Ebo Quansah in Accra..//
The triumph of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in the 2016 presidential elections of Ghana could be said to be a solid reward for nearly 40 years of agitation to free this country and its people from the tentacles of military adventurism.
That Nana Akufo-Addo and his New Patriotic Party (NPP) have finally romped to victory after two previous failures is news by itself. But the margin of victory, with the incoming President claiming 5,716,026 of the popular votes, representing 53.8 percent, against incumbent President John Dramani Mahama’s 4,713,277 (44.40 percent), is overwhelming in every sense of the word.
Significantly, the New Patriotic Party, which the in-coming President led into the polls, also trounced its main adversary – the National Democratic Congress – by 171-104 seats. None of the other nine other political parties which contested the polls won any seat in the 275-seat House of Parliament.
Tomorrow, the world will stop and witness the inauguration of the man who has fought, throughout his life on behalf of the ordinary man of this country. When he raises the bible and lowers it after reciting the famous oath of office under the direction of Mrs. Georgina Theodora Wood, Chief Justice of the land, Nana Akufo-Addo would assume the mantle as the Fourth Head of State since constitutional rule was restored in January 1993, after eleven and a half years of what Flt. Lt Jerry John Rawlings described as ‘the culture of silence.’
Tomorrow’s event will be graced by as many as 6,000 invited guests and 11 heads of state, and governments drawn mainly from the Economic Community of West African States. According to the official announcement, Mr. Allassane Ouatara, President of nearby Cote d’Ivoire, is the Special Guest of Honour.
At the time of going to press, the full list of invited guests was not available, but this reporter expects the Head of State of Nigeria, General Mahamadu Buhari, to be present in Accra, or represented by a key member of his government.
One envisages that the Head of State of Togo, Mr. Faure Gnassingbé, a very regular visitor to Accra, will be on the guest list. One Head of State, who would definitely miss the gathering of West African rulers in Accra, is the defeated President of The Gambia, Alhaji Yahaya Jammeh.
Mr. Jammeh lost the presidential vote to Mr. Adama Barrow, listed as a property developer, but after making a concession statement, and pledging to hand over on January 19, the ‘Butcher of Gambia’, who has ruled the tiny West African nation with iron fists for years, reneged on his promise and vowed to continue in office beyond his sell by date.
The Gambian crisis is likely to be one of the first foreign assignments for the newly-inducted Head of State of Ghana, as Nana Akufo-Addo will have to join up with other ECOWAS leaders to try and force Yahaya Jammeh out of Government House in Banjul.
Internally, the new President would have to move quickly to calm nerves on the labour front, as newly qualified teachers and nurses, who have not been paid for nearly two years, continue to beat war drums.
There is also the small matter of the national economy, and a potentially dangerous energy crisis to deal with. But, all these have to wait, as the new Head of State savours the spoils of his office.
On Wednesday, outgoing President John Dramani Mahama and his Vice, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, conducted the incoming President and his deputy, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, round Jubilee House, the magnificent edifice on the Independence Avenue, which would be their office for the next four years, at least.
The cordial atmosphere of the visit is being hailed, in political circles, as evidence of the growing maturity of Ghanaian politics. There are a few cracks oin the way, as the incoming administration formally takes charge and begins dealing with some of the impunities orchestrated by the Mahama regime, at a time when it has lost the mandate of the people.
The signing of new contracts and appointments of people into key positions, at a time when the incoming administration has been waiting in the wings, are some of the issues that are likely to test the cordiality of the relationship between the old and the new.
There is the small matter of how to deal with former office holders who might be found to have abused their offices. Already, the former First Family – Flt. Lt. Rawlings and his wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings – have called on the incoming Akufo-Addo regime not to compromise on former office holders found culpable of abusing their offices.
There are hints from the defeated NDC camp of a possible witch-hunt, prompting pro-New Patriotic Party activists to insinuate that so long as they are witches, they ought to be hunted. In the next few months, at least, there is likely to be a cat and mouse game between officials of this nation’s two biggest political parties.
Like many things great, the beginning was inauspicious for the incoming Head of State. When, the then young and vibrant agitator became the General Secretary of the People’s Movement for Freedom and Justice, formed to lead the movement to campaign for ‘No’ during the treacherous attempt by the Acheampong military regime to legitimise its illegitimacy in the 1978 Union Government referendum, 33 year-old Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo began the long struggle to lead this nation.
The PMFJ was formed by political heavyweights such as the late Lt-General Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa, a key figure in the overthrow of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the First President of the Republic of Ghana, Mr. William Ofori-Atta of blessed memory, one of the Big Six, Mr. Komla Agbeli Gbedema, Finance Minister in the Nkrumah regime, Prof. Albert Adu Boahen, a university History Professor who later broke the culture of silence imposed by the Rawlings oligarchy, Mr. Godfrey Agama, leader of the opposition in Parliament during the Busia regime, Dr. Jones Ofori-Atta, an economic guru and veteran politician, Mr. K.S.P Juntuah, a Minister of State in the Nkrumah regime, Mr. Johnny Hansen, and Nii Armah Armartefio, alias ‘Mr. No.’
This group, drawing support from the student movement, professionals and civil society organisations, resolutely opposed Acheampong’s Union Government, a concept sprang on Ghanaians, and obviously aimed at perpetuating the rule of the military at the time. Since that time, the incoming President has never wavered in his quest for an equitable society.
The son of one-time Head of State of Ghana, Mr. Edward Akufo-Addo, grand nephew of Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah, doyen of Ghana politics, and nephew of Mr. William Ofri-Atta, alias Paa Willie, all of the Big Six fame, politics could be said to be running through the blood of the incoming President.
Politics aside, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is recognised in this society as one of the finest legal brains this country has ever known. His law firm – Akufo-Addo and Prempeh – has groomed some of the finest young legal brains in Ghana. In business, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is a recognised success.
He is credited as one of the brains behind the introduction of mobile telephony to this country with the coming on board of Mobitel, now Tigo, and the introduction of the courier service, DHL into this country.
One would like to believe that the experience in nurturing all these ventures, would serve the next President of the Republic of Ghana, very well.