I have read a story attributed to you on a number of credible news platforms in which you indicated that Ghanaians had regretted voting out the NDC in 2016. I don’t know the research which informed your conclusion, so I won’t argue with you on that.
As a Ghanaian who voted in 2016, however, I just want to speak for myself and offer a piece of advice that should help shape and redirect your party’s insensitive campaign as we approach 2020. It’s a bit long and punchy, but I know you’ll read with your head, and not your heart.
When I walked into the Mambrobi Polyclinic polling station on December 7, 2016, it was the fourth time I was voting in Ghana. I had never missed the opportunity to vote since I became eligible in 2004. But that election was the first election I really voted with my heart and mind.
When I took the ballot paper and got into the polling booth, I took my time so I would not make any mistake. After thumb-printing for Nana Akufo-Addo, I rubbed my thumb against my head before carefully folding the ballot paper so that I would not make a mistake by staining it. The music that was playing in my head that afternoon had only two lyrics:
In that election, I voted as if my life depended on the defeat of John Mahama, the man I had voted for in 2012. In fact, if John Mahama had won the 2016 election, I would have stopped the kind of journalism I am doing and find something else to do with my life. His victory would have meant that Ghanaians endorsed corruption and impunity in its worst form, so there was no reason fighting their cause.
Three years after that election, if you want three Ghanaians who are extremely disappointed in the presidency of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, I might feature as number one.
But do I regret voting John Mahama out in 2016?
I told myself in 2016 that no matter how terrible Akufo-Addo governs, I would not regret voting against John Mahama. This is how I described the John Mahama presidency in my latest book, “The Fourth John: Reign, Rejection and Rebound”:
“The John Mahama presidency was a cancerous tumour whose removal called for an eternal thanksgiving service. The John Mahama regime was a blot on the already decaying conscience of the nation, an error of an era, and a tragic accident in the history of our country.”
The facts based on which I came to that conclusion are well-documented in that book. The obscenity and impunity of the Mahama government was getting out of hand and the nation was about to crash into an abyss. We needed a brake, a moment to pause and change course. For me, it was anything but John Mahama.
In fact, if the only alternative to John Mahama in the 2016 election was a sheep, I would have voted for that sheep.
Three years later, I am disappointed in the alternative. The “incorruptible and no-nonsense” personality of Akufo-Addo turned out to be a well-packaged lie. That personality turned out to be a poisonous bait some of us swallowed hook, line, sinker and rod, without questioning because we were too hungry for change.
But do not I regret voting out John Mahama. To help you reconcile these seemingly incoherent views, let me give you a scenario.
You marry a man who beats so badly and you divorce him because you fear for your life. Unfortunately, your next husband holds a PhD in advanced infidelity; he would sleep with any woman who gives him the least opportunity.
Both men are bad. You are considering a second divorce, and its not possible to live without a husband. But the two men are the only possible options you can choose from. Your former husband needs you back badly, but instead of being genuinely remorseful of his violence towards you, he comes telling you that you have regretted leaving him. The fact that your current husband is terrible does not offset the unacceptable behaviour of your former husband.
The posturing of the NDC is like the violent husband.
In “The Fourth John”, I stated why voting for Nana Akufo-Addo in 2020 presents the same danger as voting for John Mahama in 2020. “So, in 2020, the Ghanaian voter will have to choose between death by hanging and death by firing squad,” I wrote.
Normally, I have a fair idea who to vote for in the next election after two years of a government’s reign. We have less than a year to the 2020 election and I have not even decided whether I will vote or not.
The only notable difference between the presidency of John Mahama and that of Nana Akufo-Addo is the fact that the atmosphere has become hostile under Nana Akufo-Addo for people who are unsatisfied with the corruption and speak about it or act against it. The Danish Ambassador to Ghana said last week that the international community was concerned about how institutions and individuals fighting against corruption in Ghana were being fought.
John Mahama’s strongest leg in the next election is his high level of tolerance. But I noted in my book that having lived under Kufuor and Mills, tolerance should not be a novelty. It, however, matters in the current circumstances.
If the NDC wants to come back, you have to admit you messed up. Tell us how you would do things differently if given the chance. Saying Ghanaians have regretted voting you out means you have not changed and you will repeat the same mess you claim we regretted clearing out emphatically in 2016.
I hope you’ll pick a lesson or two from these notes of a registered voter who is yet to decide whether to vote or not in 2020.
Manasseh Azure Awuni
(A citizen, not a spectator)