Ghana: Will Mahama's 'Do or Die' Comment Hurt Him in the 2024 General Election?

Ghana: Will Mahama's 'Do or Die' Comment Hurt Him in the 2024 General Election?

With five presidents elected through the ballot box and not bullets, general elections under Ghana's Fourth Republic, have been touted as relatively peaceful.

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The West African nation has held seven general elections since the first presidential election on November 3, 1992, and the parliamentary poll on December 29, under the Fourth Republic.

The late former president Jerry John Rawlings won the presidential seat as the candidate of the Progressive Alliance, a party formed between his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and then Every Ghanaian Living Everywhere (EGLE).

Ghana: Will Mahama's 'Do or Die' Comment Hurt His Presidential Bid in the 2024 General Election?
Ghana: Will Mahama's 'Do or Die' Remarks Hurt Him in the 2024 General Election? Photo credit: John Mahama
Source: Instagram

While general polls under Ghana's Fourth Republic have not been devoid of violence, beating war drums ahead of the nation's presidential and parliamentary elections was met with heavy backlash from politicians, the media, civil and religious groups.

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Mahama's ''do or die'' comment

On Tuesday, September 7, 2021, at the start of the resumption of his Thank You tour in the Bono East Region, the 2020 flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), said the next polls must be won at the polling stations and it will be ''do or die''.

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Some members of the NDC, especially the party's communicators have been clutching at straws in attempts to spin the potentially destructive statement by former president John Mahama, a gaffe that sparked controversy and backlash from the media and public akin to disapprovals by a cross-section of Ghanaians following President Nana Akufo-Addo's ''all die be die'' remarks ahead of the 2012 general election.

The comments

''We have learnt our lessons from happenings during the 2020 polls,'' he said on Techiman-based Akina Radio.

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''The 2024 elections will be won or lost at the polling station. It will be do or die at the polling stations. The right thing must be done during the polls. We will win the elections at the polling station and won’t wait for collation centre results nor petition the Supreme Court if aggrieved,'' he added.

Do or die is an idiomatic expression

Former president John Dramani Mahama justified his comments about the 2024 elections, saying he only used an English idiomatic expression which does not connote the interpretation being spun on it.

In an interview on Moonlite FM in Sunyani on Wednesday, September 8, the former president said the statement was harmless.

''In English, we have idiomatic expressions. Those who dropped out of school do not understand idiomatic expressions. Do or die means a critical assignment you have and you must do the needful or perish. And so you must do the needful,'' quoted Mahama.

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Beating war drums ahead of 2024 general election

Renowned pollster, Ben Ephson, has described former president Mahama's statement as unnecessary while reacting on the Morning Starr, adding that the former president's remarks which could be misinterpreted by some party members could lead to violence in the 2024 general poll.

''It's unnecessary ... Mahama doesn't need such statements to be popular. I don't think he'll apologise but he has to find a way to water down the implications because Akufo-Addo's Akufo-Addo ''all die be die'' hurt him in the minds of Ghanaians ... If you look you look at all these instances, the base of the party they led was down. So these things are done to ginger them. It's like going to war,'' Ghanaweb quoted Ben Ephson.

The Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa, Sulemana Brainmah, also criticised the former president in a tweet, saying:

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''We look forward to seeing JM's adult sons and daughters at the polling stations for his 'do or die'' actions,'' Ghanaweb quoted.

Unlike Ben Ephson and Sulemana Brainmah, the Greater Accra Youth Organiser of the Convention People's Party (CPP), Eric Jerry Aidoo, minced no words when he vehemently condemned former president John Mahama over his recent 'do or die' remarks.

Eric Jerry Aidoo, also known as Chairman Jerry, described the former president's remarks as ''dangerous'' and incendiary.

''Somebody who wants power at all costs is a dangerous person ... He's inciting the youth to engage in violence at a time when the country is dealing with the impact of coronavirus,'' reported.

A case of poor timing?

Exactly two days after an elite army unit announced it had seized power in Guinea and deposed President Alpha Condé, former president Mahama made his ''do or die'' statement.

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The events of Sunday, September 5, in Guinea led by Col Mamadi Doumbouya, the head of the unit and leader of the coup, was felt across neighbouring nations, including Ghana.

Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo and the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, condemned the coup d'état that toppled the democratic process in the Republic of Guinea.

While it is too early to measure the impact of former president Mahama's 'do or die' comment on the 2024 general election, Ben Ephson said it's most likely to incite violence.

Will Mahama's ''do or die'' comment hurt him in 2024?

Pollster Ben Ephson thinks former president John Dramani Mahama's 'do or die' statement is not only likely to incite violence but could also hurt him in the 2024 general election.

But don't ''Ghanaians have very short memory'' as former president Mahama suggested in 2013. Time will tell!


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