Politics of Monday, 7 January 2013
Source: Sodzi-Tettey, Sodzi
Where your treasure is, there your heart is also. Matthew 6:21
For all those who had long wondered about how and why in one election, conducted on the same day, with same Electoral Commission officials and massive presence of eagle eyed political party agents, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) should cry foul over the Presidential results but apparently appear satisfied with the Parliamentary component, running mate Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has provided a fitting answer.
“Similar irregularities also affected the Parliamentary elections and therefore several challenges to Parliamentary election results are also in the pipeline”, he announced, while identifying the polling stations as the main site of these uncovered irregularities. The NPP has thus ostensibly uncovered a mountain of evidence to show that the EC in collusion with the media and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) botched the election in favor of the latter, if the General Secretary of the Party is to be believed.
That said, it is important for me to point out quite clearly that on the strength of the “mountain of evidence” presented by Akufo- Addo et al during their post Supreme Court filing press conference, I am unable to match same with the original charge of “systematic fraud and stealing.” At best, the NPP is proving an imperfect electoral system in need of strengthening. As for proving widespread, coordinated, systematic fraud and stealing, well, that is an entirely different matter.
But let us say there were enough irregularities to turn the election results in Akufo-Addo’s favor and note that on the basis of this, the NPP has announced through its General Secretary, Mr. Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie its decision to boycott the inauguration of President John Mahama on the 7th of January, 2013 with the latter stating unequivocally that “The NPP will not be there. It will make nonsense of the petition we have filed at the Supreme Court.” Further to this, the Council of the NPP explained that it had taken the decision “in order to underline the critical principle of any democracy that the results of an election should reflect the voice of the majority of voters, not the voice of those who count, collate or declare the results.”
The principle the NPP wants to establish here appears to be simple and straight forward: non engagement with political processes pending judicial review on account of alleged fraud in the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. This being the case, boycotting the President’s inauguration is simply not extensive enough. The party must do more to back its convictions especially with respect to the Parliamentary elections. As noted earlier, Dr. Bawumia has already stated that these irregularities were identified both with the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
I find a huge disconnect between the party’s current actions that are ostensibly flowing from the basic assumption of fraud. Why boycott Presidential inauguration only and line yourself up for Parliamentary positions when the entire election that gave rise to both officers was allegedly fraudulent? Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu for minority leader, Mr. Dominic Nitiwul as his Deputy, Mr. Dan Botwe, as the Chief Whip and Hon. Joe Ghartey penciled in for the position of second Deputy Speaker. Really? Further to the NPP principle as espoused above, why have newly elected NPP members of Parliament, elected through a fraudulent electoral process, allow themselves to go through registration processes to assume their new roles as honorables of Ghana’s Parliament?
This Janus or two- faced policy is inconsistent. The election was either fraudulent or not. If it was fraudulent in respect of both the Presidential and the Parliamentary as the party alleges, why engage in the Parliamentary processes and boycott the Presidential inauguration? If the election was fraudulent, wouldn’t it be more consistent for party supporters threatening to disrupt past President Kufuor’s announced participation in the inauguration to also plan a simultaneous disruption of the party’s engagement with the parliamentary processes?
I remain truly bemused. My expectations would be as follows.
Given the fraudulent nature of the Parliamentary elections, the NPP ought also to believe and abide by the principle that some of its elected candidates as declared by the EC may be in Parliament wrongly even as it believes that some are outside Parliament wrongly. If this principle is not asserted, then it would simply lend credence to the charge that the NPP is happy only as long as it wins an election. If some MPs are in Parliament wrongly through fraudulent declarations of the EC, then simply boycotting the President’s inauguration on January 7th is clearly not enough. NPP must also boycott all Parliamentary processes including the juicy positions they are currently angling for.
In effect, the party must not put up any candidates for the position of Second Deputy Speaker or any other position for that matter. It must continue to boycott Parliamentary proceedings till such time that the Supreme Court has determined this matter. NPP members of Parliament ought to as a matter of principle also refuse to be sworn in, refuse their GH? 7200 monthly salaries, refuse all sitting allowances, refuse any allowance that is payable to ease resettlement in Accra while securing permanent accommodation, refuse any gargantuan car loan, refuse membership of any Parliamentary delegations travelling outside the country and certainly turn down any per diems arising therefrom. All these ought to be done voluntarily also as a matter of principle.
Enjoying the perks of high Parliamentary office while crying fraud inevitably raises the question of the true motive behind this contested election: real fraud or denigrating the President-elect’s legitimacy?
Let the NPP, rather than looking for positions in Parliament, focus on filing all those massive legal processes that Bawumia is threatening. After the case is determined, there will be more than enough time for the party’s MPs to be sworn in and to collect their salaries going forward without any arrears. After all, why would they want to collect arrears for months of principled boycott?
Boycotting Parliament in line with one’s convictions and forfeiting all financial accruals therefrom- that is principled. That would be truly putting your money where your heart is. As for sitting at home and being paid and receiving fat allowances while you preach fraud- that is convenience. And convenience as we know is easy and convenient. We can all do it. But if the party continues to lobby for positions such as Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament and their members of Parliament proceed to collect fat salaries and allowances and consume same with alacrity with one mouth while with the same mouth describing the election that brought them into office as fraudulent, then to quote the NPP General Secretary, it would truly “make nonsense of the petition we have filed at the Supreme Court.”
It is at this point that the larger membership of the NPP ought to begin asking themselves critical questions about the strategic direction in which their current leadership is taking them. Will the NPP ultimately become a stronger electoral machine or will it grow weaker and lose by an even heavier margin in 2016? Of course as we have come to see, those who ask these kinds of questions from within the ranks of the party are often the recipients of torrents of abuse and insults if the recent experiences of party stalwart Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobbey are anything to go by.
4th January, 2013