Tuesday, 20 September 2016

NDC 2016 Manifesto


The ruling National Democratic Congress over the weekend launched its manifesto for the 2016 election in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region. The event was colourful, spotless and well attended. There is no empirical scientific study to show the extent to which manifestos influence Ghanaians in their voting. It is incontrovertible however that a chunk of Ghanaians vote primarily on party affiliations. A few others are influenced by factors such as tribe, religion, old school and physical appearance. In any case, manifestoes have become an integral part of Ghana's electoral process and every serious political party is expected to clearly spell out its vision for the nation. It should be so because elections must be issues driven. We cannot continue to allow mundane factors to determine people we elect to govern us. That is why it is appalling that the NDC manifesto is coming this late. The manifesto should have been outdoored months ago to afford Ghanaians enough time to scrutinize it. The case for the main opposition party, the New Patriotic Party is even worse. It is sad that the party intends to make public its manifesto on the 8th of next month, just two months before the election.

One may ask what useful purpose will it serve looking at the timing? It does not portray the NPP as hungry enough for power. As the largest opposition party with a real likelihood of winning the election, the NPP should be doing better than that. As for arguments that the ideas will be stolen when the party releases its manifesto earlier, the least said about it the better. The NDC manifesto is titled Changing Lives , Transforming Ghana. The President and Leader of the NDC, John Mahama indicated that the party's policies, programmes and projects have been directed at putting people first, building a strong and resilient economy, expanding infrastructure for accelerated growth and jobs, and advancing transparent and accountable governance.

In 2012, the party made a number of promises to the good of people. In the educational sector for instance, the party promised construction of 200 Community Day Senior High Schools, introduction of progressively free secondary education, construction of 10 new colleges of education, university in the Eastern Region and elimination of the remaining schools under trees. Similar mouthwatering promises were made in the areas of the economy, health, agriculture and infrastructure. Four years down the line, the records are there for Ghanaians to judge. They have to decide whether or not the party has delivered on its promises to their satisfaction, which should warrant a renewal of mandate. With the launch of the 2016 manifesto, the NDC is making fresh promises. The party undertakes to improve the quality of education and health and make them easily accessible and affordable, improve on the country's infrastructure in terms of road and rail network, sea and air transport, revamp old factories and build new ones, revamp agriculture and promote tourism, and tackle unemployment and corruption. These ideas are great, no doubt about that, but as Vice President and running mate to the party's flagbearer acknowledged, good manifestoes do not vote for themselves. It is up to the rank and file of the party to go out there and explain the programmes to the voters. In so doing, the party will have to convince Ghanaians about the feasibility of their ideas. They will also have to show that the party is capable of delivering on its manifesto.

As the incumbent, the NDC will have to demonstrate by its track record, how well it has delivered on its previous manifestos. This election should be fought on the basis of demonstrable competence and capability. While the Presidential Candidate of the NDC, being the incumbent President should be judged based on his performance over the last four years, the other candidates should also be judged based on how effectively they have led their parties so far. In fact, if one cannot be said to have ably led his or her party and kept it tact and vibrant, certainly one cannot be trusted with the destiny of a country as highly polarised as Ghana. It cannot go without mentioning, why the NDC chose to launch its manifesto in Sunyani.

According to history, Sunyani, originally called ‘Sun Dwae’, in the Bono language, used to be the place where hunters slaughter elephants. By extension, the NDC symbolically or coincidentally chose Sunyani to launch its manifesto with the hope of completely finishing its fiercest opponents, the NPP, which has elephant as its symbol, in the December election.

As to whether this will come to pass, time will tell.

BY BUBU KLINOGO, A JOURNALIST.

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