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Feature Article of Friday, 7 December 2012

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Which lucky uncle goes to flagstaff house?

…and will Dr. Kayode Fayeme and friends applaud Ghana after 5.pm?

By George Sydney Abugri

The hour of reckoning has finally burst forth upon us, Jomo, and from the coast to our borders with the Sahel, our compatriots have filed up to vote in what promises to be the great grand uncle of all national elections since the British lowered their Union Jack for the very last time and vamoosed from our shores.

In the coming hours, there will be high voltage electricity in the very air we breathe but the key word for the day is a five-letter one: Peace. Are you familiar with the strange expression, “as long as peace and war”? I recall the expression with some puzzlement every election year, but never mind…

As far as today’s election is concerned, the rules for peace are so incredibly simple, Jomo: No booze anywhere near any polling station, no menacing, muscle-bound human creatures on snarling motorbikes wearing scowling countenances and looking for trouble, no motorbikes at all today, come to think of it and no mercenary news headlines with the potential to make political rivals go for each other by the jugular.

Is that all? Not on your life, Jomo: No undue aggression and disruptive behaviour in the name of vigilance at polling stations, no media jumping of the gun before the Electoral Commissioner gets his hand on the trigger to announce the results and no toddlers crawling on fours in voting queues with voters’ ID cards stuck in piss-wet nappies!

That is a tricky one because the cards are valid. That is probably one issue relating to today’s election which will require the exercise of good conscience and patriotism by all irrespective of political affiliation.

Whatever led to the bizarre registration of little children is now of lesser importance than the need for all political party representatives, parents and guardians who have such registered “voters’ in their care, to let them stay at home, eat biscuits, sip Tampico and watch television cartoons.

A footnote to the check list for peace during and after today’s election is this: For the NDC and NPP presidential candidates who have literally burnt up so much energy, time, emotional health and colossal financial and other resources on their campaigns, the prospect of defeat is too painful to contemplate.

Yet inescapably, President Mahama and Nana Akufo-Addo will each win or lose the election, which is a roundabout way of asking each of the gentlemen to brace himself up emotionally and psychologically to accept defeat with dignified grace. The ever present danger is always that of the loser refusing to accept defeat and assembling his supporters to wreck havoc on peace and security.

If they have neglected to do so already, they may each want to talk to a psychologist and/or a priest/counselor while ballot papers are still sailing down into ballot boxes. They will each most likely be reminded that losing an election is not the end of the world but only a signal from fate, circumstance and destiny, to retreat, reorganize and give sweet power the good old chase again when the consititution calls.

The results of today’s election will enable us to classify, categorize and rate in order of credibility, members of the merry band of seers, magicians and soothsayers in the Diaspora and in town who go by the name pollsters.

One moment, one pollster has one of the two leading presidential candidates far up ahead by a wide margin but then the next moment another pollster comes along with his findings which have the first pollster’s loser winning by an even wider margin.

How can two scientists conduct a study using standard scientific tools and come out with findings that so contrastingly contradict each other?

Talking about scientists Jomo, there is the need once the election is over, for our anthropologists and other social scientists to conduct a study under the general theme, Partisan Politics, Politicians and Superstition in Modern Ghana: NPP presidential candidate Akufo-Addo was right up and about on the campaign trail early this week apparently mopping up the last potential votes, and guess what happened, Jomo:

The presidential candidate and other NPP big guns including former President J.A. Kufuor are seated on a dais at a campaign rally at the Jubilee Park in Kumasi city, when the dais suddenly gives way and sends the dignitaries tumbling like a pack of cards. NDC General-Secretary Johnson “General Mosquito” Nketia thought God had something to with it!

“A similar thing happened in parliament when S.K. Boafo pretended to be a tongue-speaking pastor. He came to parliament and told a lie about me but then, while he was on about it, I told him God would show him His power and judge between a lying pastor and an innocent man. As soon as I finished talking, a big metal fell from the ceiling and landed on S.K. Boafo’s head,” General Mosquito recounted in confident affirmation of his claim.

Curiously, the NDC General-Secretary appears to be in good company when it comes to such matters. The Central Regional Minister at the time went all metaphysical about it when then President Kufuor went to the Central Region in September, 2007 to attend a cultural festival and while he was seated on the dais with other dignitaries, the dais gave way. Luckily, the president escaped unhurt.

The Regional Minister attributed the incident to evil spirits lurking about on the festival grounds! I argued at the time, that while evil spirits there might indeed be around us all the time, I doubted that they had the skills to build daises for dignitaries to sit on. Someone had done a very shoddy job and compromised the safety of the president and other distinguished citizens of the republic.

Imagine the President of Ghana lying flat on his back with the soles of his shoes kissing the wide sky while BBC, CNN and local television cameras beam it all live to a global audience during an international event hosted by Ghana because someone built a flimsy wooden contraption of a dais for dignitaries to sit on. Hopefully this will be the last mysterious collapse of a dais at a high profile public event or will it..?

A parting word about this historic day, Jomo? The Director of the Center for Democracy and Development in Nigeria, Dr. Kayode Fayeme was one of the international election observers who toured polling stations in the regions during the 2004 elections.

Dr. Fayeme wrote in an initial report that “what Ghanaians have managed to do with this election is prove that election management is no rocket science. It requires adequate and competent preparation, a high degree of transparency, a responsible government, which respects its own citizens and an alert citizenry ready to protect their vote.

It does not matter who wins the election in Ghana {the results were still coming in at the time this was written} but the process that I witnessed was without exaggeration better than what transpired in the last United States election.” Great compliment there, yah? Can we live up to the challenge yet again? I guess the coming hours will tell! Website: www.sydneyabugri.com/web Email: georgeabu@hotmail.com editing@sydneyabugri.com

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