Hamlet: To be, or not to be, that is the question
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep:
No more, and by a sleep to say we end
The heart – ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ‘tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d.
Hamlet: Act 3: Scene 1
“I cannot ignore these calls, especially when, among those urging me to run, are those who admit to supporting my opponents in previous contests, whether within the NPP or in national elections.”
Nana Addo: Speech on Return from Sojourn
PREDICTIONS IN POLITICS can be tricky and when one commits oneself to doing active politics, it is difficult to wean the person out of it. Like Justin Bieber, one can never say never in politics – for some people, it is the constituents who urge them, they being unwilling pawns in political contests. Members of the opposition New Patriotic Party (the elephantine Kukrudites) had been on tenterhooks, waiting in earnest anticipation to hear something specific from the man who had led them twice into national elections and failed twice to get them the diadem.
While taking time in Europe to reflect on what to do in, or with, his political life, the political pundits back in Ghana were conjecturing, permuting, hypothesizing, and speculating the likely fallout from the man himself: some had predicted the man would quit active politics, and possibly, throw his weight behind his number two man, Dr Mumuni Bawumia who had won the hearts of many in the party, as well as others outside of it. Perhaps, Nana would not anticipate or contemplate a playback of the 2012 scenario in which seventeen aspirants unadvisedly competed for flag bearer-ship. At that time, Honourable Asiedu-Nketia, the NDC General Secretary, as was his custom, did as was expected of him, describing them as a gang of seventeen thieves, pirates, buccaneers, predators, purloiners, robbers, highwaymen and stealers contriving, conspiring and conniving to select their skipper.
But did I hear someone say the pendulum appeared to be swinging to support a possible third time for the young -old man? In presenting oldie Mills, the NDC reminded Ghanaians that one makes three visits to the oracles to seek solace. You would hear die hard and not so die – hard supporters of the NPP proclaim: “if Nana Addo does not stand, I will not vote at all” Supporters of other aspirants are now silent- perhaps adopting a calculated quietness, or a wait-and-see stance.
At the press conference in his childhood home of Nima, Nana Addo declared: “With great humility, therefore, I can announce that when the party opens nominations sometime this year, I shall be ready, God willing, to contest for the position of NPP presidential candidate for the 2016 general election”. He had chosen two professions that had no age limit- law and politics.
Nana Addo was savvy enough, not to announce himself as the flag bearer for the NPP. The party is yet to decide who the flag bearer becomes, and other interested competitors are lacing their boots to give their luck a test.
Commenting on the leadership qualities required of NPP top – notch, and coinciding with the announcement of Nana Akufo Addo, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku enunciated the need for “strong leadership” to win power from the NDC. To him, it was unsafe to “rely on the fact that the economy was not doing well to automatically win the election as the situation now is not different from that of 2012”.This appears to be an innocuous observation, and those NPP members who think they can win power from the NDC without effort are deceiving themselves, since the economy can improve, and NDC know of so “many ways of killing a cat” whether the phrase is an allusion to forcing judges to “toe the line” or “rig elections”.
The loquacious Arthur – Kennedy was of the view that Nana Addo ought to check himself after taking NPP twice to the polls and failing twice to win. Yes, Nana Addo has checked himself, and sees himself “… spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, intellectually, physically, and patriotically strong enough to remain in the hury-burly of frontline politics”.
Coincidentally, Dr Apraku and Dr Arthur Kennedy were part of the electioneering team for the NPP during the 2012 election campaign. As was to be expected, Johnson Asiedu – Nketia rubbished the possibility of Nana –Addo’s flag bearership of the NPP. As far as Asiedu –Nketia was concerned, they (NDC),”… welcome him with enthusiasm. We can’t wait to face him in 2016. We know his strengths and weaknesses. He will be an easy match for us in 2016.”
In an analysis which is difficult to understand in a presidential race in Ghana, Asiedu Nketia stated that Nana Akufo – Addo won four regions in the 2008 election against Prof John Evans Atta Mills but got only two regions in 2012 elections against President John Dramani Mahama. One is advised to refrain from arguments that tend to link us to regionalism, ethnicity and tribalism. The 1992 Constitution only mentions in Article 63 Clause 3 that: “A person shall not be elected as President of Ghana unless at the presidential election the number of votes cast in his favour is more than fifty percent of the total number of the valid votes cast at the election”. Thus as far as presidential election is concerned, the whole country is one constituency. So, what is the basis for the analysis by Asiedu – Nketia? If it is not a veiled attempt just to pin the tag of NPP as Akan- Party, then we would be surprised what else the Nketiaic analysis seeks to do. Dr Tony Aidoo admonishes the Mahama’s administration to see Nana Addo’s coming as a ‘wake – up call’ to NDC. The NDC must work hard to challenge the renewed vigour in NPP, he seems to say.
But at age 72 when he begins the crucial fight, will Nana Addo have been too old? How did the septuagenarians fare in their respective countries? – Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Ayatolla Khomeni, the controversial Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa at age 75. What are the septuagenarians doing in their respective countries: Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was 73 years when she became President of Sierra Leone in 2011; Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire; Michael Sata stood in opposition for a long time and vied for president of Zambia four times until he won in 2011 at the age of 74. The closest analogy one can think of is Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal. Born on 29th May, 1926-he could even have been born earlier, since record-keeping in those times was not particularly healthy- he was 74 years when he became President of Senegal in 2000. Holding two PhDs in Economics and Law, he had run for President of Senegal four times. When President Leopold Sedar Senghor declared he would not stand again in late 1980, he chose Abdou Diouf who beat Wade to second place in 1983 and 1988.
Wade’s luck ran out when on 14th July, 2011, he declared in Wolof Language, ‘ma waxoon waxeet’ (meaning “I said it, I (can) take it back”) referring to his earlier decision not to run for the third term. His popularity waned and he was beaten in the run – off of the 2012 April election by Macky Sall. Ghanaians can remember President John Atta Mills at age 68 doing physical exercise at the Kotoka Airport to demonstrate his unfailing strength. Was it necessary?
One would have thought that old age (whatever that is) with white hair would endow one with sagacity, perhaps sans physical strength. Political administration is not weightlifting or boxing, to demand macho-men. It is brain, not brawn. It would only be a matter of selecting a solid crop of seasoned and selfless men and women to run the affairs of the country- people who would only want to make a name, not money. It will not be like the imaginary situation where a recently graduated man becomes a Minister of Education or a Deputy and lectures his former Professors and lecturers on the ‘benefits of University education’. Or is it real?