New Anti-Corruption Leader Takes the Helm in Ghana

Kumasi (Ghana) – Ghanaian opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo has made history as the first son of a former president to lead the West African country, beating incumbent President John Mahama in the 2016 presidential elections held on Wednesday, Dec. 7.

Nana Akufo-Addo’s father, Edward Akufo-Addo, was part of the “Bix Six” leaders of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), which included the country’s first prime minister, Kwame Nkrumah. Edward Akufo-Addo later became president in the second republic.

President Mahama, leader of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDC), called to concede defeat and congratulate third-time contender and flagbearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) Nana Akufo-Addo minutes before the electoral commission came out to announce the results.

The 72-year old opposition leader fulfilled his lifetime dream of stepping into his father’s shoes by polling 5.7 million votes (53.85 percent) to beat 59-year old President Mahama who managed 4.7 million votes (44.40 percent) in an election with 68.62 percent turnout.

This was about 10 percentage points lower than the last presidential elections in 2012. The average voter turnout is 72 percent.

The NPP’s flagship campaign message of creating jobs and building a stronger economy seems to have resonated with voters in a country where almost half of the youth between the ages of 15 and 25 are unemployed, according to the latest World Bank report.

“I voted for Nana because I believe his one-district-one-factory policy will create a lot of jobs so I could easily find one when I graduate,” second-year university student Modesta Bonsu told IPS.

Osborn Adu, a 26-year-old IT worker, said utility bills and the cost of living have become so high that “sometimes I have to support my mom from money that I’m saving to pursue further education”.

Economic analysts say the NDC’s flagship message of infrastructure development failed to gain traction, with survey results showing that the primary issues of concern for voters were lack of jobs, high cost of living, and corruption.

The energy crisis, which was at its worst in the last two years, also saw electricity bills skyrocket, resulting in the collapse of businesses and attendant job losses. The institute of Statistical, Scientific and Economic Research found in a 2014 study that on average, the country loses production worth 2.1 million dollars per day as a result of the crisis and that it lost about 680 million dollars in 2014, which translates into about 2 percent of GDP.

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By Kwaku Botwe