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Feature Article of Thursday, 22 November 2012

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.

This “nyamanyama” politics with Christians sucks!!

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

As Election Day approaches, the desperation driving the electioneering campaigns of both the NDC and NPP are assuming ugly dimensions.

While the NDC is furiously clinging on to its strategies of portraying the NPP as not better than it and rightly condemning Akufo-Addo’s fly-blown promise of free SHS education, the NPP’s followers are ramping up their campaign of calumny, vilification, and vain threats, still harping on the free SHS promise as their trump-card.

The intensity with which both camps are pursuing their campaigns is dizzying. No doubt, the “huhudious” promise of free SHS has dominated the campaign messages, particularly with the insertion of Mensa Otabil into the equation. And he has himself found the niche to engage in politically motivated speech-making stunts all over the place, creating the impression that he is playing his civic role. The ugliness of the Mensa Otabil factor is clearly noticeable in the ongoing political rhetoric, especially now that the NPP feels emboldened by Otabil’s open denigration of the NDC over the matter to suggest that the battle is now between the NDC and Christians.

And the NPP leaders are all over the place, mobilizing their activists for holding non-denominational church services and attending Muslim prayer sessions as if told that God would answer their quest at the polls only if pursued that way.

Hypocrisy at its best! Were these not the very people who insulted the former President Mills for introducing Christianity into his political life, calling him all sorts of names, inciting non-Christians against his administration, and accusing him of giving preferential treatment to Christianity? Today, they know there is a God who answers prayers. Let’s remember Aklufo-Addo was recently in Israel to wail at the Wailing Wall. The real wailing and gnashing of teeth awaits them, I daresay! And they have quickly cashed in on the friction between Otabil and the NDC to do “nyamanyama” politics, creating the impression that the NDC’s problem is not limited to Otabil and other members of the clergy, but also extends to the entire segment of the Ghanaian population calling themselves Christians. By their denigration, then, the NDC is anti-Christian and must be voted against as such. This is what I call “nyamanyama” politics of divisiveness. And it sucks! Here is the cause. A deputy communications director of the NPP, Sammy Awuku, says the behavior of the governing NDC towards the church does not qualify the NDC for the votes of the Christian community.

He indicated on Joy FM’s Top Story that he would be scandalized should Christendom, upon all the seeming opposition shown towards them by the NDC, cast their votes for the government (Myjoyonline, Nov. 19, 2012). He had better prepare himself for that shock. The millions of Ghanaians who dislike the NPP know why.

The party’s elitist politics has its roots in what the UGCC and UP tradition established in the pre-independence era, which was further reinforced in the immediate post-independence period and carried over to this 4th Republic is nauseating. Nothing has changed in its attitude to politics. The problem with this kind of narrow politicking is that it portrays the NPP followers (especially those in the party who matter because of being the money bags funding the party’s activities or well-placed personalities pulling strings) as not only being empty braggarts but also as people who belong to a cabal, using political connections to pursue selfish interests. And they are so wrapped up in their own self-importance as not to want to identify with the vast majority of ordinary Ghanaians unless at election time.

Such useless self-absorption undergirds their presenting themselves as Ghana’s intellectuals and kicking against every progressive idea/vision that doesn’t emanate from their quarters. They think they are the repository of knowledge and all outsiders are the scum of the society to be avoided like the plague. Sitting on their high horses of arrogance, they serve their own interests, using their mantra of “property-grabbing democracy” as the motivation. Times have changed but they have refused to adapt. That is why they still find it difficult to sell themselves without making all kinds of high-sounding promises or harping on trivial issues. Or inciting ethnic or religious divisions for political purposes. They are adept at manipulation of public sentiments, using their surrogates in public life such as the identifiable organizations masquerading as civil society groups or Non-Governmental Organizations and the mass media to foment tension. We know how they manipulate these institutions and lackeys.

As happened just before the 2000 elections when the NDC lost power to the NPP, they have resorted to fear-mongering and manipulation of the market forces, using the Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) again. The reported escalation in prices of food items is the direct upshot of GUTA and the others’ activities, ostensibly to register their discontent at the government and create antipathy for it.

The agitations by GUTA and consequent locking of shops in the Accra Central Business District as a way of demonstrating anger at the government’s inability to rout foreigners engaging in retail trade is another course of action. It’s all just a ruse. The real matter is the politics that such an institution is doing for the NPP.

What we see unfolding is part of the strategic plan that the NPP has rolled out to cause panic among the public in an attempt to erode confidence in the government.

Having already played the tribal card with little success, they have moved their sinister politicking to a higher notch of desperation. Now, it is recourse to incitement. By saying that Christians won’t (or shouldn’t) vote for the NDC, those in the NPP thinking the way this Awuku does are really out of touch with the dynamics of modern-day politicking.

Are they saying that those they know as Christians are only NPP sympathizers or that the NDC itself doesn’t have Christians in its fold to vote for it? Or that voting will be done on the basis of religious faith? Certainly, Awuku is playing on the intelligence of Ghanaians, using the Mensa Otabil controversy as a springboard. He exposes himself to ridicule and the NPP itself to scorn.

Are the NPP organizers saying that Otabil’s message has been wholeheartedly accepted by all Christians as a true reflection of their opinions and sentiments for which anything challenging Otabil qualifies an affront to them? Or that those they view as Christians are embittered because Otabil has been put on the spot for making utterances that have now caught up with him? How many Christians care about Otabil, anyway?

I don’t think that Ghanaian Christians have the kind of herd mentality that Awuku has ascribed to them.

The NPP’s provincial politicking is beyond belief at this stage. I see in what Awuku has said a clear element of fear and desperation. It is an unproductive attempt to play to the gallery.

Those Christians who are against the NDC know why and will do as they wish. They don’t outnumber other segments of the voting population who identify with the NDC.

It is clear from what is going on that the NPP’s organizers are sinking fast and exposing the drowning-man element in them—clawing at the last straw to stay afloat. Successful electioneering campaigns are not run this way. Those who do it this way will definitely be shocked on Election Day.

I shall return.

• E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

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