10 Ways You Know The Ghanaian Election Is Over – By Abubakar Ibrahim

ElectionCampaignsHmmmm….yes! As a journalist and a Ghanaian, I have to heave a heavy sigh of relief. At long last the elections are over; albeit with lots of issues to deal with! It’s been a long journey of campaign and many Ghanaians – whether their favored candidate won or lost – are just relieved it’s over. Lots of Christmas celebrations were put on hold because of the issues thereof after the December 7th (and let me add 8th) elections.

Here are some 10 telltale signs election blues have come and gone.

1. No-one cares about ‘World Banks’

Once every four years, Ghana finds herself at the center of the political universe, coming off the back of successful elections which is a rarity in our part of the world, before dropping off the map. Kumasi in the Ashanti Region and the Volta Region get their claim to fame running to elections. Whatever any group with numbers say in these two regions count a lot as they make the votes count! After elections, they often become the butt of Ghanaian political jokes – seen as the embodiment of a lack of development. But as the election draws near, the two political heavyweights, National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP), beat their chest about Volta and Kumasi, the media descends, and commentators talk breathlessly about how “it’s all about the world banks”. “People enjoy it,” says Wisdom Fiagbenu, a polling agent in Ho in the Volta Region. Most of the time, “we are considered fly-over people”. Kojo Bonsu, 24,  a Business Admin student at University of Ghana, appreciated the attention especially coming from the presidential candidates themselves. But he added; “There’s a sentiment of cynicism – they realized how important we are to getting them elected, but will they be there for us in the future?”

2. Mattress, erectile dysfunction ads back on television

There were more than one million campaign ad airings in the last presidential campaign – almost double that in 2008 and 2004. It has been a bonanza in terms of ad revenues for TV and radio stations, but now the adverts have returned to staple subjects like mattresses, the numerous unlicensed drugs or erectile dysfunction. Answering the phone has become a whole lot easier for those who wanted to have their lives back! Yes! You pick your call from a private line and you are taken aback as you hear one party candidate or another selling you his policies. After elections if there is a call, it is probably a real person, if not your network provider trying to sell you their own wack non-services.

3. The polling addicts are in detox

Ok so lemme ask this; how many “poll junkies” did the December elections birth? There were lots of self-acclaimed pollsters some with doctorate, Phd and degrees from whatever University out there taught Political Science. That one became one very lucrative industry all of a sudden. Some poll addicts Member of Parliament candidates and some political parties I knew developed the habit of exhausting the latest polls to assess their chances. Boy did some go cold turkey election day! One MP who lost the election confessed to me that his addiction to those lasted just three days. “I fell off the damn wagon,” he says. Now with the election over, he says he’s coping fine: “The thing that caused the addiction is gone – it’s as if there has been a tobacco blight, and the tobacco is gone,” he says. “My wife is happy to have me back more full-time.” Yes and he will have to go back to legal practice awaiting any political appointment if partnership and not partisanship is to win at the end of the day.

4. All the news is about to sway to this AFCON thing

Lots of things get put on ice during election season, but this one will have to come out of the freezer soon. Typical of election aftermath, there is usually lots of talk of appointments, vetting and the ugly subjects of fuel increments and school fees! The preparations of the Blackstars, how much they wanted as bonus and who should make the final team didn’t make much news or create any buzz this year because of the elections and its ensuing wahala. With the team’s recent performances at the ongoing African Cup of Nations, the over 25M football coaches in Ghana are taking to all sorts of platforms to express their thoughts and concerns. Although the political disputes of the December elections results seems to have clogged the support of Ghanaians to come out and make a festival of the ongoing tournament in South Africa, there is keen expectations that this might change if ‘the boys’ lift their game. The word “bipartisanship” is one that has come out of the deep-freeze in the last couple of days. It will be needed. My ears on the ground…..

5. You only read Funeral, Movie, Posters in Town

Once upon a time, every single public/private space in town carried one political message or another. Some were complimentary while others were not worth the paper they were printed on. I think the AMA did well to scrap most of them off before the inauguration of the president. It was such a relief and brought some sanity in town. At least for now I would see posters devoted to cats playing the piano, billboards of huge funeral announcements, weird photos of new kids waiting to jump the broom, weird haircuts, and silly nostalgic disco posters. But my heart also goes to those Politico whiz-crazes in the respective markets across the country who made big cash selling one political paraphernalia or another. Those who love their party’s won’t mind wearing their colours today irrespective of whatever Afari Djan’s result said. Suddenly the cloth market has gone back to it old self, no more controversial statements on and with cloth from Makola or anywhere else. These statements become a must-interpret by journalists for political junkies to consume. This and many phenomenon for some time has generated trenchant articles from talented reporters, putting forward a mix of breaking scoops and in-depth features. They’re probably still doing all that stuff, but now that the election is over, we are more interested in the chicken that cross the street than all those reports about those salads being eaten at the Osu Castle.

6. John Mahama or Nana Addo stops contacting you

You can open your inbox without it being full of emails from the candidates or their campaign teams, usually exhorting you to dig deep into your pockets or give up some time to get people out to vote. At the penultimate minute, the messages going around was: “Friend, Polls are open for a few more hours. Your vote, and your outreach efforts, will determine the outcome. America’s future is up to you.” Hehehehehe….People Matter, we Matter!!! Politics and Politicians so hard to understand!!

7. Celebrities go back to selling you their brands, not their political views

Celebrity endorsements are gradually becoming a staple in Ghanaian politics nowadays and last year’s election was no exception. Both John Dramani Mahama and Nana Addo Dankwa managed to muster a longer line-up, with more A-listers, but the celebrity moment of the campaign definitely goes to Michael Adangba for his campaign song for the NDC much like Lumba’s for Nana Addo in 2008. Also worth mentioning is the Mahama song by the school children. I just pray they knew what they were doing endorsing a political party when they couldn’t vote. That may well be remembered, but the B-and-C-listers of our celebrities who flashed to get ‘something’ and some attention will vanish back into oblivion.

8. Election tat is piling up

It will be decades before the bog-standard mugs, cloths, badges, bumper stickers and posters of this campaign gain any significant value as collectors’ items. Steve Ferber an expert on political memorabilia doubts if this will go any further or sell again in the near future. Campaigns have begun to charge for things which used to be given away for free, he added. Although there has been an “amazing increase” in buyers from abroad, how much more can they buy considering they would need says space in the not so distant future.

9. You can say what you like on Facebook

I can confidently talk of the friends I lost at both end of the divide; some I gladly unfriended other did same to me. Election time can create some awkward moments with friends and family on the other side of the political divide. Most of the political chat among friends was on Facebook, and things could get testy at times, with inflammatory political posts, and angry ripostes. I took extreme care about what to say politically – both online and in person – to keep the temperature down. Now it’s over, “we can get back to not being so divided”!.

10. The talk is all about 2016

In-between the fierce recriminations and soul-searching among the New Patriotic Party, is speculation on who will run for the presidency in 2016 (John Kwadwo Alan Kyeremanteng am hearing is not a favorite. Besides as per the current petition filed by the NPP at the Supreme Court, Nana Addo has the chance of ruling Ghana). This future-gazing actually began a few days after election results were announced. Talking to Akwasi Sarpong, a journalist with the BBC, with whom we covered the December election, said of many journalists, “We’re polled out. Everyone is so exhausted, that people just want to turn to something new,” he said. Many who live and breathe politics are now – with their source of sustenance suddenly gone – feeling a little deflated now, he worriedly added. For me the main sentiment is that of a kind of collective phew: “Everyone will say a prayer – not just for Thanksgiving, but that the campaign/election is over!!”

PS: Let me add that some Churches will and can now go to church in peace with all the pieces fallen where they may. Also, the numerous pastors who rather got their visions late or wrong will soon go into hiding or keep making political nonsense of their political views. Never mind, we didn’t even take note of all the false prophecies….honestly I can’t even remember that you made one so just go on live and lets live…..

*Views expressed here are not necessarily endorsed by WTA