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Opinions of Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Columnist: Adama, Zac

A Vote For Atta Mills Is An Act Of Patriotism

It's interesting to hear the NPP's Akuffo Addo and a host of his party members trying very hard to convince the Ghanaian voter that a minority government headed by the NPP presidential candidate will be in the best interest of Ghanaian democracy. Their position is that with an NDC parliamentary majority, power will be balanced between the Executive and Legislative arms of government.

The flaw in this line of thinking is that even in mature democracies, a minority government has not fared well, or allowed for the effective functioning of government business.

Contemporary Canada is a case in point.

As I write, the Parliament of Canada has been forced to prorogue (an untimely closure of government business in The House) until about the end of January, simply because three minority parties (including the Bloc Quebecois, a party that represents voters from the Province of Quebec who want to break away from the rest of Canada) came together to try to torpedo the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose Conservative Party was returned with yet another minority mandate as recently as October 14th, 2008.

Mr. Harper had called a snap election for October 14th to try to get control of parliament with his Conservative Party from its minority position from an earlier election in 2006. Gaining control of parliament would give the Prime Minister a free hand to more effectively implement policies without having to depend on a strong and often uncompromising coalition of MPs from other parties.

In short, Canada has been forced into two national elections in a matter of just two years because no single party had parliamentary majority, a situation that has brought immeasurable headache and tension to the smooth administration of matters of state.

And there is no immediate solution in sight.

Nor, do Ghanaians want to go the way of “Italian Democracy Gone Mad”, where there have been 40 governments in the last 45 years because no single party in Italy had the necessary clout in parliament to support The Executive.

At least, we in Ghana are blessed with a party (NDC) that already has a parliamentary majority, and whose presidential candidate is as good as any country can ever wish for.

Ghanaians cannot afford the luxury of placing their nascent democratic culture on the precipice of experimentation. This point needs further drilling home, especially, in a region and on a continent where political and social instability are very much alive.

AKUFFO ADDO versus NDC Then there is the personality central to this whole discussion: Nana Addo Dankwah Akuffo Addo.

Even if the argument being put forth by the NPP leadership were theoretically sound (and it is not!), the person of Akuffo Addo heading a government controlled by an NDC parliamentary majority expecting cooperation is as real as the sun rising from the west!

As Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Akuffo Addo made it a political mission to target, disgrace, embarrass and imprison almost all who served their country under the P/NDC administrations.

At the head of Akuffo Addo’s list of prison candidates was the former First Family: Mr. & Mrs. Rawlings! To date, Mrs. Rawlings has several charges Mr. Akuffo Addo initiated against her still pending in the courts. The irony of it all is that Mr. Akuffo Addo and later, his successor, have on numerous occasions not been sure how many charges to stick on Mrs. Konadu Agyemang Rawlings. The trial has been going on throughout the entire 8-year length of the NPP administration, and no closure seems apparent on the horizon.

This is mental torture!

It is inconceivable how a married man like Akuffo Addo will haunt the daylight out of another man’s wife without let, and for no reason other than that he personally does not like the former First Family.

Again, as Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mr. Akuffo Addo, on numerous occasions, altered the law in order to convict former P/NDC officials. There is no better proof of using the powers of state to serve one’s personal agenda.

As Foreign Minister, Mr. Akuffo Addo took the personal decision to strip former President Rawlings of scanty diplomatic perks, because in Akuffo Addo’s personal opinion, he did not approve of comments the former Head of State had made to the press in neighbouring Nigeria.

It’s also alleged that Mr. Akuffo Addo put pressure on President Kufuor to kill former President Rawlings. The NPP presidential candidate has denied the allegations, but the question one is forced to ask is this: why, of all the almost 100 officials of the Kufuor administration, Nana Akuffo Addo’s name gets mentioned in this allegation, over and over?

A shortlist of Akuffo Addo’s other vindictive and anti-NDC “projects” include:

• The political harassment and eventual imprisonment of Tsatsu Tsikata, former Chief Executive of G.N.P.C. (Ghana National Petroleum Corporation), a man credited with single-handedly setting the agenda and blueprint for Ghana’s discovery of oil and gas, a credit even some NPP backers have publicly acknowledged • The political harassment and imprisonment of five former NDC senior officials for erring in administrative judgment. It is significant to mention here that none of the five convicted on “causing financial loss to the State” was found guilty of corruption. One of them, former Deputy Finance Minister Victor Selormey, died shortly after serving the full term of imprisonment Mr. Akuffo Addo, as government prosecutor, had recommended. Worse, and more ominous, it has been attested to by several individuals in the judicial system that Mr. Akuffo Addo played judge by editing (in handwritten red ink) the decision of the Fast Track Court and had the sitting judge, the late Justice Kwame Afreh, read to convict Mr. Akuffo Addo’s NDC “enemies”. The NPP presidential candidate was both prosecutor and judge! • The massive retrenchment of state employees suspected of being sympathetic to the former P/NDC administrations; the infamous “Proceed on Leave” (indefinite leave, that is) “project” that Mr. Akuffo Addo and others implemented against fellow Ghanaians whose only crime was to exercise their rights of choice and association

I can go on, ad infinitum. In summary, the person of Akuffo Addo is already an impediment to the notion of him as President working in cooperation and concert with the majority lawmakers who report to his mortal NDC “enemy” party!

Therefore, the NPP position that Ghanaian democracy will be better served under an Akuffo Addo Presidency working with an NDC parliamentary majority is designed to misinform, deceive, distort, confuse and ultimately, entice the country into the abyss of chaos and political uncertainty.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC RECESSION AND GHANA The world is in a deep recession, with even the richest of rich economies barely hanging on. What we need is an administration that will be able to focus on keeping Ghana afloat in these difficult times. Ghana cannot afford a tension-filled and potentially unstable political environment, when there is a secure and peaceful alternative by electing the NDC’s Atta Mills as President who will be backed by an NDC majority in Parliament.

In the current state of global meltdown, a charged political environment will not bode well for any meaningful economic development for Ghana, the discovery of oil, notwithstanding. Government business will be perpetually bogged down in dispute, chicanery, accusations and counter accusations, with the average Ghanaian bearing the resultant hardship.

It will be a case of the proverbial crab trying vainly to claw itself out of a deep, slippery metal container. By electing Atta Mills on December 28th, the Ghanaian voter will be avoiding that scary and retrogressive scenario!

VETO POWER Our constitution does not confer Veto powers on the Presidency. Even if it did, in the context of a nascent democratic culture in Ghana and also in the context of a politically unstable region we find ourselves in, the threat to national security will be too high to contemplate should, Akuffo Addo become president.

Naturally, Akuffo Addo as president, albeit a weak one due to his total dependence on his political opponents to run the country, will somehow try to assert his authority. There are three possible scenarios that can occur in this regard:

1. a stumbling block from the majority NDC side making almost everything constitutional impossible; LEADING TO 2. Akuffo Addo flexing his muscles unconstitutionally; OR 3. Akuffo Addo calling for a snap election, with the hope to win control of Parliament

I would like to avoid the spectre of military adventurism in the affairs of state as the drama of political stalemate and inertia drag on, should Akuffo Addo be elected President of Ghana.

CHECKS AND BALANCES ARE ALREADY IN PLACE With 108 MPs out of 230, the NPP already has enough parliamentary votes to effectively monitor an Atta Mills Presidency. And together with independent and minority MPs, an NPP-led official opposition has more votes than the NDC majority; enough votes to overturn unpopular Bills.

The above is sufficient evidence that a robust checks and balances mechanism is in place even before the NDC’s Atta Mills is sworn in as President.

Therefore, Mr. Akuffo Addo and the other NPP spokespersons do not make a reasonable and convincing case about electing Akuffo Addo in order to enforce checks and balances.

Their sole concern, it seems, is that Akuffo Addo must be president at all costs, damn the consequences.

A CASE FOR AN ATTA MILLS PRESIDENCY On the other hand, an Atta Mills Presidency, with a majority backing in Parliament, will avoid all the pitfalls, difficulties and uncertainties enumerated above.

A king must have his own army to be truly a king; he cannot rely on the strength of an opponent kingdom to be an effective ruler, or behave responsibly. There will always be the tendency of mistrust, suspicion and continuous tension, all leading to confusion and an administration that is not its own and unable to properly focus on policies and programs that will improve the living conditions of citizens and move the nation/country forward.

An Atta Mills Presidency will be that of a kingship with a self-reliant protective defence force. His will be a Presidency that has all the tools to rule effectively without relying on his opponent’s unfriendly camp.

A vote for Atta Mills on December 28th is an act of patriotism!

Zac Adama Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.