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25.07.2005 NPP News

Editorial: Why NPP Can And Must Win Odododiodio

Statesman

AS noted in last weekend's editorial of this paper, next month's by-election can be seen as very opportune in gauging the popularity of the ruling New Patriotic Party since the false start of President Kufuor's second term. For the NDC to win marginally would not be as bad for the NPP as an NPP victory would be for the opposition. A win for the NPP would be the biggest signal yet that the party has overcome its bad start. Already the signs have been ominous since June. Victory for the NPP would also cut the NDC down to its real size and bring it back down to earth.

Figures in our front page story show that really that seat is there for the taking. It has been a swing seat since the growth of free and fair elections and with the right strategy it can swing back to the NPP.

The first task, of course, is to select a winnable candidate. As at the weekend, it was absolutely clear that the party had settled on the son of the late Samuel Nii Ayi Kwei Mankattah, Lennox Sidney Asafoatse Kojo Mankattah. As the son of the late MP remarked himself, the family swung with the father when he left the NPP to join the NDC, and are very likely to swing back if need be. The NPP is not wrong to calculate that their first major task is not to grant any undue advantage to their rivals, the NDC, either through sympathy vote or a problematic candidate. We are very confident that the controlled nomination procedure would spring forth the most winnable candidate for the NPP. But, once that task is done, we believe the NPP should go ahead to map out the rules of engagement for the other parties to play by.

The NDC strategy is simple: negative campaign. Portray the NPP as ethno-bias against the Gas; portray them as corrupt and incompetent. Tell the people their standards of living have worsened under the NPP. In truth, this is a by-election, there are no promises of note that any party in opposition can give. It can only seek to ride on a probable wave of discontent with the ruling party. For their part, the NPP should localise their campaign messages. Delve into the AMA archives, remind the people what the ostensibly Pro-Ga NDC did or undid for the community. When that is done; roll out the facts and figures with illustrations of what you have done.

More importantly, the NPP's trump card is in the realisable plans they have for the constituency. And this is what must define the campaign. Define it on your strengths.

The television news item of Friday said it all. Yet, like several of the things this Government is doing, it passed by like a footnote. Last week, AMA boss Adjiri Blankson outdoored the NPP's ambitious plan to radically regenerate the Old Accra area. The plan, as Jake said last year, is designed to tremendously improve the economic power, tourism, leisure, health and sanitation of the area, without letting places like Bukom lose their inner soul.

This public-private sector initiative is, undoubtedly, the most ambitious urban regeneration project ever undertaken under the Fourth Republic.

The NPP should use it to define the campaign. Trumpet it and force the opposition to seek to punch holes into it.

This campaign must be fought on how to give hope to the community. The NPP has its plan complete on the drawing board. Dutch consultants were among those already on the ground to get it off the ground. What have the others got? As we noted last week, even at the height of its unpopularity back in March, an opinion poll showed that 51% of Ghanaians believed Government was tackling bribery and corruption. Since the wonderful news from the G8, the substance and dividends of Kufuor's leadership are becoming clearer, as he continues to work and the opposition parties continue to moan. While the amateurish PR machinery of Government has not managed to take full advantage of the underlining positive swings, the untimely death of Mankatah has provided a wonderful opportunity for the NPP to re-ignite the feel-good-factor in a big way as the party heads towards a marathon of elections for party executives.

To reiterate, winning would give a major boost for the NPP and bring the NDC down to earth. For, beyond negative politics, the NDC has done very little to make itself electable in general elections. In our estimation, the seat is there for the taking. It is for the party that can show the greatest commitment to winning. That may seem easier for the NDC as they have all the time in the world. But, the NPP should send all their big guns there singing from the same hymn book.

We repeat, the issues are narrower than they may think. When the opposition has nothing to offer, your task is auto-designed. You set the stage, conduct the orchestra and hold the applause card for the audience. And you just pause for the standing ovation.

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