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Opinions of Saturday, 14 September 2013

Columnist: Ashong, Nii Tettey

A Sophisticated Democratic Organism Or ...

An Atavism Of An Agitative Multi Party Culture – Our Nation, Our Choice.

The few happenings in our country in recent times have laboured my head with reflections on the distance Ghana has travelled so far along this whole path of a multi-party democracy, and to confess, I’ve often being caught in a quizzical wonder of what pleasure it has been or otherwise for a country to have chosen democracy as the order of our national life. Then a few reminiscing arguments popped up in my head about how those extremist classmates of mine, back at school would usually make points in favour of a full or partial autocracy as a panacea for meaningful development in Africa. I remember a particular lecturer in his usual democracy-biased self would emphasise that “democracy in itself is a commodity for development”. Though I never really jumped into the thrill of the frontline debate, I may never have hidden my affection for democracy and be that as it may, I think it leaves me with so much pleasure each time I think about the strides our country has made and its prospects for sustaining such a meaningful democratic culture. Need we be reminded of the days when the turbulence of military “fufu-heads” characterized our politics; when our institutions were less developed, the rule of law was a façade and separation of powers was only a concept in our books, the days when governments ruled by decrees and the civil liberties of people were oppressed with impunity? Like many more admirers of contemporary Ghanaian democracy, I would on any day choose our current political dispensation over those times.
Though a few of the times, I’ve had reasons to doubt if this country would ever work, each time I’ve had to pour a few thoughts on paper, there is a succinct admission that “Yes we may” and more so it may depend largely on the choices of our nation: The choice to go back to the misery of our political histories or fully embrace the sophistication that comes with democracy and the rule of law and even progress further with it. We may as a country, choose to identify with the things that matter most, we may choose to talk about them; we may choose to shut up or put up. In the same vein, we may choose for ourselves the kind of politics we want while measuring its impact on our total development, the point must not be empasised that political development is a pre-requisite for total development. In the light of this, it appears to be a universal conviction that the democracy that we have chosen for ourselves as a way of politics in itself has its own intrinsic values that reflect our senses as a nation, so that when we disagree on national issues, we voice out our opinions using the right channels, so that when we need to organize demonstrations, we only inform the police, so that we can hold elections every four years and decide for ourselves the kind of government we want to have and hold them accountable through our representatives or the media and that even after our disagreement with the results of elections, we do not translate our disaffection into bloodshed but we go to the courts to seek for redress.
It’s worth arguing therefore that it may be for good reasons that our electoral politics has been put on the spotlight over the last eight months or so by the rather unprecedented petition filled at the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the declaration that made John Mahama President in the 2012 elections. Elections they say “are the instruments of democracy”. Analysing the substance or vacuum of the petition and its implication on the triplet designation of democracy, the rule of law and due process only brings me memory about the hue and cry of the threats that the nature of our electoral politics poses to our democracy each time there is an election, and justifiably so, one can only describe our electoral politics as overly agitative, polarized and out of focus with regards to the essence of governance and politics in the context of a developing country. Till today, we haven’t found the true reasons why many of our politicians contest for power merely because they’ve not been honest enough to our desires as a people, coupled with the de-facto two party competition buried with undertones of political ethnicisation. To wits, our politics over the fourth republic has been about win and take all, divide and rule, win again and come back. We have entrenched rather erroneously for ourselves a politics that stinks of bigotry, selfishness, vindictiveness, and a schematic power-play of survival in which only the strong and loyal members of a political grouping prosper. Many reasonable Ghanaians shuddered at the sheer rage and tension that inundated the campaign of the last election as many had doom-spelled that the electoral tension if not managed could send us into that dreaded abyss, which has kept has different among many an African country. What more could a nation had asked for than to set the National Peace Council into full flight to conscientise our politicians that Ghana wasn’t going to be for them after the 2012 elections. The unfortunate truth was that many accusing eyes were on the leader of the opposition party probably because of some distasteful remarks that had come from his quarters of the political divide prior to the election. The hush has been over; we came out of the 2012 elections hale and hearty as a country but not without for the first time a resolve by the opposition party to challenge the results in court. In fact not too many people can deny that this country was gripped by fear once again by that resolve by Akufo Addo who many believe was taking his obsession with the rule of law too far and could sacrifice the country’s marginally endured stability on the altar of his political libidos. Even for lovers of democracy, it was time to revise the notes. Sincerely, I had some silent questions myself: Why would a system of government be that expensive, traumatic, yet so accommodating to people like Nana Addo? How could the constitution be that charitable to “bad losers” in a growing democracy when a country must move on because their people needed development? It was then that I thought that perhaps democracy was rather too sophisticated and patient for our country. Today, your guesses are as good as mine, and whichever way you may want to argue, our people are a living testimony to the fact that democracy maybe the worse form of government yet better that the others. True democracy is exactly what we need to deal with our political excesses as a nation; where men would live under the rule of law and due process, no matter how unpleasant the system may be and in the faith of Lincoln, government would be of the people, by the people and for the people. Evidently, the organism of democracy has found a way of insulating us from that state of degeneration where man may find the pleasure of chopping off the head of another or brutalizing a group and painting our streets with blood. Isn’t that what we dreaded as a nation? Today in Ghana, even the youngest chap appreciates the place that our judiciary has in our democracy, the law is a friendlier concept now, thanks to the eight months of the court room broadcast that we have enjoyed in our rooms. Even more importantly, we have been exposed to the modus operandi of the electoral commission and the loopholes in our electoral system evident by some admissions made in court by the chair of the E.C or better still the probing lens of the petition. The parties in the case have done this country a favour by accepting and respecting the verdict of the Supreme Court however happy or unhappy they may be. In the words of Akufo Addo, “it’s now time for us to put the dispute behind us and come together to iron out our differences, ease the tension amongst us and come together to build our nation” It is refreshing to think that the country is moving on steadily to its democratic normalcy without having to sprinkle a pint of blood.Isn’t it such a powerful concept to be Ghanaian? but to what extent can we show this pride in the full context of our democracy and the rule of law, particularly in appreciating the nature of our electoral politics. Going forward, how do we build our institutions to work more resiliently , how do we reconcile the crumbling factions and the excesses of our multi-party competition? How do we stop insulting each other every day because of power? How do we put a stop to the ethnicity in our politics? How do we cease the fire of loose talks by party General Secretaries and do away with the wanton corruption and impune kleptocracy that is deeply seated in public office shouldered by executive-legislative connivance. Would we still put our country in gruesome anaemia because politicians would fight over power in the next elections, betraying the bread and butter issues?Having exposed our country to the naked pleasure of upholding democracy and its true-tenets even in the midst of fire and brimstone and surviving as a nation, shall we embrace even closely this sophisticated organism of democracy to make meaning to national life and politics or after these long tiring experiences, we shall go back to the kind of politics that leaves us wondering where we have set off to and why after literally teaching Malaysia how to plant palm nuts, they are thriving in the business than we are? Our choices are clear as a nation.

Chairman Nii Tettey Ashong
For God and for country