The long awaited Kwesi Botchway committee report on the NDC’s performance at the 2016 elections is out. It has lots of recriminations and few inspiring policy recommendations on the way forward for the Umbrella party. I was amused to hear a member of the Dr. Kwesi Botchwey Committee, Dr. Ibrahim Zubairu, point accusing fingers at Dr. Omane Boamah, former Minister of Communications under the last NDC Government, as being the cause of the NDC defeat in the 2016. More of such personal attacks should be expected as we go along.
Dr. Zubairu’s attacks are symptomatic of the very character of the NDC, whereby everyone in the NDC who thinks that they are also “somebody” would arrogate unto themselves the position of official spokesperson. We saw that during the elections when there was no discipline on the communication front and when every NDC person who got close to a microphone would shoot their mouths off on every issue even when those views were off-putting to the general public. Interestingly the public was left to think that, that all those conflicting views were official NDC positions. No wonder people got confused about the position of the NDC on issues.
If anyone doubted my earlier published paper entitled “How to Lose an Election” (https://www.modernghana.com/author/KwasiAdu, Published May 11 2017), in which I stated that some members of the Dr. Botchwey Committee could have been planted to enable some aspiring flagbearer candidates to cast aspersions on their opposing camps, here is it.
Unless the Committee had appointed Dr. Zubairu to speak for them after the presentation of the report, one would have expected that once the Committee submitted their report, the members would allow their spokesperson to speak and thereafter, expect the NDC NEC to study the report and come out with the detailed findings. That is what happens in a disciplined organisation and it is amazing that our university don is not aware of this simple principle and etiquette.
At the risk of rushing to the defence of Dr. Omane Boamah on whether or not he kept “vital information” from the party, one is tempted to ask, whether Dr. Omane Boamah was the head of the party’s intelligence unit who was therefore expected to have very “vital information” to share with party strategists.
Summary of the loss of votes on a region by region basis are indicated below
Negative figures under Column C represent NDC shortfall between 2012 and 2016 votes.
Figures under Column F represent NPP gain between 2012 and 2016. Pls check Western Region NPP lost – it is negative……
Let us look at some of the issues I raised in my paper, referred to above, which was published on May 11 2017, (https://www.modernghana.com/author/KwasiAdu) more than a month before the Dr. Botchwey Committee Report was submitted.
Cocoa farmers were so disillusioned about the severe drop in their cocoa output because COCOBOD, which was headed by an NDC appointee, failed to distribute the free cocoa pesticides and fertilisers. Instead, those pesticides found their way across Ghana’s borders to Cote D’Ivoire and Togo. As a result, cocoa production nationally plummeted in 2015/16 to a low 778,044 tons from a peak of 1,012,839 tons in 2010/2011. (Note when the last Cocobod Chief Executive was appointed by the NDC). It is not surprising that the NDC vote virtually collapsed in those cocoa-growing areas, where NDC hitherto normally enjoyed great support. (Pages 27-29 of my paper)
It is interesting to note that the NDC lost in all the cocoa-growing areas, apart from the Volta Region. Even in the Volta Region, the NDC vote nose-dived, with the party securing less than 94,874 of their 2012 parliamentary total. (See Page 7 of my paper).
The crucial issue is that, apart from the Central Region where the votes appeared to have shifted directly to the NPP, in the cocoa-growing areas many of the voters just did not bother to come out to vote. (See Presidential electoral figures- on Page 20 of my paper
From the above, it is clear that the NDC lost votes because of more deep-seated resentment than some mysterious “vital information” that Dr. Omane might have allegedly kept to himself. Or was he supposed to be the NDC Minister of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation?
Again there were these complaints from the rural areas about the use by the NDC Government of Cocoa Road Funds for asphalted city roads while the little access roads from the farming villages to the major roads were virtually left abandoned.
One would have thought that the Dr. Botchwey Committee would also delve into the obvious disconnect between party and Government. The gap was so wide, it was unbelievable. While Government was “doing their own thing”, the party was saying something else. Whilst the party claimed that it stood for the ordinary person in the street, the Government was doing things more in favour of the elite (most of who, in any case, will not vote for the NDC). For example, the Government built, what they called “Affordable Housing” which cost GH¢170,000 per one-bedroom flat, and which, people had three months to pay the whole amount. Which young person could AFFORD that on their official pay? Yet the party was citing them as an example of the NDC’s Social Democratic credentials?
If the NDC, as a whole were not averse to deep political thinking, they would have advised themselves with something that Amilcar Cabral, the great revolutionary leader of Guinea Bissau, stated, to the effect that politicians should “always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children.” This is what voters are expecting from their governments: to create conditions that enable them to earn a living and look after themselves and their children; rather than living on a daily diet of “Maama yoo oyo, maama yoo oyo”. Or is that also Dr. Omane’s fault?
Did the committee ask how the cocoa farmer feels about how their children are not getting COCOBOD scholarships while the children of the city grandees and party big-shots get them?
Has the NDC undertaken any research into why even some of the areas where they built headline-catching schools voted against the party or did not vote at all? Isn’t it frustrating for any parent that after having an imposing school built for them, they cannot afford the school fees and have to suffer the indignity of going to their MPs for school fees?
What about the annoyances to the floating voters such as the seeming official sanctification of the tantrums of party bigots, the arrogance of political appointees and party officials, the opulent lifestyles of government appointees and national party officials, the unemployed youth, and first-time voters who had not known any other government but an NDC government?
It is sad that some of the members of the Dr. Botchwey Committee appeared to have concerned themselves more with finding reasons to settle personal scores than delving into the real reasons why voters turned their backs on the NDC. At best, considering their recommendations, the Committee appeared more concerned with the grumblings of only registered NDC members whose main complaints were more about being left out of the party’s campaign gravy train.
Did they ask the people of the Volta region whether they enjoyed being called ‘wives of the NDC’ by leading party members?
Did the Dr. Botchwey Committee look at how the “Dumsor” issue was handled by the NDC Government? How can you tell people who are left stranded in stark darkness and suffering sweaty nights that “If we do not want dumsor and we genuinely want reliable sustainable power, then we should be ready to pay more”; and yet when the high prices came, there were still no lights?
How could the NDC Executive tour the country, insulting some of their own sitting MPs who were displeased with the way the party leadership had surreptitiously supplanted them with upstarts during the NDC primaries? When some of these people, out of displeasure with the apparent betrayal and the abuse, stood as independent candidates, they reduced the NDC parliamentary votes resulting in the NPP winning in some of those constituencies. Examples were Salaga South (N/R), Bunkurugu (N/R), Saboba (N/R), Savelugu, (N/R), Akontombra (W/R), Wa West (UW/R), Lawra (UW/R) and Tempane (UE/R). Was that also Dr. Omane Boamah’s fault? Did he take part in those insulting tours?
Was it Dr. Omane Boamah, who sent the wife of the then Vice President in July 2015 to the Eastern Region to throw tantrums at a school headmistress in the Eastern Region when the Headmistress appealed to her to make representations for chalk for her school? It was not so much the then 2nd Lady’s refusal to ask the government to provide chalks that was at issue, but the way she responded to the request.
She was reported to have said “The Head teacher has shocked me…she said you lack chalk and log books…I am very shocked that you are today asking me about chalk…how much is a box of chalk? I won’t give you chalk today, I won’t give you chalk tomorrow…” Then she reportedly went on, “Secondly, you talk about log books and school uniforms, I think we have spoilt you, so parents don’t want to even buy school uniforms…head teacher eii, find another means of helping yourself….”.
What did the NDC leadership think floating voters would consider such show of arrogance?
Then there was the case of an NDC MP, who in the midst of public concerns over the introduction of a 27% tax on fuel, reportedly told Ghanaians, that “if users of private vehicles can’t afford to buy fuel to service their cars due to the introduction of new taxes, nothing stops them from joining ‘trotro’ (a privately-run ramshackle mini-bus transport system) to work”. He was quoted as having added “In UK, not everyone has a car. Many use public transport. Even if we charge 30% on fuel and you can’t pay, just park your car. Once you want to use your private car, then you have to pay”.
What our “Honourable” MP did not say was that in the UK, there are readily available government-franchised decent buses and a network of trains for public use. In London, the government authority that governs this network is called “Transport for London”. But when government people put on the cloak of arrogance in the face of public criticism, it is clear indication that they have lost the plot and the argument; and this is not something for which Dr. Zubairu can blame Dr. Omane Boamah.
I also remember the case of Moses Asaga, who, as Chief Executive of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), criticized Ghanaians for affording $60,000 luxury cars but were complaining about a “minor” increase in the prices of fuel. He was reported to have stated: “Now you buy a $60,000 BMW but you don’t want to pay 6 dollars per litre [fuel] for it. The majority of the people are living now in the cities. The number of private cars constitute about 60-70 per cent. The kind of cars we use in Ghana, you can’t believe it is Ghana…. When it comes to fuel, I think Ghanaians are being hypocritical.”
One cannot conclude without mentioning the blatant show of arrogance (tinged with a sense of intolerance) from the then Security Adviser to President Mahama, Brigadier-General (rtd) Nunoo-Mensah. In the wake of complaints in the general population about difficult living conditions, he was reported to have snapped at workers: “Every Tom, Dick and Harry gets up and is calling for a strike. If you don’t want the job, Ghana is not a police state, take your passport and get out of this country….. If you can’t sacrifice like what some of us have done, then get out. If the kitchen is too hot for you, get out”.
Such postures were not likely to endear the NDC government to the hearts of floating voters. How can anyone tell the citizens to leave the country? To where? So young people, having lost faith in their country, trek across the harsh Sahara Desert. If they are lucky to reach Libya, they run the risk of being enslaved by Libyan militants. And if they survive that too, there is the additional risk of losing their lives in the Mediterranean Sea. And Brigadier-General Nunoo –Mensah cannot be said to be one of the “young inexperienced people around the President”.
There were many examples of such temperaments which could have made any floating voter sick in the stomach. Asking citizens to leave their own country were the sort of things that were done only in the medieval ages. The only modern example was when Hitler deported German Jews or gassed them. Are these the sort of things for which Dr. Omane is to blame?
The NDC leadership and the Dr. Botchwey Committee cannot claim to be unaware that in the last five years of the NDC government, the feeling of unemployment general hardship became pronounced that the cry about general hardships was strident even among “foot soldiers” of the NDC.
The situation was not helped by increases in the prices of goods and services, particularly increased tariffs on utilities and fuel. Contrary to the assertion of Moses Asaga, and the “Honourable” NDC MP, fuel price increases affect not only the users of private cars, but also users of commercial transportation, including “trotro”.
The level of requests among party faithfuls for stipends from MPs and government appointees could have been an indicator of the general level of poverty if the party wished to know.
Looking at the general state of affairs in the country by 2016, the NDC could not have had any other campaign message apart from the dancing celebrities, the rantings of Appiah Stadium and the indefatigable Madam Akua Donkoh. So in the end, the party campaign team was reduced to the blasting of public address systems, singing the praises of President Mahama and shouting down anyone who raised his or her head above the political parapet.
For the Dr. Botchwey Committee to have missed all these and concerned itself mainly with the distribution of campaign cash and the personal rantings of Committee members is the height of doctoral childishness.