Ghana’s opposition leader takes second shot at top job

Akufo-Addo spent years campaigning against military regimes that once led Ghana and now, with democracy firmly in place, he is hoping to emerge victorious in this week's elections.

His rimless spectacles and full, round face are well known in this West African nation, with "Nana", as he is commonly known, having previously been attorney general, foreign minister and presidential candidate for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) he still leads.

In the 2008 polls, he fell just short of a first round win, taking 49.1% of the vote, then lost in the second round by some 40 000 votes to former president John Atta Mills, who died in July.

He will be seeking a different outcome in what are expected to also be tight elections on Friday.

Akufo-Addo, (68) has repeatedly called the current President John Dramani Mahama a "caretaker" leader, destined to serve only between Mills's death and inauguration day next year.


Born in the east into a prominent family – his father was Ghana's president when the job was a ceremonial post – Akufo-Addo earned a law degree in the UK and later worked in Paris, where he became fluent in French.

Between 1966 and 1992 Ghana was under military rule, aside from a few short-lived civilian governments, and Akufo-Addo gained fame for his battles against dictatorship, including political organising and fighting human rights cases in court.

Support
Running for president is "a piece of cake compared with what [he's] done in the past," said Jermaine Nkrumah, former spokesperson of the NPP's US chapter, who knows Akufo-Addo through party work.

Yonny Kulendi, a former student and colleague at the firm of Akufo-Addo, Prempeh & Co, described 'Nana' as a teacher and boss of rigorous intellect, who was capable of mesmerising a court with his oral arguments.

"He is probably one of the very few advocates in court who somehow can hold the courtroom spellbound and you hear a needle if it drops," Kulendi said.

Despite his very public career, some say Akufo-Addo lacks a populist touch and that his professonal manner has hampered his ability to connect with the average voter.

"What I always think is that [he] mirrors to me a certain painful truth about politics which is that you can be so public, and yet, be the least known. And that is Akufo-Addo," said Kulendi.

Analysts have characterised him as a broadly centre-right political thinker, with a clear faith in free markets, but more pragmatic that ideological.

The signature issue of his 2012 campaign is a pledge to provide free secondary school education, backed by revenue from Ghana's nascent oil industry. – Sapa-AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Sapa Afp
Guest Author

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

How smuggled gold destined for Dubai or Singapore has links...

Three Malagasy citizens were apprehended at OR Tambo International airport, but now the trail is found to connect to France and Mali

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

More top stories

R2.3bn VBS trial expected to only begin in 2022

The state is expected to request a 16 week-long trial, as delays stymie progress in the saga.

Spy boss tells how agency was used to detain Zuma’s...

Day two of State Security Agency testimony at the Zondo commission birthed more revelations that point to the former head of state and agents breaking the law

Covax will take excess doses of Covid vaccines off the...

The global initiative plans to deliver two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to developing nations

Eastern Cape citizens don’t have to visit the labour department...

This measure, aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19, may shortly be introduced in other regions.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…