On a recent visit to Accra, I cruised the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange in a taxi headed to Adabraka from Vodafone.
The scene was breath-taking and I told the taxi driver my impression. We had a little chat which I find useful recording for readers.
Me: This is a superb piece for generations to come.
Driver: Yes, the man is making Ghana beautiful. But na concrete we go chop? ‘Ye be tu nu’, by hook or crook.”
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Me: How did you vote in the past two elections?”
Driver: Each time I voted for Nana. I am a staunch NPP man. ‘Me ye Kwahuni’.”
Me: Do you know any staunch NDC man who is going to vote for Nana this time?”
Driver: You know your country people. An NDC man will always vote NDC as we will also continue to vote NPP.”
This short conversation above sums up my prediction for Election 2016: The outcome will depend on first-time voters. The old voters are too rooted in their old ways to effect any change. They are condemned to the fate of razor-thin winning or losing margins because their political environment is polarised 50/50.
It is all agreed that the performance of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Ashanti Region will be crucial to my taxi driver friend’s resolve to vote out President Mahama. Ashanti’s voter population accounts for nearly 20 per cent of Ghana’s current voter population of 15 million. Understandably, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), whose support in recent times has never exceeded 30 per cent of the Ashanti votes, is feeling jittery. One can clearly see this in their goal setting for the region.
From an initial target of one million votes from a possible three million, the figure has recently been reviewed to one point five million, a whopping increase of 500,000 votes. Why are they confident they could rake in 1.5 million votes in Ashanti of all regions? I guess, if I may, that their research might have revealed that the NPP are confidently predicting for themselves a win of some 500,000 votes from Ashanti alone. NDC, therefore, needs to find a way to close this gap.
The thinking of both NPP and NDC may be flawed if my earlier prediction that first-time voters are going to be the kingmakers in this race. I am yet to see the final figure for new registrants since Election 2012, but it would be a sure bet that first-time voter population in Ashanti will come nowhere near half a million.
It is odd that a target review process should be touting an upward adjustment of 50 per cent on the eve of an election. Has a windfall discovery of some half a million loyal supporters been made, and where are they from? Or, is it that the NDC target setting process is not SMART enough? By the way, SMART is the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Realistic, Achievable and Time-bound. It is the buzz term for judging all targets and goals.
One can easily make judgments about Operation One point Five as I often hear the commentators on some radio stations say frequently. Whatever their conclusions and my conclusion, achievability is one indicator the NDC will not get right. It will amount to attempting to squeeze water out of an igneous rock.
For the goal of 1.5 million votes to be even remotely achievable, the NDC would need to drive the hell out of their support. Every single possible vote counts and must be delivered as a valid vote, not as a weird paper with thumb marks all over the place. Their voters need education, not sloganeering of aspirations. I hope that the NDC researchers know the NPP approach to voter education. They are not leaving anything to chance. The NPP training manual for voters, polling attendants and foot soldiers is down to basics so as to make every vote count. Theirs is a party well-primed for elections.
Besides, the NDC must have their plans backed with resources. Allegorical stories told during Campaign 2000 of some party heavyweights stowing away for themselves sacks full of cedis raised for the party must belong to the past. Unfortunately, some of such characters may still be active in the party.
As for my friend the taxi driver whose confident but quiet tone displays the mood in the NPP camp, I cannot express my caution often enough: ‘Aban ye dur’. Flyovers, water, schools and health facilities can be seen.