If this conversation today comes across as too harsh to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) fraternity, please take it that it is born out of genuine concern and frustration with regard to the way the ruling party approaches its communication, sometimes in response to many unfolding events in the country. How can one not be genuinely concerned with a group or a political tradition (Danquah-Busia-Dombo) which is one of the best, if not the best of all in this country in terms of having large repertoire of intellectual and managerial skill base, yet appears to have close to timid or ineffective messaging/communication strategies?
As mortal humans, we may have our individual as well as in-group weaknesses in addition to whatever strengths we may have. Without mincing words, it has almost become systemic culture—albeit unnerving one—of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo pedigree from which the ruling NPP inherited its bona fide DNA with regard to its seemingly lethargic communication tactics.
That is to say, like its political forebears, the NPP has men and women with matchless intellectual acumen and policy wonks coupled with undying drive to help push for meaningful socioeconomic advancement in Ghana; but, the party's perceived weakness stems from its overall messaging or communication blueprint. Perhaps this particular indictment isn't new, but somebody has to keep refreshing the memory of the party's hierarchy about the dangers of ineffective communication methodology in this social media universe and 24/7 TV news networks.
Before we get ahead of ourselves and attempt to dismiss the communication gaps/concerns expressed above, let's ask why one of the most corrupt and incompetent regimes Ghana has ever had under ex-President John Mahama and yet his “second-coming” campaign for 2020 seems to be catching some fire with a sizable number of Ghanaians?
Possibly, the answer to the preceding question is that Mahama-controlled National Democratic Congress (NDC) political campaign is pursuing persistent and in-your-face communication approach, no matter how misleading the message is. In other words, in many cases, Mr Mahama and his communication cabals present their campaign misinformation in somewhat digestible format for the educated, semi-educated and illiterate Ghanaians alike for them to easily understand.
The NDC's messaging/communication methods mostly lack an aura of intellectualism because they don't have many of them in their camp. More importantly, Mahama's people know Ghanaians are helplessly forgetful, unrealistic in their national expectations, and not too enthusiastic about overly display of intellectualism in campaigning; so, they appear to be tapping into these cracks as they have been doing over the decades.
In fact, many of us struggle to figure out why a political tradition (UP kinfolks) full of individuals with pragmatic ideas and critical thinking skill set since its existence often find it relatively hard to effectively communicate and promote their people-centered policies and programmes to the ordinary citizens in absorbable languages. Imagine the Free SHS, a consequential educational programme that is one of its kinds on the entire continent of Africa, was implemented by the then Mahama-led NDC government as opposed to Nana Akufo-Addo's administration.
Undoubtedly, Mahama's communication team in sustained fashion will by now extol the Free SHS programme as heaven's sent. Everywhere Ghanaians turn—from east to west and north to south, on the airwaves, cyberspace, and indeed in every tiny corner of the country and beyond, people will be made to believe that the genius and caring nature of ex-President Mahama account for the reason every Ghanaian child at the high school-going age is enjoying Free SHS. Under this scenario, the NDC would definitely ensure that the “ungrateful” and “forgetful” Ghanaians never forget about its idol JDM's selfless “gift of Free SHS” to Ghana.
This brings us to the NPP family apparent time after time submissive/dead-end communication strategies. Isn't it somewhat strange to see a political group (NPP) that has the genuine commitments as well as most of the ideas under its creative belt to help solve myriads of the nation's hydra-headed problems and yet behaves sometimes as if it's “ashamed” or scared to let Ghanaians know its singular efforts and accomplishments?
Besides, the likes of the party operatives such as Kusi Boafos, Abronye DCs, Kennedy Agyepongs and few others who are often found in the dirty trenches, with messaging approaches put within the comprehension range of the average Ghanaians, many others in the NPP appear to tussle over how to have sharp-witted communication niche.
It is not an exaggeration to say the Danquah-Busia-Dombo heritage and its offshoot NPP have almost always struggled to match their intellectual prowess and ideas-filled camp with effective or “digestible” communication game plan. Certainly, the NPP's near ineffective communication regimen is one of the main reasons ex-President John D. Mahama who nearly ran this beloved country into socioeconomic abyss now has the temerity to sanctimoniously run around Ghana claiming sainthood.
Here is a party (ruling NPP) that understands ignorance is a serious social disease that is antithetical to every modern society's development, so it introduces free senior high school education for all. Patiently, the NPP is pursuing its pre-election campaign promises one after another. Also significant to remember is that it is this current Akufo-Addo-Bawumia government that rescued the economically-anaemic Ghana from the “pound of flesh” jaws of IMF's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) programme after then Mahama-NDC administration had given up on this country's micro and macroeconomic responsibilities.
Why is the NPP not forcefully pushing and reminding the “forgetful” Ghanaians of those milestone developments in its daily communication encounters? Clearly, we all have our weaknesses and the NPP's Achilles heel borders on ineffective communication. Keep in mind that ex-President Mahama has almost succeeded in persuading millions of Ghanaians, including some media operatives in Ghana that his past NDC government left the country's roads in excellent conditions and all the unfinished ones were awarded to competent road contractors.
A good number of us know those are some of the NDC big lies, and as President Akufo-Addo recently articulated in layperson's terms, “if most of the roads were constructed by Mr Mahama, how come districts everywhere in Ghana are pleading with the President to build their roads? The NPP must upgrade its communication strategies and not wallow in its past electoral glories. Rather, the ruling party must realize that Ghanaians and to some extent the press, trying hard to play the role of an agile watchdog normally tend to gravitate leniently towards the opposition. Also, it doesn't take that long for Ghanaians to experience “Buyer's remorse” in political sense. It's why the NPP must shake off what appears to be its long-time ghost of ineffective communication approach that has become a tormenting Achilles heel!
Bernard Asubonteng is a US-based writer and a Ph.D. candidate for public policy with specialization in foreign policy.
Email: [email protected]
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."
Reproduction is authorised provided the author's permission is granted.