News / Africa

Corruption, Oil Hot Issues in Ghana Election

A man rides past a pillar featuring posters of the ruling party presidential candidate, incumbent President John Mahama, and opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra, Oct. 23, 2012.
A man rides past a pillar featuring posters of the ruling party presidential candidate, incumbent President John Mahama, and opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra, Oct. 23, 2012.
With Ghana's presidential election set for December 7, the candidates faced off in their final debate this week. Corruption and how best to manage the country’s oil sector topped the agenda.  Ghana's four presidential hopefuls argued over the best way forward for this cocoa, gold and oil producing nation.  But analysts say the vote will come down to the two main candidates: current President John Mahama from the National Democratic Congress, and former foreign minister and main opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo, of the New Patriotic Party.

The moderator asked the candidates to explain how they would fight graft, a problem that seems to pervade every level of government.

Akufo-Addo said he would strengthen anti-corruption institutions and serve as an example.

"I see the beginning from the example that the leader will give. If you are committed to the fight against corruption you yourself of course must not be corrupt," he said. "You yourself should be somebody who can take on the fight because you’re not corrupt, have never been and will not be.  That is the position in which I stand: not being corrupt, never will be and have not been."

The 68-year-old opposition candidate also promised to build the country’s industrial sector and make secondary school free by using funds from the country’s new oil revenue.

Ghana began producing oil in 2010 and how best to manage oil revenue remains a hot campaign issue.  

At the debate, President Mahama said the government has taken steps to ensure oil profits reach Ghanaians, but that foreign oil companies now need to be encouraged to buy available products from Ghana and employ locals.

"It doesn’t pay to have such a God-blessed resource and just have foreigners come and take it away without any benefit to your people, " he said.  "So we are going to pass the local content bill to justify and reserve some aspects of the oil industry to Ghanaians, and to encourage the foreign companies that are involved in oil exploration and production to work for them.

Mahama, who is 53, took office in July less than 24 hours after the death of former president John Atta Mills.  Mr. Mahama is a historian, communications expert, and writer.  He is campaigning on the development agenda called “A Better Ghana,” started by his predecessor.

Akufo-Addo, who is favored by young and urbanized voters, lost the 2008 election to Mills by just 40,000 votes, less than one percent.  Opinion polls indicate this year’s race will also be tight.

Ghana had one of the world's fastest growing economies in 2011, but some Ghanaians say the current government hasn't lived up to expectations.

Dorcas Yeboah, a psychology student at the University of Ghana, said she was expecting faster results.

“As we saw their main campaign was a 'Better Ghana' agenda and we were expecting Ghana would change within 100 days as they promised," Yeboah said. "But we can see even in three and a half years now most of the things they promised we are not really seeing it…I was expecting to see this year a lot of roads constructed, rural electrification really enhanced…and many schools under trees eliminated.”

But not everyone agrees.

A group of taxi drivers in Accra stands around waiting for clients and talking politics.  They hail from NDC strongholds like the neighborhood of Madina in Accra and the Volta region in the country’s east.

Nelson Ahiatsi, who is 32, said he has seen improvements in his village under the NDC.

“Where I’m coming from in Volta region, a very critical village, for the past 15 years there’s nothing like water, electricity, roads, there’s nothing like that.  The food stuff from the village to the town is very difficult.  The farmers find it very difficult to bring the foodstuffs to the town for people to buy.  About four years ago when NDC came into the power we realized that improvements, development was going on.  Roads, access to farms to bring the foodstuffs to town, electricity to the villages…water, boreholes, sanitation and everything,” Ahiatsi said.

The latest poll from Research International estimated Akufo-Addo would win with 52 percent.  Yet other polls, like one from the Economist Intelligence Unit, predict Mahama will win.

Analysts expect a peaceful election. Kwesi Jonah, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Democratic Governance, says there is a tradition of conceding defeat in Ghana, and he doesn’t expect this election to be any different:

"No, the two main parties that matter in this country… they normally accept election results," said Jonah. "If one wins, there is always internal pressure on the candidate to not accept election results, but candidates in the end are prevailed upon by wise counsel to accept the results.  I don’t expect anybody to dispute the results."

If no candidate wins a clear majority,  the elections will go into a second round.  The run-off is planned for December 28.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Troops Depart

Afghans are grappling with how exodus will affect country's fragile economy More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs