All is set for the crucial general election today as indicators point to a straight fight between the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).
According to the Electoral Commission (EC), over 15.8 million voters are eligible to go to the 28,992 polling stations across the country to elect a president as well as 275 parliamentarians – to constitute the 7th Parliament of the 4th Republic.
Many are tipping NPP flag bearer Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to secure a historic victory over incumbent President John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), who is seeking a re-election.
Polls after polls projected Nana Akufo-Addo as the likely winner but the NPP said it was just a morale booster and that it was not going to be complacent.
It is going to be the third attempt of the NPP’s 72-year-old respected lawyer and former diplomat who has lost two previous elections (2008 and 2012) under controversial circumstances, and President Mahama, 58, is optimistic that his track record will bring him the votes, even though there is overwhelming call for change.
According to the NPP, it is going into the elections with its flagship campaign messages of job creation hinged on industrialization, economic stability and the modernization of agriculture, while President Mahama and his NDC are relying on what they say is unprecedented infrastructural development to keep them in office.
When President Mahama was selected in 2008 to partner the then candidate, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills for that election which the NDC won, he said categorically at the time that NPP did not have a message because it was campaigning on the wings of infrastructural development, which he said is the responsibility of every government to provide.
In fact, he said comparing records will be a recipe for mediocrity.
One of the NDC’s campaign messages has been that since the 4th Republic came into existence on January 7, 1993, every president has been given two terms by Ghanaians and expects President Mahama to enjoy similar privilege at the polls today.
However, the NPP has parried that assertion and labeled the president as an incompetent and corrupt leader who does not deserve another term in office and so President Mahama’s ‘Toaso’ (continue) slogan is being met with the NPP’s ‘Twaso’ (end it).
The NPP appeared to have initiated an issue-based campaign spearheaded by the party’s vice presidential candidate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia against the backdrop of the ethnocentric campaign embarked upon by the president.
The NPP has seemingly dazed the NDC with its (NPP’s) flagship development plans such as the ‘one district, one dam,’ the restructuring of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) to bridge the North/South development gap, the establishment of the middle-belt and coastal development authorities, the Zongo Development Fund as well as the $1 million for each of the 275 constituencies every year for the development of basic infrastructure.
The NDC on the other hand, says President Mahama has built a ‘strong foundation’ for an economic take-off starting from 2017, and has promised to create over 400,000 jobs through the Youth Enterprise Agency (YEA) formerly GYEEDA, which squandered millions of cedis with culprits walking chest-out.
Stealing Campaign Ideas
The NPP launched its manifesto at the Trade Fair Centre, La, Accra, on October 9 with the title “Change, Agenda for jobs: Creating Opportunities for All,” while the NDC had its in Sunyani, Brong-Ahafo Region, on September 17 on the theme” “‘Changing Lives, Transforming Ghana.”
The NDC appears to have taken the manifesto slogan the NPP used for the keenly contested 2012 general election and also doctored the opposition party’s Hope (H) video advertisement for its (NDC) 2016 campaign.
Changing vrs Transforming
For instance, the NDC’s “Changing Lives! Transforming Ghana!” was couched by the NPP in 2012 and the opposition party became bewildered at the brazen attempt by the Mahama-led NDC government to lay claim to its (NPP’s) slogan.
The NPP slogan for the 2012 election was “Transforming Lives, Transforming Ghana,” and all the NDC appeared to have done was to substitute the word ‘Transforming’ for ‘Changing.’
In 2012, the NDC’s manifesto was titled, “Advancing the better Ghana agenda,” but abandoned it for the NPP’s ‘Transforming lives!’ which it has gleefully turned into ‘Changing lives!’
Also, the NPP said in 2012 that when elected into office it was going to implement a Free Senior High School policy for all second cycle students to access free education, but the NDC said it was impossible, only to turn around in early 2014 to say it was going to implement the same policy it ridiculed.
The NPP has continuously insisted that President Mahama is supervising an upside-down economy and said that almost every economic indicator that directly affects the livelihood of all Ghanaians is experiencing a downward trend.
Comparing data from 2012 to 2016 it said inflation which was 9% (2012) is now hovering at 15.8 %, the GH¢1.6 to the dollar is now about GH¢4 to the dollar, while Gross Government Debt which was GH¢10.8 billion in 2008 and shot up to GH¢39.8 billion in 2012 has ballooned to GH¢117 billion under President Mahama.
The NPP further contends that GDP growth rate which was 9.2 % in 2012 has shrunk to 3,9% in 2016 while interest rate which was 12% (2012) is now the highest in the whole world at 26% and per capita income which was $1,490 is currently reduced to $1,340.
The NPP allowed Dr. Bawumia, the respected economist, to delve into President Mahama’s record, especially in economic management and shredded it without challenge.
In fact, in a series of lectures, he drilled holes into the entire economic management of Mr. Mahama’s administration.
“His deliveries had an intellectual ring about them wrapped in mockery, taunts, derision and unforgettable sound-bytes deployed to take captive our cyber media age. The NDC could not respond. It seemed no one in the entire team could step up,” an analyst said, adding, “In the event, Bawumia highlighted so forcefully and colorfully the incompetent charge against Mahama that it stuck like glue on paper. The NPP came to dominate the campaign discourse thereafter. The NDC became reactionary, forced to respond to the terms set by Bawumia and the NPP campaign machine.”
The NPP has been able to position Nana Akufo-Addo as an incorruptible leader, a view shared even by the NDC’s own founder, former President J.J. Rawlings, who has refused to endorse President Mahama for re-election.
Peace & Security
Many analysts say that any violence that breaks out will depend on how the security agencies have handled issues up till Election Day. So far, they, especially the police, have displayed selective law enforcement to the chagrin of the opposition parties.
Doubts over the EC’s neutrality are another security challenge for the country. The NPP has variously accused the Charlotte Osei-led commission of doing the bidding of President Mahama and his party.
By William Yaw Owusu/dailyguideafrica.com