Since Ivor Greenstreet won a spectacular election to become the CPP flag bearer, I have been asked this question by several people who know my passion for the Party that is Supreme but who also know that I am honest in my writings about the party. So I have been wondering what it really takes to win a presidential election in Ghana.
For instance if it is about the number of times the candidate stands then we have a clear winner because Edward Mahama is running his fourth campaign after taking a break in 2012 for Hassan Ayariga to run. Nana Akufo Addo is on his third run, and so is Paa Kwesi Nduom, but Atta Mills won on his third run after changing his running mates each time. If Abu Sakara were to make good his promise to run as an independent and Hassan Ayariga gets his party registered, then they will join, Henry Lartey and John Mahama in making their second run except that John Mahama won on his first attempt. Rawlings also won on his first attempt and Kufour on his second after changing running mate. So it not about the number of times you run.
Do politicians win an election because they say they would with some even predicting the margin of victory like one touch or 64%? I know that every politician standing must say that they will win but really the decision is made by the electorate and dependent on too many variables to make the life of a political pundit difficult. So it is not what the politicians think that is important but how the electorate vote.
But conventional wisdom tells us that most elections are lost by the ruling party, though they have the power of incumbency, the electorate tends to punish them more for the negative things that stick in their minds than the positive things that they do. So whilst it is alright for the party in power to shout to high heaven about all the development they have done, if they truly have not lifted the country out of poverty and a larger number of people have not felt all these good things they claim they have done, then change will come, especially since people will vote them out.
The electorate have a penchant for punishing those who are arrogant enough to take them for granted especially of the whiff of perceived corruption still persists and they have not been able to shake of the abuses of power.
So what about the main opposition? What do they need to do to convince the people? These days 24 years after a post Rawlings military regime, the electorate are getting more sophisticated. They still remember why they got the opposition party out of power and wonder why the promises that are being made now were not implemented in when they had a chance the last time round. The norm of 8 years on 8 years off may just be changed with a 4 year cycle of tenure for the main political parties because the electorate are getting a bit tetchy and are ready for an alternative only if the CPP can deliver a major upset and influence this election in a way that is unimaginable.
The indicators that something is happening in Ghanaian politics are writ large all over the place. The president is struggling to reshuffle his cabinet, too many incumbent MPs in both the NDC and the NPP have been deselected by their parties, and the problems within the executive of the main opposition NPP is yet to be fully resolved.
But there are also problems within one or two of the bellwether constituencies. Both the NDC and the NPP cannot do the simple thing of selecting a candidate for Korle Klottey, both have gone to court to help them along and this clearly links to a dissatisfaction amongst the party faithful that a candidate is going to be imposed or forced on them. This seat has changed hands between parties so often and I remember spending quite a bit of time there in 1969 campaigning for a Harry Sawyerr, a son of the land, standing as an independent in an electoral pact with NAL and winning a deserved victory against the PP. In that same election Harry Bannerman won standing for Ababasee against both NAL and the PP in Odododiodoo another bellwether constituency.
Odododiodoo has changed sides several many times between the NDC and NPP and is looking for an upset. That will certainly happen if a resurgent CPP under Ivor Greenstreet is able to get a true daughter of the land who may just be able to unify Jamestown and Ussher Town against an incumbency that is struggling under the weight of chieftaincy problems that they have created.
But having just mentioned the CPP, it was not like I forgot that there is a new kid in town, a total game changer, fresh and fierce in articulating the needs of the people and his first time round at it, though not a novice because he has proved adept at winning elections in different terrains and he is as bold as Nkrumah was even braver.
What would I make of him? My bias is already showing but perhaps that is what Ghana really needs, a gallant and valiant warrior who has a groundswell of grassroots support that is snowballing and certainly needs to be broadened. He grabs the imagination of the common man and may just affect this election in an unusual way. What does he have to do to make this happen? I know he is a genuine politician so he just has to be himself, continue talking about what is wrong with Ghana and how he will do his bit to help transform a warped economy, how he will engage all and just some in the economic development, how he will create the jobs that we all need in the country and how he will ensure that health care is available for all and not just the few and how he will project our cultural identity and make Ghana proud again.
I think over a period of time our politicians have promised more than they have delivered and that is because they have focused on macro-economic adjustments at the expense of what the people want. They have done so because they are grossly out of touch with their electorate and have driven everyone to Accra when most would have wanted to remain and help in the development effort in their hometowns.
But seriously can CPP win the presidential elections? My honest answer is that though CPP will struggle to win enough seats to have a majority in Parliament, Ivor Greenstreet has as good a chance as possible of winning the Presidency. He will not win because I am saying so, or because the stars are aligned in a particular way. He will win because he will be able to unify a coalition around him and extend the reach of the party beyond the faithful, he will win because he has already started doing the work mobilising and building the structures that were left to atrophy, he will win because he will be able to define what he stands for and that will resonate with the people, and he will win because as a strategist par excellence he will be able to deploy and electoral strategy that will ensure that most people voting for him will be convinced that they are not wasting their vote because they would have seen the evidence of things to come.
If Greenstreet runs a good campaign devoid of insults and presents to the people of Ghana a clear agenda for change then the power of this green movement will endure, it will also usher in a new era of politics where the issues get debated where conflicting ideas see the light of day and where the electorate will suddenly realise that they have alternatives.
For too long most have seen the country as one full of resources and yet we continue to wonder why they are a lot of people living under 10 cedis a day and when the resources are exploited, because we do not add value to them we end up with crappy prices and we end up getting aid from countries and companies that are exploiting us economically. We need now to be resourceful to deploy the most creative and productive strategies to enable us harness our resources to better use but in doing so we must be thinking about how best our people can benefit.
I feel that this is indeed a start of a new stage in Ghana politics and know that with all the people crying out for someone who will be innovative and dynamic to use the power of the state to deliver for the people, Ivor Greenstreet who leads this new found Green revolution will deliver responsive government for the people of Ghana. A vote for him will never by any stretch of the imagination be a wasted vote.
There is a lot of work to do in the country and this is the best time as any for moving the country forward. Forward Ever!
Ade Sawyerr is a partner in the diversity focused management consultancy Equinox Consulting that works on issues relating to economic development of disadvantaged communities and social cultural and political issues of African heritage people in the Diaspora. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @adesawyerr, https://adesawyerr.wordpress.com