General News of Friday, 13 February 2015
Source: Nyaho Tamakloe
The position of Campaign Manager is an appointed one. Yet, when you see efforts being rolled out in the media to campaign for Dan Botwe, MP for Okere and Minority Chief Whip, you wouldn’t think so.
Yaw Osafo-Maafo broke protocol and came out on radio this month to force the candidates hand on the choice of Campaign Manager. To him Dan is the Man!
In fact when you hear the name Dan Botwe being mentioned in NPP circles you would think that he is the one with the magic wand who can deliver the victory that escaped the party in both 2008 and 2012.
To be fair to his supporters, Dan Botwe was General Secretary when the party won its only two presidential and parliamentary elections in 2000 and 2004. Thus, Dan Botwe, aka the General, has become a mythical figure in the NPP and he is seen as the election guru and the man who has delivered victory as General Secretary.
Indeed, Dan himself so believed this hype that in 2007 he, the darling of the NPP grassroots, felt he was the best person to lead the party. At least five candidates, Vice President Aliu Mahama, Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Nana Akufo-Addo and Yaw Osafo-Maafo, had all approached Dan to come and run their campaigns for them. He turned them all down to compete and ran what was seen at the time as “the most grassroots-based campaign” of the 2008 NPP primaries. Yet, when the final votes were cast on December 23rd 2007, Mr Dan Kweku Botwe received 2.28% of the total votes cast. Or, 52 of the 2,285 valid votes cast.
This was a major blow which exposed the limitations of Dan. But, this did not exactly kill the myth. Before that, he so upset President Kufuor with his insubordination that the President sacked him in 2006.
Dan is intelligent and a serious political thinker. No doubt. His problem is that he believes his is better than everyone. He is not a team player and will only play ball if he is the captain and when he is the captain he would not even let the team know what he is doing. It has to be his show or no show!
When, as Minister of Information he spoke publicly on a few occasions against the President, the Kufuor bashers hailed Dan as a brave man. But politics calls for a lot of tact and strategy. And, going into war with a field marshal whose actions you cannot predict or control is a very dangerous way to go about things.
Today, Dan is seen as the man to deliver Akufo-Addo the victory that Akufo-Addo has been working on since 2008.
HEAD OF CAMPAIGN STRATEGY
But, those who talk about Dan being the savior must ask themselves where Dan was since 2008? In 2008, Dan Botwe, supported by Kwabena Agyepong, was appointed Director of Electoral Affairs for that campaign. His job included to recruit and/or train polling station executives, grassroots canvassers and party agents for election day. His job was to liaise with the Electoral Commission and its staff for the party. His job was to come up with a strategy to get people out to vote, to get party agents to police the ballot and to stop the NDC from manipulating the elections.
Yet, this was the election that it was said that presiding officers and their election officers turned against the NPP. This was the election that NPP agents were not even allowed to do their work in polling stations in some major constituencies in the Volta Region. This was the election that NPP could not even find the little extra votes required to cross the line. This was Dan’s election!
Fast forward to 2012. Dan Botwe, then MP, was appointed as Director of Campaign Strategy for the NPP. The strategy for the party for that election was supposed to be built by him. Find out if he came up with any strategy document.
This was the election that NPP polling agents were exposed as incompetent, and even bribable. What was his strategy against all that?
So the question is, if Akufo-Addo has been failed by his campaign people in the last two elections then was Dan not part of the people? Why should people think that Dan is now the new man to save the day? Dan has always been there.
So those who see Dan as the Man should first convince the party what Dan Botwe did in those critical positions he held in those two election and what he was able to do to stop the defeats that hit the party twice running.
Of course, they would say he was not allowed to work. Really? So, he sat in some corner and sulked? Or he refused to be involved because he was answerable to others?
DAN THE CHIEF WHIP
Let us now come to the present. In fact, it has become a known fact that the current Minority in Parliament is probably the weakest opposition group ever since under the Fourth Republic. Prof Kwame Karikari, Lawyer Gabby Otchere Darko, Nana Adjei Baffuor Awuah and the National Watch, a pro-democracy pressure group, have all come out publicly to describe the Minority as weak.
Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu is the Minority Leader. He was the Minority Leader in 2012. The only major change now is the position of Chief Whip. The Chief Whip is, as the name says, the person whose job it is to whip MPs into line; to whip them to their responsibilities. To whip them to up their speed. To whip them to stand up and be counted. Frederick Opare-Ansah used to be the Chief Whip. He was pushed aside in 2013 as too pro-Alan Kyerematen and replaced by Dan Botwe, the General.
So, if under Dan Botwe, the NPP has the weakest Parliamentary Caucus today then what is the guarantee that Mr Botwe is the one to make the NPP campaign tick?
Elections have moved on since 2000. In fact, those who know would tell you that in 2000 Dan loudly insisted in strategy meetings that Kufuor would not be able to win the presidential race so all focus should go on winning parliamentary seats.
Mr Botwe is a difficult person. Akufo-Addo has been able to win the biggest endorsement of any candidate in Africa’s democratic history with 94% of the biggest electoral college ever. It is known that the system that delivered that victory had the Candidate himself leading it. Why does he now think that his destiny must be placed in the hands of a man who even believes he is better than even he, Akufo-Addo the candidate?
What NPP needs now is not a contest of egos but a campaign led by people hungry for power. People who are ready to die for the party. Not people with airs and issues about other people.
Akufo-Addo cannot afford to put his campaign, the last chance, into the hands of a person who has not shown any exceptional commitment to the party’s victory in the last two elections. A man who has failed Akufo-Addo as much as any other person, so to speak.
Dan as General Secretary in 2004 gave Jake Obestebi-Lamptey, as campaign manager, hell in that election, fighting over turf. 2016 is not about turf war! It is about those who are willing to work from wherever position they find themselves. Not those who refuse to work unless they get their way.
AMBITIOUS CAMPAIGN MANAGERS
Lastly, will Nana Akufo-Addo commit the mistake again by putting back into sensitive positions people who have their one eye on their own ambition?
Indeed, we all know that several of these people with ambitions are thinking more of how to position themselves after 2016.
In 2008, he used a presidential candidate, Dr Apraku. In 2012, he used another presidential candidate, Boakye Agyarko. Is he going to do the same in 2016?
Akufo-Addo cannot afford to make the same mistake three times. In fact, even if he believes he did not lose the 2012 race then does he really need to change that much? Even if he needs changes he must not repeat the mistake of choosing those who are not likely to be committed 100 percent to the 2016 agenda.
Akufo-Addo must know that he does not need at this stage to appoint any person who would have a divisionist influence on the chances of the party to secure power in 2016. The 2016 contest is not about Akufo-Addo alone. If he plays with this he would go down as a more sad case than his ancestor J B Danquah, the President who never was.
What the campaign needs now is teamwork. Which means putting together a team that can gel.
In 2008, Nana Akufo-Addo did something that defied conventional politics. He brought all the 17 people who contested against him into his campaign to form a 23-member campaign team.
He was advised by President J A Kufuor after the 2007 primaries not to use any of the people who contested against him in his campaign. The President’s view was that ‘these were the same people who felt they were better than you. But, you beat them.’
Now, after spending all the money and saying all that they said about you, their inner instinct is to still prove to themselves that they were right and that you, as the party’s candidate, was rather wrong.
In Kufuor’s words, ‘don’t put your destiny into the hands of your rivals.’
President Kufuor went further to warn Akufo-Addo: ‘Please, whatever you do don’t use any of the Ministers I had cause to sack from my government.’ Specifically, the President meant Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Kofi Konadu Apraku and Dan Kwaku Botwe.
But, Akufo-Addo, buoyant after beating the President’s preferred choice, wanted to proof further that he knew best. He was his own man. So he ignored the President’s advice.
He made Apraku his Campaign Manager, Osafo-Maafo his Senior Advisor, and Dan Botwe the head of Election Affairs.
To be also fair to the NPP’s 2008 candidate, the ruling party went into that third-term bid with one paramount concern: unity. It was a party that was divided by the fact that for over one year 19 people, including the later to be disqualified Nkrabea Effah-Dartey, were criss-crossing the country for delegates, dividing the party in the process.