The New Patriotic Party (NPP) is holding a thanksgiving service today to mark the one-year anniversary of the party’s massive victory over the then ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The all-white interdenominational service, to be attended by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his vice Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, will take place at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC).
According to the party, almost all appointees, including Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, National Executive Council members, among others, are expected to grace the occasion.
President Akufo-Addo made history last year when against all odds, he defeated incumbent John Dramani Mahama with a margin of over one million votes, after a keenly contested general election on December 7, 2016.
While then candidate Nana Akufo-Addo’s votes appreciated significantly, that of NDC’s John Mahama dropped and eventually, Nana Akufo-Addo widened the gap with some 1,002,749 valid votes.
The then opposition candidate polled 5,716,026 which translated into 53.85% while incumbent Mr. Mahama managed 4,713,277, representing 44.40%.
There was spontaneous and wild jubilation all over the country when the Returning Officer of the presidential poll, who is the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei, declared the 72-year-old legal gem the president-elect.
Some Ghanaians even referred to the historic victory by the NPP as the ‘second independence’ of Ghana.
After Ghana had transitioned into democratic rule in 1992 – after 11 years of military dictatorship (Provisional National Defence Council) – all those who occupied the presidential seat had their first names as John.
Nana Akufo-Addo thus became the first person to break the chain of the Johns since the 4th Republican Constitution was promulgated in 1992.
He is the first son of an ex-president (Edward Akufo-Addo) to be president of Ghana.
He is also the first person to maintain one running mate (Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia) for three consecutive elections – 2008, 2012 and 2016.
President Akufo-Addo is the first opposition leader to win ‘one-touch’ (over the 50% plus 1 as mandated by the Constitution) in Ghana’s electoral history.
He is also the first opposition leader to stop an incumbent president (Mahama) from winning a second term in office.
In 2008, Nana Akufo-Addo, who was then the incumbent NPP candidate, led then opposition NDC’s Professor John Evans Atta Mills in the first round of poll but could not hit the 50% plus 1 vote to win outright to enable him to succeed exiting John Agyekum Kufuor as president.
As a result, the election entered into a second round and Nana Addo lost to the NDC candidate, thereby returning the NDC – which had ruled from 1992 to 2000 – to power.
Unfortunately for the NDC, Prof Mills died suddenly on July 24, 2012, when he was preparing to contest again for a second term, and his then vice, John Dramani Mahama, had to continue until the December 7, 2012 contest when he (Mahama) was fielded by then ruling NDC against the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo, who was contesting for a second time.
The 2012 election was bizarrely called for Mr. Mahama by then EC Chairman Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan, in spite of widespread irregularities and fraud the opposition NPP complained about.
As a result, the NPP, through Nana Akufo-Addo, Dr. Bawumia and then Chairman Jake Otanka Obetsebi Lamptey (now deceased), filed a presidential election petition at the Supreme Court, challenging the validity of President Mahama’s declaration by the EC.
The case, which was telecast live, travelled for about eight months and on August 29, 2013, the court, in a 5:4 majority, dismissed the petitioner’s case and upheld the EC’s declaration of Mr. Mahama as then president-elect.
It was the first time the EC was using a biometric voters’ register to conduct elections in the country.
However, in 2016, the NPP vowed never to allow irregularities to dominate the process and appeared to have ‘policed’ the process, using a very sophisticated technology in the independent compilation of its version of the results.
The strict supervision given by the opposition party ensured that the EC was compelled to play by the rules as against what had transpired in 2012.
Then ruling NDC, it later emerged, could not even collate its own results and had reportedly tied their hopes on the platform run by the EC, which failed on election day when the result transmission was in progress.
The EC, therefore, had no other option than to declare the opposition leader winner of the presidential poll.
By William Yaw Owusu