At the said visit to Nana Addo's Nima residence upon his return from England, I told him never to give up the dream of contesting the presidency for the third time; and he told me "well, Newton, I have just returned, and I will be in Kumasi tomorrow to join Asantehene in celebration of Akwasidae, and when I come back, I will make my intention known". But I told him "Nana, you have been comprehensively marketed by the party so please do not turn down the clamor by the rank-and-file of the party's followers to offer yourself for the third time"; and his response was "I hear you, Newton".
And before I went to engage Nana Addo in that conversation, a lot more others had trooped to his house to persuade him to contest the party's flagbearship and lead the party into election-2016. In the end, he made the decision not to let us down, and for the third time running, he put his life on the line to salvage our dear country from the hands of visionless ndc government. For over 40years of his life here on this earth, this man has dedicated all he has to ensure justice and equity for all, in an atmosphere of total freedom. The well-being of Ghanaians has always been his headache, and reckless dissipation of our resources has given him sleepless nights.
The internal contests, with all its attendant troubles came and went, and in the end, the popular will of NPP followers prevailed, with Nana Addo being handed a resounding victory of nearly 95% in the flagbearership contest to lead the party into election-2016.
The campaign began, and being offered the opportunity to be part of his entourage, I accompanied Nana Addo on most of his campaign tours across the country. And it was our trip to the western north of the western region of Ghana, that, I really experienced the real rigors of electioneering campaign. The road networks are simply atrocious with mobile networks completely nonexistent in most parts. During our tour of those areas, we often set-off at 7am and returned to our hotel at around 4am the following day. There was even an instance somewhere in Bodi where after traversing a rugged dusty road in the night for close to 3hours, we hit a complete dead-end and had to make a U-turn.
It was during this particular trip that some vehicles in the convoy had their air-condition systems breaking down due to sheer intensity of dust on the road, and we actually had to confine ourselves in the vehicles, with the windows rolled up, but with no air-conditioning. We had to contend with that extreme level of discomfort, since the alternative would have been having our clothes blanketed in multiple layers of thick dust.
On these campaign tours, we sometimes arrived at scheduled venues as a late as 2am, and multitude of Ghanaians desirous of change will still be awake and enthusiastically awaiting the arrival of Nana Addo. I remember we arrived at Goaso at around 1:3am in the pouring rain, and seeing a young girl who said she had completed nursing training for the past 5years but was still at home without a job, and have had to depend of her parents who struggled to cater for her through school, to be feeding her. There were many instances where people openly shed tears just by setting eyes on Nana Addo, because they saw in him, a genuine redeemer who, over the years, has sacrificed so much just to be given the opportunity to serve.
Most places we went, the chiefs, particularly, advised an NPP government against a sense of complacency, and above all, arrogance and disrespect towards the masses. And in many of those interactions, these chiefs would quickly add that "we are much aware of the fact that you [Nana Addo], are a man of peace which was demonstrated by the manner you accepted defeat, with grace, when the supreme court verdict did not go your way". The chiefs, however, we quick to add that, "as president, you will surely be working with a team, and that is where the problem might arise, because, people have different dispositions towards live, and particularly when in power".
Army of volunteers
Besides what Nana Addo personally did during campaign by way of traversing the length and breadth of our country to sell his message to the people, was the great deal of selfless grassroots mobilization of votes for the party, by army of NPP volunteers. These volunteers, who were not even known by the party hierarchy, actually went from village-to-village and hamlet-to-hamlet, often on empty stomachs, to convince Ghanaians as to why Nana Addo must be given the opportunity to be president. Some of these people do not even know where the party's national headquarters is located, but still worked their socks-off to make the party's resounding victory, a reality.
Now, I have decided to paint this picture to my readers, just to let you know what actually transpired during the campaign, and how Nana Addo have had to toil to be given the chance by the goo people of this country to serve as president of our Republic. And with this at the back of our midst, it will constantly serve as a reminder to wake us up from a potential power-induced pomposity.
Inaccessibility of the President
Admittedly, Nana Addo is no longer a flagbearer but the president, and therefore, access to him will definitely be limited in order to afford him the peace of mind to focus on the larger task of working for us all. Indeed, being a president, unquestionably, is the loneliest job anybody could ever think about. The man's every step is managed by others. What he eats, drinks, wears, says etc., are all determined by others. In effect, he is virtually cut-off from the outside world; and this is where anybody who gets the rare privilege to serve around him should be extremely mindful of how he/she relates to people.
I have always maintained that, THE TYPICAL GHANAIAN WILL BE PREPARED TO FORGIVE AND CONTAIN AN INDIVIDUAL WHO IS HUMBLE, RESPECTFUL AND THREATS PEOPLE WITH DECORUM; BUT REJECT ARROGANT BRATS WHO THREATS OTHERS WITH DISDAIN". And this was amply demonstrated in the 2016 elections, where significant number of voters actually rejected the Mahama-led ndc government, just on the account of its assigns being ARROGANT.
The quintessence of civility
Often times, these party sympathizers want to get close to those of us they consider as being close to the top, not for anything in particular, but just for the FEEL-GOOD EFFECT. So when they try to get close, by way of phone calls, texts, WhatsApp etc., it is incumbent on us to be tolerant, irrespective of how irritating this might be, sometimes. We must, at all times, demonstrate to these party sympathizers that, it is through their relentless toils in the hinterlands that the party is now in power.
I have always referred to something Nana Addo once told me, which is that "WHEN YOU ARE A LEADER, AND PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU OUT OF LOVE, IT IS INCUMBENT ON YOU TO LET THEM KNOW YOU VALUE THEM". And like I have already stated, a typical Ghanaian will not take into consideration what you offer him/her by way of development but will rather judge you on how you personally relate to him/her.
I have been close to Nana Addo for a while now, I have no shred of a doubt that he really means well for Ghana, and that, he is bent on carrying through with every major campaign promise; and with the quality of people he is putting together for the CHANGE PROJECT, the sky is going to be the limit. The risk therefore is the scenario where we shall go back to the good people of Ghana in 2020; and they will look us in the face and say "WE THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO BE DIFFERENT FROM NDC, ARROGANCE-WISE".
At a point during the 2016 electioneering campaign, John Mahama openly confessed that "though I'm the sitting-president, I have been forced to campaign as if I was the opposition leader". That open expression of utter frustration was obviously as a result of brazen rejection of his message by the good people of Ghana, largely due to arrogance of himself and his assigns.
Now, this is the situation we must not, deliberately or inadvertently, never put Nana Addo in, when he goes back to the people in 2020 for renewal of his mandate, because, when that happens, then, we would have failed not only the good people of Ghana, but, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who, through exceptional exhibition of genuine humility, have toiled and persevered over a 4-decade period, to be given the opportunity to serve.
There used to be this 8year convention for every president under our fourth Republican dispensation but this was dramatically curtailed in 2016 so we must never delude ourselves into any false sense of security and throw caution to the wind.
Justice Abeeku Newton-Offei