Ghana’s ruling party wins Accra’s battle of the rallies as election nears
Bikers were busting wheelies and doughnuts, supporters in their busloads waved flags and wore t-shirts and scarves covered in portraits of President John Mahama and his wife Lordina, while horns, whistles and jubilation songs filled the air.
“I’ve been here since 10am,” said one supporter, who doubled up as a protocol officer, in the stands. “And I’ve been with the NDC since 1996.” A few hours of waiting time is nothing compared to two decades of unwavering support.
Greater Accra is the largest voting bloc in the country and both the NDC as well as the opposition New Patriotic Party pulled out all the stops here in their final push before the election.
Some 80,000 supporters of the ruling party thronged to stadium over the course of the day, calling out for “JM” [John Mahama] with sincere passion. With a turnout about four times larger than the NPP’s rally on Sunday, the NDC Accra campaign organisers will go into the election with their heads held high.
As the seats filled up a well-known local publication that recently featured what readers have described as a “biased and sensationalist” article speculating about the health of NPP opposition leader Nana Akufo Addo was handed out from the aisles, readers flicked through fervently.
On stage, amongst the list of designated speakers was minister of finance Seth Terkper in an uncharacteristic t-shirt and a cap – in the party colours.
After a few hours of song, dance and slogan calling later, the convoy arrived.
Party general secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia, better known as General Mosquito, took to the stage, outlining all the good deeds and infrastructure projects that have been inaugurated under the NDC. Some 100 metres away two trucks handing out John Mahama t-shirts caused a raucous as people ran the length of the pitch to collect some of the free t-shirts, fights broke out.
After a somewhat lacklustre speech from vice-president Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, President Mahama was introduced to the stage by the master of ceremonies offering affirmations in pastor-like piety hailing President Mahama as the “dumsor killer” and “Dramani the magician.”
As President Mahama took to the stage his voice had lost some of its usual charisma, after a marathon tour of the Northern, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and finally Greater Accra regions under 24 hours. Nevertheless he managed to drum up excitement before ending his call and response in some of the local languages with the ‘Usain Bolt sign’ to rounds of cheer. In his next move he addressed the crowd in English, so as to ensure, he said, that the rest of the country and indeed the world can follow the speech – a final appeal to the undecided at home listening on the radio or watching on the their television screens.
In closing President Mahama thanked friends and supporters and took care to make mention of his prayer team and the religious leaders that have supported him. As the NPP leader Nana Akuffo Addo launched the final rally with the theme “The battle is the Lord’s” President Mahama took on a similar sentiment and led the crowd in song with a hymnal at the start of his speech then went on to say: “May no work of the devil interfere with that victory, inshallah” before closing with a bible quote.
One of the country’s most popular musicians, Shatta Wale, made his way to the stage, hugged the president and his wife and then preceded to perform a handful of his crowd pleasers bringing the audience to its knees as the day began to wind down.