‘It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.’ – George William Curtis
If you’ve ever been on campaign trail, or been a delegate, party communications activists or strategist and typical apparatchik, then you knew how a typical party can breed empty barrels, dodgy aides, sleeping parasites and dummies at all layers and along the campaign stretch.
The last time I met Jake’s friend Mike Soussoudis [over red wine], he had tons of accolades for Jake Otanka Obestsebi Lamptey, New Patriotic Party’s campaign strategist and ‘living’ legend.
Typical of Mike, he would be poking you in the chest when he is excited about a topic – while he made his point.
Even among opponents of the New Patriotic Party, Jake is feared – like Gabby is, today. That is not to compare Gabby with Jake because comparing the two would be like comparing Hawa Yakubu with Otiko Afisa Djaba; or Ronaldo and Messi. They each have their strengths and positives that is quite unlike the other.
We can, however, compare Nana Akomea as Minister for Information and, later, NPP Communications Chief with about any of the best that we have had in Ghana from Dr. Kwame Nkrumah till date…relevance, ferocity, analysis, data and, of course, his delivery on the appropriate propaganda angles to good effect.
But the recent frenzy among NDC communicators about what they claimed to be 26 ghost projects and the misreporting that appear to have weakened what used to be obvious arguments for an undeniable Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo victory, provides food for thought among party chiefs and aides who are paid to deliver goals.
I have often made references in my columns about a cousin who loved football more than he could actually play and who would shout for a pass, only for him to indulge in unnecessary antics, till a fleet foot scooped the ball out of his legs or he got whacked by the iron legs of an over-aged player.
Ade Coker’s Accra Great Olympics used to have a player of that sort, except that this senior’s peccadillo was in his love for football paraphernalia than ability to make the first team. Dan Foster was the name…fair-coloured, tidy, handsome, neat jerseys and shorts; pair of boots and hose…but it ended at that. Occasionally, however, after an unchallenging match, he was, non-the-less, allowed some play time of some 15 minutes.
These are the kind that want their names on every committee – from hospitality through communications to presidential campaign trips and, if it were possible, the ultimate platform of glitz and political glamour. At the end of the day, it is difficult evaluating their performance in terms of adding value. They must be in the thick of it, even if they must visit a shrine to have that recognition. And, these characters abound in life – in all its spheres and stations.
I remember an incident in one indigenous Accra constituency when a party’s constituency executives were scouting for parliamentary candidate. And I thought that a couple of the executives who appeared to have found themselves in the executive accidentally would at least listen as the issues got to their level where some modest input would be necessary. Unfortunately, that’s where people decide to exercise their democracy – even when they appeared to have little understanding of the issues.
And, I remember just getting pissed and using maximum force to clip the wings of those who understood democracy to mean each having one vote and one voice.
I also recall on a constituency platform some of these local politicians who didn’t know inclusivity from initiative demanding that he should be allowed to speak at a political rally. And, yet, he didn’t know a from the. Eventually, when he was allowed five minutes, all he did was to sing and dance some local lyric then known as ‘pulele.’
Knowing our strengths and weaknesses
The truth was that the seat was lost because of such characters who had preferred an unaccomplished local boy who didn’t have an agenda to an accomplished local boy and New York attorney, who the NDC greatly feared. And, the tottering NDC, like today over the NPP ghost housing project, found verve to throw up a half-baked but typically noisy graduate. Well, he eventually won the elections and had a double term before being kicked out by the NPP.
Misreporting? No, reckless
I thought that when an apparatchik is assigned work of that magnitude in which the Vice President is now under attack, there are others to monitor, verify and look through every aspect of the document.
So, a perfect report would simply have read: “A $20m (?) Housing project at [Fumbisi]. Land cleared and contractor getting ready to move to site.” As long as some mobilization has been released to the contractor and opinion leaders, including youth associations and religious and traditional communities are notified, it is classified a project by development standards. Choosing to present a lofty angle to the project when, in fact, that mass of land is considered farmland by residents is simply indefensible.
The assembly, the constituency executives and the monitoring authority seriously goofed to the lowest pit of Hell. That is aside of the fact that projects need to be tailored to fit into the real need of the people. When we give a typical rural constituency a housing project when their felt need is irrigation, appreciation is almost zero.
That was why some bungalows constructed during the Acheampong era in Navrongo Central got into deplorable situations, putting extra financial burdens on government because it wasn’t being to optimal use government or residents, most of who tend to have sons and daughters wanting to work in Accra and build at Kasoa, instead of Navrongo or Bongo.
And, yet these are the very politicians who would get agitated over other ethnical groups working hard to create businesses and build houses back home, in creating jobs – after successfully building in Accra.
In terms of research, however, particularly before 2000, the NDC was superior. What the party had in abundance, at that time, was a battalion of public sector middle class, educated people, most of them teachers, who had belonged to the PDCs and CDRs and who were trained to support the party in terms of providing information in communities.
That is why it was normal for the NDC to know personally who had votes and contact them in homes, soliciting their support or breaking their heads with propaganda. That was before some of the lazy NDC apparatchiks decided that putting C50 notes, sprinkled with concoctions generated at a shrine in match boxes as gifts to voters was more ‘wicked’ than entering homes and pulling out the aged, women and youth to vote for the NDC.
Now, it appears most of our research is media-based, instead of sure contact with opinion leaders, community elders and youth associations like the Konkomba Youth Association or the Tamale Youth Association. As for the rest, like the GaDangme Youth Association, they are merely vigilante and land guard – without solid credentials, even from the days of my friend Josiah Aryeh who was frustrated out of the NDC by the ubiquitous Fante cabals, despite interventions from Chairman Jerry Rawlings.
So, I say whoever compiled the report for the Vice President needed to have done better in the same manner that whoever designed housing schemes in certain communities needed to have involved the people in deciding on truly necessary and relevant initiatives and facilities.
For those of us who have played serious football before, it is common practice that when you are in a “comfortable lead,” you don’t waste precious time trying to put in more goals. You do what Mourinho does perfectly – that is, pack the defence and kick the ball away from civilization or into the stands.
The NPP in these moments need not prove too much; they have already proven that they have arrived. Free SHS, Planting for Food and Jobs, Planting for Export, NHIS Reforms, Banking Reforms, billions in savings from meeting food security targets etc. These are winners as are the initiatives to improve Zongos.
It is for the NDC to sweat for the heart and mind, soul and votes of the electorate. Keeping the ball in the stands may be annoying, but the safer thing to do at this material moment. A constant reference to the NPP achievements and giving back to Mahama his taunts is the safer way to go now – not impressing the electorate with more ‘forced’ developments.
“Fifty percent plus one vote” against Mahama and his patrons is enough to bruise the NDC and help sanitize the landscape in Ghana.