NDC should take cognizance of the following strengths that NPP would take into the December 2020 elections
1. Psychological advantage
NPP would be defending a real and comfortable margin of victory from the 2016 elections when its presidential vote compared with NDC’s was 53.85% to 44.4%. Even if supporters stayed away from the last elections, NDC still has the odious task of getting them and more back to the December elections to vote for the party.
2. NPP as political movement
Both the absolute per cent presidential vote and the margin of victory President Kufour gained over the NDC in 2000 was greater than President Akufo-Addo’s in 2016. NPP’s margin of victory over NDC was 14.8% (57.4 – 42.6) in 2000 compared with 9.45% (53.85 – 44.4) in 2016. On paper, it is more difficult for NPP to defend its mandate in 2020 than it was in 2004. With analyses, Nana Akufo-Addo’s NPP margin of victory of 9.45% is more secure than Kuffour’s 14.8% in 2000. This is why
- Kuffour’s victory in 2000 was due to a coalition of NPP and non-NPP political parties and groups that was unstable such that it barely survived the 2004 elections when Kufuor’s presidential vote of 57.4% in 2000 decreased spectacularly to 52.5%. In contrast, Akufo-Addo’s NPP of 2016 was a solid party of faithfuls, albeit after some ruthless pruning, glued and dedicated to the party’s base.
NDC‘s resilience in bouncing back to win Election 2008 was entirely due to being a mass based grassroots political movement. Ironically NDC might find the same resilience in the NPP at Elections 2020 because the NPP of today is more of a political movement, even if not in the mode the NDC was.
President Akuffo Addo has transformed the NPP into a political movement credibly competing for the ideological soul of Ghana. This the NPP has done by discrediting the revolutionary origins of the NDC through media documentaries/commentaries on the excesses of the NDC predecessor PNDC military Government; by chipping away at the legacy of Ghana’s independence leader Dr Kwame Nkrumah while promoting and exaggerating the relevance of independence leaders of the Danquah-Busia-Dumbo tradition – through contrived rearranged public holidays and propaganda manipulation of public opinion; and by making significant inroads into low socioeconomic groups hitherto the preserve of CPP/NDC/PNDC, as in carefully targeted projects such as the ZONGOS, free SHS, local government new regions and “one this one that” schemes etc – in a manner akin to socialist modes of mass mobilization. NPP has therefore assumed features and strengths of an enduring political movement, features NDC took of itself for granted until rudely reminded by desertion of its mass support in 2016.
3. Power of incumbency
The NPP has secured significant administrative levers to win Election 2020. It has appointed, promoted or reshuffled significant numbers of judges, police and security personnel; cultivated a friendly electoral commission that would usher in a new voters register in an election year; tamed the media through asymmetrical application of licensing laws; amassed considerable digital power, penetration and control such as to dominate social media in the election campaign; finally the party is sufficiently cashed/cashing up for the elections through numerous contrived or timely projects while securing a friendly banking and financial sector.
4. Confidence in security management
The NPP has demonstrated immense security capabilities, as in the show of force in the Ayawaso West Wugon bye-election almost a year ago, in apprehension and prosecution of the alleged Citadel coup plot and the Western Togo sedition cases and the NDC Chairman’s alleged plots to destabilise the EC – all currently before the courts and which cases may well be alive by Election Day. NPP is also secure under the 2018 strengthened Ghana-US Military security pact to neutralise any opposition party that may remotely blur the line between election brinkmanship and threat to peace and security of the state.
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia is unique in Ghanaian political history in being the most effective 2IC in complementing a Presidential candidate or President as in his roles as running mate or Vice President to President Akuffo Addo. Incredulously, Bawumia has been effective without being necessarily credible or accountable. He would remain indispensible to the NPP ticket in Election 2020.
Improving NDC chances in election 2020
Realistically the NDC leadership would have to strategize on the basis that Election 2020 is out of reach and model its election campaign on paving the way for a better showing in 2024. Rather than such approach being self-defeating, it would enable a more pragmatic approach to an NDC campaign based on policies and policy reforms informed by both its failings and the NPP failings in Government. In this approach, the NDC may well be successful in changing the minds of the electorate on the basis of a more serious, more thoughtful, more pragmatic policies, devoid of hubris and election patapaa, and on significant NPP failings in government despite the it’s formidable strengths in a country where voters are heavily dependent on Government largesse and patronage.
John Mahama’s recent Facebook campaign gave a ray of hope that NDC has moved to the stage of a policy-based campaign, as it awaits finalisation of its election manifesto. In those Facebook posts and public pronouncements on the campaign trail, the former president severally spelt out policies the NDC would undertake when elected. Among them
- Replacing NPP’s one district one factory programmes with staple processing zones as at: (https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/We-will-replace-one-district-one-factory-with-staple-processing-zones-Mahama-854815)
Using a three tier banking and financial system based on financial capabilities to delineate financial obligations and responsibilities to customers as opposed to collapsing the weaker ones based on indiscriminate criteria for all of them. See https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/I-would-have-classified-the-banks-into-three-tiers-Mahama-853576
Abolishing double track system in the free SHS scheme, at: https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/business/Seven-promises-John-Mahama-has-made-to-Ghanaians-ahead-of-2020-Polls-843127
As soon as Mahama got into his strides in a pragmatic campaign mode, came report of an alleged bribery scandal against his Government.
See General News of Sunday, 2 February 2020 “Airbus confesses paying bribes to Ghana during Mills-Mahama administrations” at:
The pragmatic way Forward
Coincidence or not, the distraction at the onset of the NDC getting into its campaign strides illustrates both the strength and weakness of Mahama as the NDC flagbearer. On his strength, Mahama is the most qualified to defend NDC legacy in the most credible manner – it is in his personal interest as much as the NDC to do so, he has the institutional and historical memory of the exact events, and he was ultimately in charge of his government. On his and the NDC vulnerability, Mahama’s failings would forever be an issue and a legitimate and effective campaign issue at that for the NPP, less so if someone else is the NDC flagbearer.
Realising Mahama’s Achilles heel, a group calling itself the Patriots for Peace and Development called on the NDC to disqualify and re-elect a new NDC Presidential candidate. See Airbus saga: Replace Mahama to give NDC a chance in 2020 at:
The distinct likelihood that Mahama’s record would assume centre stage in the election campaign, with all the distortions the NPP with Government resources can muster, was articulated by many prior to the NDC Presidential candidacy elections, including by myself at https://www.modernghana.com/news/914601/supporting-goosie-tannoh-in-ndc-presidential-primaries.html
John Mahama won the flagbearership decisively and the NDC would be setting a most dangerous precedent if it disqualified Mahama while he is honouring the trust and responsibilities reposed in him as the flagbearar. The only way out is if Mahama himself decides to step aside – none other would be in the short or long term interest of the NDC. If however Mahama decides to continue as NDC flagbearer as indeed is his prerogative, the NDC must fully and unequivocally rally behind him, having elected him decisively as flagbearer only a year ago
Regardless of who leads the NDC into the December elections, the NDC must
- Run a policy-based campaign informed by failings of the past and present
Avoid reliance on politics of confrontation and brinkmanship
Take a long-term view so that in the likelihood of defeat, not shocked into protests and disturbances.
This approach may well deliver victory for NDC in the December elections even against the odds
Nii Armah Kweifio-Okai
07 February 2020