|From left: President John Mahama - NDC, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo - NPP & Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom - PPP|
The NDC argues that if Ghanaians want to see the “benefits of the sacrifices, it is John Dramani Mahama (JDM) for 2016 and no other person or candidate. He also epitomises humility, compassion and judgement against his opponent”.
But the NPP points to the ideas Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo espouses and his dedication to the country, good governance and the rule of law spanning over four decades.
The NDC is urging Ghanaians to ignore Nana Akufo-Addo’s “try me” appeal and not experiment with a new President in 2016.
But the NPP notes that “the experience of the person there now has been a disastrous experience for our country”.
These sentiments were shared by the 2016 Campaign Coordinator of the NDC, Mr Kofi Adams, and the Communications Director of the NPP, Nana Akomea, in separate interviews on their parties’ chances in this year’s polls.
They also explained why they were upbeat were upbeat that their respective presidential candidates would emerge victorious in the elections.
Notwithstanding the optimism expressed by the NDC and the NPP, eight or so political parties that are at different stages of readiness to contest the elections have also predicted victory at the polls.
With barely three months to this year’s polls, only the NDC, the NPP and the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) have elected their flag bearers and officially named their running mates.
They are President Mahama and Vice-President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur for the NDC; Nana Akufo-Addo and Dr Mahamudu Bawumia for the NPP, and Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom and Ms Bridgette Dzorbenuku for the PPP.
Six other political parties have successfully organised conferences and conventions to elect their flag bearers but are yet to name their running mates.
They are the Convention People’s Party (CPP), whose presidential candidate is Mr Ivor Kobina Greenstreet; the People’s National Convention (PNC) — Dr Nasigre Mahama; the National Democratic Party (NDP) — Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings; the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) — Dr Henry Lartey; the United Progressive Party (UPP) — Mr Akwasi Addae Odike, and the United Front Party (UFP) — Mr Agyenim Boateng, aka Gyataba.
Out of the 26 political parties, only the PPP, the Independent People’s Party (IPP) and the UPP have had their policy statements or manifestoes launched.
The rest, including the NDC and the NPP, are still putting their act together. While the NDC plans to formally provide highlights of its manifesto in Accra on September 12 and officially outdoor it in Sunyani on September 17, the NPP plans to do same later.
The two political parties have been ‘shadow boxing’ over their manifesto launch.
2012 Presidential results
It is recalled that the presidential election of 2012 was keenly contested, with the NDC’s Mahama garnering 5,574,761 votes, representing 50.63 per cent of the valid votes cast, while the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo came closely behind with 5,263,286 votes, representing 47.81 per cent of the votes cast.
The votes for the other candidates were as follows: Dr Nduom of the PPP, 64,267, representing 0.58 per cent; Dr Lartey of the GCPP, 38,250, representing 0.35 per cent, and Hassan Ayariga of the PNC, 24,621, representing 0.22 per cent.
The rest were Dr Abu Sakara of the CPP, 20,109, representing 0.18 per cent; Jacob Osei Yeboah, an independent candidate, 15,156, representing 0.14 per cent, and Kwasi Addae of the UFP, 8,909, representing 0.08 per cent.
The presidential results were challenged by the NPP, which resulted in the first ever presidential election petition at the Supreme Court.
The court, after almost eight months of deliberations on the petition, upheld the results that declared President Mahama the winner.
Why Mahama will win 2016
Touting President Mahama’s achievements over the last four-and-a-half years, Mr Adams asserted that the President had taken very difficult decisions on the economy to lay a solid foundation and that he was better placed to build on that foundation to leverage on the massive investment to create the much needed jobs
“For the transformation which has been started to end successfully for Ghanaians to realise the full positive impact of the process, President Mahama needs to be retained to complete that agenda,” he asserted.
Mr Adams, who is also the NDC’s National Organiser, described President Mahama as a solid, firm and focused leader who was respected globally and that a renewal of his mandate by the good people of the country was desirable.
Justification for mandate
According to Mr Adams, Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, started the same agenda of infrastructural development which attracted some countries, including Malaysia and Singapore, to understudy that plan.
At that time, he pointed out, some members of the opposition described the implementation of the transformation agenda, including the Akosombo Dam and the Tema Motorway, as “debt incurring”.
As a result, President Nkrumah was overthrown and thereafter the country witnessed a decline in economic fortunes, while those who came to study Ghana and had the support of their people and followed through the same trajectory of infrastructural development were today economic giants.
Today, he said, Ghana was going through a similar phase but the opposition NPP saw every bold and visionary infrastructural development as debt incurring.
Ghana, he said, had reached the crossroads where it needed respected, visionary and results-oriented leaders like President Mahama to continue the transformational agenda in health, education, as well as infrastructural development, to solve Ghana’s problem of massive infrastructural deficit, create employment, as well as access to health care.
Already, he said, those infrastructural projects were improving the lives of the people and mentioned access to urban water, which had reached 76 per cent coverage; rural water, which had reached 80 per cent, and electricity coverage, which was the highest in the sub-region and second to South Africa on the continent.
He further mentioned the resuscitation of the Komenda Sugar Factory, the Kumasi Shoe Factory, GIHOC Distilleries, the Buipe Cement Factory, the Shea Nut Factory in the north, as well as road networks and air and sea port expansion, as the revival of everything Ghanaians knew to be good that had not happened over the years.
Ghana not in reverse gear
It could not be the case that Ghana was in reverse gear, he pointed out, saying: “Growth figures have remained strong and the country has not recorded negative growth in agriculture. We do not have to sell state assets to support the economy, neither are we borrowing to pay salaries. Rather, what we are doing is smart borrowing for massive infrastructural development which will benefit all Ghanaians and allow the investment to pay for itself.”
On the economic difficulties, Mr Adams stressed that over the years, after the overthrow of Dr Nkrumah, growth rates had not been transformational and what was required to address the challenges was not done thoroughly.
Fortunately, he said, “what is happening today is really transformational” and asked whether the nation continued to face energy challenges.
“We are not building for today but for tomorrow’s generation,” he stated.
On corruption, he indicated that President Mahama had always described the canker as “mass murder” and would in no way indulge in such an act.
He said it was clear that the President was allowing institutions of state and the Constitution - rule of law - to confront and deal with the menace or perceived acts of corruption .
Benefits of sacrifices
“As the Commander-in-Chief, the ultimate responsibility is to hold the country together in peace and President Mahama has proved that over the last four years.
“Why drop sanctity in terms of peace and national security and go for a candidate on a trial-and-error basis?” he asked, adding: “Why go for somebody who has no proven track record, someone who has not been able to even hold his own party together?
“A failed class prefect can never be a good school prefect and that is why someone who cannot hold his own party together cannot hold the nation together. There is no way,” he said.
According to Mr Adams, President Mahama was respected globally,and as such when the UN was looking for two global leaders to lead the processes that would result in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), President Mahama and the Norwegian Prime Minister were nominated to co-chair that global committee of eminent persons.
“I do not think that the UN would have selected President Mahama if he did not have international respect and recognition,” he reasoned.
Why Akufo-Addo will win 2016 polls
Making a case for the NPP, Nana Akomea declared: “We need leaders who will take Ghana out of its current economic mess which is slowing growth rates and Nana Akufo-Addo will offer Ghanaians that new paradigm shift that will transform the nation’s growth and bring about improved living standards.”
In his view, throughout Nana Akufo-Addo’s life, “you can see a certain dedication to this country — as a young man he was engaged in the fight against dictatorial rule, fought Col Acheampong’s military regime and used the courts to restore injustices during the Rawlings era”.
“Above all, he is kind-hearted, has the heart of a lion and has shown decisive leadership. Look at his ideas — when he espoused the need for a dedicated fund for the northern zone, President Mahama said it was not possible; the same for the free SHS policy and today he has indicated his desire to industrialise Ghana,” Nana Akomea added.
In four-and-a-half years, he said, President Mahama had rehabilitated sugar and shoe factories but had borrowed about GHc40 billion and had had oil money of GHc3.3 billion but he had failed woefully.
He dismissed the assertion that Nana Akufo-Addo had failed to unite his party and that he was a divisive and intolerant person.
“He got 94 per cent of the votes at the party’s congress, and can you say that a leader who gets 94 per cent is divisive?” Nana Akomea asked.
He said Nana Akufo-Addo could not be said to be part of the people causing disunity in the NPP and played no role in that.
He pointed out that there was unity in the NPP, saying: “Our opponents are not interested in telling the truth that we are a united party.”
“It is the populace we are appealing to for the right choice of who is a true democrat. Is it the one who allowed party members to contest him for the flagbearership of his party or the one who managed and whipped the party into line and avoided being contested as a flag bearer by party members and still had NO votes?” he asked.
According to Nana Akomea, President Mahama, born after independence, pledged to Ghanaians that he was the one to take the country out of its current economic paradigm, but four-and-a-half years later the results were nothing to write home about and Ghana had become an international disgrace, per experiences of the ‘Brazil 2014 fiasco’, while “corruption is so alarming that we need a paradigm shift in governance”.
“If we want to move the country forward and do things differently, we have to go for change; we are asking for change because President Mahama has provided no new leadership change,” he said.
Infamous for corruption
He said President Mahama had made Ghana very infamous with corruption; with inflation, which was at 9.9 per cent in 2011 but was about 17 today; a budget deficit of four per cent in 2011 which today was 7.6 per cent; interest rate at 36 per cent today, growth rate at four per cent, cocoa production of a million tonnes in 2011 but now 750,000 metric tonnes.
He said the cedi was GHc1.80 to a dollar in 2011 but was currently at GHc3.90 to the dollar, while agricultural growth had declined from four per cent in 2005 to two per cent currently.
On manufacturing, he said it was growing at a negative rate, saying: “We are still importing everything, including biscuits, sugar and all consumables and so really there has been no change.”
“What has the government done to put up infrastructure?” he asked. “Is that the new leadership he promised? Just to put up infrastructure?
“Every government does infrastructure,” he argued, and recalled that former President J. A. Kufuor did so much infrastructure which President Mahama described as mediocre.
“If you come and do the same thing, have you not failed?” he asked, and pointed out that what the country needed was a paradigm shift, saying: “All we are asking for is nothing less than for a change in government because John Mahama has provided no new leadership change.”
He said President Mahama’s tenure of office had been nothing short of a disaster for the country, resulting in unprecedented levels of hardship and suffering among Ghanaians.
With barely three months to this year’s polls, only the NDC, the NPP and the PPP have elected their flag bearers and officially named their running mates for the polls.