The National Democratic Congress (NDC) launched its 2016 election campaign in style yesterday, with President John Dramatic Mahama predicting that although the elections would be tough, he was confident that the NDC would triumph.
Thousands braved the afternoon sunshine in Cape Coast to be part of the event and specifically to listen to their flag bearer give his message of hope.
His speech was weighted, believing his credibility had never been tainted.
The crowd inside the stadium erupted into deafening cheers when the President arrived at the Cape Coast Stadium.
The umbilical cord of the NDC in a way was cut in Cape Coast, where the party was launched. The Central Region is seen as a vote-swinging political hotbed and launching the 2016 campaign there appeared to be a strategic move.
President Mahama took a swipe at the New Patriotic Party (NPP), labelling it as an intolerant party.
In a sarcastic punch, he said the NPP “has won an Olympic gold medal in insults”.
He said the NPP idolised their members who engaged in insults, saying that NPP members who insulted him and his administration were commended.
The irony of the situation, he said, was that the NPP leadership sought to silence some of the decent members of the party for criticising wrongdoing.
President Mahama said it was unjustified the way the NPP had attacked the Electoral Commission (EC).
“It has been the characteristic and a feature in these elections: that the EC is attacked every step of the way by the NPP. And it is part of the strategy to discredit the EC,” he said.
Akufo-Addo’s leadership questioned
He questioned the leadership qualities of Nana Akufo-Addo.
“The mark of a leader is one who is able to unite his supporters behind him. They are now quick to commend people who hurl insults at me and my government. Even former President J.A. Kufuor has not been spared the brunt of their attacks,” he said.
‘Let’s mind our game’
Notwithstanding the NPP’s shortfall, the President said the NDC must fix its attention on its own affairs.
He said the NDC would completely change the nation given the solid foundation laid.
President Mahama made a pledge to continue to show commitment to the ideals of the party.
He urged the party’s parliamentary candidates who lost in the primaries to support the winning candidates to reap victory.
The President said his first term was met with a myriad of challenges, including the long election petition that distracted the nation, with telling effects on the economy.
Nonetheless, he said, impressive results were achieved in the first term.
“My first term as President has been challenging but also very positive. It began with the election case in court, where many Ghanaians sat and followed through with the process because it was televised and the international community was slow with the necessary support because of the uncertainty surrounding the outcome,” he said.
The President said the government had no intention of banning social media on election day.
The Vice-President and running mate to President Mahama, Mr Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, in a brief speech, sought to compare President Mahama’s qualities with those of Nana Akufo-Addo.
He said the distinction was clear, stating:, “President Mahama is the safe pair of hands for us in Ghana.”
Mr Amissah-Arthur questioned what change the NPP was talking about when change was already happening under President Mahama,
He went further to jab the NPP and its flag bearer for “threatening the people of Ghana with change”.
The General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, introduced the parliamentary candidates for all the constituencies to the gathering.