Elections 2020 Between John Mahama And Nana Akufo-Addo - Judgement Of Competency And Capability

Feature Article Elections 2020 Between John Mahama And Nana Akufo-Addo - Judgement Of Competency And Capability
JUL 8, 2020 LISTEN

The elections between the incumbent President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and former President John Dramani Mahama are going to be decided more than just on party bases. They are pitched against the other in the coming elections. They face each other in a third time to seek votes from Ghanaians on 7 December 2020. This third time meeting of the two gentlemen in an election arena is the only period in Ghana’s democracy where two presidents are standing against each other for reelection.

The scoreline for their two previous meetings was 1-1 draw. But the two meetings were between a Vice-President and a presidential candidate and an incumbent who had a four-year record as a President and again a presidential candidate who had not ruled as a President before. Mr. Mahama then told his opponent that he had no experience as a President, so he had no basis to judge him, when the running mate of Mr. Akufo-Addo, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumiah questioned his competency.

In this third meeting, both have experienced presidency and have ruled Ghana for a term. Ghanaians therefore have a better judgement between the two than they had in their previous election bids. This is the first time both are going to be judged by Ghanaians based on what each could and couldn’t do as President, faithfulness to campaign promises, their achievements and what each are remembered for.

The Ghanaian voters have seen the presidencies of both men and what each stand for and could do. The 7 December 2020 elections between the two gentlemen of Ghana is going to be more than NDC-NPP battle, more than manifesto promises or a sheer vote for continuation or change; it’s going to base mainly on competency and capability.

The 2008 election between the late Professor John Fiifi Atta Mills and Mr. Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo was not as balance. In the election, Professor Atta Mills had been a Vice-President from 1997 to 2001 under President Jerry John Rawlings, and he had stood unsuccessfully in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections as the candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Mr. Nana Akufo-Addo, on other hand, had only been a parliamentarian and previously served as Attorney General from 2001 to 2003 and as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2003 to 2007 under the Kufuor-led administration and had not been a presidential candidate before.

In this year's election bid with Mr. Mahama, he has Presidency to his credentials. In their two previous meetings, he was the underdog, Mr. Mahama was a Vice-President made President and then a full term President. Mr. Akuffo-Addo was only a candidate, never been a Vice-President or President before. Their first face to face meeting in a political campaign for Ghana’s Presidency in 2012 was after Mr. Mahama had assumed the presidency following the death of President John Atta Mills on 24 July 2012, four months to the end of his first term of office and to a reelection bid. Mr. Mahama was Professor Atta-Mills’ Vice.

The then Vice-president made President by the provision of the constitution, after the death of the President, completed the remaining four months of Mr. Atta Mills term and won the re-election against the then candidate Mr. Akufo-Addo in the December 2012 election. Mr. Mahama’s sworn-in ceremony at the Black Star Square in Accra on 7 January 2013 to begin his own four-year term, was attended by thirteen African Heads of State, one Prime Minister, two Vice-Presidents and 18 government delegations across the world.

After his investiture, the opposition New Patriotic Party led by its 2012 presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo, running mate Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and the party chairman Jacob Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, challenged the election results, alleging irregularities, malpractices, omissions and violations. The petition was heard by nine justices of the Supreme Court of Ghana. After eight months of hearing, the Court on 29 August 2013 dismissed the petition by a majority opinion.

Then Mr Mahama sought re-election after serving his full term of four years, but this time lost to Mr Akufo-Addo by a wide margin of nearly one million votes.

The 2016 election results between the two men were 5,755,758 votes, which was 53.7% of the total votes for Mr Akufo-Addo and 4,771,188, a percentage of 44.5 % for Mr. Mahama, a difference of 974,600 more votes for Mr Akufo-Addo. As compared to the 2012 election results, which was 5,574,761 (50.7%) for Mr Mahama and 5,248,898 (47.7%) for Mr. Akufo-Addo, a margin of 325,863 votes for Mr Mahama.

The first term of Mr Akufo-Addo as a president will end on 6 January 2021. But he has been chosen by his New Patriotic Party (NPP) to contest again for re-election in the December 2020 campaign. Mr Mahama also has been surprisingly picked again by his National Democratic Congress (NDC) to stand for re-election in 2020 after become a former President, who should enjoy his ex gratia of GHC 29,899 a month.

The former president Mahama had received a total of GH¢568,049 to cover 19 months as at July 2018. His special aide, Joyce Bawa Mogtari, claimed in a newspaper report that the GH¢568,049 paid into the bank account of her boss was not his monthly salary but end-of-service benefit, otherwise known as ex-gratia.

Her claims beg the question whether the modalities for payment of ex-gratia have changed, owing to the fact that a net total of GH¢568,049 had been paid into the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) account of former President Mahama on a monthly basis since leaving office.

The GH¢29,899 monthly payment is the same amount the sitting president receives at the end of the month.

As if there was no other credible candidate, in February 2019, Mr Mahama was surprisingly confirmed as the candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress to contest in the 2020 elections against the incumbent president Nana Akufo-Addo who unseated him in a 2016 election. In the 2016 elections, Nana Akufo-Addo capitalized on an economy that was slowing due to falling prices for gold, oil and cocoa exports, a falling agricultural production in the country and a falling industrial output and increasing lay-off of workers due mainly to a four-year shortage of electricity supply to businesses.

Mr. Mahama’s campaign for re-election is the first in Ghana’s democratic history where a former president has become a presidential candidate. But the wording of the 1992 constitution permits him. Article 66 (2) of Ghana’s 1992 constitution states that a person shall not be elected to hold office as President of Ghana for more than two terms. Mr. Mahama has been elected to hold office as President of Ghana for only one term, since his presidency from 24 July 2012 to 7 January 2013 was not by election.

Mr. Mahama has broken several records in Ghana’s presidential politics. He is the first head of state of Ghana to have been born after Ghana's independence, the first vice president to take over the presidency from the death of his predecessor, the first incumbent to lose an election since Ghana returned to multi-party democracy in 1992, the first President in the history of Ghana to not have won a second term and the first President of Ghana to become a presidential candidate.

This third meeting of Mr. Mahama and Mr. Nana Akufo-Addo is going to be a clearer and a fairer judgment by Ghanaian voters than just a mere choice between the two men for a continuation of the incumbent or a change of presidency. Because the presidential capabilities and competencies of both men are known to Ghanaians this time.

The main re-election promise of Mr. Mahama in 2016 was more infrastructure projects and creation of jobs at a backlash of high unemployment following his failure to resolve a four-year shortage of electricity supply throughout the country resulting in overwhelming losses of lower and middle income businesses.

“Can 'Mr Power Cut' John Mahama win a second term?” was a heading of an article published by Adelaide Arthur for BBC News on Tuesday 6 December 2016, a day to the fateful 2016 general and parliamentary elections.

She wrote, “Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama has joked he is known as "Mr Dumsor" - a reference to the power cuts that have plagued Ghana during his first term in office.

“Dum" means off and "sor" means on in the local Twi language and Mr Mahama has come in for criticism for his inability to tackle the problem - as well as for the ailing economy and corruption scandals. But on Wednesday Mr Mahama is asking voters to disregard such problems and give him a second term.

“Vice-president under John Atta Mills, the then 58 year-old became president when Mr Mills died, before winning the 2012 election by a slender margin. During his "Accounting to the People" tour that year, he sought to convince Ghanaians at home and abroad that he was delivering on his campaign promise of creating more jobs.

“He said a revamped sugar factory in Ghana's central region would create 7,300 jobs and reduce the bill for sugar imports, which he said amounted to $300m. He also commissioned a new "Dubai-style" flyover in a busy business district in the capital, Accra,” the Nkrumah Circle Interchange.

“However, his National Democratic Congress (NDC) government had not been able to deliver all of the 200 senior high schools it promised four years ago, while the local currency, the cedi, had fallen against the dollar and pound,” Ms Adelaide Arthur argued.

The total cost for the Nkrumah Circle projects under the NDC was US$270 million while under President Akufo-Addo, it will cost $135 million.

The Nkrumah Circle Interchange — which involved two bridges on the second tier of length 170 metres and a total width of 17 metres as well as a total ramp length of 240 metres — was done at the cost of €74 million. In the same phase one, the NPP government, led by President Akufo-Addo, is constructing a total flyover length (bridge and ramps) of 340 metres with a width of 18.5 metres at the cost of US$35 million at Obetsebi Lamptey at Kaneshie, Accra.

Second Phase
In the Nkrumah Circle second phase project, the Mahama administration used a whopping US$170 million to build the Ring Road flyover with a total bridge and ramp length of 1.2km and a width of 24 metres, with three bridges over the Odaw River, two terminals, a water park and road works.

For the Obetsebi Lamptey second phase, the Akufo-Addo government is using €87 million to construct a total bridge and a ramp length of about 700 metres with a width of 18.5 metres as well as about a kilometre of storm drainage expansion works and road works on the ground level.

The Mahama administration was hit by major corruption scandals. A major blow to his presidency was his government's inability to retrieve 51.2m cedis ($11,7m; £9.3m) paid by the government to a ruling NDC party financier, even though the Supreme Court ruled back in 2014 that the payment had been unconstitutional.

When the president met Ghanaians in the UK in May 2016, he told them that corruption had to be dealt with in a "more systematic manner" and indicated that he was "working towards a cashless society by 2020".

"I'm taking Ghana to the next level," Mr Mahama told the audience.

It was revealed in 2016 that Mahama accepted a Ford Expedition from a construction firm bidding for a lucrative government contract in 2012, while he was serving as Vice President. The Burkinabe contractor who had previously constructed a wall at the Ghanaian Embassy in Ouagadougou was at the time looking to get a road-building contract in Ghana's Volta region; this contractor later secured the contract but the vehicle left by the ex president for Government use.

Under Mahama's presidency in 2014, massive corruption was discovered at Ghana's Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA). The authority had misappropriated millions of dollars allocated to it. SADA paid GH₵32,498,000 to ACICL, a business owned by Ghana's Roland Agambire, Mahama's close confidante, to plant five million trees in the savannah zone, but could only account for about 700,000 trees. It was also discovered that SADA spent GH¢15 million on guinea fowl, but could only account for a few of the birds.

In 2015 it was again discovered that the contract for the rebranding of 116 Metro Mass Transit (MMT) buses at a cost of Gh₵3,600,000 was sole sourced and awarded to a company named “Smarttys,” owned by a member of the ruling NDC activist Selassie Ibrahim. It was revealed that the rebranding of the buses cost the government Gh₵3,600,000 which at the time was more than the cost of the 116 buses.


Mr.Mahama, on the eve of leaving office, signed off 75 per cent of Ghana’s bauxite to a company called Exton Cubic Group Limited, a mining company which has Mr. Mahama’s younger brother Ibrahim Mahama as the CEO. Exton Cubic Group Limited was granted a long lease concession by the immediate past NDC government on December 29, 2016, a few days for the government to hand over power to the new government after its defeat at the polls.

The company immediately moved heavy-duty machines into the forest near Nyinahin with the intent to start exploratory activities but was stopped by both the district and regional authorities after agitations by the youth in the area. This compelled Mr John Peter Amewu, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources to revoke the mining lease granted to Exton Cubic to explore bauxite deposit at Nyinahin in the Ashanti Region.

Mr Amewu, on September 20, 2017, wrote a letter to the company revoking the mining leases. Dissatisfied with the revocation, Exton Cubic applied to the High Court to have the decision quashed. The Accra High Court on February 8, 2018, quashed the decision of the Minister of Lands and Natural Resource, Mr Amewu, leading the case to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruling declared the three mining leases granted to Exton Cubic Group, a company belonging to businessman, Mr Ibrahim Mahama, as invalid. In a unanimous decision, the court held that the mining leases granted the company were invalid, void and of no effect, whatsoever.

The general secretary of the NPP, Mr John Boadu, disclosed that Ibrahim Mahama carried out, according to the company’s own report, a “well-defined systematic exploration drilling over the entire Nyinahin Bauxite ore deposit and determined that good grade bauxite exists on Hills 1, 2, 3, 6A, 6B, 7 and 9”. Mr Boadu said the President’s brother planned to build a refinery, saying that “assuming Exton Cubic went ahead to build a refinery, John Mahama’s brother would have been entitled to Ghana’s resources valued at US$180 billion of refined bauxite (alumina), not even aluminium”.


Following the intention of his government to set up an integrated bauxite and aluminium industry in Ghana, President Akufo-Addo forwarded a bill to Parliament to consider the establishment of an Integrated Bauxite and Aluminium Corporation which will set the legal framework for the regulation of the bauxite deposit and industry in the country. The President on August 30, 2018, intended the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Corporation Act, 2018 to mark the final stage of the legislation. The act is now in place. The Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation (GIADEC) is given the full authority as a public entity to manage Ghana’s Bauxite deposits and promote the development of an integrated aluminium industry and related matters.

The coming into being of the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Corporation Act, 2018 meant that government is taking opportunity to preserve the vast bauxite resources available from individual benefits to help in economic development of all citizens, especially the future generations to come.

Addressing the Board of Directors of the Corporation at the Jubilee House after administering the Official Oath and the Oath of Secrecy to them at their swearing in ceremony, President Akufo Addo said, "Aluminium is often described as the metal of the future. If that is the case, we have its raw material that is bauxite in abundance in Ghana. The time has come to make a concerted effort not only to bring the raw materials into play, but to establish the full value chain of the product so we can have a vibrant aluminium industry in Ghana."

The President further noted that the obligations of Ghana under the $2 billion dollar Sino Hydro deal require that "we supply them with aluminium products as payment in return for $2 billion dollars’ worth of projects." Ghana signed the $2 billion dollar deal with Sino Hydro of China, which requires that Sino Hydro build infrastructure in the country for an exchange of aluminum to the tune of that amount.

Mahama faces alleged involvement of a corrupt network in a case of kickbacks in the contract for the sale of Airbus military equipment to the Republic of Ghana in 2010. Ten years later, the results of a joint investigation by French, British and US authorities into alleged corruption at the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus in 23 countries, including Ghana, shed new light on the exchange. And they have plunged John Dramani Mahama, the former president who was planning to make a political comeback this year, into turmoil.

Philip Middlemiss, Leanne Davis and John Dramani Mahama’s brother, Samuel Adam Mahama, are suspected of having acted as intermediaries between Airbus and the Ghanaian president. These accusations, which have been reported in recent weeks by many local media and the now ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), are a heavy blow to this seasoned politician, who dreams of winning back the supreme magistracy and who has already been invested by his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), for the presidential election due to be held in December.

At the end of March 2020, a new twist in his campaign took a further turn for the worse: Ghana’s special prosecutor, Martin Amidu, who had found the corruption suspicions credible enough to open an investigation on 4 February, announced that he had summoned four “suspects”. He wants to hear from Philip Middlemiss and his collaborator Sarah Furneaux, as well as Leanne Davis and Samuel Adam Mahama.

All four have British nationality and it is difficult to imagine them travelling to Ghana in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic to answer questions from the courts. But the announcement had the effect of a political bomb. John Dramani Mahama has so far declined to comment, but his lawyer has said that the former president has not received any bribes.

The Secretary General of the NDC, for his part, has stated that the current period, marked by Covid-19, is not conducive to such controversy. “Any judge who sits on such a case will vanish,” said Stephen Atubiga, a senior member of the party, causing an outcry. Many are calling on the former head of state to explain himself or even withdraw from the presidential race.

NPP spokesman Awal Mohammed said John Dramani Mahama has lost all credibility in the run-up to the upcoming elections. A view shared by Kofi Akpaloo, the candidate of the Liberal Party of Ghana.

“It is definitely inconsistent with accountability when a person who supervised such a transaction is going round canvassing for votes from the people of Ghana, and yet that same person does not want to open up to the people of Ghana on the transaction; to me it is the height of inconsistency and lack of accountability,” said Yeboah Dame, Assistant Attorney General.

The Airbus affair is a real thorn in the side of this candidate who made the fight against corruption the cornerstone of his programme and his record when he was in power. “Corruption amounts to mass murder because it deprives government of resources to address the basic needs of people,” he said in 2014, when the alleged events took place.

These are detailed in the judicial records made public on 31 January 2020 by the British and American authorities. These files, which Airbus acknowledges to be true, do not explicitly implicate either the former president or his family. Indeed, as part of the agreement signed with the aircraft manufacturer, which closes the proceedings in return for a fine of 3.6 billion euros, Western anti-corruption agencies published the compromising elements they had uncovered, but did not include any names.

In order not to encroach on ongoing and future investigations, they explained. The fragmented information was enough for the Ghanaian justice system to decide to open an investigation, which led to the Mahama clan. Going through these famous files, we learn that between 2009 and 2015 an Airbus subsidiary specialising in the defence sector hired the brother of a high-ranking Ghanaian elected official, as well as a friend of the said brother and a third person to serve as commercial partners in the sale of three military transport aircraft, model C295, to Ghana.

Airbus knew they had no previous experience in international trade or the arms industry, but knew of the family ties between one of the three middlemen and the member of the government, and hoped to take advantage of them. According to the British and American records, Airbus dangled commissions of nearly 5 million euros in front of the middlemen.

In September 2011, an external audit commissioned by Airbus revealed that one of the middlemen was clearly close to a member of the Ghanaian government. The aircraft manufacturer was therefore at risk of violating the OECD convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials – a convention to which the sales agreement signed a month earlier was a signatory. As a result, Airbus had to forgo paying the agreed commissions directly into the account of a company owned by the intermediaries.

However, the company did not abandon the idea of payments, far from it: it simply made it more opaque, channelling the money – ultimately nearly 4 million euros – through one of its commercial partners in Spain, which was less likely to arouse suspicion.

As a result, Ghana has indeed bought three Airbus C295 military transport aircraft – two in 2011 and another in 2015. But the British judge in charge of the case found that Airbus had sought, through these kickbacks, to obtain an “undue favour” from a member of the Ghanaian government. Although the court records do not reveal any names, the elements they contain do identify some of the players.

For example, it states that the intermediaries established a company in Ghana on 7 December 2009 and that a company with the same name was established in the United Kingdom in February of the following year. However, only one company, Deedum Limited, fits this description, according to the Ghanaian newspaper MyJoyOnline, which searched the company registers of both countries.

The Ghanaian company they looked into was owned by the brother of a senior member of the government, serving from 2009 to 2016, and by a British television actor who had publicly claimed to be his “best friend”. According to them, this is precisely the case of Deedum Limited, whose shareholders are Samuel Adam Mahama and Philip Middlemiss, who told the Manchester Evening News in 2010 that he was the “best friend” of the Ghanaian vice-president’s brother.

Is this corruption allegation a coincidence or an incriminating evidence? The current investigation seems to be focusing on Deedum Limited at the moment. “Deedum was the corporate vehicle through which Samuel Adam Mahama and his associates purported to have provided services to Airbus to facilitate the suspected commission of corruption,” the special prosecutor’s office said on 31 March 2020, implicating the Mahama clan directly.

No doubt the former president’s political opponents will use it to undermine his campaign.

A Christian, Mr Mahama is a respected historian, writer and communications specialist who is known for having a sense of humour. His book, "My First Coup d'Etat", looked at the political problems that have gripped African countries since their independence and was published while he was serving as vice-president.

Mr. Mahama was born at Bole-Bamboi in Ghana's northern region. He spent much of his 20s and 30s studying, including a period in Moscow, and worked at the Japanese embassy in Accra and for the NGO Plan International.

He became an MP in 1996 and was communications minister from 1998 to 2000, when Jerry Rawlings was in power, and also served as a member of the Pan African Parliament based in Pretoria from 2004 to 2011, where he was Chairman of the West Africa Caucus.

The defeat of Mr Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the 2016 polls made him the first incumbent to lose an election since Ghana returned to multi-party democracy in 1992. Nicknamed "Mr Dumsor", a local word that refers to the power cuts that have blighted the country during his term, he campaigned to convince Ghanaians that he was delivering on his promise of creating more jobs.

Mr Akufo-Addo, on the other hand, promised free high-school education for all and a factory in each of Ghana's 275 districts, which were questioned by critics who saw his ambitions as inviable.

The then NPP candidate, Mr. Akufo-Addo, campaigned for a return to multi-party democracy under military rule. He was a former justice and foreign minister in the NPP government from 2001 to 2007, and was running for president for a third time

In the 2012 election, Mr Mahama defeated Mr Akufo-Addo by a little more than 300,000 votes.

2016 election was third time lucky for Mr. Akufo-Addo. He had lost previous elections in 2008 and 2012 but the way he handled those losses resonated with many people. He is credited with preventing possible violence in 2012 by not rejecting the outcome - a loss by a little over 300,000 votes to the then incumbent Mr. John Mahama - and calling for mass protests.

Instead, he sought legal redress and accepted defeat after the Supreme Court upheld the result.

The son of former chief justice and ceremonial President Edward Akufo-Addo retained his 2012 electoral promise to provide free high-school education. But the former lawyer, attorney general and foreign minister's main campaign promise was a "one district, one factory" policy that he maintained would industrialise the country.

"The time has come for us to move our industrial development forward," the presidential candidate told a rally in eastern Ghana.

"There must be jobs in our country. The lack of jobs, which is the case under this government, poses a threat to the future stability of our country."

In the north, Mr Akufo-Addo said there would be a functioning dam "in every village" to support agriculture. His critics, mainly from the NDC, dismissed his promises as impossible to fulfil - but Mr Akufo-Addo insisted they were not just gimmicks. At the end of his first four-year term, he has not only accomplished the flagship promises, the free Senior High School and great part of one district, one factory, he has also lifted the economy to a greater height above what he inherited in 2016.

The GDP growth at the end of 2016 when Mr. Nana Akufo-Addo took the administration from Mr. Mahama was 3.4%. As at April 2019, it was 8.8%, according to International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database, April 2019. 2017 growth was 8.1%, and that of 2018 was 5.5%.

Again, Mr Akufo-Addo is credited with helping to build up his parry the NPP, which first contested an election in 1992 when Ghana returned to multiparty democracy after years of military rule. His political career spans more than four decades and he was active in political movements in his early 30s, when he criticised the military government of the time.

He studied in both Ghana and the UK before working as a lawyer in France and served as an MP for the Abuakwa South constituency in eastern Ghana between 1996 and 2008.

The meeting of the two men in the 2020 election is therefore quite different from their previous meetings. From the new landscape of the regions, which are now 16 instead of the previous ten, to new voter register, which has taken away the problems of blotted names, double registration and impersonations, the election is set to be one of the best in Ghana’s history.

Mr. Mahama faced an uphill task. Apart from crouching in a shadow of alleged scandals as an opposition candidate, the incumbent’s four-year achievements are intimidating. The fulfillment of the flagship promises of free education for all high school students, a factory in each of the 216 districts in the country, which has seen an unprecedented completion of 58 factories and another 181 at various stages of completion within the four-year term, provision of millions of jobs, estimated to be between 1.5 million and 3.2 million nationwide by the end of 2020, high GDP growth, unprecedented foreign direct investments, massive infrastructure and other social interventions at his credit make the incumbent more favorite than the candidate.

Supporters of both NDC and NPP are already fixed, the swing votes are going to determine the race. These swing votes cut accross all spheres of the Ghanaian populace, from academics to business persons, employees, unemployed, students, farmers, petty traders and artifacts. They do not vote on party lines, they are going to vote along their experiences under the presidencies of the two. 7 December 2020 will decide.