General News of Friday, 29 August 2014
Today, August 29, 2014 marks exactly one year since the Supreme Court of Ghana gave its judgement on the 2012 election petition, ending what had become popularly known as the “Battle of Pink Sheets."
The pink sheets were the forms for the statement of poll and declaration of results for the office of President. Throughout the hearing, issues about the pink sheets seemed to have dominated the exchanges in the Supreme Court, where Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the 2012 presidential candidate of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and then Chairman of the party, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, had asked the court to overturn the results of the elections announced by the Electoral Commission (EC) declaring the candidate of the National Democratic Congress, (NDC), President John Dramani Mahama, winner.
Apprehension and uncertainty preceded the delivery of the judgement, but normal activities in the country resumed immediately after the court’s decision was announced by the court.
Nana Akufo-Addo finally conceded defeat and congratulated President John Dramani Mahama on his “confirmed” victory.
As was expected, sympathisers of the NDC were overjoyed with the court’s decision while supporters of the NPP were distraught.
But Ghana’s democracy triumphed once again when the NPP parliamentarians, who had refused to engage in most parliamentary activities, including vetting of ministerial nominees, in solidarity with Nana Akufo-Addo and the other party members involved in the court action, rescinded their eight-month boycott and began to participate fully in parliamentary activities.
It was a fiercely fought legal battle which lasted exactly eight months, but took less than five minutes for the Supreme Court to declare its verdict.
In exactly four minutes, 16 seconds, the nine-member panel, in an overall decision, declared President John Dramani Mahama as the validly elected President in the December 7 and 8, 2012 Presidential polls.
The fight for the highest office of the land, the Presidency, began on the campaign grounds but shifted to the court after the Electoral Commissioner, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, acting on powers conferred on him under Article 63 (9) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, declared the winner on December 9, 2012.
President Mahama was confronted with a legal challenge to his presidency when the then presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and then Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, dragged the EC to court over claims of gross and widespread irregularities.
Nine justices of the Supreme Court, William Anam Atuguba, Sophia Adinyira, Julius Ansah, Rose Constance Owusu, Jones Victor M. Dotse, Anin Yeboah, Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, N. S. Gbadegbe and Vida Akoto-Bamfo sat and decided the case.
The petitioners had prayed the court to annul 3,931,339 owing to electoral irregularities in the December 7 and 8, 2012 presidential election.
But the court unanimously dismissed the claims relating to duplicate serial numbers, duplicate polling station codes and unknown polling stations.
Where are the judges?
Ms Justice Owusu has retired after serving 25 years on the Bench and a total of 42 in public service.
But her other colleagues are currently on legal vacation and are expected to resume work in the second week of October, 2014.
You and I were not there
Although the legal tussle was fraught with vigorous arguments, objections, counter-objections and occasional face-offs between lawyers, the journey was sometimes humorous. Mr Philip Addison led the legal team for the petitioners, while Mr Tony Lithur and Tsatsu Tsikata represented the President and the NDC respectively. Mr James Quashie-Idun represented the EC. He enjoyed massive support from Mr Lithur and Tsikata.
Words and phrases such as “pink sheets,” “I put it to you,” “I suggest to you,” “you and I were not there,” “Bawumia calculator,” “Hurricane Sanity Atuguba,” “Objection,” “Objection sustained,” “Objection overruled”, “amicus curiae”, “contempt of court, “Illegal political galamsey”, “audit of insults” and “Gbeshie powers” among others will forever linger in the minds and on the lips of Ghanaians, some of whom have found ways of introducing these phrases in their daily conversations.
Commenting on the petition one year after, the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) Mr Emmanuel Akwettey, said the Electoral Commission of Ghana remains an institutional icon of peace and stability in the country’s multiparty democracy.
The EC, he said, had a good record and ranked best in the sub-region.
Speaking on the way forward a year after the election petition, Mr Akwettey said more than ever, the EC needed adequate resourcing and public support to manage the administrative processes leading to the 2016 elections confidently and professionally.
The Chief Executive of IMANI Ghana, Mr Franklin Cudjoe, said in the judgement of the Supreme Court, a number of recommendations were made regarding elections in the country.
“We would want to know what the EC has done regarding the recommendations of the Supreme Court,” he stated.
One year on
Much has happened after the election petition.
President Mahama’s administration has been faced with agitations on the labour front as a result of high cost of living.
The depreciation of the cedi, issues of poor sanitation in the capital city, budget deficit and the dilemma of the government having to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are some of the issues confronting the government.
On the political front, Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, who was a key actor in the 2012 election petition, lost his chairmanship to Mr Paul Afoko, while the perceived acrimony between supporters of Nana Akufo-Addo and Mr Alan Kyeremanten, another contender for the flag bearer slot of the NPP, is heightening.
The EC is currently cleaning up the voters’ register after it emerged that some persons had embarked on double registration during the just ended voters’ registration exercise.
Dr Bawumia has, over the past year, been giving public lectures, stating his views on the ailing economy to the displeasure of government functionaries who have, on a regular basis, sought to punch holes into the issues that he raises in his presentations.
Some individuals are also campaigning to capture the chairmanship, women’s organiser and other national executive positions of the NDC.
Recent fuel price hikes and the depreciation of the cedi are having a toll on industry while the problem of unemployment is not getting any better.
But the oil and gas sectors of the economy are expanding rapidly as Parliament has ratified more than 10 oil exploration agreements in the past year.
Indeed, a second Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel is currently under construction and, is expected to begin commercial production of oil and gas on the Tweneboa-Enyenra-Ntomme (TEN) oilfields in the first quarter of 2016.
Ghana participated in the just ended World Cup in Brazil, but the Black Stars crashed out in the first round of the competition.
Many controversies hit the Black Stars camp, making a poor campaign end on a rather sad note. As a result, a Presidential Commission of Inquiry has been set up to investigate what happened in Brazil and make the necessary recommendations for successful future World Cup campaigns.
Ghana is presently racing against time to ensure that the highly contagious Ebola virus, which found its way into Guinea in February 2014, and has spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, does not spread to the country. It has so far claimed more than 1,400 lives and has left West African nations in fear. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the epidemic a global emergency.
While the government and people are dreading the spread of the Ebola virus into Ghana, owing to the nation’s porous borders, another deadly but preventable disease, cholera has broken out in Accra and has so far claimed more than 68 lives, with more than 7,000 cases recorded.