Following the 1979 coup d'etat led by Flt. Lt. Jerry Rawlings a provision was made to handover power to Civilian government through a general election. And that marked the era of the third republic in the history of Ghana.
In all, 7 political parties with 3 independent candidates when in for the Presidential race. Among the candidates presented by the leading political parties for the June 18, 1979 general election were;
Mr. William Ofori Atta, a well known Attorney General who had served under Prime Minister Dr. Busia. This man was a member of the Big Six as well as a founding member of the United Gold Coast Convention(UGCC). He was also an opposition leader of the United Party(UP) to Dr Kwame Nkrumah. Paa Willie as he was popularly called was old name to all Ghanaians back then. He was the Presidential candidate for UNC.
Next was Mr. Victor Owusu the Presidential candidate of PFP. Victor was a renowned Lawyer and had also served as an Attorney General and Justice Minister as well as a Foreign Affairs minister on two Occasions. He was a founding member of the PFP. In the political landscape, Victor was very popular.
Then the man of our focus, Dr. Hilla Limann. Limann, a man who had served as a diplomat in Lome, Togo and also at Geneva, Switzerland. On the field of politics, Limann was barely known.
Limann who was from Gwollu in the Sissala West District of the Upper West Region run for the Presidential race on the ticket of the People's National Party(PNP) following the disqualification of Alhaji Imoro Egala their proposed candidate by then Supreme Military Council of Ghana.
Unlike Limann, Egala was well known for he was a prominent member of the Nkrumah's government. He served as Education minister, Foreign Affairs minister, minister for industries and Health minister all under Nkrumah's regime. With his popularity, experience and finances he supported the less popular candidate of his political party.
This act gave Dr. Hilla Limann some stamina among the Ghanaian populace. But that was not enough to secure him the privilege of becoming the next president, looking at the popularity of candidates like Mr. Victor Owusu and Paa Willie.
But fortunately for Limann, Victor Owusu of the Popular Front party(PFP) and Paa Willie of the United National Convention(UNC) were both from the same root, thus the UP tradition. And it was that tradition which gave birth to PFP and UNC. So both men were offspring of the same party.
For Paa Willie resigned from the Popular Front Party (PFP) to form the United National Convention (UNC) after the he was beaten at the PFP Presidential primaries by Mr. Victor Owusu. Obviously, this parted the supporters of PFP into two.
Worst of this was that the break way and internal conflicts between Victor and Paa Willie went beyond politics. It became a tribal issue between Akyems and Ashantis as well.
PNP which was an offspring of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah's CPP, got a strong support among the members of the CPP, and also undecided and unpleased members of the UP tradition threw their weight behind Limann.
At the first round of the elections Dr. Hilla Limann polled 631,559 out of the total vote cast representing 35.32%.
Victor Owusu had 533,928 out of the entire votes representing 29.86% while his own UP tradition compatriot Paa Willie got 311,265 of the total vote caste representing 17.41%. Which means together the candidates of the UP tradition polled 47.27% of the vote cast. Though that couldn't have given power to any one of them if given to one, for sure, it would have automatically kept them ahead going into the second round of the elections.
During, the second round of the election, the race was narrowed to only two candidates Dr. Hilla Limann and Mr. Victoria Owusu who came first and second respectively in the first round.
It was said that Paa Willie urged all his followers to throw their support behind Dr Limann, the PNP candidate which eventually cost Mr. Victor Owusu the chance of winning. At the end, Limann became the elected President with 62% of the total vote cast.
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