Allow me to wade into the politics thus far in our fight against Covid-19, for 5 initial reasons:
Fact is, many of us (citizens) continue to sow seeds typical of a country that eats and sleeps politics. Some say we have the poor to feed, so politics should be an ‘away-bus’. Yes I agree, but anything to get political parties and candidates to do more for the poor and destitute should certainly be a good idea. You’ll agree with me that such discussions to get support for the poor and needy by none other bodies than political parties and politicians, can’t be apolitical.
It’s even more disillusioned especially when political figures are linked to the powerful donations and the soul-searching speeches geared towards keeping the poor fed and inspired in these trying times. For instance, Obama’s recent speech to endorse candidate Joe Biden wasn’t only inspiring and sweet, but also political.
When the president, Nana Akufo-Addo crossed his third term of leadership unto his fourth, he became not just a president. He also became the obvious political candidate for the NPP, so when in his capacity he donated his salaries, gave price cuts on utilities and spoke so organically of his will to serve the people even in this crisis, in one breadth he wore the hat of a president and in another, a candidate. The second hat obviously was to make him look a better option in the minds of Ghanaians over his opponent, John Dramani Mahama, come 2020 when we may have a national e-voting.
More so, don’t expect political parties to become NGOs overnight or bodies which all of a sudden understand so well the concept of Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR). That’s why a month ago, the Attorney General of the Republic prayed the court to rule in favour of the National Identification Authority (NIA) registration despite the obvious recklessness in endangering lives of citizens in the wake of a deadly pandemic. Also that’s why a week ago, the minority in parliament will disagree with the speaker to dissolve the House of Representatives arbitrarily, partly because the nation has still no electoral roadmap.
Countries like America and South Korea further deepen our confusion and hypocrisy. America has become a hotspot for the corona pandemic but they’re still in the heat of e-political campaigns despite the health tension. South Korea became the first country to conduct elections amid corona virus. Today’s America and South Korea aren’t different from Ghana. Coronavirus has become a leveler.
That’s why recently in my country, two “political” things have caught my attention in our fight thus far against Covid-19 – Candidate Akufo-Addo of the NPP and candidate Mahama of the NDC. I’ve commended the president a couple of times when he called the right shots, as well as expressed my worries in his leadership in some previous pieces.
Equally, former president JDM deserves some applause (bash) because of the disadvantaging position he occupies now in our history, and how for some strange reasons, many “citizen god-fathers” aren’t calling a spade a spade, under the guise of politicism and coronavirus
My posture in this brief seeks to highlight the “natural” definition of “bashing” or “a bash”. The word denotes two things subject to context and a dictionary– a celebration or social recognition( like a birthday bash) or the usual criticisms. I try to do both here, so I crave your indulgence:
- John Dramani Mahama seems to be the one losing more as a political candidate in these trying times. His party which is in opposition has little resources to its disposal, both to help Ghana fight Covid19 and to run his party as an organization as compared to the incumbency advantage of the NPP. But on April 14, the leader of the NDC showed impetus in his commitment to helping fight the virus by earmarking some 20,000 households and allocated free food to be distributed to them. I find this heroic statesmanship because the 20,000 target is a whole target for a country like Rwanda under their social protection initiative by president Paul Kagame.
- Nana-Addo wears two hats at this stage – a father and a national leader, one with vast resources at his beck and call ( our taxes ) as well as his own resources. It becomes difficult to prioritize one hat over the other primarily because he has control over state resources. On the other hand, Mr. Mahama is also wearing two hats but very similar – a father of a family in opposition and a grand opposition leader. What could be more frustrating than this?
- John Mahama may be a more hurting candidate in these coronavirus times because of an untimely shift in opposition strategy. The NDC may be more destabilized in opposition because the pandemic is not offering a favourable political canvass for fireworks. They’re forced to adjust. Speeches by Mr. Mahama are carefully crafted to provide the same level of hope that president Akufo-Addo brings in his equally well-crafted speeches. But again, on a scale of incumbency advantage and opposition, JDM seems a whisker ahead.
- What do you think is the driving force for a calm-looking former president to keep coming into your homes via the internet almost every fortnight, just like an incumbent leader Akufo-Addo? Yes, to comfort you in hard times, but the second is what you wish to gloss over – Mahama wishes to lead you again, whilst Akufo Addo wishes to prove 4 more for himself. But for the consistency of the former who is faced with a valid point 3 above, Mr. Mahama is worthy of a party bash ( celebration)
- The times demand a more tactful and mature sense of politicking. It is time to prove the ability of political leaders to adjust to new political strategies as they continue to make themselves relevant. Mr. Mahama seems to be doing appreciably well without sounding politically cynical.
- An opposition NDC under an evolved Mahama is more oriented towards solutions than political cynicism. Their candidate seems to smartly foster the contest of ideas and alternative solutions to the ravaging effect of the coronavirus on the local economy even though he isn’t the president. Almost every press encounter and posture on the Covid-19 fight comes with some recommendations targeted at the ruling NPP. Now, that is refreshing to our democracy and it’s only appropriate and healthy for constructive checks and balance. The mistakes committed by incumbent NPP, seems to receive some reviews and corrections from the opposition. For example, the mad rush for food by citizens in Asokwa in Kumasi on April 13, seems to be something the opposition seeks to correct. The NDC went beyond just donating food items to the nation, to actually proposing the framework for distribution to avoid breaching social distancing and other excesses.
- The high profiled Covid-19 Committee set up by the NDC was a brilliant political strategy to offer diverse or alternative leadership to fighting the Covid-19 (depending on your biases). But what makes it even more commendable ( and deserves a bash ) was the willingness of this party establishment to work, not just work, but also work side-by-side with the incumbent leadership of NADAA to fight the pandemic. This is where I think the incumbent may have faulted in our democratic fight, hence deserve some bashings (criticism). Though I’ve heard on several occasions, the leader of the NDC called for the support of his appointees and the Covid19 team in helping government with efforts to fight the pandemic, I’m yet to see or hear any close collaboration between to two except for the larger meeting with all political parties that were held. Interestingly, I’m also yet to hear the candidate-cum president acknowledge efforts by his counterpart. One would say it is politically incorrect for a ruling party to collaborate with a notorious opposition, but the laymen dare say, give them a bipartisan approach to the fight against a plague because as the abused anthem has it “Coro knoweth not NPP member or NDC member). In any case, there is an inter-party coalition helping to feed homeless people. What stops this same collaboration at the eminent committee level?
- The purchase of PPEs and their onward donations to several hospitals across the nation may be purely political and a part of point 5 above but the question remains “has these hospitals and in fact Ghana as a whole, anything to lose if Mahama loses the 2020 Elections even after these gestures? No. Another glaring hard truth is the many established medical facilities used in the fight against Covid-19 which were supervised by the former leader. This tells of the huge capital risk venture by JDM. More so, if point 6 above is valid, then the independence, parallel and bold expenditure by the former president is worthy of a social bash (commendation)
- The NDC-NPP duopoly seems real more than ever. Clearly, even in pandemic times, if it’s not the church or the business tycoons, it’s either the candidate of the NPP, or the candidate of the NDC doing something to stay relevant. And just like any other government will offer incentives and economic stimuli for the sake of its electoral fortunes in an election year, an opposition party will try as much as possible to vilify the regime. However, the NDC led by Mahama hasn’t done so much of that, rather there seems to be a profound self-justification of why JDM stands tall as the next viable option.
- On a lighter note, if after these obvious reasons discussed you still disagree Mahama has proven his stature and status as a good statesman even in this disadvantaging season, hence, deserves some bash ( large celebration), it is either you point me to another political party in opposition doing same, or you point me towards your hometown. You may as well want to read the headline again “…Not for the Biased”. [ Kabu smiles…]
Kabu Nartey is the GJA Student Journalist of the Year, a multiple award-wining communicator and a young political communications strategist.
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