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As Ghanaians go to the polls tomorrow

By Charles Coffie Gyamfi, Abeokuta
06 December 2020   |   3:22 am
Tomorrow, Ghanaians will elect its ninth successive democratic president since the country returned to civil rule in 1992. Before then, there was the famous Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who got the country’s Independence in March 6, 1957. There were also Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia and Dr. Hilla Limem, who got elected as Presidents. Those who administered…

Tomorrow, Ghanaians will elect its ninth successive democratic president since the country returned to civil rule in 1992. Before then, there was the famous Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who got the country’s Independence in March 6, 1957. There were also Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia and Dr. Hilla Limem, who got elected as Presidents.

Those who administered the country’s affairs between 1992 and now are: the late President John Jerry Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufour, late John Arthur Mills, and John Dramani Mahama. The sitting President is Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Others are Col. Emmanuel Kwesi Kotoka, Gen. Joseph Ankrah, Gen. Kwasi Amankwah Afrifa, Gen. Kuti Acheamponj, Gen. F.W.K Akuffo and John Jerry Rawlings, who ruled Ghana at one time or the other as Military Heads of State between January 24, 1966, the day of the first coup in Ghana and 1992.

The two leading candidates of Monday’s election are Akufo-Addo, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate and Mahama, contesting under the National Democratic Congress (NDC), founded by Rawlings.

Mahama ruled the country between 2012 and 2015, his attempt for second term failed, as he lost to Akufo-Addo in the December 2015 Presidential election. Mahama has been in the Ghana’s political space for a while. He was Arthur Mill’s Vice and completed Mills second tenure when he passed on. Before then, he had been a parliamentarian, deputy minister, and a minister.

Akufo-Addo, a popular radical Civil Rights lawyer, led many political battles against Rawlings regime. He made two futile attempts to rule the country, until he won the 2015 election.

13 political parties are contesting Monday’s election, though 17 parties applied to contest, the Electoral Commission under the leadership of Jean Mensah screened out four.

Among the candidates on the ballot is Mrs. Akua Donkor, who is contesting on the platform of the Ghana Freedom Party (GFP) and has been conducting her campaign across the country in her local language, “Twi”.

But the NPP and NDC are the two major parties that had alternatively won the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections since 1992. Other parties, including the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), formed by loyalists of Nkrumah, have contested past elections, but never got even 100,006 votes. For example, in the 2015 election, Rawling’s wife, Nara-Ageman Rawlings got only 17,000 votes.

Till his death, Rawlings remained the NDC leader and founder. He once confessed that he voted for his wife in the 2015 Presidential elections. Tension has risen so high over the coming election to the extent that, religious leaders, Civil Rights Societies, Non-Governmental Organisations and several agencies have taken many steps to appeal for peace on daily basis.

The tension began even before the voters’ registration exercise began. The NDC mounted a strong campaign against a new voters register. But the Electoral Commission had it way. At the end of the registration exercise, 17 million voters registered.

Both Akufo-Addo and Mahama in the past three months have embarked on vigorous campaign throughout the country. Akufo-Ado message is that his administration had done so well that he needs four more years to do more, hence his slogan is, “Four more for Nana”.

His major achievement is the implementation of free education at the senior high school, which allows Ghanaian children to acquire attend secondary education free of charge. The policy covers all borders, free books, uniform and feeding. It is the first of its kind in the country. Even during Nkrumah’s time, only tuition fee was free. The President said it is costing his government about two billion Cedis per annum.

Mahama is focusing on the economy, which he insists has become the worst in Ghana’s history and pledges to revamp it.

Before the 2015 elections, Mahama who benefitted from free education, because he is an indigene from the Northern part of the country, which has been enjoying free education since Independence, vehemently criticised the free education policy. He insisted that it was impossible, warning that any attempt to implement it would economically bring Ghana to its knees.

But his message now is that he would sustain the policy and improve upon it, if elected. About 1.5 million pupils are benefiting from the free education policy. He accuses the Akufo-Addo’s administration of reckless management of the economy, saying the government increased the country’s debt beyond imagination, reason Ghanaians are going through economic hardship more than ever before.

Mahama is also accusing the government of corruption, saying even though, the government for the first time in the country’s political history, setup a Special Prosecution Office (SPO), to fight corruption, all his (Akufo-Addo) action does not portray him as somebody ready to fight corruption with all sincerity.

The man, the President appointed to man the office, Mr. Martin Amidu, a Citizen Vigilante resigned two weeks ago citing interference by the President.
One of the government’s flagship programmes was the construction of a factory in each of the 275 districts. The government, however, said it had built 60 of such factories giving jobs to some Ghanaian youths. The government has also built dams for irrigation in some communities. It has also constructed some roads and hospitals among other infrastructure.

This is the first time in Ghana’s political history that an incumbent President is contesting the Presidential seat against a former President. Rawlings’ two terms ended in 2000, while Kuffour second term ended in 2008 and was succeeded by Arthur Mills who passed on, about one and half years into his second term with Mahama, then his Vice, completing the tenure.

Rawlings had earlier ruled as Military Head of State for 11 years.
Apparently due to the high tension in the country, as a result of the coming election, former President Olusegun Obasanjo had to dispatch a letter to both Akufo-Addo and Mahama, urging them to be patriotic enough to caution their supporters to eschew violence, not only during the election, but also after the election.

In the letter, Obasanjo said: “Your role is unique in that, the NPP and the NDC as the main players, have made significant contributions to the peace and stability of Ghana and are vested with the capacity, influence and control to constructively shape national discussions and processes such as the upcoming elections.

“In this vein, the success or failure of the elections, a key aspect of democratic consolidation in Ghana will largely depend on the posture of the NPP and the NDC leadership and how that is manifested by the actions of their supporters.

“The NPP and NDC are opponents and not enemies in this process. They are both indispensable beyond the elections to preserve peace and stability of Ghana.

“That is why amid the tensions and disagreements, they must desist from language that incites violence and hate while reinforcing the messages of peace and togetherness.

“Therefore, I implore you to approach these elections with very competitive spirit but also with respect for one another, respect for Democratic values, love for country and a sense of responsibility to preserve the gains Ghana has made since the advent of democracy.”

Mahama, after he lost the 2015 election, called to congratulate Akufo-Ado over his victory, therefore Ghanaians expected a repeat of the feat with the loser calling the victor to share in his joy.