Ghanaians will be voting on Wednesday, December 7 to either keep their current government or pick someone new to rule the country.
This election season in Ghana has been very interesting, with lots of ups and downs, accusations or bribery, requests for prayers and fasting. There is so much that has gone down to report it in this one article a couple of days before the elections.
My goal with this post is to give information on what is happening in the country. It’s not to pick a side or help anyone make a decision, which is impossible because most people have made up their mind already.
The purpose of the post is to inform those of us who are of Ghanaian descent what is happening and help us have some knowledge on the issues.
That way on Wednesday when Greg in Accounting says “you’re from Ghana right? I hear y’all are voting today” You can give Greg some extra information.
This is a bit of a long post so if you need to you can grab some snacks while you read. It’s important for us in ‘abrokyire’ to also know what is happening.
The Parties & The Candidates
There are 7 main parties that have a candidate vying for the position of President.
NDC (National Democratic Congress)
John Dramani Mahama is looking to have another4 year term as President. He was Vice-President under John Atta Millswho passed away in 2012 while in power.
NPP (New Patriotic Party)
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo is the leader of the party. This is his third attempt at running for President after going up against Mills in 2008 and Mahama in 2012. The 2012 elections had many people feeling the NPP leader was robbed of his chance to rule the country.
NDP (National Democratic Party)
Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings is the only woman on the ballot for President. She is married to military leader turned civilian ruler JJ Rawlings who ruled Ghana from 1981-2001 and founded the NDC.
PNC (People’s National Convention)
Dr. Edward Mahama is the leader of this party. PNC was created in 1992 by ousted President Hilla Limann.
PPP (Progressive People’s Party)
Dr. Paa Kwesi Ndoum is the leader of the party. Before he was leader of CPP but in 2011 he left to create PPP for progressive and independent minded people.
CPP (Convention People’s Party)
Ivor Kobina Greenstreet is the flag bearer for this election. This party was created by Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah in 1949 but was disbanded in 1966 during the coup d’état. In 1996 two parties merged together to create a new CPP.
Jacob Osei Yeboah is running independently, this is his second attempt at being President.
The 2 main political parties in Ghana are NDC and NPP. They have most of the voters backing them and their candidates.
At the beginning of this election cycle there were 17 hopefuls who wanted to run for president. Many were disqualified by the Electoral Commission (EC) for issues such as having errors on their application form. Out of those who were disqualified Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom and Dr. Edward Mahama were able to take their cases to court and win the right to run in the election.
On Wednesday the polls will open at 7am and close at 5pm. Registered voters will show their voting ID cards and be given a ballot with the candidates pictures and party slogan. They will use their thumb print and place it on the spot of the candidate of their choice. They will then place their choice in the ballot box. Musicians have come out with songs on the election one by Kwaw Less asks voters to use their thumb power to vote.
Not only about the President
These elections are important because voters are also voting for their MPS who are to represent the interests of the constituents of the area they are running for. Picking the right MP is essential. For the next four years they will in charge of maintaining the areas that voters live in and listening to their needs and providing solutions. Unfortunately as it is everywhere some people become MP and nothing is done to improve the area they represent. Voters in this election should be wise to pick someone that will actually make a difference for them.
People want Change, others don’t
There has been a lot of political change this year, some has been good (The Gambia) and some has been bad (The United States).
Many in Ghana believe it is time for change in the country. They see Wednesday as the beginning of the change the country desperately needs.
For many they hope to see Ghana work once again. The economy in the past few years has suffered with Ghana once again needing assistance from the IMF with a loan of $918 Million. The price for basic necessities has increased (my aunt keeps telling me that plantain is cheaper here in Toronto than it is in Ghana where the product is grown).
The power situation has become drastic with it being given the nickname Dum (off) Sor (on) as in the lights go on and off constantly. This lack of stable energy has caused many well off individuals to purchase generators for their homes (can you imagine how the poor are suffering?). Many businesses have collapsed because they could not maintain the price of fueling their generators (in Ghana they use gas) and conducting business.
Others believe things are fine in Ghana under the current government and more time is needed for them to deliver on the tasks they have promised to complete. They feel four years (it’s actually 8 if you count as Vice President) is not enough time for President Mahama to transform Ghana and deliver on all his promises. He needs more time to make a difference in the country.
There is another group of people in the country that are tired of the two main parties (NDC and NPP) being in charge all the time. For them nothing changes under these two parties, they believe they are all the same. The roads are still bad, the education system is poor, the energy sector is failing and there is no running water available in many areas (even in the capital of the country). Nothing is improving but prices are still increasing and the politicians continue to enjoy the national cake while the nation suffers.
These people wish for new faces to join the political atmosphere, with new ideas that can propel the country forward.
Campaigning in Ghana is different
The candidates have been campaigning for months to get voters to pick them on December 7.
They have been to Radio and TV stations to make an appeal to the public to make them their choice.
In Ghana you will find posters plastered everywhere for certain parties and their MP candidates for the area. Catchy songs will be written about the main candidates which are usually sung by local musicians who have decided to put their backing and influence behind a certain candidate.
The parties during election time put their brand/logo on items to hand out to potential voters. The parties put their candidate’s picture on items such as water sachets and t-shirts to hand out to voters. Here in Canada you won’t see a candidate’s picture on a bottle of soap, only on a flyer but in Ghana anything is possible.
To see the way campaigning in Ghana is done always intrigues me. You will find a candidate’s picture and party logo on a bag of rice, hair dryers and even motorcycles that are to be given out to key people they hope of enticing to vote for their party.
The two main parties will hold big rallies and you will see hundreds and thousands of people in attendance cheering them on. When I see that I always think it must be in some cases the same people at both rallies. But you can’t blame the people. If you are poor and one party is offering you rice and corned beef you will show up and if the other party is offering t-shirts and new chalewotes (slippers) you will show up there as well so that you can be fed and clothed.
Ghana is a religious country so both main parties have asked people in the country to pray and fast with them so that they are victorious. Some religious leaders have also said that God will pick the leader of Ghana. I don’t know why people are quick to claim God picks governments, they seem to forget we were given free will. If you don’t pick wisely that is your mistake.
Bribery, Sabotage and Accusations
Even in a free country like Ghana, sabotage, bribery and wrong doings can be found.
Some have accused the EC of trying to fix the elections. When many candidates were disqualified from running for President, it was believed by some that the EC under the direction of their Chairperson Charlotte Osei, was disqualifying certain people to make it easier to rig the election for the current ruling party to stay in power. Even well-known prophets in the country have come out to accuse Charlotte Osei of trying to sabotage the elections. The EC has come out to deny these allegations against their chairperson as false. They have explained they do not take sides in the election process and do not favour one candidate over another. It is not their aim or goal to sabotage the elections.
Recently leaders have come out to say that certain parties have tried to bribe them with large sums of money to ensure they would have victory in their area.
Bribery is so rampant in Ghana (it’s like a way of like actually) that people are pleading with voters to not sell their vote for monetary gains that will not last and might end up ruining the country in the long run. Some have even created videos on the issue of bribery
If you spend a lot of time online you might have seen people engaged in internet debates about this election. Someone will make a post about one party and the people who are loyal to the party will reply on their post and it will be a back and forth discussion for hours. Most of the time these debates become arguments. People can be ruthless sometimes not caring about facts or the bridges they are burning. They end up insulting each other over politicians whom for the most part have no idea who they are.
The people who are quick to attack for the sake of their political party are called foot soldiers. Their job (not sure if I should call it that) is to spread the word about their party being the best option and to stop others from spreading negative information about their party. When I see the back and forth attacks that have caused friendships to end, I wonder if these people are being paid to ruin their lives. I have no idea what they really get from the vicious attacks. Are they going to win contracts when their party is in power? Were they promised a position within the party? It makes no sense.
The internet doesn’t represent the whole country
If you looked at the way things are presented online, you would think a certain party would be the automatic winner of the elections on Wednesday. But many people in Ghana don’t have (easy) access to the internet, they are the ones that will vote. The internet has trouble of conveying the views and opinions of the average Ghanaian citizen, the person that doesn’t have steady access to the essentials in life and will be voting to ensure they can also have a better future in the country.
In 2012 I watched all the commotion online and assumed that based on what I read and watched that the elections would go in a certain direction but it didn’t happen that way. When it comes to elections in Ghana you can’t sit behind your computer to get an accurate gauge of what will happen. You have to be on the ground and hear what locals are saying when they talk to each other one on one.
Some people online are talking so much about what is wrong with the country or who should be in power instead of the current administration and what should be done.
Apparently these indivduals on the internet all have Poli Sci and Economics degrees. But these people will not do anything except type long essays on Facebook or their WordPress blog.
They refuse to do their part in changing the country. Many of them won’t even go out and vote. They will say there is no point in voting because things stay the same and the same people are always in power just they rotate every 8 years. Their opinion is elections in Ghana are rigged so there is no point to get out and vote, since the right people will never be put in power.
If our ancestors thought this way the Queen would still be in charge and it would still be called The Gold Coast. Everyone should do their part to make a difference. You can’t expect others to be the change you wish to see. Do your part.
Everyone wants peace
Since 2001 when John Kuffor became President, Ghana has been known to have peaceful elections with incumbent governments turning over power with not much issues arising.
During the 2012 elections, when there were allegations of ballot rigging, both main parties called for peace and calm heads to prevail in the country as the matter was settled in court.
With these elections, many are calling for peace once again in the country, regardless of the outcome drastic measures should not be taken.
Why should we care?
Although we live abroad it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care about what happens in Ghana. We should care to see others exercise their right to vote and hope to see things go smoothly. If you have friends and family in the country you should care because these elections will impact the next four years of their life which may impact some of our lives abroad as well (if you take care of family back home).
Reegardless of who wins, I wish the best for Ghana and her people. It is such a beautiful country with many resources that the opportunities available to the country are many if handled correctly.
On Wednesday I will be glued to my social networks to find out the results. I wish Ghana a peaceful and successful elections.