Feature Article of Monday, 31 December 2012

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

The Road to Kigali - Part 18

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

At long last, on Friday, December 28, 2012, the Akufo-Addo-led main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) filed its long-anticipated suit contesting the declaration of President John Dramani Mahama as winner of Election 2012 with the Registry of the Supreme Court of Ghana (See “Statement: Nana Akufo-Addo on the Filing of the Supreme Court Petition” Ghanaweb.com 12/28/12).

In the main, the NPP petition is being represented by Messrs. Akufo-Addo, the presidential candidate of the party for the 2012 presidential election; Mahamudu Bawumia, NPP vice-presidential candidate for Election 2012; and Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, national chairman of the New Patriotic Party.

Naturally, named as respondents to the petition are President John Dramani Mahama and the Ghana Electoral Commission, which is headed by Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the former University of Ghana political science lecturer. It is also interesting to observe that some fervidly anxious and predictably unnerved key operatives of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), as it is to be expected, are virulently impugning the fundamental validity of launching a lawsuit against an incumbent premier of our august Republic.

The fact of the matter is that since the casting of the ballot in Election 2012, President Mahama has effectively transitioned from being an incumbent Caretaker-President to President-Elect; and so technically, it his official position as “President-Elect” that Nana Akufo-Addo and the rest of the executive membership of the New Patriotic Party are contesting, and not his incumbency before Election 2012.

Even more significant is the fact that Article 64 of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution clearly allows for the President of the Republic to be sued, if the primary thrust of such suit squarely regards the legitimacy, or lack thereof, of the acquisition of such political status by the respondent. In essence, this is what Article 64 of the 1992 Fourth-Republican Constitution stipulates: “The validity of the election of the President may be challenged by only a citizen of Ghana who may present a petition for the purpose to the Supreme Court within twenty-one days after the declaration of the results of the election in respect of which the petition is presented.”

There is, therefore, absolutely nothing personal, whatsoever, about the petition but rather the search for justice and respect for the constitutional and/or electoral will of the people (See also “Akufo-Addo Heads NPP Legal Team to Challenge Results” Ghanaian Chronicle/Ghanaweb.com 12/17/12).

What is most significant about Nana Akufo-Addo’s statement to the Ghanaian public and, indeed, the civilized and cosmopolitan world at large, is the imperative need for our major institutions charged with the administration and advancement of democratic governance and culture to be seen to be effectively responding to the solemn call of duty. To this effect, Ghana’s former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice observes: “We have now put our case before the court, and we are also putting our case before you, the people of Ghana. We leave it for the Court to judge on its merits. But once again, the NPP, through the petitioners in this case, is seeking to deepen our democracy by strengthening the institutions that are mandated by our Constitution to superintend the electoral process: (1) by ensuring that the Electoral Commission is accountable to the people of Ghana, and (2) the Supreme Court is [clearly] seen by all as the ultimate arbiter of electoral grievances and disputes.”

Implicit in the preceding, of course, is the fact that as an august institution entrusted with periodically soliciting and objectively calibrating the political will of the Ghanaian people, the Afari-Gyan-led Electoral Commission has been a massive failure and ought to be promptly held to account by the highest court of the land. But, of course, the Wood-led Supreme Court also has the critical burden of impartially upholding the rule of law and justice.

It is, of course, on the latter score that the “revolutionary” membership of the ruling National Democratic Congress appears to be a hulking mess of wreck. And there is a good reason for the key operatives of the NDC to be worried silly, although I personally see no reason for such fitful fretting, in view of the fact that the Election 2012 judicial contest will be squarely based on justiciable forensic evidence.

In other words, the facts will be there and transparent for all to see. Which is why I personally would be elated if at least some critical aspects of the case were televised and You-Tubed for the benefit of both the Ghanaian electorate and the civilized and democratic world at large.

Yes, the key “revolutionary” operatives of the National Democratic Congress have forged, at best, an adversarial and seemingly irreparably antagonistic relationship with our national judicial system since June 30, 1982, when three high court judges – all of Akan ethnicity – were abducted on the orders of at least three members of Mr. Rawlings’ Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) cabinet and summarily executed, Mafia style, in a remote enclave of the Accra Plains. And then in February 2012, several months before his mortal expiration, President John Evans Atta-Mills officially addressed Parliament on the State of the Nation and flagrantly either failed or refused to acknowledge the presence of Chief Justice Georgina T. Wood, who was seated just an arm’s length from Ghana’s Chief-of-State.

To its glorious credit, the membership of the judiciary has for the most part maintained a remarkable poise and fearless impartiality to the conduct of its duties, even in the face of routine vilification and abject contempt for its rulings by the Mills-Mahama cabinet and now the Mahama-Arthur government. Nana Akufo-Addo clearly hinted at the foregoing fact when the NPP flagbearer noted the fact that the membership of the party which he leads is made up of no self-righteous “revolutionaries.”

Needless to say, in reality, the NPP is veritably “revolutionary” in a salutary and progressive way which the key operatives of the NDC can only fathom. Hearteningly, in his observations to the Ghanaian public, Nana Akufo-Addo also poignantly, pertinently and significantly underscored the fact that the appropriate and relevant electoral auditing has been undertaken in order to ensure that the NPP petition passes judicial muster. We have also been informed by Nana Akomea, the NPP Communications Director, that the Supreme Court could resume full-seating on the case as early as January 15, 2012, barely a week after the scheduled swearing-in of Mr. Mahama.

That the 1992 Constitution makes it perfectly legitimate to legally and judicially unseat a fraudulently invested premier in our august Republic is all the more to be celebrated by all peace- and democracy-loving Ghanaians at home and abroad and, indeed, the global community at large.

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

Department of English

Nassau Community College of SUNY

Garden City, New York

Dec. 29, 2012