For the average political analysts on West African politics, the December 7 general elections in Ghana may not produce any significant changes in the voting pattern since little or nothing has changed in the run up to the exercise.The contest is between two dominant political forces – the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) of incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), which has former President John Mahama as the flag bearer.
The two are meeting again as election foes for the third time after they had each won in the last two previous polls.
Perhaps, the foisting of Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman as Mahama’s running mate and corruption allegation against the ruling NPP administration may make the difference in the election that is expected to produce a close result and likely run-off.
Although Ghana is known for conducting fair and peaceful elections, concerns raised by the NDC over the activities of the Electoral Commission (EC) in its preparations for the exercise can be a source of worry to many in the country.
However, President Akufo Addo of the NPP and the John Mahama have agreed to sign a peace pact that will ensure peaceful conduct before, during and after the polls.
In order to woo the voters for his second term ambition, President Akufo-Addo is showcasing his massive rural industrialization drive, foreign policy offensive beyond aid, building a resilient economy, creating the enabling environment for private sector growth, attracting foreign direct investments and the contending Free Senior Secondary Education and Technical and Vocational Education policy.
He also has the chairmanship of the troubled Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) under his belt as one of his diplomatic achievements.
But for Mahama, Ghanaians should not miss the unique opportunity to produce the first woman vice president in the person of Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman, who is his running mate.
Mahama is also focusing on creating millions of jobs and better management of the economy, tackling deadly herders-farmers skirmishes, reining in corruption and addressing the country’s mounting domestic and foreign debt which according to him has “shot exponentially through the roof” since he left office four years ago.
According to his manifesto, Mahama is also looking to improve Ghana’s regional and global standing with a view to better trade deals with other nations, a feat which he claimed President Akufo Addo’s administration has fallen far short of meeting.
However, the general elections are taking place against a backdrop of increasing weariness among Ghanaians about past promises which have never been kept.
“It’s all promises and lies” says one prospective anonymous voter in the capital Accra.
“We cant count how many times we have been done in by politicians we had trusted with our lives” he adds, indicating that despite this supposed deception, he will not fail in his civic duty to vote even if it will make little difference in his life and that of his family.
There is tension in the lead up to the elections with threat of violence between supporters of rival parties.
This had necessitated the head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas to remind Ghanaians that the eyes of the world are fixated on Ghana given the importance of the December 7 elections to the continent.
Addressing a national forum in Kumasi to promote a peaceful general election in Ghana, organised by the National Peace Council (NPC) with support from the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Chambas, a Ghanaian himself said the world held his country in high esteem as a beacon of peace and democracy in Africa.
He said for this reason, in spite of increased tension attending to the electoral process, it was important for all stakeholders in Ghana to guard against acts that could incite violence and sully the integrity of the elections.
“This is another reason why we must assiduously support effort to consolidate democracy in this country and in this case, through a peaceful election,” he said.
Dr. Chambas, who is also the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said the dialogue was meant to complement ongoing engagements by mobilising all stakeholders at the regional level to commit to” a peaceful election, enhanced vigilance, strengthened mutual trust and confidence and ensure that any election-related disputes were resolved with utmost compliance to the rule of law and due process.”
On that score, he commended the stakeholders for their participation at the event which he noted was a strong attachment to the tenets of democracy and sustainable peace, and development in Ghana.
Dr. Chambas urged Ghanaians to honour the memory of the first President of the Fourth Republic, the late Jerry John Rawlings, with a peaceful election.
“The greatest honour we can do him is to ensure the holding of peaceful, non-violent and credible elections on December 7,” he said.
The ECOWAS Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Baba Gana Wakil, urged Ghanaians to maintain their reputation as the beacon of democracy in the sub-region by going through the polls peacefully.
He said Ghana had become a model of democracy on the continent and the world over by going through previous elections without any major incident.
This tradition has turned the country into an inspiration to the region and, therefore, stressed the need to maintain that reputation.
“We need Ghana to continue to be the source of inspiration for other countries in the sub-region in terms of credible fair, transparent and peaceful elections. Ghana has been operating as a successful multiparty democracy since 1992, and it is now going into its eighth election,” he said.
The British and Canadian High Commissions are deploying more than 100 election observers to monitor the December 7 elections.
According to a press statement, the observers, who will be deployed to seven regions, formed part of the UK, Canadian and other international partners’ contribution to supporting an inclusive, safe and transparent election 2020.
The 100 observers are to be deployed to the Ashanti, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Northern, Volta and Western regions.
The regions were selected because they had constituencies that were highly contested, with others being swing regions, as well as the issue of limited logistics due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As impartial friends of Ghana, both the UK and Canada are committed to seeing Ghana’s reputation as a leader in West Africa and across Africa for holding free and fair elections continue in 2020,” the statement said.
Perhaps, in the regions where considerations for political affiliations, religion, tribe and cult of personality play significant roles in elections than campaign promises and election surveys, the mantra around gender equity in politics and the appeal to honour the late former President and founder of the NDC, Jerry John Rawlings may help swing the votes in favour of Mahama and his female running mate, Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman.