Renowned pollster, Ben Ephson has cautioned former President John Dramani Mahama who is seeking re-election on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on the risks posed to their respective parties in engaging in public rebuttals.
His comments follow a recent string of unsavoury political statements on ethnic lines made by John Mahama and a subsequent reply from president Akufo-Addo.
John Mahama in an attempt to run down the controversial Agyapa deal endorsed an article written by Member of Parliament for Bolgatanga Central, Isaac Adongo which had the title “Agyapa Royalties Fraud Is The Last Straw: The Akyem Sakawa Boys and Grandpas Must Go.”
The article in question was described by many Ghanaians as ethnocentric and had the potential of whipping up ethnic sentiments in the build-up to the December 7 general elections.
Though this did not sit well with President Akufo-Addo, he also in a similar fashion retorted by saying amongst other things that “The comment made by my opponent: ‘Akyem Sakawa’ people, I have not heard any public figure in this country or anybody comment on it…If I was to get up to make a comment about northerners or Gonjas, you can imagine the uproar that will be in the country.”
While this has become another opportunity for politicians to feed on, Ben Ephson has said these insults and ethnocentric play, at best, will scare away floating voters who are yet to decide on who to cast their vote for.
Unlike party faithful who may be unfazed by the recent happenings, he posited that these insults will generally repel votes for the two parties.
“Insult repel votes…the president has also replied him. If the president hadn’t replied to him, he could have used it against him. The two of them insulting each other might only lead to some floating or swing voters deciding to stay at home…” Ben Ephson told GhanaWeb in an interaction.
With regards to security and the tension building up in the country with barely three months to the elections, he insisted that it was not a new phenomenon and will not in any way plunge the fortunes of the upcoming polls in danger.
“…I don’t think these insults will bring the elections into any danger because we’ve gone through more intense elections than this one. The only thing is that your opponents can use the insults against you…”
Reemphasizing the importance of swing voters and the need to for the two leaders to secure their votes instead, he further argued that “Swing voters are the king makers, as for your supporters whatever you’ll say they’ll vote for you…So, the insults are likely to drive away swing voters. The insults have the potential to make swing voters sit at home, the emphasis is on swing voters.”