As the former President, J. A. Kufuor would say “power can trick you”. When people begin to enjoy its sweetness, they tend to forget that it has its bitter side as well. Well, every form of power can be dangerous if it is not handled properly. In the case of political power, it is even more dangerous because it can easily get you drunk and cause you to make unwise decisions till you lose it. It is rather strange that the only time political parties learn to cherish power is when they are in opposition.
See how John Mahama is currently crisscrossing the country with the hope to win back the power he carelessly relinquished to Nana Addo in 2016, as a “dead goat” President. Only God knows the number of times the thought “had I known” has crossed his mind since he left office. He was so drunk with power that he virtually became a dead goat at one point in time. Power tricked him.
The NPP is currently enjoying the sweetness of power and, from every indication, some of the party members seem to have gotten drunk with it. Some of our people seem to have forgotten that political power finds its way back into the hands of the electorates every four years.
As our elders would say “good living can be a recipe for forgetfulness”. Indeed, some people seem drunk and have even forgotten what happened in the 2020 elections.
Instead of tickling ourselves to laugh as though all is well, let us painfully pinch ourselves to remind ourselves that there is a market out there that holds the power to make and unmake political parties every four years. To this market, we must necessarily go and sell our product (candidate) in 2024 for power.
Therefore, marketability (not popularity or fat envelopes) becomes the most important factor we must consider in the party’s presidential candidate selection process. Unfortunately, the marketability factor seems to be missing in the arguments. The frivolities are becoming one too many. What is the essence of producing something you consider to be good when the intended market has no taste for it? It is not for nothing that market analysis always precedes production.
The fact is that the marketability of a product is not a function of the producer’s preference; it is a function of the consumer’s preference. What would the people in the market buy easily, should always be the first question to ask before a production decision is made. You don’t produce anything you like and then force it on the people. No! It doesn’t work that way.
That is why it is said that in an economy where the people have the right to freely choose what to buy, it is the people (consumers) who indicate to the producer what to produce. In short, the market determines what to produce. It is for this reason that I believe we should enlighten our delegates to understand the distinction between producing a national chairman and a presidential candidate.
Quite honestly, when you hear some of the arguments people make, it makes you wonder as to whether Alan, Bawumia, Agyarko, Joe Ghartey, and the rest would be vying for the position of National Chairman. You see, when a political party produces its National Chairman, the person only operates within the confines of the party structures. He or she is not sold on the political market out there for votes.
As a political party that wants to retain power, we cannot afford to be too comfortable in our own space and think that all is well for 2024. Truth be told, all is not well out there. Therefore, the last thing we should do is to pick the wrong candidate for 2024.
However, when a party produces a presidential candidate, the person would have to be sold on the political market for votes. That is why the arguments shouldn’t sound as though we are going to produce someone to manage the party. For example, making the “Akan Party” argument with respect to the selection of a presidential candidate is quite ridiculous, weak, and mundane.
With all due respect, that argument should be made in relation to the election of a national chairman. The party can decide to rotate the National Chairman position because it is within the power of the party to do so. The same cannot be said in respect of the selection of a presidential candidate. This is because the power to make one president lies in the bosom of the political market (not a political party).
Thus, when it comes to the production of a presidential candidate to win votes, the argument must always center on the marketability factor. After all, a political party is a production unit that produces candidates and manifestoes for sale on the political market for power.
Ipso facto, the market is so competitive and unpredictable that no political party has won three straight terms since 1992. So, there shouldn’t be any room for frivolities.
At this point, I would present to you the nature and four significant features of the Ghanaian political market in which both the NPP and the NDC would be offering their products (presidential candidates) for sale in 2024. And, as I always do, fairness, frankness, and objectivity would have their way.
The Market is Slightly Dominated by Women:
In terms of gender, the market is slightly dominated by women. According to the provisional results of the just-ended 2021 population census, women constitute 50.7% while men constitute 49.7%.
Considering the role women from all walks of life, particularly the market traders play in politics, no serious political party that wants to win power would ignore this factor in its decision-making process in respect of the selection of its presidential candidate.
The Market is Overly Dominated by Christians:
Per the current available Ghana Statistical Service figures, in terms of faith, the political market is overly dominated by Christians (71.2%), followed by Muslims (17.6%), Traditionalists (5.2%), and the rest (0.8%). Interestingly, there are approximately 5.2% of Ghanaians are without faith.
Considering the fact that there is a greater number of people who are so fanatic and passionate about their faith, no serious political party would dare to ignore this very important factor in its decision-making process.
The Youth Dominate the Market with their Presence and Activities:
The youth constitute the most active segment of the market. They are the main influencers in the market. According to the country’s national youth policy, youth is defined as those between 15-35 years.
And, if you consider the fact that 57% of the country’s population are under the age of 25, then you can appreciate the significance of their number and influence in the market.
Considering the fact that youth unemployment is the major problem confronting this country currently, no serious party would ignore the youth factor in its decision-making process as to which candidate has what it takes, in terms of performance record and message to give hope to the teeming unemployed youth. Any party that can win the youth in 2024, would most likely win the election.
The Market is Significantly Akan-dominated:
Besides, the political market is made up of over 100 tribes and ethnic groups. The Akans dominate the market with their 47.5% presence. They are followed by Dagbani (17%), Ewe (14%), Ga-Adangbe (7%), Gurma (6%), Guan (4%), Gurunsi (2.5%) and Bisa (1%).
Considering the fact politics is a game of numbers and every party has its strongholds, no serious political party would dare ignore this important factor when making a decision, especially in a critical election like the 2024 election. This is where the presidential candidate and the vice-presidential candidate combination tactically comes to play.
More significantly, considering the fact that communication plays a major role in politics, the question of which candidate has the ability to communicate and connect well with the dominant groups in the market becomes very imperative.
Again, the question of which candidate has the character, personality, and message to attract massive election-winning votes from the market, also becomes very imperative in the process.
Sounding metaphorical in my conclusion, let me quietly ask this question: would the NPP keep its banana in the pocket and entice the hungry angry monkeys with an apple in this monkey sanctuary of ours?
Remember, what is at stake is POWER; not personality. I shall surely return if the Lord permits.
Columnist: Ebo Buckman
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