Feature Article of Friday, 26 October 2012
Incendiary Behavior? No Excuse For Karbo or Boateng Gyan.
In response to current allegations against NPP’s Anthony Karbo for plotting to violently disrupt the General Elections, Dr. Arthur Kennedy, the former NPP Campaign Manager and Presidential Candidate, described Mr. Karbo’s behavior as only an idle or playful talk by which he might not have meant anything serious. I would like to politely interject that response and strongly disagree with its implications.
Dr. Arthur Kennedy must understand that idle talk could inspire the less stable minds to act criminally. If anything at all, since he claims to have often heard idle talks of that nature around him, Dr. Arthur Kennedy should rather be advising folks to stop engaging in that behavior, than posture to be offering some palliative lead for the Public to excuse Mr. Karbo. One, for example, cannot claim to be only idle-talking if he or she had suggested to another to kill, say, the President, and the person eventually acted upon it. It is even more difficult to accept such a plot as reported of Mr. Karbo’s or Boateng Gyan’s case as only a playful imaginary adventure when it is so deliberately planned out, and has a voice so firm, without any jocular tone or comic snickering, to wrap it in.
We have to wisely acknowledge that certain issues do not belong to idle talks, period! And, Electioneering violence is one of them. A National or General Election must be taken seriously as an exercise that depicts the array of wisdom a Nation's Citizens have for guiding her to survive and grow in the next electoral cycle. The Campaigns leading to the Election must be serious efforts to assemble those ideas, as championed by each Political Party, for the Electorate to choose from. It is not a trivial exercise for a Reality TV Show or Comedy Central Joke Fest.
The stakes in General Elections are very high. They dictate the fate of a Nation and all her numerous Citizens. It is in this light that I suggest Dr. Kennedy should not rule the disruptive behavior regarding the Elections of anyone like Karbo or Boateng Gyan or Kennedy Agyepong, as we have come to know of recently, as some mere whimsical, puerile nuance that must be glossed over.
At this point, we can only wish for, and hope that, the Laws be fairly applied to all who have been engaging in such dangerous verbal brinksmanship. Many have already cited the most unfortunate incidents in Kenya, and elsewhere, that ended up taking the lives of some people as incidents we need to avoid in Ghana. That is because there is a parallel to the precursor Political behavior of those fatal Kenyan incidents in the behavior of Mr. Karbo and cohorts of our competing Political Parties.
We might have narrowly escaped violence in the last General Elections. That does not mean we are permanently immune to their possibility of occurring now, and in the future. It is only with constant intelligent control of our emotions, as mature and civilized adults, that we can really prevent that catastrophe. Yes, the other side would often test our emotional fortitude. However, that is part of the difficult process of exercising our mutual Democratic rights. If we grow increasingly intolerant of each other, and draw closer and closer to employing brawl and beastly physical confrontation in resolving issues, we exponentially limit Democracy in our Political System. In order to avoid that situation developing, our Laws and the Institutions that we have for creating and enforcing them must be required to work as expected. Anyone known to have played any part in attempts to hijack the peaceful transition to a new Regime via our Democratic Process ought to be duly arraigned before the Courts and fairly judged, regardless of his or her Political affiliation. We cannot simply dwell on the reciprocity of vengeance to claim exoneration of anyone on an illicit and dangerous behavior. The fact that Mr. Boateng Gyan might have done something unacceptable and possibly criminal does not justify any acceptance of similar behavior by Mr. Karbo or any other individual, whether or not Mr. Boateng Gyan could get away with his misdeed, untamed by the Law. Mr. Karbo’s behavior was not in direct reaction to Mr. Boateng Gyan’s to even justify some defensive move by the former.
In fact, the imperative of allowing the Law deal with Mr. Karbo, rather more forcefully calls for dealing with Mr. Boateng Gyan similarly. We must be about letting the Law work in Ghana, not about letting folks dodge the Law to fulfill some reciprocal behavior of another. If the Courts decide, considering all available evidence honestly, that any of the suspects is/are innocent, we must live with the verdict; if the Courts decide otherwise for any and prescribe a penalty for the suspect, we should likewise accept the verdict. More, when any ruling from the Courts seems unfair for any legal reasons, the affected side has the Appeals process to utilize to retain his or her innocence. It is only in this way that we can effectively deter everyone from repeating that dangerous behavior. Scheming to get any suspect not amply investigated and possibly charged for crimes that we know have occurred, is not a sign of a healthy, decent modern Society where Democracy is supposed to reign.
Furthermore, the failure to bring any such cases to the Courts for proper adjudication, even for the sake of considering the reciprocal actions to have evened out, creates a slippery slope for the Society that would cause many to think they can always get away with crime, so long as they can point to some other person who escaped prosecution. We cannot leave our Society to be perching on tenterhooks from some fringe elements’ delirium.
We have come a long, difficult, circuitous and bumpy way to get this far, and we should not foolishly ruin the gains we have chalked for Democracy with such choice for Electoral violence and fraud. The whole World is watching us, and we will not ever reach our millennium goal of Middle-Class Nation with that kind of chaos and instability. We have seen the passive application of our Laws in the perceived corruption via the numerous ‘Woyomegates’. Adding free-advocacy for Electioneering violence and fraud to the Menu, renders our Democracy only a joke—an expensive and possibly fatal joke.
The way to pull us back from the brink of any Economic and Social ruination, if that is how the most pessimistic among us view our current spate of Corruption in high places, is, surely, not via violence and further fraud. Any wise options to remedy the situation will have to preclude violence. We need to prevail upon our Legislature and Judiciary to ensure that we do not trip over the precipice into the very deep, dark abyss of chaos. Thus far, our Parliament has made no effort in pushing the other forms of Government to stay the course for peaceful Social order, in spite of the many glaring signs of dangerous agitations. Maybe, our MPs think all would even out naturally, and see no reason to intervene. But it is obvious that our Executive and Judiciary have both been cited for either complicity in the brewing menace or passivity in seeing to immediate cessation of incendiary behaviors. The People are yearning for clear, uncompromising leadership to steer away from the misguided few who are cracking the whip to precipitate violence in the Elections. If our Presidency and its counterpart in the Opposition do not have the sense of urgency to call their supporters to order, and the Judiciary is bound by some Partisan spell, rendering it almost ineffective to deter the vicious plotters, the Parliament, then, remains the only organ of Government left that we can call upon to bring sanity back into the System.
I would therefore like to see a multi-Party coalition in Parliament take on the Parties’ hierarchy and the Executive, and invigorate the Judiciary’s ability to swiftly deal with anyone who attempts to disrupt the Elections and/or engulf us in violence. All who have already been known to have indulged in such acts of dangerous and illicit provocation to disrupt the Elections should be processed to have their case promptly heard in Court, without exception. The Council of State must also rise up to the occasion to add its voice in wise counsel to all for calm and order. The only whip cracking we need through this Election period must come from the Judiciary.
Long Live Ghana!!