Saturday, July 16, 2016

NPP Campaign 2016: Are appointed officials performing their functions (2)?

I have had an opportunity to ask few objective individuals in my circle of friends with diverse political orientations and experience, about the running of the NPP`s campaign, and their answers show that the party is doing well. The party is definitely doing well, especially with its ability to resolve the internal conflicts which afflicted party over a long period and financial conundrums which always rear its ugly head to the chagrin of opposition party in our parts of the world.

Moreover, the presidential candidate, Nana Addo and his running mate, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia have all invested the last atom of their breath into the campaign by travelling to solicit for funds, meeting important interests and professional groups home and abroad to sell the party`s ideas, engaged in public lectures and media soirees and traveling to the countryside to market themselves to the grassroots voters. Other members of the campaign team have also been engaged in many important party obligations across the length and breadth of the country to ensure victory in this year`s elections.

In the view of this, the sanguine optimists of the party would aver that the party`s Campaign Team has so far performed creditably well, in the midst of snags which the party had to grapple with in the past and now. Some problems still persist with regard to how to get every member on board to campaign, but there is still room for improvement. Thus the genuine desire to obtain strong and functional campaign running on the grounds means the party has an obligation to assess, monitor and evaluate the performances of all the individuals appointed by the flagbearer, and are paid with hard earned cash of the party. The intention must be geared towards relieving off the appointments of the lazy and non-performing individuals from the Campaign Team, whilst appointing fresh, talented and hardworking people with ultimate vision of seeing the NPP emerged as the winner in 2016 election.

Campaign Team running is a serious business for serious minds and talents. The prerequisite for working in the campaign team is beyond sentimental and petty feelings of an appointee’s loyalty to a presidential candidate, the running mate or powerful party leaders. It is war out there. Experience, knowledge, sophistication, hard work, dexterity and fortitude are needed to defend and project the supreme interest of the party, the presidential candidate, as well as the policies and programmes of the party.

Who and who makes the Campaign Team?

In December 20th last year, Nana Addo, per the power reposed in him by the NPP national constitution took a giant step and officially unveiled the party`s Campaign Team at the 15th Extraordinary Annual Delegates' Conference of the party, under the theme  ‘Arise for Change 2016’, which took place at the Coronation Park, Sunyani, in the Brong Ahafo Region.

The names of the Campaign Team members, which currently graces the NPP`s official online portal, have the following people and their roles: Peter Mac Manu, National Campaign Manager, Hon. Daniel Kwaku Botwe, Campaign Strategist, Boakye Agyarko, Policy Adviser. Per the NPP`s campaign structure, these three and other members of the campaign team are to work harmoniously with the National Chairman (acting) of the party, and the 10 regional chairmen.

The rest of the Campaign team members include: John Boadu, the party`s National Organizer as the Head of Operations Directorate and he is assisted by Otiko Afisa Djaba (National Women’s Organizer); Sammy Awuku (National Youth Organizer); and Kamal-DeenAbdulai (National Nasara Co-ordinator).

Ken Ofori-Atta of  Databank is the Director of  Fundraising Committee, assisted, unfortunately, by the controversial Kwabena  Abankwa Yeboah, National Treasurer, Victor Newman, the ace and hardworking long-time Nana Addo loyalist, is the Director of Research, Edward Boateng, experienced media and advertising guru, is the Director of Campaign Administration and Logistics; as usual Martin Adjei Mensah-Korsah maintains his position as the Director of Elections, Joe Anokye is the Technology Director and Nana Akomea continues to serve as the Director of Communications Team.

A Taskforce for Special Operations is under the able chairmanship of the millionaire party man, Stephen Ayesu Ntim, and he is assisted by Dr. Gyiele Nurah and Stephen Yakubu.

The presidential Candidate also has Mustapha Hamid, Yaw Buaben Asamoa, and Olivia Quartey as his personnel spokespersons, whilst Musah Iddrisu Superior, Pius Hadzide, Charles Nii Teiko Tagoe, Justice Newton Offei, Fatimatu Abubakar, and Na Paga Tia Sulemana work as Campaign Aides to the Presidential Candidate.

The most significant appointment is the role given to the former President, John Agyekum Kufuor to head the National Campaign Advisory Council. This particular appointment is strategic, as it portrays and convinces Ghanaian voters that the ex-president has not only given his tacit support to Nana Addo, but he is also personally involved and actively participating in the campaign effort to get Nana Addo elected in 2016.

The Kufuor`s involvement and Alan Kwadwo Kyeremanten`s active participation; gallivanting the hook and crannies of the country to canvass support for the presidential candidate, has also diffused both NPP internal party and external opposition propagandists arguments that NPP is a divided party.

Candidly speaking, even some pro-Nana Addo loyalist would have wished that the duo, Kufuor and Kyeremanten, whom they have branded as the pariah in the party should not have been involved in the campaign at all, so that in the any unlikely event of  NPP`s inability to win the 2016 elections, Kufuor and Kyeremanten could be blamed once again. This would have served as potent propaganda package that could be utilized within the future NPP internal party presidential and parliamentary primaries to get their favoured candidates elected. The propaganda mischief of citing the duo and their loyalists as consistently working against the presidential ambitions of current flagbearer was used in the 2008, 2010 and 2014 Congresses (presidential primaries) of the party.

How has the Campaign Team members performed?

The main aspect of the National Campaign team involves professional management of people with effective strategy to achieve electoral victory.  The ideal National Campaign Team has positions such as the National Campaign Manager, the Campaign Chairman, the Chief Strategist, Deputy Campaign Manager, the Senior Policy Advisor for recruitment and selection of party workers/volunteers, Policy Director, the Senior Advisor /Strategist (pollster) and his deputy. There is also a Director of Research, General Counsel to the Campaign, and the Administrative Officer. The NPP seems to have positions of similar nature.

The national Campaign team chairman, Mac Manu is an astute businessman and the former national party chairman cum regional chairman. His success in winning elections as Western regional chairman was not replicated as the national chairman. Indeed, His tenureship (2006-2010) as the NPP chairman saw the fortunes of the party taking downward trajectory, and subsequently, a catalytic move of the NPP government from power to opposition. Interestingly, Nana Addo was the presidential candidate of the NPP whom Mac Manu`s executive failed to get him elected.

Thus, Mac Manu`s appointment for the position aroused dire criticism and apprehension from various quarters within and outside the party. The question that was on the lips of his critics was, “how can the man who took the NPP from government to opposition help to get Nana Addo elected? Or is he being offered the job because he is Nana Addo loyalist?” Whatever experience and magic wand he has in his amour to win elections this time around, only the future can predict.

However, I am very optimistic that he has a reason to work hard and succeed this time to prove his critics within and outside NPP circles wrong. Mac Manu`s representation of the party at the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), swift meetings with various party chairmen to work out strategies, and his ability to stay above factionalism within the party by remaining neutral in his utterances has shown that he really mean business. In the time that most party folks have taken pettiness and propagandist path to always sing a song in praise of particular leader, Mac Manu`s maturity in staying the course of his campaign work without deviating into hero-worshiping is quite impressive.

The choice of Dan Botwe and Boakye Agyarko as campaign strategist and policy advisors respectively, is also one of the smartest moves ever. Already, NPP campaign has witnessed massive strategic move in the manner its campaign is being run. The regional campaign teams are engaged in massive campaign within their jurisdictions without too much reliance on the national campaign team to come down with cash to propel it. Catchy and timely campaign messages are strategically released at appropriate times to achieve their desired impact.

There is more grassroots involvement now than in 2012. What is just missing is the inability of the party to integrate the peeved party factions into the campaign teams. This is where Dan Botwe as a strategist must find serious solutions to convince his employer (the flagbearer) and his die-hard loyalists to allow some elements who opposed him at the NPP primaries and the short-lived imbroglio with Afoko, Agyapong and Crabbe, but have certain organizational skills, talents and competence in assisting the party to win more votes to come on board.

Boakye Agyarko is no doubt an experienced banker, but he is yet to taste political glory. His former role as NPP`s national campaign manager was a fiasco. He did little to bring dynamism into the campaign, though huge sums of money were spent in 2012 elections. Agyarko has no excuse but to shine in his currently role, because that is his terrain. The NPP has not rolled out its entire campaign manifesto and policies out. According to the party, this is to avert situations where the NDC plagiarizes NPP`s policies into their party manifesto.

But, it would be quite right, if Boakye Agyarko can develop mini policy booklets for the trusted NPP communicators to be used in their media programmes and door-to-door outreach programmes at the grassroots level.

For the party executives roped into the campaign team such as Boadu, Awuku, Otiko, and Kamal-Deen, their personal competence and hard work is without doubt. Though, allegations of financial impropriety and chameleon tactics has been leveled against John Boadu, but he is a hard-worker; all he need to prove to all and sundry is that his interest and focus for his multi-faceted roles in the NPP is not mainly to amass wealth off the party.  In the case of Ken Ofori-Atta, even his greatest enemy would admit that the investment banker is the best man for his job, but the greatest threat to his work is Kwabena Abankwa Yeboah, the man who was alleged to have single-handedly opened new bank accounts in the name of the party to enjoy the fruits thereof. There are two conflicting reports of his financial impropriety in the management of the party funds.

This kind of man deserves no seat near the party campaign finances, and let alone renowned banker like Ken Ofori-Atta.

Victor Newman has had a long stint as an NPP Director of Research. An unrepentant Nana Addo loyalist, he has been engaged in research for the NPP since the party came into existence in 1992. His vast wealth of experience and mental fortitude is impressive. He is one single individual who will go into the hades to find victory for Nana Addo if necessary.

However, the recent litanies of propaganda and gaffes which has exposed the party into public ridicule gives a whiff of proof that old Victor is losing his research touch, or someone else is controlling the department. “Seibitically” speaking (apologies to Nana AwereDamoah), the party`s communicators both on the media and the social networks now trade in common lies, pedestrian debates, wanton play into the gallery and outright spewing of trash with no shame at all. Communicators raise arguments and defend issues with no recourse to any researched data to back their claims. That is clear case of research handicap, and the blame falls directly on the doorsteps of the old Victor.

If he really thinks that by making the NPP communicators behave like the NDC media goons, the NPP can counteract the NDC propaganda boot for boot, then he has lost the cardinal understanding of the role research information play in the act of political persuasion. The NPP can always engage in propaganda just like the NDC, but must at the same give the partycommunicators researched and data-backed information as a killer-punch to deal with their opponents.

 The fix

One of the major problems associated with recruitment and appointments of individuals for the national campaign team of a political party is the issue of loyalty. Presidential Candidates and their close loyalists who have worked hard for presidential primaries are always apprehensive and suspicious of recruiting and appointing people outside of their inner circles.

The situation makes it quite difficult to recruit the best skilled, talented and hardworking opponents of the losing candidates in their intra-party presidential primaries into their fold after successfully clinching a victory for their candidate. The conundrum amplifies when money starts to flow into the campaign team, and the individuals whose effort are best utilized in the intra-party presidential primaries also expressed their interest in getting some appointments in the national campaign teams to get their beaks whet. Godfathers in the party, big-wigs and loyalists angle like vultures to take slice of positions for their “boys-boys and girls-girls” who have done the donkey-jobs for them, and the presidential candidate.

These powerful interest groups around the presidential candidates do not care if these “boys-boys and girls-girls” as well as other loyal people they bring on board to be appointed actually possesses the requisite skills, talent or hardworking traits or not.

What the powerful political interest groups in the party also fears most is the appointment of people outside their party, especially the professionals from the private sector. Thus in our contemporary Ghanaian politics, political parties have resorted to recruiting Western election experts, advisors and pollsters.

Sasha Issenberg, the author of “The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns,” argues that campaigns grow quickly when the need arises or when the money comes in. It’s also hard to convince good people to leave stable, well-paying jobs for a gig with an expiration date.”  For this reason, he says, "Campaigns have never done a consistently good job at hiring people from outside the world of politics."
What the political campaigns typically do is that the Department heads individually bring people on as needed, and usually those people come from their inner circles.

"The thing about politics is that it is really a word-of-mouth game," says James Hohmann, national political correspondent for the Washington Post, who has rubbed shoulders with countless staffers in the three presidential elections he's covered. "A lot of times people get put in important positions because they happened to show up or they know a friend . . . there is a really ad hoc nature to how it works."

The problem with inner circles, of course, is that they tend to look like the (bourgeoisie class, and their friends or particular ethnic) people at their centers, potentially perpetuating the lack of diversity—an acknowledged problem in the NPP today.

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