The upcoming Presidential Elections in Ghana between the incumbent President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his predecessor Former President, John Dramani Mahama in December 2020, has already generated a lot of interest and commentary among ordinary people and political watchers from both local and international sources for many reasons.
This article seeks to tease out five of the reasons which the writer adduces to support his view that perhaps this election which features these two iconic presidential personalities contesting on the tickets of the two most popular political parties and bitterest political opponents in the country, is the most unique one in the history of the country’s Fourth Republican constitution, if not the entire history of elections since the First Republic.
It is the writer’s believe that, though there are other contestants in the upcoming elections from other political parties and on independent political platforms who have great presidential personalities, the contest is bound to be a straight fight between the candidates of the incumbent party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the largest party in opposition, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Aside the unprecedented challenges brought about by the Novel CoronaVirus and its attendant reforms it brings to the conduct of the elections in terms of the limit it places on political campaigns; the management of the electoral processes by the Electoral Commission vis as vis the COVID-19 protocols; and the eventual collation and the declaration of results among others, the 2020 Election is very unique in character for the following reasons:
John Mahama is a Former President
This is the first time a defeated former President is staging a comeback to contest for President again after occupying the Presidency for only one term and successfully handed over power to his successor also for only one term.
The Flagbearer of the main opposition party the NDC, John Dramani Mahama, is the immediate past President of the country who lost the 2016 elections to the incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo with a margin of over One Million votes.
There has never been any such situation under the current democratic dispensation in the country where a Former President has attempted to contest for the elections again after losing office. This may be partly due to the fact that the former Presidents who are still alive in the country had the opportunity to fully serve their constitutionally mandated terms of office continuously without any disruptions.
Former President Rawlings and Founder of the NDC successfully served his continuous two terms in office between January 1993 and January 2001 after winning a re-election in 1996. His successor, John Agyekum Kufuor of the NPP also served his two continuous terms in office between January 2001 and January 2009 after a re-election in 2004.
The Late Former President John Evans Atta Mills was sworn into office in January 2009. He unfortunately passed away after only three and a half years in office and the then Vice President, John Dramani Mahama had to complete his unfinished first term. Former President John Mahama then took over power from January 2013, having won the 2012 elections and subsequently lost power to current President Akufo-Addo in the 2016 elections.
(2) The Second Coming of a Former President
The fact that John Dramani Mahama is a Former President is the second reason why the 2020 Presidential Election is unique.
This is so in the sense that he has been a president before and therefore he knows how it feels like to be a President. What can be done and what cannot be done from that high Office of the land is very well known to him and therefore elevates the debate above the ordinary.
Running up to the 2016 Elections, then President John Dramani Mahama was reported to have fumed over criticisms against his government by Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, who was the then running mate to Candidate Akufo-Addo. He said Dr. Bawumia was not fit to criticize him because he had never held any responsibility anywhere near the presidency before.
“I’ll take that word from Kufuor or from Rawlings because they’ve been there before. All of you guys have never ever come near the presidency. Do you know what it takes to be a President?” he fumed.
The harsh reaction by Former President Mahama to the criticisms suggested that occupants of the high office of the Presidency have a certain unique view over national matters which may be beyond the appreciation of ordinary people. The Former President is therefore expected to offer a fair, balanced and objective judgment in the criticism of the Presidency even as he is a contestant.
Aside from the fact that the second coming of the Former President enriches the debate of ideas and reduces the tendency of experimental ideas and Utopian views, it also helps the people to settle the debate about who qualifies to make a fair judgment in the criticism of a sitting President.
Round Three of John Mahama Vrs Nana Akufo-Addo
This election is also unique because this is the third straight contest at the presidency between John Dramani Mahama and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufu Addo.
The first time these two Presidential materials contested against each other was in the 2012 general elections. John Mahamah was the incumbent caretaker President who won that election after the completion of the remaining mandate of the Late President Mills’ first term.
The results of that election was challenged at the Supreme Court of the land by the then leader of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo. However, after eight month of litigation, the Court ruled in favour of Former President Mahama.
The Second time they faced off again was in the 2016 elections. This time the then opposition candidate won against the then incumbent President John Dramani Mahama.
From the foregoing, this 2020 Presidential Election is the finals of the contest for the Presidency between these two astute politicians since the score is 1 against 1. The results of this election is expected to break the tie between the two and would determine the true champion.
A Benchmark for the Assessment of the Competence of the two at the Presidency
One of the refrain that characterized the campaign of the opposition NPP back in 2016 was the tag of incompetence directed at the administration of the then incumbent President John Dramani Mahama.
Now, the two main contestants of the two major political parties have had an equal chance at the Presidency. Having been President for one term by December 2020, the election would afford the electorate the opportunity to pronounce a verdict on the competence of Former President John Dramani Mahama and the incumbent President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
The verdict of the people after the 2020 election would be profound because it would settle the scores and close the debate on who is more competent at building a more resilient economy; building a more robust infrastructure; creating more jobs and more social safety nets for the vulnerable in the society; and setting up more humanly centered governance structures and policies towards a more holistic national development.
It will therefore be based on the performance of the two main contestants in their first term in office and the breaking of the tie.
Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyeman – The woman factor
One of the profound uniqueness of the upcoming Presidential Election in December 2020 is the choice of Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyeman as the running mate to Former President John Dramani Mahama on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress.
It will be the first time a woman is making it to this high level on the ticket of the two main political parties in the history of the Presidential elections in the country.
This would serve as a good experiment to test the popularity of the idea that women are equal to the task at the highest level of the governance structure and an opportunity to test the pulse of the nation whether it is indeed ready to accept a woman as a Vice President or even a President.
There have been many concerns raised about the inadequacy of women in governance even though women form the greater part of the voter population in the country. Both past and present governments have made some attempts at drawing some women into the governance structure by honoring them with some very sensitive positions such as the Speaker of Parliament; Chief Justice; Chairperson of the Electoral Commission; as well as Ministerial appointments among others.
But never has it been at this high level of the political structure where a woman has been put in line to be the number two on the political structure.
The above named reasons attest to the fact that the upcoming 2020 Presidential election in Ghana is a very unique one which is markedly different from any other elections ever held in the history of the Fourth Republic in Ghana and perhaps even the entire history of elections in the country since the first Republic.
Therefore, whatever the outcome of the elections, a new standard would be set in several ways including the electoral and democratic history of the country.
Source: Clement Akoloh
The Writer is a Journalist, Political Reporter and a Media Consultant with Africa News Radio and Parliament News 360.
Comments and contributions are welcomed via his email at firstname.lastname@example.org.