Saturday, July 16, 2016

NPP Campaign 2016: Are appointed officials performing their functions (1)?

When Dan Kweku Botwe, was the NPP General Secretary he was less involved in radio talk show, but ever-present to speak to the media on what his party was doing to win elections. One of his common phrases was, “for the NPP every day is an election day for us. Our campaign starts immediately after elections are declared.” 

In the affairs of NPP today, one finds it hard to believe if what Dan Botwe used to communicate to the party is still the case. All evidence shows that NPP is not the same party again, and Dan Botwe himself has also undergone complete metamorphosis after his role as the chief party scribe, Minister of state and a Member of Parliament. Thus, Dan in a recent parliamentary election held at Tema West Constituency, usurped and flouted party convention to be part of NPP parliamentarians who went to the Constituency to canvass support from the delegates for his fellow and unpopular MP, Irene Naa Torshie Addo. She lost miserably, anyway!


Despite the changing faces of NPP after its recent internecine internal rift that characterized Paul Afoko, the former party Chairman, Sammy Crabbe second vice chairman and Kwabena Agyei Agyapong`s and successful resolution of the conflict via an unprecedented dismissals of the trio, the party, at least, has shown that they really mean business and intend to capture power from the corrupt John Mahama-led NDC administration. 
Strategically, the presidential candidate made very important appointments for the party. A communications Team of the party was rolled out in November 2014 with Nana Akomea, former GTV Talking Point host, MP for Okaikoi South and one-time Minister of Information retaining his position as the head of the Communications team, and assisted by Perry Okudzeto (who used to hold the same position until Afoko`s team threw him out in a cold shower), Anthony Karbo (former Youth Organizer), Yaw Adomako Baafi, Mike Ocquaye Jnr, and Maame Afua Akoto.   

In tandem with NPP constitution which also gives overwhelming powers to the flagbearer, just like our national constitution also obnoxiously gives power to the president to appoint all manner of persons into state offices, the presidential candidate also appointed one-time letters to the editor specialist and the fire-eating Sunyani-based private legal practitioner, as the Deputy General Secretary with both Daniel Denteh and Nuhu Mahama clinging the roles of deputy National Organizers, Salam Mustapha and Dominic Adiyah were drafted as Deputy National Youth Organizers. Diana Karikari and Hajia S. Saeed also earned their pay-dayas the deputies to the National Women’s Organizer, Otiko Afisa Djaba.

Structures of the Communications Team and roles of appointees

For anybody who is political astute, the general notion is that the role of the communications team in political campaign is the most crucial, hottest and the nerve centre that all the major political activities revolved around. Without a communications team, a party is useless. In the same vein, without talented, hardworking, intelligent and qualified or skilled personnel occupying important roles in the communications team, the party machinery is also useless.  A good and well-organized political party`s Communications team structure with the matrix of overall party`s Campaign Team has roles for the party executives (The Chairmen, General Secretary, National Organizer, National Women`s Organizer, Youth Organizer, National Treasure and other important members of the party). In United States, for instance, a Communications team of a party has role for the Communications Director, Directors and advisors for digitals, social media and the new media. There is a special role of a spokesperson for the National Campaign Team, a chief technology officer and Director of grassroots engagement. 

The Communications Director work is the most important; and he does not often leave his office to court publicity attention nor talk to the media “by-heart”. The focus of this office is to administrate over all the communication issues of the campaign, liaising with team members to work with other regional, constituency and ward campaign team members across the country. Thus, the Director of Communications team often issues press releases, and strategic communicators are allowed to speak to issues that affect the party to enable the Director to operate effectively. The use of strategic communicators to speak on the party issues brings diversity, novelty and formidability into the information given to the public. This is why the choice of other Communications Team members is very important and should never ever be based on sentimental reasons of the individuals loyalty and friendship (of whatsoever kind) to the presidential candidate or his close family members. So instead of Communications director wasting his precious party-paying time hopping from one radio to the other like a serial social commentator, they devote their time to work underground to couch effective communications strategies to give well-researched and packaged offensive messages that obliterate their opponents into smithereens, and also defensive messages that quell the most obnoxious negative attacks against their party and the presidential candidate. That is what a Communications director is paid to do, nothing more, nothing less. 

The National Campaign Spokesperson must also be the most intelligent and experienced professional political communicator. Smart and talented new Turks in the party with or without political experience can also be recruited for the role. He must be effective speaker who can think under pressure and conjure shocking and intelligent response at all time, when the media calls on him or during interviews. The role Campaign Team spokesperson play must not be mixed with that of the hosts of presidential candidate`s spokespersons who often highjack the roles of the Campaign team spokesperson. Clear lines of engagements, as to “who say what” and “for who” must be rolled out to avoid internal rivalries and duplication of roles. 

The Director of Digitals deals with basically all information pertaining to digital productions such as TV, Radio, video, mobile phone, electronic signboard, cartoon image generation and other digital outlet messages. The Director of Social Media organizes and always work with the research team to ensure constant flow of valuable information in favor of his party and damning against his opponents’ to social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, You Tube, Wassapp and others. The technology officer ensures which appropriate technology can be used to couch messages and how it can be delivered on a technological platform. Another important member is the Director of Grassroots Engagement. This dude actually brings the real information from the original and the majority voters who decides who should be the president of the country. The role can be given to the deputies of the party positions, especially deputy youth organizers. This role also requires certain attributes as a result of the individuals that the director of grassroots engagement has to interact with. This means the choice for this position must be someone who is easy-going, patient, good listener, respectful and sensitive to people(s) feelings, non-pompous/arrogant and or not prone to desire to always show his affection for material things (coat-coat bourgeoisie).

Performances of NPP Communications Team appointees

When one apply these principles of good and effective roles for the appointees for Communications Team of a Political party and its Campaign Team, one would realize the NPP`s Communications outfit does not only lack requisite personnel to do the right things, but there is also lack of appropriate roles for positions such as the Director for Grassroots Engagement, and other media. Let’s take, Nana Akomea, for example, he has been hardworking and effective communicator for NPP, but the man overstretches himself to a boring point. He speaks when supposed to shut up and allow strategically recruited, talented and professional communicators in his party to respond appropriately. No man has the world knowledge in their cranium alone. When one try to speak to issues that are not in his domain he tends to betray his shallowness of the subject matter, and this can make one look ridiculous to the public or reduce the confidence the public have in the person. Nana Akomea, has been making this mistake since 2012, and he has not learnt his lessons at all. 

He go to most radio programmes and clash with irrelevant NDC “little minds” or “babies with sharp teeth who make fun of him or pick irrelevant verbal fights with him on air. That is not what Communications Director of a party or campaign team is paid to do! Nana Akomea must solve NPP`s communications problems and find strategy to release right people to fight NPP`s cause. He alone cannot take the party into ransom in his overt desire to prove that he is better communicator than others in NPP. That may not be his reason, but, I am sorry that is the perception he has left out there in the public domain. I wonder if the party has undertaken any audience research to ascertain the effectiveness of their communicators and party officials, and how the public (voters) perceives them.

Anthony Abayifa Karbo`s inclusion in the Communications Team with Maame Afua Akoto, as deputy communications directors was the most appalling, shameful and not-well thought-out. For Karbo, he is an intelligent and politically skillful person, no doubt about that. But the gentleman failed monumentally as the National Youth Organizer of the NPP. His administration saw the greatest ineptitude and dormancy of the NPP youth wing. He was always traveling outside the country to attend meetings than engaging in local and grassroots politics. His ineffectiveness made him became jolly unpopular amongst the NPP youths. He refused to seek reelections as youth organizer because of his abysmal performance. Thus paving window of opportunity for Sammy Awuku`s popularity to soar and the rise to fame by claiming the position of the National Youth Organizer. 

Karbo`s position as the NPP parliamentary candidate in the Lawra Constituency should have also informed whoever advised the presidential candidate to appoint him to stop. How is he going to combine both roles, and emerge as either victorious as MP elect of Lawra, or a successful deputy communications director of the NPP? Is he the only intelligent NPP and outspoken NPP youth from the North or minority ethnic group, if the mischief behind his appointment was to procure ethnic diversity? It is not yet too late, Karbo can be relieved off his post to enable him put all his adequate attention to secure Lawra for the NPP. 

It`s been so long since we last had it under Karbo`s own father in the 1950s-70s. 

For Maame Afua Akoto, when one hears that a whole mighty NPP has given such role to her, in the sea of abundant and highly intelligent, well-qualified NPP women, it feels like you must either cry or feel pity for our dear. Haba! Since when did NPP become so low? Were we looking for seaside and market price haggling shouting bout contestant or intelligent ideas to be used strategically to achieve electoral victory? What is her track record and what is she bringing on board? So far she is the same old girl with serious friendship ties (of various nature, I am not saying “Khaki no bi leather o!”) with the party big-shots, but has no intellectual gravitas, professional skills and ideas. Her capability as communicator saw her losing miserably to Brian Acheampong at Kwahu Mpreaso. 

As for talk, everybody can talk, in fact, fools are notorious talkers, but not everybody is a communicator. We communicate to persuade, change attitudes and decisions and reinforce existing ones. That is what Maame Afua Akoto cannot do, because she lacks the requisite skills in that department. Some people who can talk like her kind have their effective usages in our politics as agent provocateurs or the verbal militant fringes against political opponents of similar nomenclature, but not as assistant communications director of a political party (My Gosh! NPP paanie!). 

Her inability to add value or be used in any form at the upper echelon of the party, demands her immediate sack to enable the party to recruit quality, hardworking and intelligent women of caliber to add value, dynamism and progress to the work of NPP Communications outfit. I recently heard (if the rumor is right), that she is using the presidential candidate’s name to undermine the works of the National Women`s Organizer, Otiko Djaba. 

Afua Akoto`s  closeness to the presidential candidate is without doubt at all, and only a fool will stand in her way in NPP. Even big men, civil society guys, party boys and girls are so afraid of her and loathe her at the same time, but shows her fun fool respect to maintain their positions or get new ones. If you think lack of intelligence, skills and ideas are handicapped tools in politics then you have not met this lady. Even skin tone matters in politics, and for a woman, power to become deputy Communications director! (apologies to Bukom Banku). 


For the appointment of other deputies, Adomako Baafi, Pery Okudzeto and Mike Gabo Ocquaye, there is no doubt about their skills in various fields which they bring to bear in their communications delivery. Adomako Baafi`s style represents the grassroots kind which the NPP needs at the upper level to formulate a comprehensive grassroots communications in consonance with the party`s overall communications strategy to inform the lower class of their ability to deliver public goods to them better than the NDC. 

For Nana Obiri Boahen, he has also been more loyal to Nana Addo than the NPP party. He should know that the era of Afoko, Agyapong and Crabbe is over. No need for him to fight with party people over that chapter. He must also denounce his propaganda slurs for the right people in the party to roll them out. NPP has a reputation of being a decent party, though we can also do dirty politics when opponents bring them on but the party has people for that kind of job. In fairness he has been doing just fine, and as an important counter-measure to his Bono brother, Asiedu Nketiah, the NDC General Secretary. Has acerbic tongue and silly talks gone down, largely to all the members of NPP communications Team and Nana Obiri Boahen.

Salam`s burden, Awuku`s intentional fame

Salam Mustapha is still in the doldrums. He has the requisite intellectual capacity, manpower, the political verve and above all, ideas, all he needs to do is to wake up and be all over the place. Lot of young people are unaware of his presence as one of Sammi Awuku`s deputies. Some people think he is slow and weak, but those who know him very can attest to his efficacy as a dependable political hand. His organizing track record with that of Akbar Khomeini in Tamale is without any question at all. 

Perhaps, Salam was not fortunate to be under a meteoric rise of Sami Awuku, a young man whose creativity, hard work, organizational and tactical skills, diplomacy, and popularity have become a novel tradition in the NPP. Awuku, is now like an institution amongst the NPP youth, and has just dwarfed his deputies through no fault of his too. It happens everywhere, when a personality like Awuku is your boss.

The NPP Communications team has been doing well, but it is not enough at all. The party deserves better from them. The presidential candidate in consultation with his advisors must undertake periodic research on his appointees, and relieved the undeserving and wasted appointees in the upper echelons of the communications team, per his findings, to pave way for new and valuable additions. 

NPP has zillions of talented, skilled, professional, amateur and hardworking people waiting on the peripheries to work for their party (some for free) at appropriate departments.

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