Author: JayJay D. Segbefia, NAV
Accra-Ghana.

Desperado /dɛspəˈrɑːdəʊ/

noun. a desperate or reckless person, especially a criminal. Early 17th century: pseudo-Spanish alteration of the obsolete noun desperate. Both desperate and desperado originally denoted a person in despair or in a desperate situation, hence someone made reckless by despair. – Emphasis mine.

Now that the definition of desperado has been established, let’s cut to the chase.

On or around June 22, 2016, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, General Secretary of the NDC ordered all his presidential and parliamentary aspirants not to participate in any debate organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). His chest-thumping directive was specifically a direct result of the NDC’s unhappiness with the IEA’s decision to hold a separate debate for flagbearers of the two leading political parties, the NPP’s Nana Addo-D and the NDC’s John-M.

The President and his party told us that a one-on-one debate between the two candidates is “a public show of disrespect” to Ghanaians and the other presidential aspirants, and would amount to “politics of discrimination” against the other parties.

We could all see through the horse-poop, of course. The NDC perceived, correctly at the time, that their aspirant and president of the Republic would be torn to shreds by the opposition leader. Their fear was not exactly without basis. Any opposition candidate would look forward to flaw an incumbent in an election to score publicity and enhance his or her image in the eyes of the voting public. That’s exactly what I would do – show the president to be incompetent by offering better alternatives and expressing myself to be better than him in eloquence, depth of thought, and action. So there was no real surprise in the NDC’s chickening out of the IEA debate, and no one could really fault them for it.

Self-preservation before all else, la.

Now, let’s fast-track to October 2016. Without any recourse whatsoever to the IEA boycott decision, President Mahama has, on two occasions on TV and on radio, thrown a challenge to the NPP flagbearer to debate him one-on-one, especially on some of the allegations he and Dr. Bawumia have been making against his competence on their nationwide campaign. Political watchers are wondering what has brought about the president’s volte-face, and this jungle boy wants to posit that, in addition to the usually unprincipled, opportunistic, inconsistent attitude to politicking the NDC is known for, the answer to the question is simply DESPERATION.

Let’s examine the 7 evidences that prove, with just six weeks to the December 7 polls, that our First Gentleman has turned Desperado.

  1. The NPP’s better form

The NPP campaign is in top gear. They are firing on all cylinders. Momentum is completely on their side. The part that makes our resident Desperado even more anxious is that the potential first and second ladies of the opposition flagbearer and his running mate are even in on the no-holds-barred assault. Hardly had the NDC recovered from Dr. Bawumia’s unrelenting assault than Samira’s startling uppercut had caught them in the gonads. Meanwhile, it is with some effort that Ghanaians remember the name of the country’s vice president, to speak less of his wife’s. Who wouldn’t call for a debate in this desperate situation?

  1. The Crappy Economic Situation

Current economic conditions are not in the NDC’s favour, to say the least, and the NPP have exploited the fact unapologetically. Unless his touted incompetence is so complete that there’s no room for improvement, President Mahama knows he’s been steering a sinking economic boat. Even more damaging for Opana is the irritation of his cabinet on why Vice President Amissah-Arthur has not come out to defend the current economic conditions vigorously. But everyone who correctly hears thunder, sees traffic lights and drinks kalyppo knows that the vice president’s response to Dr. Bawumia’s prognosis on the ailing health of the economy has been poor, inadequate and as impressive as the sound of a rat’s fart in an elephant’s ears. Could anything be more desperate?

  1. The PPP Factor

The intense political activity of the PPP and, at some point the NDP, is making the regional path to victory very difficult for Ogrey. For instance, the PPP’s efforts in the Central Region is making things difficult for the vice president, and Rawlings’s anti-corruption campaign in the Volta Region is enlightening Nyebroskis and making them more aware of shortcomings in the NDC’s  commitment to bring them development. Opana knows the Volta Region will be tough this year, and the NDP’s participation in the elections is also likely to pull votes away from the NDC. As if all these weren’t enough, the NPP’s efforts in the Northern and Upper Regions, led by Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia and his beautiful wife seem to have divided the North. This seems to be only the beginning of troubles. Dr. Bawumia is pulling more crowds than Shatta Wale. That leaves the Greater Accra region, but the region looks poised to repeat the history of 2008. Eastern and Ashanti are declaratorily NPP. Opana must be taking overdoses of martin liver salt from dyspeptic conditions brought on by desperation from knowing all these facts.

  1. Corruption and Thievery

The perception of corruption in the NDC government is now so ingrained on the minds of the electorate that every attempt by the government to shrug off the allegations have proved ineffective. Ogrey knows that corruption is a major battle-ground area in this election but he seems unable to fight the tag. This is because corrupt deals get exposed every week, and Woyome is practically still a free man (as is Dzifa Attivor). Now that Woyome has been hauled before court to either show where his assets are, or spill the beans on all who shared in the illicit booty, the perception of corruption will remain even beyond December 7.

  1. Mahama’s highfaluting Incompetence

No government has been branded as incompetent as the Mahama-led administration. Mahama’s weak response has been to don military boots and wear Commander-in-Chief threadmanship, trying to look tough in his toy-soldier gimmickry. The tag of an incompetent government is so deep-seated, and this point has been hammered by the opposition NPP over and over again, that it has become accepted as true.

  1. The Battle of the Manifestoes

The credibility of the Manifestos presented by the two main political parties is also playing out in the public domain. While that of the NPP seem to be gaining traction, that of the NDC, especially that which seeks to highlight infrastructure development achievements, is being portrayed as phony. Some sections of the media have taken it upon themselves to verify these projects and the verdict out there suggests that infrastructure development has fallen short of promised expectations. What is more damaging to Ogrey’s government is the perception of “artists’ impressions” being paraded as projects that have actually been duly completed. This has smacked of public deceit by the NDC government, adding to the general lack of credibility that is making Mahama desperate.

  1. The fear of Akufo-Addo’s Incorruptibility

There’s no doubt that Nana Akufo-Addo is incorruptible. Ghanaians are projecting his personal unassailability on an NPP government, and the image of an incorruptible leadership is fast gaining ground. With that image also comes the shadow of a clean-up. It is expected that everyone who has had a hand in any deal that has cost this nation a pesewa of its sweat-infused cash-pot will honeymoon at Nsawam at one point or the other. Akufo-Addo as Attorney-General has cleaned up a corrupt system before, and it is expected, although not a campaign message of the opposition, that thievery will be signally punished until every woyomeic cedi is restored. This cannot be summed up better than Dzifa Attivor’s suggestion on a political platform, in the early part of the year, that a win for the NPP would mean a majority of NDC government officials serving time in jail. Nothing could lead to desperation faster than the fear of an NDC-infested prison.

So, putting all this together, wouldn’t you be desperate if you were Mahama?

Now let’s go back to the bottom part of the earlier definition of desperado – someone made reckless by despair.

Yes.

The challenge to debate Addo-D is a reckless, desperate one, and it has the familiar tinge of despair with it. Remember the president’s defeatist “I’ve Done My Best” statement the other day?

But Mahama sees no other light at the end of the tunnel for him, unless he resorts to intimidating voters on Election Day. But even that has no guarantees for success since such a move may be met with a more violent resistance by electorates who have had enough of his incompetence. And, unlike in a by-election, employing thugs to intimidate a general election is a daunting task. Ghanaians are increasingly considering the ballot box as sacred, and its desecration by thugs has an uncomfortable ring of a repellent lynching to it. That leaves the option of challenging Addo-D to a battle of wits to try and take back some of the lost traction in the race for the Flagstaff House.

The sad reality however is this: Ogrey will be totally unarmed in a battle of wits with Addo-D. The opposition leader’s speeches of late are indicative of a depth of thought totally lacking in any speech President Mahama has delivered over the past three years. And Nana Akufo-Addo’s prowess in a debate is unparalleled, especially when there’s no Ayariga tomfoolery this time round. Many years of parliamentary camaraderie between the two should teach Opana that the only thing he will win from a debate with Addo-D is spin-doctor value… the nonsense NDC communicators will spew about whatever jabs Mahama is able to throw at the opposition leader during the debate, just to boost his fallen ratings. And that, sadly, is the psyche of a Desperado.

My good friend Akwasi Afrifa Akoto of Facebook sums up, in awesome language, how desperate President John Mahama has become:

Mahama’s Hail Mary: A Desperate Call for a Debate

In play books of every coach in American Football is a play called the “Hail Mary.” Usually when a team is trailing behind and there is but one second remaining on the clock with only one play left, with the ball more than 70 yards away from the end zone, the offensive coordinator would call the Hail Mary. As soon as the ball is snapped, the Quarterback would try to scramble around to give all his players enough time to get into the end zone before throwing the ball. The rational is that the more players in the end zone, the higher the chances of the ball being caught for a Touch Down-to either send the game into overtime or win the game outright.

In soccer, there are similar situations. [A] last corner or last free kick with [barely] anytime left and the team down a goal, all the players including the goalie of the losing team would rush forward into the 18 yard box in an attempt to maximize the chances of scoring to tie the game into extra time or gain a crucial point.

The Hail Mary, therefore, is a play-call which signifies desperation. It is a Kamikazi call in an almost improbable no-win situation. It is [an] all or nothing call and thus fails 99 out of [each] 100 times employed. Some coaches would rather kneel or spike the ball to run out the clock, accepting defeat, calmly.

On the ground, Mahama knows voters are not buying into his message. And this has become apparent to him after spending much time on the campaign trail cross-country. [He] is … now blaming some media conspiracy for [blacking out] his achievements. His General Secretary is [spending sleepless nights] in the Volta Region, the NDC World bank of all places, publicly begging for votes. In spite of all the propaganda, he is not getting the feedback from the people he would like as he travels around the country.

And now, he has run out of options.

He has done everything he possibly could… launched his campaign, published a Green Book, out-doored his manifesto, worn soldiers’ uniforms, put up billboards, painted the nation with posters, posed like [Usain] Bolt and still, he is TRAILING behind Addo-D.

And time is running out.

So like a NFL coach, the president has only one play left.

The Hail Mary.

And that is what his call for the debate is all about.

A last minute, desperate attempt to rally the team to tie or win the game.

No wonder the NPP says they’d sooner launch a kalyppo space shuttle than give him the pleasure.

Poor, desperate Opana!

 

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