The 2020 election was undoubtedly one of the most keenly contested ones in the history of the fourth republic. Though not many saw it coming especially when the candidate for the main opposition party H.E John Dramani Mahama had suffered an overwhelming defeat in the 2016 elections by almost one million votes with about sixty-three parliamentarian seats less than the NPP.
One still wonders why and how in just a period of four years, Ghanaians will welcome the stone they ruthlessly rejected so close to the throne!! But then a closer look at this elections points out significantly to the fact that almost everything NDC Ghanaians in 2016 was smiled upon. All that is needed is a look at the Parliamentary result. If for nothing at all, we have an NDC Speaker of Parliament. That best summarises the result of the 2020 elections and the gains the once dead NDC have made in just 4 years.
These, and many more are the reasons for this article as we seek to draw lessons worthy of noting and I believe will be beneficial to both NPP, NDC and the other smaller opposition parties as well as all electorates in our democratic journey.
The NPP led by H.E Nana Akufo Addo has a lot of lessons to learn both in terms of their policy direction and their general approach to the implementation of those promises they made to the people of Ghana.
The Free SHS
In terms of how Ghanaians view the Free SHS, it is obvious that over six million see this flagship program which was suppose to have done the magic for Nana as not what they want or expected. The over-reliance on the program nearly failed them.
I believed it nearly failed them not because Ghanaians don’t like the free SHS, it was one of the main reasons the party was voted for in 2016. The issues people have had with the program has been predominantly how it was implemented. I have always suggested in more than five of my previous articles that, it could have been better done without the inclusion of the boarding school so that those huge resources channeled into boarding could be redirected into other sectors of the economy.
The One District One Factory:
The one District one factory which people thought could solve the problem of unemployment was also a fiasco as it depends mainly on the private sector to see to its realization and not the government who made the promise. Having made your promise, Ghanaians didn’t anticipate that its actualization would depend on the private sector.
The private sector being the main players with government taking upon it’s the role of a catalyst ensured that Ghanaians aside not appreciating what government was about as far as the policy was concerned also didn’t feel morally bound to reward or credit them for the few that were said to have been done. I did suggest in my previous article that the way forward in the implementation process was for the Government of the day to lead in the building of those factories by themselves, operate for a while to ensure its stability and when necessary, sell it out to individuals through divestiture. This again was ignored
The One Village One Dam:
This was also a great disappointment to most of the supposed beneficiaries. The simple reason was that most of the dams constructed got dried up long before the peak of the dry seasons. It could have been done well enough to be used as an irrigational site for the catchment areas which could have helped in solving some of the rainfall issues bedeviling Agriculture in the country.
The government, led by Nana Addo pursued largely contractionary policies almost throughout the last four years which is a recipe for hardship for people without fixed incomes thereby leading to severe hardship. I believe this was also done just to save Dr. Bawimia’s false but open statement made during the 2016 campaign which says “you can play all games with the economy, but at the end of the day, the exchange rate will expose.” I wander why non of the economic gurus in any of our Universities and the country as a whole didn’t come out openly to challenge him on this false statement.
This is because to me, the exchange rate is dependent on the macro economic policy a country may decide to undertake or pursue and not necessarily playing games with them. As a result, in their quest to defend that falsehood, they were borrowing money from the foreign market to support the Cedis from further depreciation when they know it’s suppose to be determined by the demand and supply. With the exception of the last year in their first term, they were not spending enough on infrastructure leading to this contraction which brought untold hardships.
The collapsed financial institutions also played a major role to this hardship we are still experiencing. This led heavy job loses and impeded easy cash flow in the pockets of the people. I believe this could have been better handled.
Planting for food and jobs:
To sum this up, the price of maize is at an all time high in the history of this country. A bag of maize is now around Ghc 110.00 /50 kg. I enquired why and the indication was that the rains failed us at the northern part of the country where huge production takes place hence the shortage. This has affected the poultry sector badly coupling with the closure of the boarders from importation of certain poultry products from some labeled countries. It was indeed a difficult time for Ghanaians to have decided otherwise. My question in all of these explanation is this “ what was the purpose of the one village one dam when we cannot generate simple irrigation in times like these as a nation?” Why should the much talk about promise fail as it did?
This sector did very little in the first three (3) years of Nana’s first term, however work on our roads started at the tail end of their first term. My personal observation was that whiles the asphalt overlay was good, it was only able to satisfy few places because of the cost involved. There were other areas which could have been addressed using our cheaper known method but were left to deteriorate even further. The end result was also seen in the just ended election result.
This was never tackled, if nothing at all, it got worse. The very people who begged us and lived on our meagre resources while in opposition suddenly became very rich after power was obtained by this regime. The Agyapa, Australian visa scandal, etc were all contributing factors to the poor showing of government in the just ended elections.
Unemployment was at its peak due to the collapse of the banking sector. It had already affected most businesses directly and indirectly. We talk of NABCO but as to whether it was enough both in terms of salaries and the numbers absorbed is an issue for another discussion. In my view, with millions jobless, employing hundred was only a step with countless ahead to take. Unfortunately, we didn’t do much in terms of employment.
The Complacency Factor:
Both the president and his MPs were highly optimistic that they were going to win this elections easily. Whiles some of us were telling them the simple truth, they thought we didn’t like them. Some of us were intimidated for telling the truth, our businesses were ttargeted. Being a Ghanaian who cares about the state of affairs and bold to speak can be expensive, some of us have paid the price for it and thankfully, we have grown use to it to the point of growing shields against the attacks.
MPs, ministers of state, and others put in the positions of trusts were threatening court actions for telling them the simple truth on the ground.
In the end, we have been vindicated, the people expected more from Nana and his appointees, the cries of the people were not heeded. The 2020 elections was just an opportunity for the Ghanaian to let the ruling class know that they cannot always be taken for granted.
The Internal “Monocracy”:
The struggle for power within the NPP primaries was all about who had the link to the presidency or can pay more to the delegates to be elected as the parliamentary candidate. Grassroots democracy was seriously undermined in most constituencies, especially where the NPP had their strongholds.
This created some levels of animosities within the supporters of the candidates who lost the elections at that level and decided. In some instances, members will not pick up their calls of aspirant because some had procured that votes in advance. It was hardly about the issues, it was all about who could pay more or who was in the good books of the President.
The Parliamentary slot in most NPP strongholds can be said to have been reserved for the highest bidders and those who could show evidence of being the darling boys of the president. With a Parliament of equal strength when just a year ago the party had 63 seats over NDC, it obvious that the problems of the primaries played a huge role in the situation we have today at Parliament.
The main opposition NDC had little hurdle to jump in order to grab the power in the 2020 elections in view of the major problems within the ruling government some of which have been listed above. Unfortunately they could not take the full advantage of the situation It is true that that they are in court in a bid to overturn the result but we can only make case with the official result as declared and as it stands, they lost. Below are my few observations worthy of sharing:
- The poor Marketing and Communications Skills:
For the main opposition NDC, their major challenge was the lack of proper marketing and communication skills of the team members.
In one instance, the communication team was either busily fighting with one journalist whom they feel is being a bit difficult to them or ignoring them entirely forgetting that journalist occupy the forth realm of the estate in a democratic dispensation. Diplomacy could have done the magic in some of these instances and going forward if they want to come back to power, they must learn to manage such situation well.
In another instance, Whereas there were glaring issues to be discussed to attract the attention of the floating voters, they were relying on propaganda mostly leaving the important issues to go unattended too. For example, in matters of the economy they failed to put the debate as to which government better managed our economy into proper perspective, they failed to expose the loose ends of the NPP’s economic management and also the false claims made with regards to who managed the economy better to Ghanaians The poor implementation of key policies were not properly highlighted and in cases when they were highlighted, little was said about the alternative way forward. This is never an effective communication. I believe they should do better if they can check their communication team and pick the ruling party on issue by issue bases since there are a lot to talk about in terms of policies and the implementation strategies rather than those trivial issues which they normally spend their huge amount of resources on. Also, Sammy Gyamfi cannot do it all, he needs to be adequately supported and most importantly guided.
The Lack of proper Election Strategy:
Aside campaigning with your manifesto, there should be a whole dedicated strategy team to man every election season. Their duties will be to follow events closely and advice on the best way to respond as a party. We have gone past the days when propaganda alone could win elections to the day when the electorates look for hard facts and issues based argument . This seems to be missing in the NDC for the most part, there was no coordinated effort to set the agenda and hence they had to wait for CSOs to bring up issues before jumping on them. The party itself did little in that regard.
Their communication was directed by the issues as they happened, they didn’t do much to direct the way as to what should be the subject for discussion.
The Smaller Opposition Parties:
The lessons here is that Ghanaians seems to have settled on only two parties and they are the NDC, and the NPP to lead them for now unless the unforeseen should happen. Hence just be cautious going forward if any of you would like to make any meaningful investment so you ddon’t regret it
To all the electorates who took money from candidates before voting for them, be sure that you don’t have any right to complain if your MP or president is under performing because you sold that right. Just wait patiently until the next four years time when you will have your right back. Never sell your right anymore.
In conclusion, whiles I commend the H.E John Dramani Mahama and the NDC in general for such a strong come back, all the credit must go the marketing and communication team of the ruling NPP as they worked tirelessly in the entire administration of H.E. Nana Addo. They need every commendation from the party as a whole and the president as a person.
The simple reason is that they did defend the indefensible making it possible for this victory of the ruling party though being contested. The high of all they did was the manner in which they communicated the banking sector clean up to make it look like it was a life saving venture embarked on by the party.
My prayer is that, in all of these, peace will prevail at all times in this nation no matter our differences.
God bless us all.
Prof. Kofi Anokye
(MBA, BSC, LLB)