– Abraham Lincoln in Ghana Ghanaians rejoiced massively when Dr. Afari Djan, the (Electoral Commission) EC Chairman provisionally declared incumbent president J. A. Kuffour as the winner of the 2004 Presidential Elections. Remarked as a peaceful and high-turnout election in Ghana's history, millions of people took to the streets amidst tooting of car horns, shouts, fireworks and merrymaking at approximately 22:38 hrs and lasted for almost five hours.
In Kumasi, a stronghold of President Kuffour's NPP, people from all walks of life were automatically organizing street dances.
'heeeeey! Osono aba fie' translating as 'the elephant has come home', the NPP's party symbol is an elephant.
The story behind the 'heeeey' is as follows; It is alleged that former president Rawlings during the final days of the campaigning at Bantama, a suburb of Kumasi held a 'cassava' and shouted 'heeeeeey! Osono nko nwuram' translating as 'heeey! The elephant should return to the forest'.
Bantama also known as Florida (named after Florida in the US) as a result of alleged voter rigging and counting problems in the 2000 elections was another hot venue for NPP supporters. Several youth worshiped pictures of President Kuffour, others prayed teasingly at pictures of opposition candidate Atta Mills.
Mr. Adjei Koduah, a 78 year old pensioner said, the mood of the over jubilant crowd was quite similar to Ghana attaining independence in 1957. Wearing NPP colors and draped with talcum powder signifying victory, he joined several thousands of youth who were drumming and singing on the streets.
25-year-old taxi driver Maxwell Atia who hails from Northern Ghana said he was now certain Ghana would enjoy peace and democracy for the next four years. I have waited for over 48 hours after the voting to hear this announcement and I am happy that a re-run was not necessary. The taxpayer's money has been saved.
Mrs. Ama Serwah Boadi, a civil servant said even though the Kuffour's government did not fulfill all its election promises in its 2000 campaign, PEACE was prevalent. 'I am very happy PEACE has once more been given a chance.' She added.
Some joyous youth were seen removing and breaking down posters and placards of the main opposition NDC party led by former vice –president of the Rawlings regime – Prof. J E Atta Mills.
Speaking to Godfred Tamakloe, an NDC party faithful, he admitted the loss and said that he thinks the NDC is being punished just because of the former president J J Rawlings. 'We've been a good opposition, we've saved the country from several '419' – fraud loan schemes and brought sanity to the Kuffour government'. I am equally overwhelmed by our good performances despite several setbacks' he added.
President Kuffour winning a second term was widely predicted by many political analysts, social commentators turned journalists who sometimes appeared biased on several radio programs across the country.
This morning radio stations played songs expressing their appreciation for a peaceful elections and thanking God that incidents in neighboring African countries like Ivory Coast, Burundi were highly unlikely to occur in Ghana.
Some of the presenters openly declared their party alliance making their reporting and comments to be very biased in favor of the NPP, a situation that does not argue well for a respected and objective journalism and/or democracy.
As early as 06:30 hrs this morning, the celebration began with many people wearing party cloths, bag or simply a headgear with the party colors amidst shouts of 'heeeey'.
There were no reported incidents of violence or heavy causalities to the knowledge of this writer.
The writer who witnessed the final days of the campaign and voting was greatly overwhelmed by the level of political maturity of the electorate. Traveling to 6 regions (Central, Western, Eastern, Greater Accra, Brong-Ahafo & Ashanti) it was clearly convincing that voters were making their choice without undue influence from the parties.
In many cases, I sat and drunk together with supporters of several parties who argued in the interest of the nation and called for peaceful elections.
There was no animosity or hatred because of one's political affiliation.
The EC embarked on effective campaign that enlightened the knowledge, rights and obligations of the electorate.
Both voting & counting of ballots were organized in an orderly, open and civilized manner deserving 98% credits to the EC, Security agencies, Media, Polling agents and the electorate.
Even though the chairman of the EC released the results a little over 48 hours after voting ended (less than the 72 hours as promised), many people became uncomfortable amidst series of unfounded allegations and pockets violence. The EC took a careful policy of certifying the results to avoid protracted disputes and legal tussles.
With less than 10 million people voting, President Kuffour swept a little over 52% whiles the opposition NDC of Prof. Atta Mills ranked second with about 44% and 2 other candidates pulling an approximate 3%.