Ghanaians go to the polls today to elect a President and 275 members of parliament (MPs) for the next four years.
Today’s round of presidential and parliamentary elections promises to be interesting as the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) are both optimistic of a first round victory.
In an interview with DAILY GUIDE yesterday, the NPP presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, said he was expecting nothing less than victory.
“I’m going to the election expecting to win; I think that the circumstances of this election, the messages that have gone into it, the response by our main opponents, the conditions of Ghana today point to an NPP victory,” he said.
That, he noted, was because “our people are energized, very determined and enthusiastic; they are really determined to go out and vote and their main concern is that hopefully there will be no irregularity. So I’m encouraged by the NPP.”
The NDC’s President John Mahama and the Convention People’s Party’s Abu Sakara Foster, Hassan Ayariga of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Akwasi Addai Odike of the United Front Party (UFP), Dr Henry Lartey of the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) and the only independent candidate, Joseph Osei-Yeboah, are all optimistic of emerging victorious at the end of the day.
Most polls have suggested either the NDC or the NPP would win the elections.
However, Dr Nduom is of the opinion that the election would go a second round.
Various polls conducted both home and abroad have sought to put either the NDC’s Mahama or the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo as the likely winner of the presidential election.
Though some have suggested that whichever way the pendulum swung, it would just be a slight margin over the other, others believe that there would be a run-off.
The latest poll by independent social marketing research group, Research International, just released on Monday, December 3, pointed to a first round victory for the opposition NPP at 51percent while the NDC had 46 percent.
A similar poll by the same group last month put Nana Akufo-Addo at 52 percent.
Some people also believe that the polls would go a second round, with the main opposition party likely to be favoured.
The thrust of the 2012 elections has been based on the issue of ‘free education’ from kindergarten to senior high school level, a major campaign promise of the NPP.
Whilst the NPP is emphasizing free education, the NDC is talking about ‘Edey Be K3k3’.
The NDC presidential candidate, John Mahama, a proud beneficiary of ‘free education’, has rubbished the NPP campaign promise.
For the NDC, the time was not rife for free education and that Ghanaian school children would have to wait for the next 20 years to be able to access this constitutional provision.
Interestingly, the message seems to strike a chord in virtually every Ghanaian home, assuming the talk of town.
Nana Addo told DAILY GUIDE yesterday that when given the mandate, the first thing he would do “is to assemble the team that will make sure that the free SHS policy is implemented according to the promises that we’ve made to the electorate by September of 2013 when the policy will begin to roll out”.
He seems to have had the best part of the campaign because of his early election.
He has had the opportunity to comb virtually every nook and cranny of this country under the guise of a ‘thank you tour’ and ‘hope restoration tour’, way before the actual campaign season began.
Though other candidates have had a similar advantage, independent presidential candidate Joseph Osei Yeboah appears the most disadvantaged as he entered the race late.
Until the death of President John Evans Atta Mills, some five or so months ago, many were those who had tipped the opposition NPP as likely to win the presidential elections with a wide margin in view of Mills’s inability to campaign due to his ill health.
But the emergence of a caretaker president instantly changed the dynamics of today’s elections.
Apart from the spark that he has brought to the campaign trail, he has equally mounted one of the most spirited campaigns ever in the history of the country, with heavy injection of cash in terms of adverts and billboards and freebies.
He has also been cited for taking undue advantage of the incumbency through the use of state resources for his campaign, coupled with last minute gimmicks including the provision of streetlights to certain areas and sod-cutting exercises for the commencement of various projects.
Yesterday, President Mahama was said to have commissioned a number of these projects to shore up support for his candidature in a bid to beat the law that bars political campaigns a day before the elections.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu