A look back at Ghana’s closely-contested 2020 presidential elections, and views from both sides.
On December 7, 2020, 13,434,574 votes were counted in Ghana’s 2020 democratic elections. Vying for the head of state position were two opponents who had faced off at the ballot box twice before, former President John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo representing the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
In an economic climate ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic and a number of catastrophic political tensions that have temporarily decimated peace in countries like Tanzania, Guinea and Uganda, the eyes of the world were once again firmly fixed on Ghana, a poster child of democracy for the African continent, after seven peaceful transitions of power in its 30-year democratic history.
For President Akufo-Addo, this was the fourth presidential election he had campaigned for back-to-back since 2008. This time, however, his campaign strategy was based on his track record. He urged Ghanaians to remember his pledges in the NPP’s 2016 manifesto which promised, among other things, to abolish fees at public and senior high schools, ensure each district has a factory and a hospital, and establishing a special anti-corruption prosecutor.
“I think President Akufo-Addo has delivered on everything he promised and where he has not delivered, it is still a work in progress. There is now free education in public schools, which has helped thousands of children be able to get an education, and factories and hospital construction have began in each district. Nobody is perfect but at least we need someone who has a vision that the country can follow at this time and that is what President Akufo-Addo and the NPP have. Where is the vision of the NDC party?” asks Emmanuel Asare-Amankwa, a businessman in Ghana.
That vision it seems was enough to propel President Akufo-Addo to the top position once again with 6,730,413 votes representing 51.59% of the votes, narrowly beating former President Mahama’s 6,214,889 or 47.36%.
“Usually in an election, it is normal for the winning party to also win a majority of the seats in parliament but this was not the case. The NDC have actually won a majority of the parliamentary seats and that shows you that there is something wrong here,” says John Dumelo, an actor-turned-politician with the NDC party.
Dumelo contested for the Ayawaso West parliamentary primaries, also losing by a tight margin of just 2,000 votes. The leading actor with over 3 million followers on Instagram is still happy about the impact his candidacy has made.
“I think it is important for the youth of Ghana to join politics because we need to have a voice in our own future. I run in a state that was traditionally an NPP stronghold and we lost by only 2,000 votes so it shows you that people were desperate for a change. I know I have made an impact.
“I decided to run because as an actor, you are limited by how many good deeds you can do. How many bore holes can one build in a village, or how many philanthropic acts can you do before actually making real change? By being in politics, you have the opportunity to influence the law and that is real power and real change,” avers Dumelo.
President Akufo-Addo may have his work cut out for him in his second term. Out of the 275 parliamentarians, his party lost a handful of seats and only secured 137 seats against the NDC’s 136 seats.
“I think it is important for the youth of Ghana to join politics because we need to have a voice in our own future.” – John Dumelo
“The loss of a clear majority is going to be a challenge for President Akufo-Addo to easily implement his policies and his vision for Ghana but it is certainly not impossible. Ghana needs strong leadership and I believe President Akufo-Addo is the best man for the job especially after the way he handled Ghana’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Victor Oppong, a stock-broker in Ghana.
On the top of the president’s agenda is implementing the $17 billion program to boost growth in Ghana’s economy. His win is one that is welcomed by the investment community in Ghana. In August this year, President Akufo-Addo ushered in the opening of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat in Accra, a pioneering project by the African Union’s Agenda 2063 that will create $3 trillion of GDP.
“The country has demonstrated the confidence it has in President Nana Akufo-Addo by voting him to stay in office. This confidence is also demonstrated by the business community who clearly are excited about the opportunities that the CFTA will bring particularly with a Ghana Beyond Aid agenda. Ghana through exemplary leadership has shown resilience and robustness in the face of the pandemic and recovery has accelerated.”
“By end of the third quarter, FDI had climbed up to over a billion dollars through projects in mining, energy and manufacturing. And this is instructive of the confidence of investors in the Ghana story. Aggressive reforms will continue to ensure a very competitive investor and business climate. All in all, continuity and sustainability in the good Ghana story, satisfactory control of the pandemic, a robust economic recovery and revitalization plan will do well for Ghana going forward,” says Yofi Grant, CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre.
‘A Man In A Hurry’
Valerie Obaze, the daughter of President Nana Akufo-Addo and entrepreneur, spoke to FORBES AFRICA after the win:“Less than 24 hours after hearing the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission declare Nana Akufo-Addo (my father) as the winner of the 2020 presidential race, we as a family are all relieved. This is despite the confidence with which we approached this election, believing strongly that his excellent leadership over four years was more than enough for Ghanaians to give him a second term. However, elections and anxiety are not all that unfamiliar to our family. We have been here before.
“To know Nana Akufo-Addo personally, like I have the privilege to do, is to know a selfless man, who is constant, perseveres and has a heart for his people. He has dedicated his adult life to the struggle for a free, democratic and prosperous Ghana.
“Our father is a workaholic and at his age, we even wonder where he gets his energy from. He enjoys working and we sometimes feel sorry for those who work closely with him. He is in the office everyday from morning to midnight and even then when he gets home you would be lucky if he doesn’t move straight into his study.
“To know Nana Akufo-Addo personally, like I have the privilege to do, is to know a selfless man, who is constant, perseveres and has a heart for his people. He has dedicated his adult life to the struggle for a free, democratic and prosperous Ghana.” – Valerie Obaze
“He is a man in a hurry: to see his country develop; the lives of the people enhanced, and Ghana become an example for the rest of Africa. I am excited about his second term because it coincides with the agenda to finally build an integrated Africa. My father will play a major role in this, especially with Ghana as the secretariat for AfCFTA. The election is over and in his words, “time to get back to work”. We as his family will always be proud of how tirelessly he is working to make his dream to see Ghana holding its own in the international realm come true. He has restored confidence in the Ghanaian and we are all excited about the future of our country, and by extension, our continent.”