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Opinions of Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Columnist: Ato Kwamena Dadzie

Nana Addo: Just bow out

Hello Nana,

I suppose you want to be seen as a gallant fighter, unwilling to give up until the last breath. I don’t think you support ‘Phobia’ but I am sure that, at least for now, your motto is “never say die until the bones are rotten.” That’s why you want the nation to keep sitting on tenterhooks even into the New Year as we anxiously wait to see who our next president will be. But do you really think you stand a chance?

I think you don’t. The results of the presidential elections so far point to a very close race but it is certainly not “too close to call”. I called it for Atta Mills on Monday afternoon. The chairman of the Electoral Commission, Kwadjo Afari-Gyan is paid to hasten slowly with these things so it took him a while longer to conclude that Ghanaians had put John Atta Mills in pole position to succeed John Kufuor. He beat you by a mere 23,000 votes out of more than nine million cast. Already, historians are saying that this is about the most closely fought presidential race in Africa. You’ve made history, Nana, but that’s about it. You lost the race.

It is true that technically, Mills cannot start packing for the Flagstaff House – until voters in the Tain constituency have also had the opportunity to cast their ballots. That has been scheduled for the second day of the New Year. Nana, if you were not suffering a bout of shock-induced delusion, I am sure you would appreciate that there is no chance of you polling voting numbers in Tain which will be substantial enough to overturn the results as they stand now. The logic doesn’t favour you. Neither does mathematics. You need a miracle but you won’t get that until snow starts falling in Bunkprugu Yonyoo.

Tain has a voter population of approximately 54,000. In the first round of the presidential poll, about 33,000 of them turned out to vote. Mills won 50.75% of the valid votes and you got 46.75%. The part of my brain that handles all my mathematical issues blew a fuse when I heard the news about the folly of a government seeking a loan from a Chinese barbering shop in England. But it’s still able to juggle with numbers and after poring over the figures from Tain I have come to the conclusion that this is the end of the road for you. You need to pack out and come back to try your luck again in the next Olympic year.

I will explain but I need you to put on your thinking cap before reading any further.

In the unlikely event that on Friday, all of the voters in Tain turn out to vote, you will need to win about 23,000 ballots just to overturn Mills’ current lead. At the same time you also need to pray that Mills doesn’t win more of the remaining 31,000 votes than you will. In the best case scenario, therefore, you need to win more than 23,000 votes and expect Mills do win nothing.

At your age, I suppose I can safely assume that you know that the world hardly ever presents anyone with best case scenarios. Therefore, you need to look more at just one of the worst case scenarios.

Tain is not Nhyiaeso so surely, you won’t get a 99% voter turn-out. With the nation’s attention transfixed on this uncounted constituency, I don’t think that whatever magic your party performed to bring out the people in their numbers in Nhyiaeso to vote so massively for you can be repeated in Tain. You see, that kind of magic doesn’t work when so many eyes are watching. But then even if we get a 99% voter turnout in Tain, a look at past voting trends in Tain shows that the ballots are likely to be split, probably with a slight tilt in favour of Mills.

So, Nana, tell me: if you think about this rationally, with a wee bit of mathematical deductions and reasoning, what in the world makes you think that you will win Tain and the presidency? Please take an anti-delusional pill and when it starts working in your system, you will very easily realise that you stand no chance in Tain.

That’s why I am appealing to you – not for the first time – to throw in the towel. Concede defeat and make the poll in Tain a mere cosmetic event. A concession will save the nation the anxious agony of yet another election. The anxiety in the country is so palpable, I can taste it. Never in my short life have I felt so much tension in this country. Spare us the anxiety and the tense moments.

A concession will not make you seem weak. It will show that you are a wise man who knows when to call it a day. People say you are too desperate for power and that’s why you don’t want to concede. You may be desperate but are you so desperate that you prefer to bank your hopes on a miracle you will never get?

A concession will also make you the man who starts the process of unifying the nation after a very divisive campaign season – not the man who will eventually become president. That in itself is an honourable accomplishment.

Finally, Nana, a concession will give the incoming administration a little more time to prepare for the transition. If you don’t concede now and wait until after the vote in Tain, the next president will have just about three days to make the transition. Granted that Prof. Mills has served in government before but I think he needs more than three days to make the transition from an opposition leader to the head of government.

Nana, nothing can detract from the fact that you fought the good fight. You gave this more than your best shot. But the people have spoken that it’s not your time yet. Remember what Alan Kyeremanteng did for you in December 2007 and exit whiles you can still draw some applause. If you do so, everyone will know that Mills might have won the votes (and the presidency) but you would have captured the hearts and the minds of Ghanaians. That’s a currency you can’t afford to squander if you still have presidential ambitions.

atoKwamena