Former President John Dramani Mahama has made a sensational claim that there was an incidence of over-voting in the 2016 elections, but his party – the National Democratic Congress (NDC) – decided to let it go.
“I could have gone round to gather all kinds of examples of over-voting and go to court but I don’t think that was good. The NDC is playing the game democratically. The NPP are the ones that often will never accept the verdict of the people when they have lost the election,” he told Ghana Television (GTV) in an interview on Tuesday.
Current President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo – then candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) – made history last year when against all odds, he defeated incumbent Mahama with a margin of over one million votes after a keenly contested general elections on December 7, 2016.
While then candidate Nana Akufo-Addo’s votes appreciated significantly, the National Democratic Congress’ John Mahama’s dropped woefully.
The then opposition candidate (Nana Akufo-Addo) polled 5,716,026, which translated into 53.85% and Mr. Mahama garnered 4,713,277, representing 44.40% – dashing Mr. Mahama’s second term hope.
Speaking on GTV to mark the 25th anniversary of Ghana’s uninterrupted democratic rule, Mr Mahama, who appears to be sulking over his embarrassing defeat, accused the NPP of being sour losers and said they had always rejected national election results when the verdict did not favour them.
“Our party has always accepted the verdict when we lost. It is our opponents who don’t,” he said, and went ahead to show what he said were instances of the NPP being sour losers.
“In 1992, they described the election as the ‘Stolen Verdict.’ In 1996 they described it as the ‘Bought Verdict.’ When they won in 2000, we readily gave power to them,” former President Mahama indicated.
He said, “In 2004, Prof Mills conceded,” but when he was reminded that the NDC went to court in 2004 to challenge the President-Elect Instrument, Mr. Mahama said, “Two members of our party decided to go to court. President Mills conceded and congratulated President Kufuor so there was no doubt about that.”
According to the former president, “2012 was the worse one,” adding, “The NPP went to court and we went on for almost one year. We wasted the whole time of the government because we were not sure the legitimate government was going to move out of office. The international community decided to wait and see and so it actually truncated the amount of time that we had but we did our best in three years plus and we were able to deliver some of the things we promised the nation.”
He said when he lost in 2016, he “conceded and congratulated them.”
Mr. Mahama said he has good relations with the incumbent president, as well as all his colleague former presidents.
He noted, “The president is a very busy person so you can’t be in touch with him on a day-to-day basis,” adding, “With respect to President Kufuor, we speak and my relationship with him has been cordial. Anytime we speak we are very cordial.”
Rawlings’ Cold Reception
Mr. Mahama said he also has good relations with former President Rawlings – founder of his party – and claimed, “Recently there have been some speculations in the media and all that but we should understand the kind of a person President Rawlings is.
“Sometimes he is in a mood where he doesn’t want to engage in any conversation. Recently at the thanksgiving they were giving all kinds of interpretations to the handshake we had. There are occasions when he comes he greets the military style and on some other occasions, it is cordial. I met him in Kpando and we were very cordial; we exchanged pleasantries. Sometimes you sit next to him and he is in a mood to talk.”
Mr Mahama said former President Rawlings has “criticized all administrations,” saying, “If he thinks things are not going right it is his right to criticize and you take it in good faith.
“When you are president you take decisions on a daily basis and you must listen to criticisms but eventually, the decision is yours to take and so there might have been times he makes a suggestion and based on information I have from National Security intelligence, I take a decision contrary to his suggestion and of course, he won’t be happy.”
He talked about political communication and cautioned against any attempt to restrict the use of social media, as well as the fact that Ghana’s democracy is blossoming due to the entertainment of dissenting opinions by political actors and the role of the judiciary in the current democratic dispensation.
Mr. Mahama said he supports a law that will give the president the power to select his ministers not necessarily from parliament, and reiterated his position that the Special Prosecutor might not be independent after all because he/she will operate under the dictates of the Attorney General.
He insisted he doesn’t agree that the president is overly powerful under the constitution because there are checks and balances in the system.
The former president did not rule out coming back to lead the NDC into the 2020 election. “I am enjoying my new role but at my age I don’t rule out still contributing to my country; but I will do it under circumstances that are very necessary and compelling,” he underscored.
He said the “selecting a candidate for NDC is an issue of our party.”
By William Yaw Owusu