The Mantse Agbona Madness – By Manasseh Azure Awuni

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) were the first to showcase how hollow the Ghanaian politician can be. The Mantse Agbona Venue, where the party held its first main rally ahead of the 2012 election, is just outside the palace of the James Town Mantse. But holding a public event outside a chief’s palace did not remind these politicians that civility is still a cherished value in the Ghanaian society.

The NPP were very disappointing because they seemed not to have the faintest clue as how to take advantage of the turmoil in the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC). The NDC are facing the greatest challenge in their party’s life. In recent political history of Ghana, it is the most injured political party going into an electoral battle. Greed and the insatiable quest to outdo one another in control of the party have left the party suffering from serious internal bleeding, though some of them are quick to downplay it as a normal disagreement within every human institution.

As a formidable opposition that is hungry to recapture power, the NPP could have concentrated on what they could do better than the NDC, why Ghanaians should see them as an alternative, instead of mounting the platform to insult, vilify and defame their opponents. Some of them openly insulted the President of the Republic, and those insults would later be splashed on the front pages of tabloids and ignite useless and unintellectual debate on radio and television.

Sometimes our politicians take us for granted because they don’t feel obliged to tell us what we need to know when they mount campaign platforms. It is perhaps the reason why Nana Akufo-Addo was caught fumbling when he appeared on Stephen Sucker’s Hard Talk on BBC. Otherwise how would he not know how much the free SHS programme would cost when he campaigned with the same policy in 2008?

I cannot tell whether it was by mere coincidence that the NDC also had Mantse Agboena  as the venue for their first party rally ahead of the 2012 elections or it was a deliberate attempt to use the same venue to showcase more crowd than the NPP. What I can say, for a fact, is that the NDC rally was a re-enactment of the NPP’s mess some three weeks ago. It was like the same crowd and speakers, but this time in different colours and shades.

I was not surprised that they adopted the same format, for the NPP and NDC are tarred with the same brush. What shocked me, however, was President Mills’ address.

The President, who is also the NDC’s flag bearer, sat through and listened to his party leaders, ministers and MPs and parliamentary candidates insult and vilify with impunity. And when it was his turn to address the audience, he said that what would become the headlines: “Those who have nothing to show for their existence and for their life on this earth will only resort to two things – lies and insults.”

Well, if the President meant what he said –  and he did – everybody was sure he was directing that statement to the opposition NPP. But if his party men and women who appeared so intoxicated by the crowd really thought through the president’s statement and what they had done, they would have felt insulted that they had nothing to show for their lives and existence on earth.

Take, for instance, the NDC’s General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia. His remark about the Special Forces created was very thoughtless and unfortunate, to say the least. Any intelligent person who listened to him would conclude that the Special Forces were created by the government to deal with opposition forces who misbehaved during the elections. This does not portend well for the peace of the nation.

Issues of security should be left to the security agencies. Why they are formed and how they will operate should be left out of the political platform because both NDC and NPP supporters are to blame for the past election violence. Akufo-Addo’s unfortunate all-die-be-die comment was cited by Asiedu-Nketia, but the fact is that some NDC members also indulged in violent acts in previous elections.

Mr Asiedu-Nketia’s second and last issue he addressed before thanking the enthusiastic audience was the allegation that the NPP flag bearer, Nana Akufo Addo urinated on a mosque in the Northern Region, which he (Asiedu-Nketia) likened to the mad man in the campaign against indiscipline ad some years back. He left the podium very satisfied but he did not tell the voter why his party should be retained in government.

Is it a clear case of “those who have nothing to show for their existence and for their life on this earth will only resort to two things – lies and insults?”

A deputy finance minister and former national propaganda secretary of the NDC, Mr Fiifi Kwettey, decided to give figures to back his claim that the NDC had done better than the NPP. But he could not leave the stage until he had told everybody that the opposition party was seeking re-election because they wanted to deal in campaign. There is no civilised society on this planet where this will be tolerated. But a minister of state said this on a programme that was aired live to millions across the country and the world.

The most disappointing speakers, however, were the parliamentary candidates in the Greater Accra Region who were introduced. They were given brief moments to say something. In an enlightened campaign platform, this is the moment to say something that will stick with the voter. But almost all of them decided to sing.

Ras Mubarak, Parliamentary candidate for Ablekuma North, made sense when he reminded the party about Vice President John Mahama’s wise admonishment: Tika, Taka and Gangale, the story of unity. This should have been the worry of the party, especially when the party’s founder and his wife did not show up for the rally.

The parliamentary candidate for Ablekuma South and Minister for Information, Mr Fritz Baffour, was the most shocking of all. He mounted the plat form and instructed the audience: “When I say heiiiii, respond heiiii! When I say heiiii for the third time, respond ABODAM!”

Abodam, in Akan means madness. That is, perhaps, the most apt description of what transpired at Mantse Agboena, when the NPP and NDC took turns to tell Ghanaians why we should elect them into office. Political madness!

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