In the course of this election campaign, Nana Akuffo Addo was repeatedly accused of arrogance by opponents and commentators alike. His lack of populist body language has cost him dear, but being lucky enough to know the man personally, he is a charming, considerate, witty and good humoured man who serves you in his home with his own hands – which is not true of many of his detractors.
So it is with regret that I say that it is essential for the good of Ghana that my friend now concedes defeat. With 9 million votes cast, only the tiny fraction that is 23,000 votes separates the two candidates, with one last constituency, Tain with 51,000 voters, voting today.
But Tain is an NDC constituency and has not been strong NPP in recent history. The kind of winning margin Akuffo-Addo needs there is near impossible. There have been recurrences there, now, of the thuggery and intimidation that have marred the second round in many places.
But the governing NPP’s decision to boycott today’s Tain run-off can only be construed as a decision to repudiate the entire election result. I see nothing else it can mean. Particularly when combined with yesterday’s failed attempt to obtain an injunction against the results.
We are already seeing more political violence in Accra than we have in the past decade. If the government repudiates the election result, then force becomes the only arbiter. It has been plain in Accra the last few days that the security forces will back the NDC, as they have historically. In not accepting the results, the NPP risks starting a fight it cannot win.
Look at the broad picture. This race is quite incredibly close. I have no doubt, that if you eliminated all cheating by all sides, the result would still be within just 1%. The NDC started from a base of 45% in 2008 and have, beyond any shadow of a doubt, genuinely picked up support in this election.
If you have two runners over one hundred metres, and one clocks up 9.86 seconds and the other 9.87 seconds, that does not make the loser a bad runner. But there has to be a winner, and the adjudicator’s decision must be accepted.
It would be unfair for Akuffo-Addo to lose, but it would also be unfair for Atta Mills to lose. The NDC have the genuine and consistent support of between 43% and 50% of the electorate over the long term. You cannot keep a group with that much support permanently out of office, and a system which did keep them permanently out of office would not be a true democracy.
The NDC has its liberal and democratic wing, personified by Vice President Elect John Mahama and Moses Asaga; and it has its wing that would happily jail the opposition on any pretext, personified by Tony Aidoo and Nana Konadu Rawlings. Jerry hovers between the two. Atta Mills is a good man, though how strong he is against Jerry remains to be seen.
But for the NPP not to hand over power gracefully, would strengthen the hand of the old PNDC undemocratic tendency in the NDC, and could lead to allegations of plotting and unconstitutionality.
I was heavily involved personally in 2000 when John Atta Mills, like the gentleman he is, undercut the hardliners in his own party by conceding defeat before the result was announced. It now behoves Nana Akuffo Addo to do the same.