The past week gave all Ghanaians a timely reminder of how “dirty” the campaigns for the 2020 general elections will be.
Both the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) have clearly shown that they are prepared to go into the gutters, if that is what is required to win power.
For a country whose democracy is regarded as the standard for most African nations, it is sad that we should be talking about such things in the year 2020.
The politics of insults and name-calling did not start today and is not peculiar to just Ghana. In fact, this is one of the biggest downsides of politics in general and across the world.
However, what makes it more serious is the fact that majority of the Ghanaian youth are getting involved, with little consideration for the consequences.
And the signs are all over social media. It started as trolls, migrated to cynical smearing of reputations, proceeded to forging of press releases and has now, rather unfortunately, turned to personal attacks.
It was just over a week ago that the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) called on all the political parties to go about their campaigns devoid of insults and name-calling.
“As a nation, let us do everything in our power to maintain the enviable reputation we have so far established as one of Africa’s leading countries whose democratic development is a shining beacon for others to follow,” it said.
“We, therefore, call on all political actors and communicators to remain civil when canvassing for their respective political parties and personalities,” the Catholic Bishops added.
As refreshing as their message was, both the NPP and NDC were back on each other’s necks after just a few days. If the accusations and counter-accusations are tiring, then what transpired in Parliament last Friday was the nadir.
There was drama in the House after the phrase “Papa no” – a troll term on social media – found its way into what was supposed to be a serious discussion in Parliament.
While discussing the approval of the Agyapa Royalties Limited agreement, Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah described ex-Deputy Energy Minister John Jinapor as “Papa no.”
Oppong Nkrumah may have intended it as a joke, as he later clarified, but he knew exactly what he was doing when he used that phrase. More so when the term “Papa no” is understood by every netizen to mean a mysterious married man who is currently the bone of contention between controversial actress Tracey Boakye and singer Mzbel.
The aforementioned ladies are on a collision course, with their ‘beef’ being over this same “Papa no”, who both have reportedly dated. So, Oppong Nkrumah, despite his explanation, knew exactly what he was doing when he used that phrase in Parliament.
Predictably, it ended up opening the floodgates to the “dirty” politics that we do not want to see. Some NDC MPs immediately took the opportunity to hit back, labelling Oppong Nkrumah “Maame no.”
“From today, we won’t recognize you as minister of this republic. And we will not accord you any respect as minister. Let’s throw it to the dogs. What do you take us for? So, ‘Papa no’ accepted. But from today, we will not,” Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu angrily responded.
“We will give you a name. We will give you a name. And we are serving notice, he was elected just like you. And his constituents respect him. Because you people use ‘Papa no’ on social media.
“We know what it means. We will match you. You have lost my respect as Minority leader from today. We will match with you. We too, we will call you ‘Maame no.’"
Even worse, the National Communications Officer of the NDC, Sammy Gyamfi, childishly took to Twitter to post a video of President Akufo-Addo, accompanied by a very distasteful comment.
Not only did he accuse the President of sleeping with all his female appointees, he also described Oppong Nkrumah as gay.
So, within the space of just a week, you see what Ghana’s political scene has sunk to?
What started on social media as a troll has moved into the corridors of Parliament and then quickly escalated into insults, name-calling and the sullying of reputations – all without any evidence or fact.
All this is happening in August, so imagine what will happen when the elections are closer.
That is why we at Pulse.com.gh are calling on politicians and all Ghanaians to desist from partaking in any form of attack on each other in the build up to the December polls.
All campaign messages should be tailored towards peace building and not the acrimonious politics that is gradually gaining roots.
Pulse Editorial is the opinion of the editorial team of Pulse. It does not represent the opinion of the organization Pulse.