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Feature Article of Sunday, 25 November 2012

Columnist: Yahaya, Moses K.

Election Campaign Mercifully Coming to an End

Fierce and nasty 2012 Election Campaign Mercifully Coming to an End

Moses Kofi Yahaya
On December 7, Ghanaians will once again freely elect a President and hundreds of parliamentarian representatives. Barring unforeseen circumstances or events---voter fraud and post-election violence---that could scuttle the hopes and aspirations of many, Ghana will inexorably cement its hard-earned international reputation as a bastion of political stability.
Ghanaian politicians are a strange breed, prone to grandstanding and outlandish pronouncements. Their ultimate goal is political dominance and the road to this political nirvana is strewn with falsehoods and broken promises. Once entrenched, Ghanaian politicians throw all caution to the wind. Democratic ideals are shelved for absolutism and dissension swiftly muffled.
Financially strapped in their previous careers, it is a frantic dash to feed at the public trough---- shamelessly embezzling funds, signing shady deals and cavorting with questionable characters, foreign and domestic. It is always an amazing and an eye-popping spectacle to watch them amble about ostensibly doing the nation’s business.
Predictably, the electioneering campaign has been fierce and nasty. The presidential candidates have sparred in debates and hurled insults from further afield at campaign rallies, their surrogates stepping in at opportune times to savage rivals. Any gaffe in a speech is immediately pounced on, magnified and dissected to score political points.
So, it wasn’t in the least surprising that President John Mahama was roundly criticized for daring to tell northerners to cast their ballots for his party, the NDC. His reason? Northern politicians are deliberately kept from the most coveted prize, the presidency, by conniving southern politicians.
Accused of unethical conduct and stoking the flames of tribalism, Mahama chalked it off to political grandstanding by his foes. Mahama was wrong on all accounts. There is no place in Ghana for tribal politics; what is more, the northern vote is not for sale to the highest bidder.
They may come from opposite sides of the political spectrum, but African politicians have strikingly similar patterns of behavior. They mimic each other unfailingly. Mahama’s opponent, Nana Akuffo Addo apparently did not learn from the President’s miscues.
Akuffo Addo evoked the specter of Laurent Gbagbo and the Ivorian civil war to warn Mahama to hand over peacefully should the electorate make a different choice. Gbagbo, imprisoned at The Hague on a variety of charges, lost the Ivorian presidential election in 2010 but stubbornly clung to power until he was forcibly removed and arrested after a bitter civil war.
I don’t understand Addo’s reasoning. Do he and his party, the NPP, think Mahama would refuse to relinquish power if he loses? Drawing parallels between Mahama and Gbagbo is the ultimate insult. It also reveals a lot about Addo; he is reckless and would say anything to wound his opponent. His sense of foreboding is eerily ill-timed. Ghana is not Ivory Coast and Mahama is certainly not Gbagbo. Mahama is law abiding and is constitutionally bound to transfer power peacefully to the victor no questions asked if things don’t go his way on December 7.
Bemused Ghanaian voters, recipients of vainglorious political speeches are waiting for the 2012 campaign to mercifully end. They just want to be left alone to choose a national leader who will cater to their immediate and long term needs and interests.

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