24th July 2012 will forever remain lettered in black in Ghana’s chronicle of history because, on that day, the country for the first time lost its sitting president Professor John Evans Atta Mills to death’s icy hands and tentacles. His demise was a bitter pill to swallow for millions of Ghanaians because he was loved by many, even those who did not politically agree with him.
But his death ushered in John Dramani Mahama, President Mills’ Vice President, as interim president for a period of practically five months (August to December) as the nation prepared towards the very much anticipated and later controversial general elections on December 7 in earnest.
The outcome of Election 2012 was critically challenged in the Supreme Court. The New Patriotic Party led by its two-time candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo believed that the initial results announced by the Electoral Commission declaring Mr. John Mahama as President were not accurate because the whole electoral process was littered with gross irregularities. The NPP prayed the court to annul votes from polling stations with anomalies and compute the results with figures from polling stations without irregularities, results which would have overturned the initial outcome to the benefit of the plaintiff NPP and its leader, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Though the Supreme Court ruled out the case of the NPP, the election petition became an eye-opener for all Ghanaians to practice heightened vigilance and watchfulness because it was inferred from the famous court proceedings that “Elections are won at the polling station”.
The 4-year regime of John Mahama is one that generally will not be in the good books of a sizeable chunk of Ghanaians because of the hardships it came along with. Prominent among them was the Dumsor crisis, where the country suffered frequent and unfriendly power outages for practically the whole period of 4 years. Many businesses were on their knees, the manufacturing and processing industry was gasping for breath, and a general situation of unease emerged. The ramifications of this crisis cannot be extensively discussed now, because it speedily trickled down and even affected activities of people who sold sachets of water on the streets. What was more stinging was that, throughout this period, prices of the unavailable electricity hiked up exponentially.
Aside from the emergence of Dumsor, corruption in government gradually became rampant with the infamous Woyome Judgement debt. A case that was explained to put across that over 51 million Ghana Cedis given to Mr Alfred Abgesi Woyome for no work done. Many other scandals emerged including the Bus Branding saga, SADA saga, the famous Brazil 2014 World Cup saga, Members of Parliament taking double salaries as ministers and many many others.
These gave hard evidence and approbation to the claims by the opposition NPP that the sitting NDC government officials and their leader were excessively corrupt and were taking undue advantage of the mandate given them to milk the state’s coffers.
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Upon many spirited calls for the government to entertain dissent, President Mahama instead inflamed emotions by his infamous statements that he had a dead goat syndrome and that people who had not occupied his office as President before did not have the impetus to criticize him and his government. As all these ensued, our rankings as a country on Press Freedom ratings kept plummeting. The chorus for change led by the NPP was gradually populating and became unavoidable.
Many believe that ace journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni was charitable in his description of the Mahama regime as follows:
“The John Mahama presidency was a cancerous tumour whose removal called for an eternal thanksgiving service. The John Mahama regime was a blot on the already decaying conscience of the nation, an error of an era and a tragic accident in the history of our country. Any suggestion of a John Mahama return, in my candid view, was cruel, disheartening and insensitive to whoever loved this nation”
In the much-awaited December 2016 election result declaration, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was declared the winner with a commanding victory margin over sitting President Mahama of about 1 million votes; the first time a sitting President was defeated and in such an excruciating fashion.
The massive celebration that greeted this announcement gave certification to the continuously hammered assertions that Ghanaians were itching to reject John Mahama and the NDC Government. Clearly, the people of Ghana had high hopes in the promises of the NPP government-in-waiting; prominent among them, the Free SHS policy.
Ghanaians had high hopes that the Akufo-Addo led government will give no excuse for corruption, prosecute and bring clarity to the many corruption allegations in the previous government and transform the economy to become progress and development-oriented. Almost four years into the NPP’s mandate, they believe that they have been able to implement over 70 percent of their campaign promises and that the mess they inherited was more daunting than they envisaged.
Even if you may generally disagree with the governance style of the NPP, you cannot dispute the fact that Free SHS, One District One Factory and Planting for Food and Jobs are in full operation. It can be observed from afar that the NPP has strategically implemented its policies to very key sects of the population to obtain their favours in the upcoming election. Over 1.2 million children have been enrolled in Free SHS and thousands of farmers are benefitting from the Planting for food and jobs initiative.
Some Government officials of the erstwhile NDC government are undergoing prosecution, and some have been jailed on corruption accounts. The NPP government is doing its best to walk its 2016 campaign talk.
Interestingly, President Mahama has received quite an overwhelming endorsement from his party to contest the 2020 elections. He has made public statements that he made a lot of mistakes in his 4 year government and has declared his resolve to correct his mistakes and rewrite the narrative. Most members of his party believe that he understands governance better than President Akufo Addo and is the safest pair of hands to steer this country into the realm of the progress we all desire, warranting their campaign slogan, “Rescue Mission”.
But the NPP counterclaims that they have cleaned up the mess left by the NDC and it is quite evident that the frequent power outages have become a thing of the past and the economy is beginning to pick up gradually. They profess a unique ability of governance and wits to front the fight for development. They claim that they have laid a solid foundation for greater exploits in the coming years and continue to remind Ghanaians of their woes under the NDC.
But the NDC also claims that if they had not laid a solid foundation, the NPP government would not have been able to realize the fulfilment of their hefty promises. They are so confident of winning to the extent of asserting that the sitting government is falling on the back of the Electoral Commission to retain power.
Several political columnists and pundits have posited that the NPP’s bid to retain power must be hinged on them vigorously touting their achievements within the 4 years. They must be heavily focused on religiously accounting to Ghanaians and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they obtained value for their votes in 2016.
In the same vein, the NDC will have to show evidence of a better alternative and assure the voting population of the credibility of their candidate, John Dramani Mahama.
In the absence of any incumbrances, the elections are slated for December 7, 2020. It behoves the voting population to make a good choice using the 4 year regime of both parties as a case study.
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