Call it the bottom-up approach or a people-focused political strategy; whatever the case, there is something silently going on at the camp of the flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that every serious political watcher mustn’t lose sight of.
I am talking about SpeakOut, as the concept owners call it, but which I prefer to call the ‘lethal political weapon’ that is cast in the mode of a Hiroshima and Nagasaki bomb.
Indeed, SpeakOut is a political deployment that mustn’t have any political opponent worth their sort go to bed with eyes open.
History teaches us many things including the fact that when a political party decides not to play to the gallery, their electoral fortunes do not only improve, they achieve the ultimate results – victory at the polls.
The NDC may have learnt lessons from their last defeat to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) – the biggest in the country’s 4th republican journey, that giant billboards and fanciful rhetoric-filled rallies add nothing to a candidate’s political fortunes.
Perhaps, it’s this political lesson that has gotten the party’s flagbearer and his team to adopt the secret weapon that is knocking many people off their feet in many communities across the country.
I am referring to SpeakOut.
What is speak out then?
To help you understand SpeakOut, I am going to ask you to imagine two things.
First, imagine having a former president and the flagbearer of one of your country’s largest political parties sit at the same table with you, never mind if you belonged to their political party or not.
But even more importantly, imagine seeing your demand(s), request(s) or input(s) directly factored into a party’s manifesto just because you spoke out.
If you can describe the feelings these things bring out of you, you have captured the mood at a typical SpeakOut session.
SpeakOut sessions are community-based and opinion-gathering fora that are embarked upon by the flagbearer of the NDC, John Dramani Mahama across all of Ghana’s 16 regions.
The fora serve as platforms that give an opportunity to communities to share their opinions and feelings with Mr Mahama and his team.
A bird has whispered to me that the community members who fit SpeakOut’s profile are those who either loathe Mr Mahama and the NDC or those who are indifferent to politics in Ghana, call them floating voters if you may.
To ensure that SpeakOut stays true to its audience profile, party leadership on the grounds where the sessions are tasked to ensure nothing suggests an exclusivist strategy.
In fact, the sources say Mr Mahama considers any rare encounters with hardcore NPP people as personal success.
More importantly, the sessions make room for a critical mass of those who may not be at these sessions – those on social media – by encouraging them to visit Mr Mahama’s social accounts to either leave comments or post videos. Prospective participants are also encouraged to visit www.speakoutghana.com.
At the ongoing SpeakOut sessions, there could be as many as 24 round tables, each of which Mr Mahama visits during for one-on-one interactions to listen directly to the people’s concerns, their needs and propositions on how to confront same.
The views of those speaking out on these sessions are then captured and collated on storyboards for onward transmission to Accra and use by the NDC’s strategy.
Party sources say these ideas and opinions are streamlined and would be factored into the NDC’s yet-to-be-launched manifesto to reflect the people’s aspirations for Ghana.
Themes for Sessions
The special SpeakOut addresses a variety of topics including jobs, women, health, infrastructure, education among other generic issues that affect the people.
I want to hear your thoughts about the issues facing Ghana. The issues affecting your life, a SpeakOut document cited online read.
I’d like you to Speak Out about jobs – to hear your thoughts on the job situation. What you think is getting in the way of entrepreneurial opportunities? And what kind of jobs you think will make a difference in your life and to the lives of others, the same document asked of prospective participants.
Where has the SpeakOut Train been Already?
So far, the SpeakOut has visited the Western North and Ahafo regions where chiefs complained about the unexplained termination of various road projects under the Cocoa Roads Programme.
The former president is expected to take the tour to four regions of the north from Monday, March 9, 2020.
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