Ghana goes to the polls today to elect a new president or retain the old one in a high staked elections that will see 275 seats up for grabs in Parliament. A little over 15 million voters will choose from seven presidential candidates itching to serve at the highest office of the land. Two of the seven, incumbent president John Mahama and Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party remain front runners, with the Progressive People’s Party’s Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom looking more likely to be a viable third force. The People’s National Convention’s Dr Edward Mahama, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings of the National Democratic Party, the Convention People’s Party’s Ivor Kwabena Greenstreet and the Joseph Osei Yeboah, an independent candidate may well strike for a strategic alliance should the election be pushed into a run-off.
It has been several months of feisty campaigns by the parties, particularly the governing NDC and the NPP. It has not been without acrimony. The two leading figures in the two parties have suffered from filth and mudslinging by followers in the opposing camp all in a desperate attempt to either hold on to power, or snatch it. The stakes are exceedingly high. The incumbent and his party are seeking a historic third term, albeit with two presidents, one of whom, Prof John Atta Mills died in office in 2012. John Mahama, then Vice President ended the tenure of John Mills and successfully won the 2012 election and served his first term in office. He is seeking his personal second term and a third for his party. Nana Akufo-Addo on the other hand is making a third and final attempt at taking his party from the throes of opposition to the thrones of government having failed in two previous attempts, one of which was truly painful.
The issues underpinning this year’s election are multifaceted. However the economy, education, corruption, power, infrastructure appear to be the most dominant. The governing party is trumpeting an unprecedented leap in infrastructure development in health, education, roads and has been singing a united chorus for continuity. But the opposition is raising alarm at what it sees to be the strangling costs at which these projects are being undertaken. They have never failed to remind Ghanaians how corrupt they claim the government is and have cited a 51 million cedis Woyome judgment debt which hangs ominously around the neck of government and its appointees as their evidence. They also mourn government’s poor economic performance and a four year old power paralysis which left the country in extreme darkness for over four years. But the economy appears to be picking up and the power stabilizing too, something the opposition claim is artificial. The NPP is promising a change agenda that will see an improved economy with policies like one village, one dam, one district, one factory to boost the country’s prospects for industrialization.
The battle ground for the parties are clearly drawn with the political strategists for each party plotting to have the edge. Four regions out of ten are the swing regions with a potential of crowning Ghana’s new president. Central Region, Western Region, Brong Ahafo Region and Greater Accra are the king makers and are likely to do same. The three Northern Regions and the Volta Region are incurably titled towards the governing party whilst the Ashanti and Eastern Region will undoubtedly remain loyal to the opposition NPP. The answer will be the margin of victories in the strongholds of the two parties.
Whatever happens when voting begins at 7:00 am, there is bound to be pockets of violence but the election will generally be peaceful. Will it be a JM continuation or an Akufo-Addo change, Ghanaians, time and the EC will tell!!