Feature Article of Tuesday, 23 July 2013
Columnist: Vianney, John
Since the inception of the fourth republican constitution in 1992, Ghana has witnessed six successive elections, with political power trekking between the two main parties, the National Democratic Party (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP). As for the other parties, the least said about them the better. Their abysmal performance in all the elections should be enough for them to fold up and join the two leading parties. But the existence of each of them smacks of a striving democracy in the country. They are so insignificant and virtually not noticed except when an election goes into a runoff. Sometimes their presence seems to water down the politically charged temperature of the nation as a result of the two main rivals. This brings to mind the late Dan Lartey of the Great Consolidated Popular Party. The GCPP leader and his party became a household name for championing the need to domesticate everything in the country. The party got ‘domesticated’ after the demise of its comical leader. May his soul rest in peace! By the way where is Akua Donkor of the Great Freedom Party? In fact the 2012 general elections will remain unprecedented in our history books.
Before, during and after every election are series of complains, allegations and boycotts. But the recent petition by the NPP at the highest court of the land for an annulment of the 2012 presidential elections as declared by the Electoral Commissioner, Dr Afari Gyan is of great interest to Ghanaians as well as the international community. Usually after an election, one individual that is castigated most is the Electoral Commissioner for going to bed with the party that wins making him the greatest political prostitute in the country. Dr Afari Gyan has headed Ghana’s Electoral Commission for well over twenty years and has superintended over all the six general elections in the country. He has been called upon by a number of African countries due to his expertise in elections. Unfortunately, his expertise came under serious questioning after the recent elections under his supervision in his own country. I dare say it has been a blunder from my layman’s point of view of the system that was used for the elections. But that is not mine to decide. The Supreme Court will do that in a couple weeks from now. Ghana awaits this unprecedented ruling to move on.
However, I feel very proud as a Ghanaian that notwithstanding the magnitude of the petitioners case, as well as the sheer closeness of the figures; John Mahamah of the NDC 5,574,761 and Nana Akufo-Addo 5,248,898 of the NPP (representing 50.70% and 47.74% respectively), yet the NPP opted for the law courts for rectification of the declared results of the presidential elections as per their findings. Other African countries are still counting their losses as a result of similar electoral disputes that were handled without recourse to the law courts. Suffice it to state Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya. In fact, in my opinion, the leader of the NPP Nana Akufo-Addo, would have brought the entire nation to its knees if he had decided anything different from going to the courts. No matter the ruling, Nana Akufo-Addo, Dr Mahamudu Baumia his running mate and Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, the chairman of the NPP deserve national honors. This decision of theirs was/is in the interest of the nation. This for me is a turning point in our body politics. The continent is bedeviled with too many electoral related disputes leading to conflicts and in some cases civil wars. What a lesson for others to emulate henceforth!
Like most Ganaians in the diaspora, I have followed the election petition mostly via the radio broadcast (audio on demand) and commentaries from the social media. Though I have my interest, I am very sure the Supreme Court ruling could go in favor of either of the parties (NDC or NPP). The ruling could also go against both parties , and this could lead to a re-run of the presidential elections. In any case, what matters now is that justice is done in this case. That is not to say when justice done there will be no pain, disappointment or hurt. But for the sake of generations to come, the nation must be seen to have chartered the right path as a result of the Supreme Court ruling.
In the event that the Supreme Court rules in favor of the NDC, the NPP must get back to their drawing board to review and plan for the 2016 general elections. They should also work on all the perceptions out there about the party being an Akan party and consider seriously Dr Mahamudu Baumia as their candidate in future elections. Going for Alan Kyeremanteng for me will only perpetuate the long held perception of the party being Akan party and my Northern brothers only fit to be running mates after which they are damned. Nana Akuffo Addo’s point of exit should not see Alan Kyeremanteng but a unifier such as Dr Mahamudu Baumia. This could be the best time for the leadership of NPP to take on board the voice of the minority amongst them as well as erase all the perceptions and face the realities. The NPP must also eschew complacency at all times for it is never over until it is over.
The Supreme Court could also rule in favor of the NPP. This means power would have to change hands. The NDC now in office must handover power without dislodging any state institution for any other reason. There should be no compromises and the military must not be motivated in any way to do anything untoward. Former President John Mahamah (as he would be called) should equally go into serious crisis management of the situation for the sake of the party. The party has witnessed lots of challenges before the 2013 elections including the unfortunate demise of the former President Professor J. E. A. Mills. May his soul rest in perfect peace though. The NDC challenges seems to be unending. The latest being the financial scandal at the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Development Authority (GYEEDA). Many will be those who will like to betray government and the party for their personal gains as well as ‘unnecessary’ favor from the NPP government. The party should as a matter of urgency strike a deal with all who were left out along the way except this writer as well as those who were rejected and unnecessarily hounded out of the party. Maybe this could be the moment for the party leadership to consider the National Democratic Party (NDP) led by Dr Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings. It will be tough for the NDC to survive the tide, but possible.
Meanwhile, in the event that the ruling goes for a re-run of the elections, the country must be ready to face it as it comes with a huge financial as well as logistical challenges at a time that the country can barely pay contractors as well as salaries of public and civil servants. Democracy is expensive and Ghanaians must understand that. The international community must be forthcoming in this regard since it will be cheaper than coming in during a civil war. A re-run of the presidential elections could be the fairest ruling but again that is not mine to decide. The Supreme Court judges know the law better.
To call for electoral reforms will be an understatement. The Electoral Commission as an institution must be transformed by taking into account all loopholes that have been raised by all parties in this election petition. All views of the political parties must be submitted to the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) for consideration. Vital decisions such as ‘ no verification no vote ‘ must be done in ample time for all parties to appreciate the system and educate their followings accordingly. The use of half baked literates as electoral officers must no longer be countenanced.
The fundamental observation after the Supreme Court ruling should be one of a maturing democracy in Ghana. Both NPP and NDC would have learned enough lessons for the growth of democracy in our part of the world. The Ghanaian voter would have been more conscious of the electoral system as well as our judicial system. One painful fact though will be to accept the Supreme Court ruling no matter which way it goes for us to go on as one nation, one people with a common destiny. Before then, the Supreme Court I am sure will ensure that justice is done in this case. We must remain the beacon of hope for the continent. Long live Ghana.