Ghana’s former first lady Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings has been nominated by her party to vie for the presidency in the upcoming general elections. If elected, she says, fighting corruption will be a top priority.
Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, 67, aspires to become the first female president in Ghana. However to achieve that goal, she must first convince many Ghanaians that she's better than other candidates including the current president John Mahama. Ghana is scheduled to go to the polls in November 2016. Konadu was the first lady from 1979 to January 2001 when her husband President Jerry John Rawlings was in power.
On Saturday (April 30, 2016), the National Democratic Party (NDP), a party she founded, elected her unopposed as it's presidential flag bearer. She made combating rampant corruption as the main theme of her acceptance speech and said it was time for Ghana to be ruled by a strong woman. "We want to ensure that integrity and accountability is upheld," Konadu said. She blamed the politicians who talk much about decency and accountability but on the other hand steal from ordinary Ghanaians. "If we want all this to stop, we as a people must be vocal and complain," she added.
In the 2012 general elections, Konadu was elected presidential candidate of NDP, but failed to file her application on time. Consequently, she was barred from running. This time around, she wants to put things in order and get ready to battle it out with the incumbent John Mahama.
Ghana is one of the few African countries governed by constitutional democracy. It has enjoyed smooth transitions of power over the years after its independence from Britain in 1957. Nevertheless, economic challenges and corruption continue to cripple the west African nation. The experienced politician urged Ghanaians to demand better governance from their leaders and be alert on matters affecting their nation, particulary the embezzlement and misuse of public funds. "When you steal from the coffers you are committing violence against the people of Ghana. You are committing murder against the people of Ghana," Konadu told a cheering NDP congress. "How long is it going to take?" she asked.
How prominent is Konadu Rawlings?
Konadu left the ruling National Democratic Congress party (NDC) in 2012, after she failed to beat late President John Atta Mills. She quickly formed a splinter party luring some other members of her husband's party. Konadu has backing of her husband, former president, Jerry John Rawlings, who also attended the party congress. "We used to be one big united vehicle, today we find ourselves in multi-party," Rawlings said, adding that the unilateral ruling system was leading to expressions that create animosity among Ghanaians.
Rawlings' presence and support for his wife is seen as crucial in winning her votes. However, some ordinary Ghanaians say his popularity is not enough to earn her the presidency. "Even though she is the wife of the former president, her party is relatively unknown" Gilbert Nartey, an Accra resident told DW.
Nartey said Konadu is not a credible candidate to beat other presidential contenders.
However, Konadu Rawlings urged that her critics are not focusing on the bigger picture. She claims that she is committed to correcting the wrongs within the Ghanaian society. But her impact in a general election could only be measured in November during the general elections.