Feature Article of Thursday, 19 April 2012
Columnist: Diedong, Richard Dombo
The recurrent incidence of terror, intimidation and actual bodily harm meted primarily by supporters of the ruling NDC on supporters of the opposition NPP during the on-going biometric registration exercise, leads sharply to exposing root causes, and who has the power to curtail such.
Ghana’s democratic credentials were internationally established especially from when JJ Rawlings morphed from uniform wearing PNDC leader to ‘agabada’ wearing constitutional president, right through until the climatic end of President Kufuor’s rule, and, the magnanimity of the NPP presidential candidate in 2008, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who won the first round of the elections, but then ceded power to President Mills in the second round with barely a hair’s breath separating victor from vanquished. President Obama’s visit to Ghana in his first visit to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2009 after becoming US president was a unique reward and recognition of this nation’s peaceful and democratic strides.
President John Evans Atta Mills on Thursday 8th March 2012, on a State visit to the USA, met with US President Barack Obama at the White House and assured the American President of his commitment to peace and avoidance of conflicts to propel Ghana’s development. President Mills said peace was a requisite for democracy, and stressed that, “we should do the things that will ensure that there is peace and that there is no room for conflicts”. President Mills assured President Obama of peaceful polls in the December 2012 Elections, explaining that election conflicts did not make political leaders suffer but rather the ordinary people who elected leaders into office. He gave the assurance that Ghana would maintain a clean sheet and keep a track record of peaceful elections, and said that both nations would come out of their general elections safely.
President Mills further stated that: “So we have a big challenge, and we know that some of our friends in Africa are looking up to us, and we dare not fail them. …… “I told you that both of us are facing elections, but our ships will be able to sail safely to their final destination, I want to assure you," concluded President Mills.
Credibility is seriously at stake here, and I do not just mean within Ghana, but indeed at the international stage, as these public statements of assurance and commitment were made at arguably the most important international stage bar the chamber of the UN General Assembly - the front court of the White House! Words are cheap, action is supreme. Therefore, a juxtaposition of HE President Mills’ world stage declaration of intent and commitment to a peaceful electioneering campaign, and, his recent statement on, eerily, Friday the 13th April, at a durbar of chiefs in the Central Region is called for. At this durbar, President Mills, ostensibly in reaction to the NPP Flagbearer, Nana Akufo Addo’s justified criticism of the president’s inaction in directing, and the police’s aloofness in curbing the numerous reports of violence during the registration exercise, said the following: “The president is not a law enforcement officer and has no prosecuting powers”. He said further, that the police are in a position to perform their statutory duties without undue interference by the executive head. With a deep insight, pardon the sarcasm, the president sated that he is convinced the security personnel have acquitted themselves thus far!
Pardon me for finding the president’s statement at the durbar totally incredulous! Only five weeks earlier, he was telling the international community at the White House, he would ensure a peaceful election in Ghana, and not under his watch would Ghana descend into anarchy during the 2012 elections. Now he wrings his hands in frustration, alleging he is being unfairly expected to ‘walk the talk’ and action the words he uttered at the White House. Excuse me sir! You are the de facto [may be not!], de jure, constitutional head of the Republic of Ghana! You have the powers of hiring and firing! You have directive issuing powers, and in emergency situations, even decree making powers! Or perhaps, HE does not know the net worth of his role as president!
Using the next big thing to a government - the corporate world - as an example, if President Mills was the CEO of a PLC, would he tolerate a delegated subordinate who makes lame excuse for obvious poor performance? He would be expected by the board, in as much as he, as CEO, would impress upon his junior managers, that he is only interested in results, not excuses; solutions to problems, not passing the buck! Therefore, as the Chief Executive of this country, I find the president totally out of order and guilty of dereliction of duty to stand idly by like Nero while Ghana/Rome burns! By saying he is not a law enforcement officer, and has no prosecuting powers, he put into stark context his pledge to president Obama, the international community [whom he said is watching him/Ghana, and he dare not fail them], and ultimately Ghanaians [whom he rightly said would be the ones to suffer, and not the politicians, in the event of electoral violence].
How sir, Mr President Mills would you honour your pledge to President Obama et al, of delivering a peaceful election but when confronted with ensuing violence and your delegated officers – the police – either fail to intervene, or when they do, politically oriented senior police officers order the release of the culprits, or else publicly berate middle level officers for taking proactive steps? For Pres Mills to side step responsibility with hisr ‘I’m not a policeman’ retort, just adds insult to injury and expose him as a ‘double speak’ man who says one thing but means another. Otherwise, then he would be as one who has abdicated his responsibility and deserves to be dumped sooner rather than later in preference of a candidate and person with the ‘balls’ and will, to intervene when necessary, to deal with a deteriorating situation!
From the on-going WOYOME scandal, the EOCO report revealed Pres Mills as not being in control of his government, in so far as his two presidential directives not to pay Woyome were ignored by his appointees, with impunity! In that WOYOME/EOCO report, as with several other signs of Pres Mills’ ineffectiveness, reports mainly highlighted those inadequacies. However, with this latest incidence, the president has removed all doubt and personally confirmed his lack of capacity for the role of president of Ghana, and ultimately, his abdication from office. The wise old saying “better be quite and considered a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt” is apt in this instance. Some simple and uncomplicated questions will put all this into perspective: Mr President, when you appoint ministers and other officers such as the IGP, do you expect certain basic standards of performance from them or not? If you do, does not mean they are accountable to you? And if that is the case, when they do not deliver to the expected standards, is there any remedy to the unsatisfactory situation? Would those remedies per chance include berating them and/or removing them from office? Why would you berate and/or dismiss none-performers? Would it be because their poor performance would be a reflection on your own performance in so far as they are your appointees? Sir, do you see my drift? Well then, if you do, why do you in this instance of the registration exercise violence turn around and say you are not the responsible officer to deal with and arrest the deteriorating situation? After all, as already established, you are ultimately responsible for the actions and inactions of your appointees. To wit, the ongoing violence is largely due to the police top honcho, the IGP, not performing according to the basic standards expected of him, and as the IGP is your appointee, you CAN do something about it! Answers please, or else an apology for this gaffe is necessary and called for. Better still, please abdicate in person, the seat you have now verbally abdicated. Thank you.
Finally, as the saying goes, “coming events cast their shadows”. Therefore, every concerned citizen’s worry is, if this is what the registration exercise is like, how will the main election event be like? Perish the thought, especially with the truculent stance adopted by the president in this regard!
Author: Richard Dombo Diedong .