Yesterday December 9, 2020, when the chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana announced the winner of the December 7 elections, it was clear what message Ghanaians had sent. Nana Akufo-Addo was declared the winner, but the party he leads, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was the biggest loser and not the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
President-elect Akufo-Addo defeated John Mahama in 2016 riding high on the waves of dissatisfaction with Mahama’s government. Mahama had invested massively in infrastructure, but governance under his watch was abysmal. His government was perceived as massively corrupt, his ministers and appointees were seen as arrogant and incompetent and his overall performance in government wasn’t appreciated.
The NPP and Akufo-Addo rode on the public perception of misgovernance and corruption, and candidate Akufo-Addo was presented in 2016 as incorruptible, a human rights icon, a lawyer with deep insights in the rule of law who would uphold good governance principles, that most Ghanaians felt were missing in the Mahama led administration.
But Mahama had in 2012 defeated Akufo-Addo in a hotly contested election that eventually went through a long legal challenge. He beat Akufo-Addo with 325,863 votes to win the 2012 Presidential elections.
However, in the 2016 elections, Akuffo-Addo received 5.7 million votes, giving him a 53.7 per cent win, while John Mahama received 4.7 million votes that came to 44.7 per cent of valid votes cast. Almost a million votes difference. The NPP won 169 seats in parliament.
In the 2020 elections even though Akufo-Addo got 6.7 million votes; which gave him a 51.2 per cent win, while Mahama received 6.2 million votes that made up 47.3 per cent of valid votes cast, that is a difference of a little more than 500,000.
In percentage terms, Akufo-Addo received less while Mahama got a higher percentage of votes than he did in the 2016 elections.
What’s even more telling are the results of the parliamentary votes. So far it’s clear that the NPP has lost a high number of its MPs that has consequentially reduced its majority in Parliament. So far, there are indications that the party has lost nearly 40 seats in parliament, with a good number of the defeated being serving ministers of state.
For an incumbent party, the results of the parliamentary elections is a humiliation of the NPP – the parliamentary defeat therefore is a clear signal to the NPP that Ghanaians have rejected its style of governance.
The NPP was voted into office among other reasons to fight corruption in government.
But the government under the leadership of Akufo-Addo wasn’t seen to have lived up to its anti-corruption fight promise. He is seen as shielding his appointees found to be corrupt. When he appointed the Special Prosecutor, his rating as an anti-corruption figure went high, but as events later unfolded with how he responded to allegations and acts of corruption, and the eventual tumultuous resignation of the Special Prosecutor eroded the public’s confidence in him as someone who frowns on corruption.
The incessant attacks on the Auditor-General, who was eventually forced to go on leave also tainted the government’s reputation in as far as the anti-corruption fight was concerned.
The Akufo-Addo government’s handling of illegal mining, the massive illegal exploitation of timber, particularly rosewood from the country’s savannah regions, the giving out of the Atewa Forest for bauxite mining didn’t reflect well on his administration.
Other acts that didn’t reflect well on Akufo-Addo’s anti-corruption stance, and even gave hints of complicity include the bizarre Agyapa Royalties deal that effectively gave away the management of Ghana’s gold revenues to an opaque company, Asaase Royalties registered in a tax haven and managed by members of his inner cycle. Agyapa Royalties is the Ghana subsidiary of Asaase Royalties, whose shareholders are unknown.
Abuse of office and human rights abuse
The NPP came into power with the mantra to protect the public purse. But the Akufo-Addo government had a bloated government made up of more than 120 ministers. That alone was seen as dipping the hands into the public purse.
The abuse of office and power has become commonplace in the administration. Appointees of the NPP government acted as law onto themselves. One example will suffice to illustrate.
Some months ago, the Minister of Roads was seen on national TV ranting and raving over construction workers who have blocked a major road. It was later known that the property owner working on the said road had a permit to block the road.
The intransigence of appointed officials in matters of public interest, the use of the police and military to suppress public protests, the refusal of the police to grant permits to other groups to protest, while granting permits to groups connected to the NPP to protest were all seen as abuse of the rights of citizens and favouring groups floser to the NPP.
Abuse of citizens by military and police officers weren’t seen to be openly punished, and these gave a negative impression of the government’s willingness to protect the constitutional rights of citizens.
Rejection of the NPP
The loss of parliamentary seats – nearly 40, is a pointer to the fact that Ghanaians are unimpressed with the governance style of the NPP and have rejected it as a political party, however, they have retained Akufo-Addo to give him a second chance to patch his ways.
Some of the interventions that might have saved Akufo-Addo include the Free SHS programme and the COVID-19 relief packages.
Akufo-Addo’s second term would be keenly watched and Ghanaians are not likely to expect anything less than good governance, respect and protection of human rights and a vigorous fight against corruption and injustice.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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