How Akufo-Addo’s free high school initiative, others downplayed his corruption allegation to reclaim presidential seat

AMA Onyamia, mother of three was among those who jumped for joy when officials of the Ghana Electoral Commission (EC) in her polling unit announced her candidate as winner of the presidential poll.

It was about 6:53pm Ghanaian time.

Vote counting for the December 7 election was about coming to a close at the 36,622 polling stations across the 275 constituencies nationwide, except for few locations where little delays were recorded.

At that moment, Onyamia didn’t realise her candidate’s fate would largely depend on polls from across the 16 regions in Ghana. She was just excited he won.

Nana Akufo-Addo‘s success at her immediate polling unit was to her a huge victory.

Ama Onyamia, Orange seller at Akumaje Mantse Polling Unit, Greater Accra. Photo Credit: Olugbenga Adakin, The ICIR

Akufo-Addo was later declared the president-elect by jean Adukwei Mensah, Chairperson of the electoral commission two days after the election. He had initiated a Free Senior High School (SHS) policy for all Ghanaian students, during his first inauguration as part of measures to increase access to quality education.

About 424,092 students from the 2017/2018 academic year benefited from the flagship programme. Report says the project costs government about $90 million.

“We want parents to see education as what can transform this nation,” Yaw Osei Adutwum, Deputy Minister of Education told the New York Times last year while justifying rationale for the initiative.

The locals were satisfied with this gesture, aside revitalising of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which had suffered setback under the previous administrations.

Onyamia would sell oranges just by the Akumaje Mantse Polling Unit 1 in Jamestown, Odododiodio Constituency, in the Greater Accra Region to support her family take care of their three children who are still in primary schools.

She wanted the free education policy sustained. And she is hopeful at least, one of her daughters would benefit from the initiative before Akufo-Addo, the President-elect completes his second tenure office.

Same reason her sister had to join in the jubilation. Her first daughter is already in the junior secondary school. So, she currently benefits from the initiative.

“The health insurance scheme has been working since he came. Additionally, the free SHS, so Nana is doing a very good job. We want him to continue,” the women said through a fixer engaged by The ICIR.

These are almost similar stories from the locals, taxi drivers and traders who prefer Akufo-Addo is re-elected.

Ebenezer Tetteh, one of the taxi drivers engaged by this reporter was more interested in the free education. In Ghana, especially in the rural communities alot of parents he said, could not afford the cost of sending their wards to schools but the free education reversed the situation.

As he drives his unbranded Toyota towards the Kotoka International Airport, Ebenezer narrated how most of the secondary school students performed excellently well in the last Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE). These won’t have been possible, he beleived but for the policy. He further shared a story of a boy in a village identified as Adeato who made distinctions in his SSCE examinations.

“As i speak to you, in one village at Adeato, one boy who treks to school, through this policy got 8 As in his SSCE,” Tetteh said with excitement. He was quick to add how the opposition parties queried the project sustainability.

Though, others were of contratry opinion. They believe the president also failed in his campaign promise of tackling corruption.

“He is very corrupt. He is extremely corrupt,” a lady who pleaded anonymous said. She made reference to the controversial Agyapa Gold Royalties Deal which forced Martin Amidu, a man the president-elect personally appointed  as Ghana Special Prosecutor to resign over threat to life.

Amidu had raised serious allegation against the gold royalty deal saying it has the potential of being used for illicit financial flow, money laundering and other corrupt activities.

Why Ghana December 7 general election was full of apprehensions

The December 7 Presidential and Parliamentary election in Ghana is one that caused a lot of anxiety.

Though Ghana election is known to be relatively peaceful, at least when compared with its fellow Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) country – Nigeria, decision of John Mahama, a former President to contest the poll particularly raised apprehension.

He is a chieftain of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and presidential flag bearer of the major opposition party in the election.

It could be recalled that Nana Akufo-Addo, the president-elect forfeited Mahama’s chances of seeking re-election in 2016.

Yet, the president-elect polled so much popularity despite Mahama’s political history of being a former Assembly Chairman (Local Government Area), former Lawmaker, ex-Vice President during the administration of the late John Atta Mills before he was endorsed by his party in 2012 and elected as president in 2012.

Four years after, Mahama was defeated by Akufo-Addo during the 2016 election. Mahama got 44.4 per cent of the total valid votes cast while the current president-elect polled 53.5 per cent. Incidentally, four years after the 2016 poll – December 2020, history repeated itself.

Akufo-Addo beat Mahama with 6,730,413 votes about 51.295 per cent of the total valid votes, excluding Techiman-South Constituency to emerge winner of the 2020 election.

These were part of the reasons the electorate raised concerns on the poll prior to its commencement. But as the voting process commenced at about 7am, people came out at their convenient time to exercise their voting right. The voting exercise did not disrupt normal business activities. People still went on with their normal trading activities across the major markets.

So long voters could visit the polling unit before the 5pm deadline, they are entitled to vote.

From 7am to 5pm, voting across the country was very peaceful. Perhaps, reason some quarters described the election as boring and perhaps, the dullest election in Africa in 2020.

The Common Wealth International Observer also adduced to the level of orderliness, serenity and compliance to the COVID-19 guidelines. Right from the airport to the polling units, this reporter also observed the strict adherence to the pandemic safety protocols.

Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, Head of Commonwealth Observer Group with a fellow observer during the Ghana Presidential and Parliamentary Election. Photo Credit: Olugbenga Adanikin, The ICIR.


Is Ghana election truly the most boring poll in 2020?

Findings revealed the electoral officials, security operatives and ultimately the voters were willing to comply to the rules. The electoral umpire particularly engaged COVID-19 ambassadors stationed across the polling units nationwide.

“It is an exceptional effort, very difficult to deal with by some countries but we are really impressed by the measures undertaken by and large,” Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, Head of Commonwealth Observer Group told The ICIR during an assessment of the election.

Ugirashebuja, a former President of the East Africa Court of Justice described the election process as impressive.

But at about 5pm things took a twist. By this time vote counting and collations had started, pockets of skirmishes were being recorded in few of the constituency collation centres.

In Odododiodio Constituency, City Engineers Collation Centre about three persons were shot dead. The incident occurred at about day break around Modark Hotel, James Town, Greater Accra Region.

The deceased comprises two males and a female. One of the males, The ICIR gathered is a party agent of the NDC.

Nil Lante Vanderpuye, the NDC parliamentary candidate for Odododiodio Constituency was arrested on the election night and accused of the shooting incident which led to the death of the three casualties. He was later released following interventions from his lawyers.

In two other Constituencies, Senya West and Bawku Central, there were reported cases of attempt to dump fake ballot papers into the ballot boxes.

Similar incident was reported in Asawase Constituency by a lawmaker, Mubarak Muntaka.

“The electoral commission, working closely with the security services thoroughly investigated the incident and identified that a voter unscrupulously and unsuccessfully attempted to put in fake ballots into a parliamentary ballot box,” the commission stated in its reaction to the allegation.

A case of parliamentary votes that mysteriously caught fire in Asutifi South Constituency also dotted the election. The incident which was confirmed by election observers occurred minutes before counting was to commence. All agents at the polling unit were eventually arrested by the police and kept in custody.

As of December 9, the Police officially had announced five deaths as casualty figure, over a dozen injured and other forms of public disturbances reported in 21 locations across country.

Joyce Lomotey, a 35-year-old physically challenged woman displays her voters card at a polling station in Odododiodio Constituency, Accra Ghana. Photo Credit: Olugbenga Adanikin, The ICIR

Political parties’ self-declaration as winner 

One of the notable incidents after the Ghana election was the self-declaration by the two major competing parties. 24 hours after the election, the EC was yet to announce winner of the presidential poll. Party chieftains and their loyalists, thus came up with their figures. They stormed the respective party headquarters in jubilation all through the night self-believing their candidates won.

They called for media briefings, churned out statistics justifying why they were convinced of winning the poll, even though no official declaration was made by the electoral body.

Major roads across the city were filled with trains of supporters in a convoy of party loyalists. But, by Wednesday, December 9, Adukwe declared Akufo-Addo winner of this year presidential election. He won his rival with a margin of 515,524 votes.

While Akufo-Addo obtained 6,730,587 votes from the total valid votes cast pegged at 13,434,574, Mahama polled 6,213,182. The winner was declared without collated votes from Techiman-South constituency.

“It is important to note, however, that the difference between the total number of votes between the first and second candidates is 515, 524 votes. As a result, if we are to add the 128,018 full results to the result of the second candidate, it will not change outcome of the election.

“Hence, our declaration of the 2020 presidential result without Techima-South. Indeed, if we are to collate the entire result of the Techima South constituency and add to the percentage of the second candidate, John Mahama, he will obtain 47.83 percent of the total vote cast and Akufo-Addo will obtain 50.8 per cent of the total vote cast.

“It is on that basis that we say the outcome of the election will not change, hence, our declaration of our 2020 presidential election result without Techima south,” Mensah explained.

“On the basis of the foregoing, by the power vested in me, I declare Nana Akufo-Addo President-Elect of the Republic of Ghana,” she declared.



    Mahama is from Bole District in Bole-Banboi Constituency, the Savannah Region while Nana Akufo-Addo originates from kyebi, a town and the capital of the East Akim Municipal District in Eastern Region.

    Mahama won his constituent with 144,244 votes, but his party has since rejected the overall result declared by the electoral commission.

    “I stand before you tonight unwilling to accept the fictionalised results of a flawed election. We will take all legitimate steps to reverse this tragedy of justice,” he declared during a press conference.

    Nevertheless, until the court’s ruling, Akufo-Addo remains the winner of the 2020 presidential election, as Ghanians hope the free school education policy is sustained and not abruptly cut short.

    Olugbenga heads the Investigations Desk at The ICIR. Do you have a scoop? Shoot him an email at [email protected]. Twitter Handle: @OluAdanikin

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