Four reasons why 2016 elections is historic

Mahama_Akufo-AddoSeveral hours after polls have closed in what is indeed a historic election since Ghana settled for democratic practices in 1992, the Electoral Commission (EC) hasn’t released enough certified results to give a real feel of the trend of the results.

But when all is settled and the winner is declared, four significant developments would have confirmed the 2016 general elections as historical – Ghana holds both presidential and parliamentary elections on one day.

Firstly, it is the first time that prisoners were allowed to vote, even though they were registered to vote in the 2012 elections, some difficulties with the process couldn’t be resolved on time to enable them to vote in that year’s elections. They voted only in the presidential.

Secondly, if the incumbent president, John Dramani Mahama loses, it would be the first time a sitting president is voted out just after a first term presidency. Since 1992, all incumbent presidents who served their full first four-year terms were retained for second terms.

President John Evans Atta-Mills died while in office – the first time a sitting president had died in Ghana’s history.

Thirdly, if leading opposition party New Patriotic Party candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo is declared winner, he would be the first elected president of Ghana at the age of 72 years!

Finally, the voting out of John Mahama would be a strong indicator that Ghanaians are finally expressing their abhorrence for corruption by a sitting government and have subsequently punished the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for that.

As in all cases, while it is hard to pin governments down for corruption, in the case of the Mahama administration, official corruption seems to have been so openly carried out with impunity and even when these offences are exposed they haven’t been swiftly punished. Perpetrators have received barely, a slap on the wrist.

Here are just a couple of the examples of some of the acts of corruption, which most Ghanaians suspect were committed with connivance of the government. There was the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) scandal. The scandal involved misappropriation of some over GH¢900 million. Some 80 per cent of this amount, which should have been paid to the beneficiaries of the programme, didn’t reach them. The monies however are being retrieved, but it is not clear if anyone would be prosecuted

The Bus Branding scandal, in which a colossal GH¢3.6 million of the country’s oil money was wrongly used to respray and brand some 110 buses with photos of former presidents and the current one, obviously to benefit government cronies. Despite being investigated by the Attorney General, which recommended prosecution, no one has been prosecuted. The company in the middle of the scandal, Smartty’s was asked to refund part of the money, but to date it is not clear if the expected amount has been paid back.

Whatever, the outcome, Ghanaians also proved the maturity of the country’s democracy, by voting smoothly and peacefully, and despite the slow publishing of certified results, citizens have been generally calm and expectant even though there is some amount of anxiety.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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