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Ghana, like Nigeria, replaces a corrupt leader with an older one; the similarities

Nigerians and Ghanaians have shared a hate-love relationship for as long as I can remember.

And this relationship has become an overhanging factor in both countries’ policies, actions and even inaction. The 2016 General Elections in Ghana solidify this by following what can only be described as an eerily similar coincidence.

Despite the difference of almost a year between the electoral dates of these countries, the stories that preceded a “resounding request for change” are very identical, even down to the minutest and seemingly “ignorable” detail.

Ghana and Nigeria had presidents who died in office.

Dead Presidents

Whereas the late John Evans Fiifi Attah Mills may not have been as popular among everyone in Ghana as the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was among Nigerians, they both got replaced by their vices after death snatched them away. Yar’Adua died at 58 whiles still in office and Attah Mills died in July at 68; both having spent barely 4 years in office. Yar’Adua was a unifier, he brought peace across Nigeria’s many ethnic divisions, he championed the fight against terrorist and led a strong battle against corruption. John Mills was hailed across Ghana and even the world as the “most peaceful leader Ghana ever had”, his policies helped Ghana’s exchange rate and stabilized inflation rate to a single-digit.

What went wrong with the presidents crowned by death?

Corruption Barometer: 54% says corruption has increased in Ghana

Like my boss, Godfred Akoto Boafo puts it, “it will be hard for history to write anything good about John Mahama’s term in office” and same can be said of Nigeria’s former leader, Goodluck Jonathan. Both inheritors of their thrones from dead presidents, the two did not lead the best of regimes.

Scandals were a commonplace place occurrence in Mahama’s government, and this started right from the get-go. Even his personal life came under scrutiny based on the report of one of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta”. From “bus branding scandals”, “Ford Expedition scandal”, “GYEEDA” among others, Mahama literally became the face of abject corruption in Ghana.

The story with Goodluck Jonathan was not far from similar; Nigeria’s former president run out of good luck (this pun never gets old) when he got the brand “clueless president in the world.” But like Mahama, allegations of corruption were established ever before he became President and included his family members. Nigerians vividly recollect Jonathan’s declaration that “stealing was not corruption”.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

Two leaders who leave a history of corruption behind

The call for change was evident during the 2015 elections in Nigeria; the electorates voted massively against the then-incumbent Jonathan Goodluck, who was seeking a second term in office. Muhammadu Buhari won a resounding victory with over 2.5 million more votes (54.5% of total votes cast) than Jonathan, who managed to get a measly 45% of total votes cast.

Nana Addo beat John Mahama with over 1 million votes, which represented 54% of total votes cast as Mahama got just a little above 44%. Astonishingly, Ghana’s President-elect is 72 years at the time of his election just like Buhari. Like Nigeria’s Buhari who had contested three times previously and lost, “Try me” Nana was a veteran presidential race runner, he ran unsuccessfully for President of Ghana in the 2008 and 2012 before the people finally decided to give him the shot. Buhari ran unsuccessfully in 2003, 2007 and 2011.

But Ghanaians are hoping this is where the similarities end.

In Nigeria, despite the tremendous support that accompanied Buhari’s rise to Aso Rock, he is currently facing trails as Nigeria’s economy has become unstable and is currently in recession.

As Dr. Perry Brimah writes, “the elections in Ghana and Nigeria were both quite polarizing with divisions along religious and ethnic lines. Mr. Akufo-Addo would do well uniting the country and not following Nigeria’s example where divisions appear to have become more plentiful, deeper and deadlier since Buhari’s swearing in.

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