Accra, Ghana | AFP |
Ghana’s New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate Nana Akufo-Addo is hoping it’ll be third time lucky when the country votes for a new president on December 7.
Akufo-Addo, an erudite rights lawyer and former government minister with round tortoiseshell glasses, narrowly lost the 2008 and 2012 elections to the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
He contested the results in 2012 alleging electoral fraud, but ultimately accepted the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding John Mahama’s presidency.
Today Akufo-Addo, the son of a former president, has pledged to play by the rules and accept defeat even on the slimmest of margins, underscoring his commitment to keeping the peace in a country hailed as one of Africa’s most stable democracies.
“The stability and progress of Ghana and advancement of her democracy guided our actions in those difficult days,” Akufo-Addo said recently of the campaign.
Akufo-Addo is banking on the backing of voters who are frustrated with a litany of corruption scandals, unreliable electricity and sluggish economic growth.
While Mahama has been slow to address what voters perceive as worsening corruption, Akufo-Addo has promised to act quickly to stop a “borrowing binge” that has “mortgaged our future”.
The 72-year-old has been campaigning hard across the country, brandishing his party’s red, white and blue flag emblazoned with an elephant as a symbol for radical change.
An economic liberal, he has focussed on creating more jobs — especially among youth who face growing levels of unemployment — and on modernising the commodity-dependent economy.
His “one district, one factory” programme would encourage private sector investment, as would a policy of slashing corporate taxes.
Akufo-Addo was born in Kyebi, in the eastern region of Ghana into the political elite.
He is related to three of the “Big Six”, politicians dubbed as Ghana’s founding fathers, including his father who served as president.
Akufo-Addo, who speaks with a distinguished British accent — he studied in England — has enjoyed a successful career.
He worked in England and France before returning to Ghana. When multi-party democracy was restored to the west African country in 1992 after decades of military rule, Akufo-Addo became involved with the NPP, later serving as both justice minister then foreign minister under President John Kufuor between 2001 and 2008.
In his last election stand-off with Mahama, he lost 47.7 to the 50.7 percent. Four years later, this will likely be his final bid for Ghana’s top job.