Ghanaians to the point where even countless but oblivious media practitioners today are blatantly exhibiting their “short memory” characteristics when it comes to the NDC’s past track record of misrule.
Possibly, this explains why it’s commonplace nowadays to see many media people not too enthusiastic about any compelling argument involving the regime(s) predating Nana Akufo-Addo administration, yet these same media folks don’t see anything wrong trivializing any reasoning that seeks to strike comparison with Mahama’s past mismanagement as if the present can be built without understanding the past.
So recently with straight face as usual, former President Mahama, accompanied by one of his potential running mates, Zanetor Rawlings, was seen inspecting some parts of Accra that were flooded after heavy downpour of rain. Apparently, the gesture was to demonstrate to the affected people that he cares so much with the implicit message that all those people facing the “fears of flooding” within the capital city and beyond will finally breathe a sigh of “relief” if he—Mr. Mahama—were to come back to power in 2020.
Hopefully, those smart news reporters among the clueless pack will start asking the ex-president exactly what he did to help fix the poor drainage system and the occasional rain overflows when he was president because we know Accra flooding is a perennial problem that began decades ago before the current president assumed office.
Bernard Asubonteng is a US-based media analyst.
By Bernard Asubonteng