The proposed policy in the 2020 Finance Bill that seeks to slash duties and levies on imported vehicles has raised conflict of opinions among investors.
While some argue it will stifle local automobile industry and worsen unemployment crisis, others hail the idea, saying it will boost the economy.
The controversy came just as the Federal Government tried to push the policy by explaining that it was meant to cushion harsh socio-economic situation in the country.
In the draft 2020 Finance Bill, the Federal Government proposes reduction in duties on tractors from 35 to 10 per cent; from 35 to 10 per cent on vehicles for transportation of goods; and 35 to five per cent on vehicles for transportation of persons (cars).
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had explained in Abuja last Monday at the opening plenary of the 26th Nigeria Economic Summit (NES#26) that the decision to slash duty on imported vehicles was not an attempt by government to kill the nation’s automobile manufacturing industry, but to reduce the cost of transportation in the face of growing economic challenges.
He also argued that, with an annual demand of about 720,000 vehicles, as against 14,000 local production, the national need would not be met if vehicles were not imported.
The new policy, according to him, does not mean that the government has jettisoned its commitment to boosting local production. Also, Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had told journalists that the reduction in import duties and levies would lead to reduction in transportation cost.
“The reason for us is to reduce the cost of transportation which is a major driver of inflation, especially food production,” she had explained.
The Director-General, National Automotive Design and Development Council, Jelani Aliyu, who had last year hinted that about nine automotive manufacturing companies were assembling vehicles in Nigeria, did not respond to phone calls and messages from The Guardian on the new development. Aliyu had listed the companies as Peugeot Automobile Nigeria, Nissan Motors, Honda Motors, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company, Hyundai Motor Company, Ford Motor Company, GIC Motor Companies Ltd, JAC Motors and Kia Motors.
A number companies equally assemble trucks, including Dangote, while Bua had recently indicated interest in the industry. A Memorandum of Understanding was reportedly signed with Volkswagen and over 21 companies were said to have been licensed to build vehicles in the country.
Before Nigeria shut its borders, there had been outcry against the increasing rate of smuggled vehicles into the country due to the high import levy and tariff. Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, had at some point noted that the 35 per cent levy discouraged importers and created opportunities for neighbouring countries.
THOUGH some operators in the Nigerian automotive industry and experts have raised concerns about amendments to some aspects of the policy — especially as it relates to levies — some members of the organised private sector believe the decision may spur growth and competition.
With the coming into force of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement by January 1, 2021, the stakeholders cited the imperative for the country to streamline its tariff lines, in compliance with the protocol.
The rise in duty and depreciation in value of naira drove prices of new cars far above the purchasing power of the fast diminishing middle-income earners.
Automobile dealers also witnessed a significant decline in sales volume due to higher landing cost of imported vehicles, which has been further amplified by higher tariffs.
Nigeria recorded a total sum of N1.28 trillion as the value of “used vehicles” (popularly known as Tokunbo) and motorcycles imported in one year (Q3 2019 – Q2 2020), compared to N899 billion recorded in the corresponding period (Q3 2018 – Q2 2019), implying an increase of 42%. This is according to data obtained from various foreign trade reports released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The surge in importation of used vehicles and motorcycle has been significantly driven by e-hailing car and bike services, one of the two fastest-growing businesses in Nigeria, due to rising urbanisation, growing youth population, surging number of internet and smartphone users and increased investment.
In November 2013, the Federal Government had announced the introduction of a new automotive policy, which was geared towards discouraging the importation of wholly assembled automobiles and encouraging local manufacturing.
Specifically, the policy allows local assembly plants to import completely-knocked-down vehicles at zero per cent duty, and semi-knocked-down vehicles at 5 per cent duty, while importers pay a 70 per cent duty on new and previously-owned vehicles.
The policy’s main thrust was to encourage local car production/assembly plants while cutting importation through raising import duties.
Seven years after, the policies have failed to achieve the desired outcomes, as Nigeria’s domestic vehicle production capacity remains under-utilised. The economic slump that the country suffered shortly after the automotive policy was introduced hindered resuscitation of the industry.
At about N160 to the dollar in 2013 and presently almost N500, stakeholders note that the auto sector’s woes have been complicated by the slow backward integration exercise.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, had, at the year’s general meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), announced plans for a fresh start for the auto industry.
According to the minister, the bill prepared by the former administration was not received at the National Assembly; hence the plan to engage all stakeholders in the industry to get it right this time round.
Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.), had also urged the Federal Government to revisit the auto policy, especially the duty charged on used vehicles.
“We have decided to engage all stakeholders in the industry. It is like starting afresh and getting it right. The last one that was done was not done well. We have to get it right this time. We are going to engage all the stakeholders, and in the next couple of weeks, I will be visiting all the assembly plants,” he had said.
AMONG those that have expressed support for the move to reduce charges on imported vehicles is the National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tony Nwabunike. He stated that the reduction in levies clearly showed government had the welfare of masses at heart. Arguing along the line of the Federal Government, Nwabunike said Nigeria did not have the capacity to manufacture cars to meet local demand.
He observed that, although Innosson had worked hard to get it right, other local assemblers had not shown similar acumen. Describing the move by Federal Government as good, he said the masses would benefit from more importation of vehicles.
“The local manufacturers or assemblers cannot meet the demands of the masses, they shouldn’t bother much about it,” he said. Similarly, the Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, welcomed the idea. He said current high tariff had resulted in massive smuggling of vehicles and loss of revenue to government, making auto dealers that complied to suffer over the years because they could not compete with car smugglers.
He, however, advised policymakers to be cautious not to jeopardise existing investments in the auto assembly sector. He added that the tariff concessions given to importers of vehicles should be extended to the auto assembly firms in the country.
The National Coordinator of Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Importers and Exporters Coalition (SNIFFIEC), Dr. Osita Chukwu, also applauded the move. He said importation of good cars would reduce cost of transportation towards overcoming economic recession. He urged government to make the plan a reality by ensuring its passage and transmission to relevant agencies for implementation. Local manufacturers, he said, should not be threatened by the proposal since it was only meant to complement their effort.
“How many cars can our local automobile companies produce? Nigeria is 200 million in population and let’s assume that 80 million use cars, how many can our local companies produce and how many people can afford those cars?
“The least car is sold about N5 million, who can buy that car? Some people are buying fairly used imported cars for N1.5 million. If the cars coming from outside are cheaper, then we will use them.”
In a chat with The Guardian, the Director-General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Dr. Timothy Olawale, also applauded the policy direction, even as he expressed optimism that the fiscal measure, among others, was in tandem with NECA’s advocacy campaign and would stimulate aggregate demand, boost agricultural value chain and reduce transportation/haulage cost.
Nevertheless, he noted that as an emerging economy, with huge potential of becoming an epicentre of industrialisation and technology hub, there is need to ensure survival of the automotive industry, which is believed could play strategic and catalytic role in economic development by creating massive employment in the value chain and contribute to the GDP growth tremendously.
Olawale then called for the review of the National Automobile Development Bill, which was earlier passed by the 8th Assembly but declined accent by the President, citing the need for critical stakeholders’ re-consideration.
“We believe it is apt for this current National Assembly to give life to the actualisation of the multiplier impact inherent in the Bill for immediate passage. If passed into law, it will lead to the creation of more decent jobs, stimulation of the value chain, diversification of the economy, provision of affordable vehicles for average Nigerians and promotion of foreign direct investment in the country, as well as significant savings in the foreign reserves,” he said.
He advocated use of high-level technology in policing the country’s borders and improved monitoring by incorporating a national automotive repository portal, which should serve as Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for all duly imported and locally assembled vehicles.
A stakeholder, Maryann Chukwueke, noted that the development would reduce prices of vehicles, which went up due to the extant policy. According her, cars are currently not being manufactured in the country because the operating environment is not ripe to attract original manufacturing companies.
“If the volume of business goes up, that will help expand the economy. It will spur other businesses linked to the automobile industry, for example the forwarding and clearing business, oil and gas and others. With the development, 2021 may be a good year for the automotive industry despite all the issues that the pandemic has caused. We are looking for more from government to enable entrepreneurs to come up so that the country can come out of recession,” Chukwueke said.
BUT faulting the policy, the National President, African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), Frank Ogunojemite, said Federal Government erred by not also not extending same gesture to ambulances and other essential medical equipment, which would boost health services in the country, especially in the face of the COVID-I9 pandemic
He also doubted the sincerity of government, saying: “Let’s see if this reduction will take place because I believe it won’t. Let us face reality rather than fallacy, when will the policy take effect? It is impossible for government to waive duty on those vehicles. I do not see reality in this.”
He also feared the policy would harm the ailing local automobile industry, thereby creating more unemployment problems due to lower activities by automobile plants.
“The government should try to emphasise how to develop the general economy of the country, not just to wake up one day and make some laws. If government wants to reduce duties on some vehicles, they should take care of indigenous manufacturers and motor dealers who have imported their goods into the country at exorbitant costs, otherwise their businesses will collapse.
The Manager, Client Services, Inspired Cars, Iwayeye Olatunji, also expressed fear that the policy might adversely affect local automobile manufacturers and car assemblers if steps were not taken to protect them.
To prevent this, he urged government to provide incentive, tax rebate and reduce tariff for local automobile manufacturers and assemblers.
“A lot of what local car dealers assemble is still brought from outside the country. There is this high demand for foreign exchange. The black market rate is up and how many of them can access it on time. All these things have to do with getting what you need for your business on time,” he said.
Similarly, the National Deputy President, Air Logistics, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Segun Musa, urged government to encourage indigenous car assemblers and manufacturers by creating an enabling environment for them through “tax rebate aside duty incentives, to improve on the quality of locally manufactured vehicles and to make them competitive.”
He argued that although indigenous automobile companies could not satisfy local consumption, they were only few per cent below demand.
“We also need to acknowledged the fact that the problem of automobile manufacturing is not only tax, but the source of money required in the manufacturing sector.”
He urged government to facilitate low-interest loans for local firms as done in other climes. Another industry player, Tony Arenyeka, told The Guardian the lack of trust, policy summersault and government’s refusal to assent to the automotive bill discouraged original manufacturers from the country. He also accused government of defending the immediate gains it would make at the port against the long-term gains from building a sustainable automotive industry.
Arenyeka claimed industry players were not carried along in taking the decision and might be disregarded by the ministry of trade, industry and investment, which should have given such a directive.
“The government has not taken this decision with the viewpoint of industry development. That has been the issue. The decision is being taken without other industry considerations. That underlines why the President has not signed the auto policy for the past five years.
“The global players do not believe in the industry. There must be an industry focus support from the government. All that is going on currently is because they are losing money at the port, they are not minding those who have invested. All the stakeholders were supposed to meet at a roundtable before this decision is reached,” he said.
Former chairman of the Auto and Allied sector group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Oseme Oigiagbe, noted that the development would increase pressure on foreign exchange as importers would require more forex for vehicle and spare parts import.
He argued that with a weakened purchasing power and economic realities, increasing demand for vehicles may remain elusive, a development, which could mean double jeopardy for the economy.
Oigiagbe noted that the reduction would lead to unhealthy competition capable of killing the progress already recorded on the local plants.
“The exchange rate problem will worsen. There will be pressure on the exchange rate as people try to import vehicles. There are a lot of other situations that the environment will face by the change in policy. It is not likely that the volume of new vehicles will increase in the market because of other prevailing challenges,” he said.
Nigerian police have arrested 35 suspects, including a woman for their involvement in cases of robbery, kidnapping and other heinous crimes in some parts of the country.
Also arrested were five jail breakers of the Oko Correctional Centre, Benin, during the ENDSARS protests.
Exhibits recovered from the suspects include: eight AK49 rifles, one Beretta Pistol with 6 rounds of live ammunition, three locally made pistols, 111 rounds of AK47 ammunition, 10 AK47 magazine, five live cartridges.
Also recovered from the suspects were seven Laptop computers, one anti-tracking device, one camouflage vest, eight stolen vehicles, one stolen trailer Mercedes Actros with reg. no. NNK 334 YT.
Among the jail breakers re-arrested was Onaruje Benjamin, who had earlier been convicted for conspiracy and Robbery and was on death-row at the time of escape.
There were also Adebayo Opeyemi, a dismissed soldier, Peter Felix Osas, Frank Odion Oloye and Alhaji Hudu Musa a.k.a Mai Cellular.
They were arrested by operatives of the FIB – Intelligence Response Team in Kaduna State for the offences of Armed Robbery, Car Theft and Unlawful Possession of Firearms.
Investigations reveal the suspects having escaped from the Correctional Centre, formed a new criminal gang and returned to their old criminal enterprise.
Indeed, Onaruje Benjamin, snatched a Toyota Corolla Car in Benin, 30-minutes after his escape from the Correctional Centre.
Five (5) vehicles earlier snatched from their owners at gun point in different parts of the country were recovered from the gang.
While Onaruje Benjamin is the leader of the gang and the arms bearer, Alhaji Hudu Musa is in charge of ferrying and disposing the stolen vehicles to Niger Republic.
Also arrested was one female suspect, Talatu Ibrahim, 40years old from Shinkafi LGA, Zamfara State from whom six AK49 rifles were recovered.
Her arrest led to the subsequent arrest of one Duleji Alhaji Abubakar a.k.a Ori jeje residing at Ekka village, Koro LGA, Kwara State. Findings reveal that Ori Jeje has been getting arms supply from Talatu Ibrahim to carry out series of kidnapping and armed robbery in Kwara State.
The operatives also arrested one Abdullahi Mohammed a.k.a ‘Governmenti’, a specialist in car snatching.
The Inspector-General of Police, IGP M.A Adamu, has reassured citizens of the renewed commitment of the Force to their safety and security.
All the suspects will be arraigned in court on completion of investigations.
Napoli players took to the pitch wearing a special Argentina-inspired jersey on Sunday in honour of club legend Diego Maradona, going on to crush Serie A rivals Roma 4-0 in his memory.
Captain Lorenzo Insigne curled in a free-kick after half an hour, celebrating his goal by holding up and kissing the No. 10 jersey of the Argentina legend, who died aged 60 on Wednesday.
“It’s sure these days after Maradona’s death have given us an extra boost, our idol has passed away and it hurts,” said Insigne.
“Today we wanted more than usual to perform and get a result, for him and for the whole city that is suffering. We dedicate the victory to him.”
Napoli’s jersey with white and light blue vertical stripes, was specially designed to pay tribute to Napoli’s legendary number 10 who led the club to their only league titles in 1987 and 1990 and the UEFA Cup in 1989.
Insigne added: “Tonight’s game must be a starting point, if we play like this we can beat anyone.
“Head down and work, we can do great things.”
Players also wore black armbands, with a minute’s silence observed before the game, as in all matches in Italy, in memory of Maradona who spent seven years at Napoli.
A photo of the former Argentina star was projected onto giant screens in the 10th minute, as players stopped to applaud.
Fabian Ruiz added a second just after an hour with club record goalscorer Dries Mertens slotting in a third with 10 minutes to go.
Substitute Matteo Politano added a fourth with a solo run through the Roma defence four minutes from time as the side from the capital fell to their first away defeat this season.
Napoli, who had lost two in a row at home, overtook Roma to move fifth in Serie A, with both teams equal on 17 points after nine games.
AC Milan are top of the table with 23 points after extending their unbeaten run this season by winning 2-0 against Fiorentina.
The launch of Napoli’s new jersey had already been planned before Maradona’s death, the club said.
“A year ago, together with Kappa, we thought of designing a special jersey that echoes Diego Maradona, his beloved Argentina and the very strong bond with the people of Naples,” Napoli said in a statement.
“Together we hoped that Diego could see it, maybe wear it and share in the excitement with us.”
“The shirt that will be worn by the players… will have an even greater significance than initially assumed,” it added.
On Thursday, Napoli players took to the pitch wearing Maradona’s iconic number 10 jersey before their 2-0 Europa League win over Croatian side Rijeka.
The Stadio San Paolo is expected to soon be renamed after the 1986 World Cup winner following a suggestion made by the Mayor of Napoli.
Thr death toll in the attacks on two villages in Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State rose to eight on Sunday.
Security operatives have arrested two more suspects in connection with the attacks, bringing to five the arrests made so far.
An associate professor at the University of Agriculture, Makurdi (UAM), Karl Kwaghger, was killed in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, on Saturday night.
Also on Sunday, the Plateau Police Command confirmed the killing of two persons at Kugiya market in Bukuru, Jos South Local Government Area.
Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said two children earlier declared missing have been rescued and reunited with their parents.
He said: “The Kaduna State Government has received further operational feedback from the military under the auspices of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) that had earlier informed the government about the killing of a herder and six locals at Ungwan Pah and Ungwan Bido in Jema’a Local Government Area.
“In the second operational feedback, the military stated that Special Forces of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) have arrested two suspects…at Ungwan Bido where six persons were killed.
“The suspects linked to the killing of the six are as follows: Ardo Ahmadu Alhassan and Abubakar Isyaku.”
He said military had on Saturday arrested suspects linked to the killing of a herder, Isyaka Saidu, on November 28 at Ungwan Pah in the same local government.
Aruwan earlier said those killed in Ungwan Bido village included Silas Maman, Malaki Tabat, Geofree Andrew, Anna Ahmadu, Sunday Tagwai and Fidelis Musa.
Those injured include Adamu Mangai, Matta Silas, Yaro Musa and Yaro Andrew.
He said the houses of Adamu Mangai, Gideon Nuhu, Andrew Adamu and Alphonsus Michael were burnt.
“Governor El-Rufai has sent condolences to the families that lost their loved ones and prayed for the repose of their souls, and he has wished those that sustained injuries speedy recovery.
“The state government appeals to security agencies, traditional rulers and community leaders to continue to work with the state government to sustain the community peacebuilding efforts being supported by the Kaduna State Peace Commission,” the commissioner said.
Kwaghger, a lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering Department of UAM, where he graduated from, was reportedly corned to a dark side of the street by four men who stabbed him repeatedly at about 9:30 pm opposite IBB square in Makurdi.
A private security guard said he found Kwaghger bleading and crying for help and saying: “Please, lift me up; lift me up”.
The guard said his boss called the police, but the professor died shortly before help came.
The killers fled with Kwaghger’s Toyota Avanza car and phones.
The police confirmed the incident and said an investigation had begun.
Plateau Police Command spokesman, Ubah Ogaba, confirmed the killings to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos.
He said the incident, which occurred on Saturday night, had generated tension in the community, prompting the police to deploy armed personnel in the area to avert breakdown of law and order.
Ogaba said an investigation had begun.
“Yes, the Command is aware of the case of culpable homicide where two persons were found dead at Kugiya Market,” he said.
A resident, Mr Jol Philip, told NAN that the victims were killed at a drinking joint.
Sixty-six Nigerians are spending various terms in prisons in Bangladsh for fraud and other crimes, a report by the country’s top newspaper, Dhaka Tribune said.
The Nigerians make up majority of the 86 Africans jailed across the country.
The other 20 prisoners are from Cameroon, Tanzania, Ghana, Algeria, Mali and Kenya.
There are 2927 people from 32 African countries now staying in Bangladesh.
Among them, 455 have already crossed their visa expiration dates.
Many Nigerians end up staying in Bangladesh past their visa expiration date due to the long visa renewal process.
There is no Nigerian embassy in Bangladesh, and visas have to be processed in New Delhi.
A total of 157 Africans are accused of fraud and some other charges, according to information from the Special Branch (SB) of police
The Dhaka Tribune said fraudsters from Nigeria have recruited Bangladeshi counterparts to join their crimes and have succeeded in scamming many victims.
Several fraudsters from Nigeria have been detained by Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies over the past year, leaving honest members of Bangladesh’s Nigerian community feeling ashamed.
Members of the Nigerian community said the parlous economic condition in Nigeria led many of their countrymen to turn to a life of crime, including fraud.
Nigerian fraudsters come to countries like Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan as they see them as lands of opportunity, and they bring disrepute on the entire community when they are caught.
Asking to remain anonymous, a Nigerian student in Bangladesh said: “There are good people and bad people in every country. Please do not judge us because of the misdeeds of these criminals [Nigerian fraudsters].”
In raids on August 6 and July 22 this year and July 4 last year, a total of 16 Nigerians and two of their Bangladeshi associates were detained by law enforcement agencies.
On October 23 this year, Nigerian Chukwuemeka Samuel was detained from Dhaka’s Khilket area for fraud.
Most of the fraudsters travelled to Bangladesh on business visas. Several Nigerian students are in the country on student and player visas, but there are no allegations of criminal activities against them.
The scams used by the caught Nigerian fraudsters differed in minor details but shared a similar structure.
Bangladeshi fraudsters often play crucial roles in the scams by posing as local officials.
The scammers would usually make first contact with potential victims through fake accounts on social media platforms or messenger services, such as Facebook or WhatsApp.
After gaining the victim’s trust, the scammers would offer them a sum of money as a gift or prize.
Chukwuemeka Samuel would claim to be Coca Cola representative Richard Phillip and told his victims they had received a cash prize.
Some of the fraudsters would contact their victims while posing as female American soldiers in Syria who wanted to give away their money.
When the victims came to collect the money, usually at Dhaka airport or Chittagong port, they would be met by the Bangladeshi associates of the Nigerian fraudsters.
The Bangladeshi fraudsters, posing as customs officials, would demand that the victim pay a 10% “customs tax” before collecting the money.
The fraudsters sometimes threatened to file embezzlement charges against the victim if they did not pay. After collecting the “tax” from the victim, the fraudsters would disappear without giving anything in turn.
One victim lost Tk2 crore in this manner, after being told she had won Tk20 crore at an online art competition.
The fraudsters had initially contacted her through email and asked her to submit a painting.
Nigerian Jacob Frank, who owns a restaurant opposite Jamuna Future Park in Dhaka and has been living in Bangladesh for many years.
He helped many fraudsters from Nigeria with their entry visas, according to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Organized Crime unit Additional Superintendent of Police Zakir Hossain.
Most of the fraudsters who have been detained gained visas by claiming they were travelling for garment business purposes, Zakir added.
“Among the culprits, most of them lived in the Basundhara and Pallabi areas. There is no evidence of any crime by Nigerian students or those who are here on player visas,” the CID official continued.
Additional Superintendent of Police Zakir said there are two main reasons fraudsters from Nigeria target Bangladesh.
“First, there are a lot of uneducated people in Bangladesh and it is easy to cheat them, so they are easy targets.
“Second, there are quite a few people who are very greedy and the Nigerian fraudsters take advantage of this greed as well,” he said.
By Kazeem Ugbodaga/ PM NEWS
The United States on Monday reacted to Saturday’s massacre of 43 farmers by Boko Haram at a rice farm in Borno, Northeast Nigeria.
The US condemned the brutal killing and sympathised with families of those killed.
“The United States condemns in the strongest terms the November 28 violent attack in Borno, Nigeria.
“The United States offers our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed or kidnapped,” a statement from the US Embassy in Nigeria said.
The statement said the US abhorred the attack and pledged to work with Nigeria to defeat terrorism.
“These abhorrent attacks are a stark reminder of why the United States stands with the Nigerian government and people as they fight to defeat terrorism and work to bring the perpetrators to justice,” it said.
Boko Haram terrorists had on Saturday slaughtered 43 farm workers near Maiduguri, Borno, Northeast Nigeria.
The assailants reportedly tied up the agricultural workers and slit their throats in the village of Koshobe.
West African gold producer Ghana is preparing to elect a president on Dec. 7, in a race dubbed the “battle of two giants.”
Incumbent Nana Addo Akufo-Addo of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) will face former president John Dramani Mahama, leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
It is the third time Akufo-Addo and Mahama will compete against each other for the highest office, with each previously having won one poll – Akufo-Addo in 2016 and Mahama in 2012.
Although 12 candidates are vying for the presidency, including two women, only Akufo-Addo and Mahama are said to have a chance of coming out victorious.
The electoral campaign has been dominated by Ghana’s economy, infrastructure development, education, corruption, and debt relief.
Akufo-Addo, 76, has been touting economic growth during his current four-year term in office as well as the streamlining of government services and implementation of free schooling for senior high school pupils.
Mahama, 62, has meanwhile stressed the many infrastructure projects, including roads, bridges, schools and hospitals, he realised during his presidency, promising do invest more in this area if re-elected.
Political analysts of the University of Ghana in the capital, Accra, predict a slim win for Akufo-Addo in the December elections.
Polls have indicated voters prefer Akufo-Addo’s policy-driven approach to running the nation of 30 million people, the university’s head of the political science department, Kaakyire Frempong, told dpa.
A candidate needs to gain at least 50 per cent of votes to be elected in the first round.
Ghana’s roughly 17 million registered voters will also elect 275 legislators from 914 candidates on Dec. 7.
Akufo-Addo’s NPP is expected to once again gain the majority of seats in parliament.
Voting will take place at more than 33,000 polling stations between 7 am and 5 pm (0700 and 1700 GMT).
The electoral commission will announce results within 72 hours after the election.
Tottenham moved to the top of the Premier League with a 0-0 draw against title rivals Chelsea, while Edinson Cavani inspired Manchester United’s thrilling 3-2 win at Southampton on Sunday.
Jose Mourinho’s side climbed above previous leaders Liverpool on goal difference after a sterile London derby at Stamford Bridge.
Tottenham are unbeaten in nine league games and Mourinho seemed happy to frustrate his former club as they adopted a cautious approach with little attacking ambition.
Chelsea have not lost in their last 11 games in all competitions and sit in third place, two points behind Tottenham and Liverpool, who drew 1-1 at Brighton on Saturday.
Fourth-placed Leicester would go second if they beat Fulham on Monday.
Timo Werner thought he had put Chelsea ahead early in the first half with a superb finish, only for an offside flag to thwart the Germany striker.
Chelsea’s Mason Mount forced a good save from Hugo Lloris in the second half, while substitute Olivier Giroud should have done better than shoot straight at the Tottenham keeper in stoppage time.
The drab clash in west London was a stark contrast to United’s dramatic fightback from two goals down at St Mary’s.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were facing a dismal defeat after first-half goals from Jan Bednarek and James Ward-Prowse put Southampton in control.
But Uruguay striker Cavani sparked United’s escape act after coming on at the interval.
Cavani set up Bruno Fernandes to reduce the deficit and the former Paris Saint-Germain star grabbed the equaliser from his team-mate’s deflected shot.
The 33-year-old netted again in the final moments as his third goal since signing as a free agent in October extended United’s winning to four games in all competitions.
“Great impact of course. He is a number nine who wants to be in between the posts, he is always on the move. I’m very pleased with him,” Solskjaer said.
“On the training pitch, in the dressing room and during meal times, how meticulous he is. He knows what he wants to eat, how much he wants to recover — everything!
“It was top movement and his timing is fantastic. His hunger to get on the end of things is the key for a centre-forward.
“Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it doesn’t but to score you have to be in there.”
It was exactly the kind of influential display Solskjaer was hoping for from Cavani when he moved for him after United’s failed pursuit of Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho.
Written off as a panic buy in some quarters, Cavani proved his age should be no barrier to making an impact in the Premier League.
He is only the second player to be directly involved in three goals in a Premier League game after coming on as a substitute for United since Solskjaer scored four against Nottingham Forest in 1999.
United climbed to seventh place, two points adrift of the Champions League places, after setting a club record of eight successive away Premier League wins.
“It is a trait of Manchester United to never give in. Every single one of them, there was absolutely no chance they were going to give up. That’s a big thing for a Manchester United player,” Solskjaer said.
“I was quite calm at half-time. We must have had five or six clear-cut chances, so it was about taking them when we got the chance.”
United goalkeeper David de Gea came off at half-time with a knee injury and Solskjaer said: “Hopefully he can be okay for Wednesday but I’m not sure.”
Pep Guardiola said his forward players have to score more goals after ending a recent drought with a 5-0 thrashing of Burnley to bounce back to winning ways in the Premier League.
Riyad Mahrez scored a hat-trick, while Benjamin Mendy and Ferran Torres bagged their first Premier League goals as City eased to within six points of league leaders Liverpool with a game in hand.
“We have to score, that’s why they are here and play upfront,” said Guardiola.
“Especially for Riyad. Gabriel (Jesus) has to score, (Raheem) Sterling when he plays has to score goals.
“The most important thing now is we have almost 21 players fit; this is important.”
Mahrez was one of four changes Guardiola made from a 1-0 win at Olympiakos in midweek that booked City’s place in the last 16 of the Champions League, and he took the most of his chance to start with Sterling left on the bench.
The Algerian opened the floodgates on six minutes as he swept home Kevin De Bruyne’s pass.
Mahrez then outwitted a sleeping Burnley defence as he latched onto Kyle Walker’s throw-in before dancing round three challenges and firing in off the far post.
De Bruyne was handed a rare rest in midweek and the Belgian was back to his best with another assist for Benjamin Mendy to score his first City goal over three years since arriving from Monaco.
The French left-back produced an exquisite finish by cushioning De Bruyne’s cross back across Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who had a Premier League debut to forget in the absence of England international Nick Pope.
After City’s struggles to score goals in recent weeks, the hosts made sure to cash in after the break rather than saving their energies for a hectic upcoming schedule.
Torres has been prolific in the Champions League since his signing from Valencia, but the Spanish international finally opened his Premier League account with a smart finish from Gabriel Jesus’s lay-off.
Torres was then replaced by Phil Foden and with his first touch, Foden was the provider for Mahrez to complete his hat-trick in uncharacteristic fashion with a bullet header at the back post.
“Probably the last one (was my favourite) because I don’t score too many with my head,” said Mahrez.
“Of course when you play in front and don’t score you have a bit of frustration but we had to keep working, training to get the confidence back.”
VAR came to Peacock-Farrell’s rescue after he turned the ball into his own net after a fine save to deny Jesus, with the goal ruled out for offside against the Brazilian striker.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche was angry at his side’s display as they were beaten 5-0 for the fourth straight visit to the Etihad.
“We didn’t turn up,” said Dyche.
“You are still looking for a performance. We didn’t get that in the first half. You can’t let these get their noses in front.”
Robert Lewandowski claimed his 15th goal this season in all competitions as Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich came from behind to claim a 3-1 win at Stuttgart on Saturday.
Stuttgart striker Tanguy Coulibaly, 19, fired the hosts into a shock early lead after a cross caught Bayern center-backs David Alaba and Jerome Boateng napping.
However, Kingsley Coman equalised with a superb low finish before Lewandowski drilled home from 20 metres to put Bayern 2-1 up at the break.
Brazil winger Douglas Costa, a second-half replacement for Coman, grabbed Bayern’s third goal late on to seal a win which leaves the holders two points clear of RB Leipzig.
Dortmund is third, four points behind Bayern, after crashing to a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Cologne.
Tunisia midfielder Ellyes Skhiri tapped in both Cologne goals from corners by ex-Dortmund winger Marius Wolf after being left unmarked at the far post on both occasions.
With Dortmund 2-0 down on 60 minutes, coach Lucien Favre brought on three forwards — 16-year-old sensation Youssoufa Moukoko, Giovanni Reyna, and Thorgan Hazard.
Reyna, 18, set up Hazard to pull a goal back, but it was too little, too late.
After scoring six goals in his previous two games, Dortmund striker Erling Braut Haaland was held in check, squandering a golden chance to equalise just before the whistle.
Cologne avoided a club record 19th match without a win with their first victory in Dortmund since 1991.
Leipzig climbed above Dortmund to second, two points behind Bayern, thanks to a 2-1 home win over plucky strugglers Arminia Bielefeld.
Manchester City loanee Angelino gave Leipzig a first-half lead after a superb pass by 18-year-old Lazar Samardzic split the Bielefeld defence.
Just 60 seconds after coming off the bench, forward Christopher Nkunku netted Leipzig’s second goal early in the second half.
However, Bielefeld, who is second from the bottom, finished the stronger.
Their captain Fabian Klos pulled a goal back, just after Leipzig striker Alexander Sorloth had his penalty attempt saved on 73 minutes.
The Norway international bought to replace Timo Werner who joined Chelsea in the summer is yet to score in 10 games for Leipzig after netting 24 goals in 34 games for Trabzonspor last season.
Union Berlin is sixth after their action-packed 3-3 draw at home to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Max Kruse converted a penalty as Union raced into an early 2-0 lead, only for Portugal forward Andre Silva to net twice as Frankfurt led 3-2 late on.
Former Germany striker Kruse, 32, bagged a superb strike to claim his sixth goal in nine games to equalise just before the whistle.
Freiburg is winless in their last eight games after a 1-1 draw at Augsburg.
Wolfsburg is fifth after their 5-3 win over Werder Bremen on Friday.
Dutch striker Wout Weghorst struck twice for Wolfsburg while Bremen had goalscorer Kevin Moehwald sent off for a second booking.