This was not how it was supposed to go. He was supposed to have been on retirement from active politics resting, chilling in Dubai and reflecting on his time in office as the President of Ghana. At least, that was what many Ghanaians believed after the devastating defeat he suffered in 2016.
It was novel for a sitting President to lose an election in Ghana but it was beyond our wildest dreams that a President would lose an election with close to a million votes. His popularity descended into a pit and on 7th January 2017, he was consigned to history.
Fast forward time to 7th and 8th December 2020 and you would see raised eyebrows, opened mouths, excited NDC supporters and worried NPP supporters anxiously waiting for the declaration of the Presidential results. From all indications, President Akufo-Addo had been re-elected but why were the NDC happy and why were we anxious? We had won the elections, but we were surprised to see former President Mahama perform way better than he did in 2016. What caused this resurgence and renewed hope in a man who led his party to the most humiliating defeat in the 2016 elections?
First, the jabs did not work. Chanting “Incompetent Mahama” no longer wooed floating voters. They wanted to see action. In my opinion, there was a lot of action but others wanted more. President Akufo-Addo did very well in his first term but there was a lot more to be desired in the management of the economy. Again, in my view and in the view of the majority of voters, President Akufo-Addo outperformed former President John Mahama.
In spite of that, the signals that the electorates sent across in 2020 are crystal-clear and as a forward-looking party, we must have strategic discussions on the way forward. In 2016, when we were in opposition, Nana Addo won Greater Accra by 116,109 votes.
That difference is huge for a swing region. When we came into power and started implementing our policies, surprisingly, in the 2020 elections, John Mahama flipped the capital and won by 76,310 votes. There must be a message in that. Greater Accra is the fulcrum of our national economy and any discontent among the people there can easily spread to other regions if it is not checked immediately.
Another factor that points at a resurgence of John Mahama is that his performance in his strongholds increased significantly. In the Upper East region, he went from 60.3% in 2016 to 63.3% in 2020.
In Upper West, Mr Mahama went from 58.4% to a whopping 67.4%. In our beloved Ashanti Region, the heartbeat of our party, Mr Mahama went from 23% in 2016 to 26% in 2020. It would interest or surprise you, depending on your perspective, to know that H.E. Nana Addo’s performance in Ashanti reduced significantly from 76.1% in 2016 to 71.6% in 2020. Also, even though we won the Central Region, Mr Mahama’s performance improved from 43.4% to 45.9%. The NPP’s performance also decreased in the Eastern region from 62.4% to 60.5%.
In conclusion, Mr John Dramani Mahama has vitalized the NDC’s base in their strongholds and they look very prepared for 2024 whilst the base of the NPP feel neglected and abandoned. This is evident in the party’s decline in the Ashanti and Eastern regions.
This is also evident in the formation of grassroots movements such as the Obiaa Bedidi Movement and the Alliance for Footsoldiers Advocacy. For some reason, our party’s base is demotivated and in order for us to ‘break the eight’, the party must elect a candidate who understands the footsoldier’s language; a candidate who will surely revitalize our base in our strongholds and our core supporters in the NDC’s strongholds.
The best candidate to break the eight should be a unifier; someone who easily appeals to floating voters and can reassure our supporters all over the country that their voices will be heard and their concerns will be addressed. Based on the evidence that I have provided and from what many party faithfuls who do not have a voice say, the Hon. Minister-Designate for Trade and Industry, Alan John Kyerematen fits the bill and I believe strongly that it is he who can break the eight.