The results of the 2020 general elections revealed to the New Patriotic Party that despite the tremendous achievements of the government across the country, there are more works to be done internally if it wants to enhance its fortune into the 2024 general elections. The party lost its clear majority in parliament from 63 in 2016 to 0 in 2020. I have served the party as a polling station secretary at the Agogo Apostolic Church from February 2009 to February 2018, and I decided to do a 'netnography' of some NPP WhatsApp platforms from 2018 to 2020 to uncover what went wrong. Afterdetailed and comprehensive analysis of the comments, four significant themes emerged. This study will present the theme, the challenges they posed, the effect they had on the party and the proposals to the party for reforms.
Poor selection process of polling station executives:
MPs selecting their preferred people as polling station executives.
No election to select polling station executives at most constituencies.
Lack of transparency in the selling of polling station executive election forms.
Poor compilation of NPP members at the polling station in some constituencies.
Selection of polling station executives with poor literacy levels.
Selection of polling station executives who do not reside in the area of the polling stations.
Changing of almost the entire experienced old polling station executives in some constituencies.
1.2 Effect on the party
Some members became aggrieved and worked against the MPs and the party.
Lack of proper campaigning and work for the party at polling stations where executives that were selected were not members of the electoral area of the polling stations.
Some polling station executives only voted in the parliamentary primaries, and that was the end of their work.
Polling station executives who do not understand ballot accounting leading to poor policing of the ballots.
Polling station executives with poor experience in elections working for the party at the polling stations on the election day.
1.3 Proposal for reform
The party should advertise extensively to its member when it is time for the election of polling station executives.
The party should be strict and fix the entry qualification of polling station executives at secondary school education.
The forms should be easily accessible to interested party members, preferably online, and you pay when submitting it.
The party should consider and automate the polling station executive selection process to avoid MP hijacking the processes to skew it to their favour.
The party should organise periodic workshops for polling station executives on how to communicate the achievements of the party, election processes and ballot accounting and should not delay till when elections are close.
Electoral area coordinator must be a person who has served as a polling station executive for at least 4 years. The person must hold at least a post-secondary qualification to enable him to supervise and also train.
Limited number of delegates that formed electoral college in the constituencies.
The monetisation of the process.
One venue conference or primaries.
Unopposed or Protection of some MPs.
Change of constituency album.
Constituency Executives taking sides during primaries.
2.2 Effect on the party
Parliamentary aspirants buying their way through the primaries with cash and other items.
The primaries became expensive for aspirants, leaving some of them with limited money and resources for general elections.
The highest bidder wins, and not the competent and the popular with the electorates.
One venue election leads to voter intimidation and coercion by the incumbent which sometimes skew the outcome.
One venue election leads to the activities of thuggery and vigilantism, which affects the security of the elections.
MPs going uncontested in primaries led to some party members voting ‘skirt and blouse’ and others going into the general election as independent candidates. Other party members did not vote in the parliamentary elections, which led to the party losing many seats in parliament.
Some experienced party officers worked for the Presidential candidate and against the party’s parliamentary candidates.
2.3 Proposal for reform
The party should consider and introduce deputy positions to the polling stations to increase the number to ten in the short term and work toward all registered members participating in the voting during primaries. This will make the numbers a bit representative to the entire populace and reduce vote-buying.
The party should maintain the conducting of primaries and voting according to electoral areas that it experimented during the June 2020 primaries. This helped to curtail the tension, coercion, intimidation and thuggery that have over the years characterised one venue gathering for primaries.
The party should consider and reduce to the minimal the protection of incumbent MPs and make them subject themselves to re-election through primaries.
The party should consider gazetting its polling station executive albums and putting them on its website. This will help to prevent some incumbents changing polling station albums to suit their interest.
Research and Elections:
The party’s decisions were not based on research and data from the constituencies.
The party appointed inexperienced Research and election officers in the constituencies.
Poor training for polling agents towards election day.
Many elites and professionals who served as agents for the party during the 2016 elections were not willing to help the party in 2020 because of careless attitudes of some incumbent MPs.
3.2 Effect on the party
The party lost many parliamentary seats.
Misappropriation of party resources meant for elections.
The emergence of independent candidates in some constituencies.
Voter apathy and fatigue in the strongholds of the party.
‘Skirt and Blouse’ voting.
Colossal numbers of rejected ballots in both the parliamentary and the presidential results.
3.3 Proposal for reform
The party should scrap the office of research and election from the constituencies level.
The constituencies should have election officers only who must be highly experienced in election processes to serve as advisers.
The party should establish Research and Monitoring directorates at the regions and the National only. These directorates will have officers who will move to the constituencies to conduct objective research and report to either the national or the regions to inform decision making. They will deploy these same directorates to monitor and evaluate the use of resources and strategies that are channelled to the constituencies for its impact and effective use. The party should try as much as possible to base its decisions on research data.
The brand ‘Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo’.
The Name of the president has been marketed over the years and it has become a household name. The name of the president is presently more popular than the party, NPP.
4.2 Effect on the party
Skirt and Blouse voting in the 2020 elections.
Some people voted only for the president (Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo) and not in the parliamentary elections or for the parliamentary candidates of the NPP.
The party lost many seats in parliament.
4.3 Proposal for reform
The party should elect its flag-bearer for 2024 general election, two (2) years to the elections. This will give the party sufficient time to market the flag-bearer and re-market the party to Ghanaians. Also, there will be adequate time to do reconciliation and heal wounds of aggrieved members before elections time should there be a misunderstanding.
The NPP has been described by many political watchers as a party that has prowess in governance but limited competences in political persuasions and communication. The party cannot afford to deny Ghanaians the development that it has to offer them. However, the party needs to put its house in order with reforms to better its chances in 2024 general elections. I hope that the party will examine the various proposals enumerated in this study and incorporate it in its reforms to position the party in a stronger institution ready to take Ghana to the desired status, 'Ghana beyond aid'.