Have you chanced on any of these comparisons trending on Ghana’s social media space lately? “… Buhari is 72 years; Nana Addo will also be 72 in next year’s elections… Jonathan is 58, John Mahama will also be 58 in next year’s election… Jonathan took over from his boss Musa Yaradua as president after his death, and so did John Mahama after President Mills’ death…The PDP has the umbrella as its emblem, the NDC has same… “
How about these counter analogies? “… Buhari was a former Head of State, But Nana Addo is not … Obasanjo tore his Party Card in Public and supported Buhari, But Rawlings has not done same … PDP Officials resigned and Joined APC but no NDC member has done same … “
Right after the news broke that Nigeria’s main opposition leader, General Muhammadu Buhari, had won the elections in Nigeria, social media in Ghana went agog with the afore cited analogies and counter comparisons. This banter is raging mainly between members of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the largest opposition in the country – the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
The matter of comparing electoral fortunes in Ghana and Nigeria was berthed when the double incidence of the inheritance of a deceased President’s seat by a Vice President occurred in Ghana and Nigeria respectively; just years apart. The then Vice President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, went ahead to win at the polls to become the substantive President. His victory was re-echoed during Ghana’s 2012 elections as a harbinger of the incumbent President John Dramani Mahama’s victory. Lo and behold, it came to pass.
Either by virtue of the sheer coincidence that brought them to power or by virtue of a certain unknown solidarity, Both Goodluck and John have been reported to get along really well; not only on the front of bilateral relations but also in unofficial or social arenas. Apart from being on rather good terms, each of them got saddled with a monumental challenge just as they got into office. While Jonathan grappled with the menace of Boko Haram; John still seems to be at sixes and sevens with the power crisis hacking down Ghana’s economy.
As though the Goodluck – Mahama happenstance was not enough, there is also this eerie coincidence about the fact that the main opposition leader in Ghana, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo, and General Buhari of Nigeria are both in their seventies and have experienced serial losses at the ballots.
The developments above did set the tone for correlations and projections between the electioneering fortunes in Nigeria this year and that of Ghana come next year. As such, a victory for Nigeria’s opposition APC did put in motion sentiments among members of Ghana’s opposition NPP that same will happen in Ghana. The reasons being cited are to the effect that, the sheer coincidence that swept the two “Inheritance Veeps” into Power in Ghana and Nigeria respectively, will be the same happenstance that will see them replaced by opposition leaders who, as though by design, are both septuagenarians.
Are the parallels being drawn between Ghana and Nigeria reason enough to expect similar outcomes? On the face of it, the matter appears ridiculous and can only be considered an issue of sheer successive coincidences which may well take an unpredictable turn. It may happen that the elections in Ghana may take an entirely different turn come 2016.
However, politics, is influenced as much by sentiments as banal as the similarities drawn above, as it is affected by hard core campaigns on the grounds. Secondly, the precedence set in Nigeria will give the opposition in Ghana a rational high ground to thwart arguments being made by the incumbent NDC concerning the age of the NPP flag bearer. However, the NPP may yet still lose this counter argument in the probable (though unfounded) event that age related factors get to affect Buhari’s performance in the coming year.
Last but not the least, the entire occurrence in Nigeria will serve to boost the morale of the NPP; going into 2016. After having lost two consecutive elections (not counting the run – offs), this outcome in nearby Nigeria gives their supporters a reason to believe that it is possible to win an election yet again – despite a number of heart breaking losses.
However, a point of caution that the opposition NPP must consider seriously is the tendency to become lax and ride on the current of ongoing events and tides. This may cause them to lose site of the actual arduous task of campaigning on the ground. It is instructive to note that, the perceived and actual failures of the incumbent and the happenings in Nigeria only remain political cards; but are no sure tickets to victory – unless these cards are played well to tactical effect.
Secondly, as the saying goes, to be fore warned, is to be fore armed. As such, President John Mahama and his NDC are sure to work twice as hard as they would probably have; in order to avert the undesirable winds of loss blowing from Nigeria towards their re-election fortunes.
As indicated above, it is anticipated that the NDC will not take the ongoing events for granted and will put in all they can to secure victory next year. However, the Achilles heel of the Jonathan regime, which was Boko Haram; replicates itself in Ghana in the form of the ongoing Power Crisis. It will be instructive for the NDC to know that, a dying hour resolution of the matter will not endear them to Ghanaians any more than it will make the people feel they have been taken for granted all this while. For the sentiments will surely be that, government attached no sense of urgency to the matter until it come to a time of seeking votes. This same dynamic saw the election pendulum swing far off from Jonathan towards Buhari – based on the last minute manner in which the former handled the crisis of Boko Haram.
All in all, provided both parties conduct their ground campaigns to a tee, then it can be invariably inferred that, the Nigerian elections will in one way or the other provide a sort of baseline or indicators to the possible outcome in Ghana. These indicators maybe purely sentimental (i.e. the bandwagon effect) or be based on the manner in which the incumbent handles issues of perceived governance flaws and most importantly, the main crisis issue of power.