Feature Article of Saturday, 28 April 2012
Columnist: Jehu-Appiah, Ali-Masmadi
Akufo-Addo, A Threat To Peace In Ghana? – Part One: US CSIS Report
by Ali-Masmadi Jehu-Appiah,
“The role of the NPP leader and expected presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, will be crucial, and early signals suggest reason for worry. Akufo-Addo is desperate to mobilize support, and he has played the ethnic card, referring to the NPP as “We the Akans,” urging his supporters to “all die be die”—that is, they should be willing to die to ensure the NPP’s victory…”
- Scenarios: A Contested Election Result, GHANA: Assessing Risks to Stability, By David W. Throup
About two months ago, in June 2011,the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS, published a report titled GHANA: Assessing Risks to Stability, By David W. Throup,
The report highlights the three key stress points as follows:
“Key Stress Points
?? Ghana’s prospects for long-term stability are being undermined by important structural weaknesses. The political system is highly centralized, the executive is excessively powerful, and patronage politics is corroding public institutions. Social pressures are building due to the slow decline of the country’s agricultural sector and its inability to provide jobs for its growing workforce.
?? In the next 5 to 10 years, the main threats to Ghanaian stability will stem from the social and macroeconomic impact of its new oil export sector, the influence of drug trafficking on its political system, and youth unemployment.
?? The 2012 elections are likely to be the single most significant potential trigger of violence in the near term. Ghana’s two main parties are closely matched and are highly antagonistic toward each other. A contested election result is possible.”
This account covers what the CSIS Report had to say about the real and present danger facing Ghana today, and the steps needed to be taken to avoid such a disaster.
“The 2012 Elections
The risk of disorder in Ghana is significantly raised at election time, when political passions are running high and competition for patronage is at its most intense. The importance of the 2012 election as a potential trigger of instability in Ghana cannot be overemphasized. Although the NDC government currently enjoys the privilege of influencing the terms of the oil revenue management bill, the winner in 2012 will claim a much bigger prize: the chance to allocate oil revenues during the peak years of production. Both sides know that the ability to distribute patronage, jobs, and infrastructural investment on a grand scale could sustain them in office for the foreseeable future. As the incumbent, the NDC views victory in 2012 as an opportunity to shatter the two-party system and pull away from its closest competitor. The NPP, meanwhile, fears being left out in the cold and is desperate for the chance to preside over the country’s economic boom.
Ghana had a lucky escape during the last presidential election in December 2008. The razor-thin failure of the NPP candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, to win the presidency on the first ballot (he missed out by less than 8,000 votes) briefly tempted the NPP to hang on to power and challenge the official results. In the hours following the election, then–president Kufuor played a vital role in urging his NPP supporters to accept the need for a second round. When the NDC candidate, Atta-Mills, won the second round by the narrow margin of 0.46 percent, President Kufuor again urged acceptance of the result. But given that he is now in retirement, Kufuor is unlikely to be able to exert a moderating influence in 2012. And the NPP hard-liners seem to have seized control of the campaign.
Given the stakes involved, the 2012 election campaign is likely to be far more confrontational and potentially violent. Paradoxically, Ghana’s experiences with democratic transfers of power may actually contribute to the animosity. Both parties have now had a chance to experience at least a term in government and sample the spoils of power, including not only the distribution of preferential access to political constituents and business allies but also the opportunity to reverse the previous government’s policies. Each party has taken advantage of this opportunity: The NPP spent its first two years in office in 2001–2003 righting the alleged mismanagement of the economy by the NDC, but ended its term in 2007–2008 with a last-minute spending and patronage spree, leaving the NDC government with serious macroeconomic problems, including high inflation. President Atta-Mills has worked hard to curb inflation, but it seems highly unlikely as Ghana heads into its next election cycle that his civil servants in the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank will be able to resist the demands of NDC activists for a significant relaxation of economic discipline. Meanwhile, the NPP has keenly felt the reduced economic opportunities that come with being out of office. There has already been a noticeable ratcheting up of political rhetoric in advance of 2012, with both parties accusing each other of corruption and misconduct.”
What awaits Ghana in the next decade? In the near term, much will depend on whether the two main parties can overcome the potential flashpoint of the 2012 election. Beyond that, much will depend on the ability of the winner to manage the country’s oil-producing economy, provide jobs for its young people, rein in its patronage system, and protect its fragile institutions from the pernicious influence of the drug trade.”
The report the provides the following scenarios: Endogenous Growth, A Contested Election Result, Poor Economic Management, and “Muddling Through”. For the purpose of this focus, I proceed to the second scenario, A Contested Election Result:
“A Contested Election Result
A second, low-to-medium-probability but high-impact scenario would be a violently contested presidential election in December 2012, which would have the potential to produce chaos. If either party perceives a loss in 2012 to represent an existential threat, then the loser may give in to the temptation to mobilize, or even merely allow, a violent challenge to the election results. The result would likely produce violence by unemployed youths, straining the loyalty of the army and security services, and testing the independence of the judiciary. The role of the NPP leader and expected presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, will be crucial, and early signals suggest reason for worry. Akufo-Addo is desperate to mobilize support, and he has played the ethnic card, referring to the NPP as “We the Akans,” urging his supporters to “all die be die”—that is, they should be willing to die to ensure the NPP’s victory.12 If neither side is willing to accept defeat, then it is likely that rival “foot soldiers” recruited from unemployed youth supporters of the NDC could take to the streets of Accra and other urban centers and begin to fight. Military intervention in any case remains highly unlikely, but it is not impossible. Such an intervention, even if brief, would shatter Ghana’s reputation as a stable democracy and discourage foreign direct investment, setting back three decades of progress.”
“…Of the countries in the African “stress-testing” study of which this report is a part, Ghana most resembles Kenya. Both are potential success stories: Both have an expanding, sophisticated middle class; both have a comparatively well-developed banking and financial services sector; and both have a reasonably well-educated, politically informed, and outspoken population. Civil society is strongly established, although it is still largely dependent on outside funding. Progress in both countries is limited by corruption and patronage politics, which appeal to ethnic animosities, and a decaying infrastructure of roads, electricity provision, and overstretched urban water and sewage systems. Ghana, however, is better placed than Kenya. The advent of oil provides a financial windfall with which to address these infrastructural deficiencies. Ethnicity, meanwhile, is a less divisive force in Ghana than in Kenya…“
There is an important note in the report which I wish to highlight in making my own comments: “When all is on the line, many Ghanaians insist that they would stop at nothing to protect the stability and integrity of their country.” (Mitigating Factors, p.14.)
Akufo-Addo’s Track Record
There is talk in town that had it not been the timely intervention of the then President J. A. Kufour, it would have been difficult for Akufo-Addo to concede defeat. The lack of support from the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces meant that Akufo-Addo found himself cold on the ice, as the military configurations did not go in his favour. The second bad news was the failure to surreptitiously secure a legal injunction by ex parte motion to sit and hear the case on the 1st of January 2009, a public holiday, without even informing the Electoral Commission, nor the NDC. He was compelled to come out to “acknowledge the Electoral Commission’s declaration and congratulate Prof. Mills”.
According to the Ghana News Agency, Accra, Jan. 3, GNA – “He, however, reiterated concerns raised by the NPP on the conduct of the elections particularly in the Volta Region, where it claimed its party agents were barred from parts of that area during the elections because of violence meted to them by NDC supporters, questioning the impression created by the Electoral Commission in announcing the poll’s results.”
Akufo-Addo also noted, “By stating that there is criminal conduct in some constituencies of the Volta Region and yet announcing the results, the Electoral Commission has given the unfortunate impression that it does not matter how votes are being obtained as long as they are duly recorded”, he told reporters in Accra.
“He also called on President J.A. Kufuor, the security forces and the law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety and security of the party’s supporters, because “I am concerned that if positive steps are not taken to protect and to reassure them, they will be compelled to defend themselves.”
“This is a divided country and these times call for leadership, from all of us so that we can both continue to build this country. “Both Prof. Mills and I have an obligation to foster conciliation and consensus and I pledge to do my part. Our nation is at the crossroads and we must work together, to build it peacefully”, he said.
Nana Akufo-Addo urged all members of the party to “remain steadfast, united and ready to confront the new challenges that we face in our efforts to build Ghana as a democracy, where human rights and the rule of law are respected”, adding, “I believe in Ghana, and God willing, we shall be back”.
“[They] Claim That We Akans Are Cowards!”
Here is what Akufo-Addo said:”They have made up their minds that they are going to intimidate us in 2012.” Akufo-Addo was caught on the microphone, speaking in Twi, an Akan language, ‘I sometimes explain this as the claim that we Akans are cowards. They argue that if one is able wound one or two of us, then all the rest of us remaining take to our heels! Is that so? Well, We shall see! Atiwa for example, was a little illustration of this. During the by-elections at Atiwa we did “something small” that showed a little bit of this. And so we have to understand that this party was formed by brave men. Our elders who formed this party which is now the biggest political party in Ghana, were not people who were hiding under beds!The courage that is needed now to face the 2012 elections is ‘All die be die! All die be die!’ Nobody is a man more than his fellow! Nobody more manly than the other. No matter how tall you are, no matter how small you are in size, by God’s plan, all of us are endowed with exactly the same thing. You cannot tell us that you have three inside yours. All of us have how many? Two! Ha! ha! ha! So we are going to pick up courage. Ghanaians need us to come back to power. Whatever courage we need to stand firmly and to ensure that we come back to power in 2012, we are going to have to do it!”
(Transcription by the Office of the Odikro, from audio, source: Listen to key voices on Nana Akufo-Addo’s ‘all die be die’ http://audio.peacefmonline.com/newsaudio/201102/366.php“
Acting Chairman, International Solidarity Committee,