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Opinions of Thursday, 27 December 2012

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

The Road to Kigali – Part 14

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

When Nigeria’s former president, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, who led a team of West African observers of Election 2012, pontifically asserts that Ghana’s most recent general election was easily the fairest and most transparent of any elections conducted in the West African sub-region in recent times, and he is promptly contradicted by the country’s longest-ruling leader and former president, Flt.-Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, we need to sit up and critically assess the remarks of these two leaders.

Needless to say, both Messrs. Obasanjo and Rawlings have served as military dictators and elected civilian premiers in Nigeria and Ghana, respectively. Both leaders have also fallen out with their arch-lieutenants at critical moments in the latter’s political careers. But that both leaders also woefully lack the kind of democratic credentials that ought to validate their several observations of Ghana’s most recent general election cannot be gainsaid. Still, in terms of the relevance of their remarks vis-à-vis electoral activities on the ground, as it were, the insider Mr. Rawlings is, without any shadow of a doubt, the more credible.

That the former Ghanaian strongman and two-term elected civilian president of the country’s Fourth Republic, as well as founding-father of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), knows what he is talking about when he publicly and vehemently calls for a presidential enquiry into widely alleged irregularities of Election 2012, can also not be gainsaid (See “NDC Old Guards Association Rejects Rawlings’ Call for Inquest into Vote ‘Rigging’” 12/14/12). But that a key branch of the National Democratic Congress would roundly reject Mr. Rawlings’ otherwise quite noble and patriotic call is equally interesting, if only because the NDC’s Asante Regional Old Guards’ Association predicates such rejection on the grounds of the questionable political and moral integrity of the founding-patriarch of the National Democratic Congress.

Likewise, the fact that such impugnation of the integrity of Mr. Rawlings strikingly reflects on the equally questionable integrity of the membership of the NDC’s Asante Regional Old Guards’ Association, must be accommodated as a matter of course. At any rate, in rejecting Mr. Rawlings’ call, this is what the leader of the group, Oheneba Asamoah Atuahene, was widely reported by the national media to have said: “He [Mr. Asamoah Atuahene] cited the NPP’s rejection of the 1992 presidential election and subsequent boycotting of parliamentary polls [and peevishly recalled the fact that back then Mr. Rawlings] had not called for any investigation into the main opposition party’s allegation of vote rigging.”

In other words, what Oheneba Asamoah Atuahene is alleging here is that not only is his former boss being insufferably hypocritical in his call for widely alleged irregularities of Election 2012 to be investigated, but even more damningly, Mr. Rawlings’ two-term leadership tenure may have been fraudulently awarded him by the Afari-Gyan-chaired Electoral Commission. Such observation, of course, does not put the entire leadership of the National Democratic Congress in any favorable light either. For in essence, what Oheneba Asamoah Atuahene is implying here is that the entire NDC leadership, without any remarkable exceptions, whatsoever, is composed of pathological thugs who find it virtually impossible to partake of a free and fair democratic electoral process.

If the foregoing assessment has validity, then equally untenable is Oheneba Asamoah Atuahene’s claim that the decision by the Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) to contest the presidential results of Election 2012 is “a mere face-saving move.” Indeed, the rejecters of Mr. Rawlings’ call give Ghanaian voters every reason to celebrate the Akufo-Addo court challenge as a salutary and radical means of bringing sanity, justice and fairness to bear on the country’s electoral process and culture. And if the rhapsodic touting of Ghana’s Fourth-Republican democratic culture as Africa’s “Gold Standard” is anything to go by, then, needless to say, the entire continent stands to benefit from this heroic challenge.

At any rate, blaming NPP polling agents for the party’s electoral loss of Election 2012 begs the proverbial question. The fact of the matter is that the personnel of the Afari-Gyan chaired Ghana Electoral Commission were constitutionally mandated to ensure the conduct of a fair and procedurally transparent election. It would be unreservedly tantamount to treason, should the Supreme Court arrive at the quite plausible verdict that, indeed, the staff of the EC had, literally, been snoozing at the wheel, as it were.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
Dec. 24, 2012