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Opinions of Monday, 13 August 2012

Columnist: Mensah, Nana Akyea

"All Did Be Die Park" for Akufo-Addo?

Feature Article, by Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro.

Please, don't blame me! We just buried our beloved President, but the campaign continues, because the last time I checked, the general elections, scheduled towards the end of this very year, have not been cancelled! In any case, funerals are more for the benefit of the living rather than for the dead. We have paid our last respect. Life goes on. The solemn burial ceremony to our departed President is at the same time a tribute to the sense of dignity, love, and self-respect of the average Ghanaian, as it is a tribute to our late President. Ghana is a nation to be proud of. And nothing could have been so fitting as to name the final resting place of the peace-loving President, "Asomdwee Park". The unanimity of the public acceptance of the name was magical, and goes as far as to prove to what extent the fame of the President as a man of peace had travelled wide and far, even to include some of his strongest of critics.

In paying their tributes to the late President, we have come across a lot of truth telling and coded messages, but at least, we can all rest assured that, if there is anything Ghanaians are agreed upon, it is about his passion for peace. Which brings me to the subject of this article. We are all mortals. And whilst I personally wish every creature of God, a long life and prosperity, in a world that respects his or her fundamental rights as a person, it is precisely for the same reason that I believe the beating of the tribal war drums of "We Akans are not cowards... and so in the coming elections, 21012, all die be die! I say "All die be die!", is as despicable as the death and mayhem it is pregnant with. So, my question is, now that Ghanaians have buried the "Asomdweehene", the legitimate question remains, what is the future of "all die be die"?

Has Akufo-Addo ever apologized for those unfortunate and shameful words? No! It is for this reason that when I read deep into the Ghanaian psyche in the entire funeral experience, the attributes they valued most in the late President were his peace-loving soul, humility, and integrity. Since Akufo-Addo remains in the campaign as the ex-foe spiting fire and brimstone and screaming "all be die die!", he needs to be told in clear and uncertain terms, that peace-loving Ghanaians are not amused with the bellicose postulations, often based on puerile lies. For instance, in order to provoke the Akans to attack his imaginary enemies, he had to be "told", and he quotes those who “told” him what he heard as saying that "The Akans are cowards. If you wound one of them, then all the rest of them run away!" Don't even bother yourself to ask him who told him that!

This was what Akufo-Addo claims he heard someone say, and the reason why he proceeded with:

"They have made up their minds that they are going to intimidate us in 2012." Akufo-Addo was caught on the microphone, speaking in Twi, an Akan language, 'I sometimes explain this as the claim that we Akans are cowards. They argue that if one is able wound one or two of us, then all the rest of us remaining take to our heels! Is that so? Well, We shall see! Atiwa for example, was a little illustration of this. During the by-elections at Atiwa we did "something small" that showed a little bit of this. And so we have to understand that this party was formed by brave men. Our elders who formed this party which is now the biggest political party in Ghana, were not people who were hiding under beds! The courage that is needed now to face the 2012 elections is 'All die be die! All die be die!' Nobody is a man more than his fellow! Nobody more manly than the other. No matter how tall you are, no matter how small you are in size, by God's plan, all of us are endowed with exactly the same thing. You cannot tell us that you have three inside yours. All of us have how many? Two! Ha! ha! ha! So we are going to pick up courage. Ghanaians need us to come back to power. Whatever courage we need to stand firmly and to ensure that we come back to power in 2012, we are going to have to do it!" (Transcription by the Office of the Odikro, from audio, source: @joyonlinenews: Listen to key voices on Nana Akufo-Addo's 'all die be die'

Often, in justification of this barbaric call for inter-ethnic conflict that has no reason nor rhyme, Akufo-Addo supporters have cited what they prefer to call a "declaration of Kenya in Ghana". See for example: 'NDC Dunderheads, Atta Mess "Threatened" Kenya On Ghana', Columnist: Sarpong, Justice, Feature Article of Sunday, 13 February 2011. The deceitful use of the President's painstaking words of caution in order to avoid the situation that the Kenyans found themselves in was transformed suddenly into "threatening Kenya". It takes just a reading to ascertain where the heart of the Asomdweehene was in his so-called threat of Kenya:

“I want to repeat with all the force at my command, the warning note that I sounded last year (2007) that should there be another attempt by the ruling or any other party at the December elections to steal the verdict of the people the National Democratic Congress and all fair minded Ghanaians will categorically reject out of hand the fraudulent results so proclaimed and will adopt all legitimate means, to seek redress to any such political misconduct. The NDC would therefore like to assure every Ghanaian that it will not allow the NPP in the coming elections to repeat such a disgraceful conduct as it did in 2004...It (NDC) therefore urges all Ghanaians and the international community to draw useful lessons from the on-going Kenyan conflict situation and the unacceptable conduct of elections held recently in other African countries with a view to ensuring that they are not replicated in our dear country at the next general elections.

We wish to take this opportunity to warn also against the kind of pre-election violence that has taken place in Pakistan with the unfortunate assassination of Benazir Bhutto and to urge the ruling NPP government to ensure the safety and security of Presidential and Parliamentary candidates as well as all citizens in the coming elections.”

Where is the threat to peace in this? The facts on the ground however indicate that the recent attempts by Akufo-Addo to distance himself from the infamous "all die be die" mantra, have been pathetically sinister, and remarkably disingenuous. We have a few months left before the vote. It is still not too late for Akufo-Addo to come out clean and repudiate the "all die be die" mantra unconditionally, and in the name of peace and stability of Ghana which we all crave for with the late President, his arch-rival to the seat of political power in Ghana.

In their tribute to the late President, the issue of peace was poignantly raised the Pan-Africanist International in a "non-all-die-be-die" manner: "Rest in Peace, Professor Mills! Pan-Africanists all over the world will miss a peace-loving African leader, who tried in his own way to chart an independent path in an increasingly militaristic international diplomacy in Africa!

It is a fitting tribute to his cherished memory that Ghanaians have named his final resting place "Asomdwee Park" [Peace Park]. We mourn with the good people of Ghana, for such a great loss, and pray that their prayers and hopes for a democratic, transparent and peaceful and "non-all-die-be-die!" Presidential and Parliamentary elections will be answered!"

One way of making sure that this prayer is answered is by exposing the lies behind these unwarranted calls for mayhem. Akufo-Addo has tired in the past through lies and deceit, to distance himself from the blood-thirsty tribal warlord his belligerent utterances have made some of us even to wonder, if the appropriate name for his final resting place should not be called "All Die Be Die Park"! The most outstanding example was in his speech at the 2012 Oppenheimer Lecture in London on Wednesday, 29 February 2012. He opportunistically used that platform to project himself as a man of peace, going as far as to say that as a transformational leader he is not ready to spill “a single drop of blood” in order to be in power this election year.

Akufo-Addo told the international community: “Those of you who know me also know how deeply I believe that democratic values are the only way forward for all Africans – be they north or south. I was the candidate of the ruling party in Ghana who, in 2008, accepted defeat in the last presidential election, without demanding a recount and without spilling a single drop of blood, without seeking power-sharing or forcing a constitutional crisis, in an election which I lost by the narrowest of margins in the history of elections in Africa.”

“That margin was 0.46 percent, some 40,000 votes in a poll of some 9 million voters. I had spent the previous three decades of my life fighting against military dictatorship and for freedom and democracy. Democracy should not be subject to individual interpretation, and it should not be a negotiation between elites and stakeholders.

“I was not prepared to put my personal ambition before the principles that made me a politician in the first place. Democracy is best established when institutions are trusted, the rules of the game clear and political actors are prepared to win and lose,” Instead of withdrawing the offensive slogan, "all die be die", and rendering unqualified apologies to Ghanaians, he thinks he can re-write our history for us and pull a fast one and crowning himself a prince of peace! In order to debunk these lies, let's begin from the very concession of defeat Akufo-Addo is busily taking credit of. That speech contains the same ominous logic for the "all die be die" mantra he issued a year later. In his concession speech, Akufo-Addo, a lawyer, found it fit to chastise the Electoral Commission for coming out with the results whilst there were criminal activities going on in the Volta Region: "By stating that there is criminal conduct in some constituencies of the Volta Region and yet announcing the results, the Electoral Commission has given the unfortunate impression that it does not matter how votes are being obtained as long as they are duly recorded", he told reporters in Accra. [See: Akufo-Addo concedes defeat | General News 2009-01-03] This unlearned reaction was in direct response to the decision by the Electoral Commission to reject the objections to some constituency results in the Volta Region. The Electoral Commission had argued that “In respect of the materials submitted by the NPP in the nature of evidence”, Dr Afari-Gyan said, “the Commission found out that; some of the issues raised bothered on criminality and, therefore, fell outside the competence of the EC.”

"In the purely electoral matters, the Commission did not find the evidence provided to be sufficient to invalidate the results. "In view of these findings about the complaints of the two parties, the results as previously tallied from the 229 constituencies remain unchanged. accordingly the results of the runoff in the Tain constituency, which was held on January 2 2009, have been added to the national tally," Dr Afari-Gyan stated. [Prof. Mills wins Election 2008, General News of Saturday, 3 January 2009, GNA] Criminal lawyers may want to treat the Electoral Commission as a police station, but the Electoral Commissioner is not even mandated to act as such! The most perplexing aspect of this whole drama lies in the fact that even before Akufo-Addo came out to complain about having been cheated, he knew he had lost the elections in advance! At the time they were screaming "One touch!", he had been quietly informed by his own appointed pollster, that his chances of winning the elections were very slim.

There is no doubt that many NPP supporters who were not privy to the polls conducted by Professor Larry Gibson, specially commissioned by the Akufo-Addo campaign, were taken aback with the results of the 2008 Presidential elections. This confusion arose as a result of the use of a campaign mantra of “one-touch victory”, which was more an expression of mere desire by the party to win the first round and not to go for a second one, than the dictates of the stubborn realities on the ground. Until Dr. Kennedy came out with his book, “Chasing the elephant into the bush”, it was not even clear if the NPP had officially accepted that they had been defeated. This failure to openly acknowledge defeat, made it almost disloyal for critical minds like Dr. Kennedy to attempt an analysis of what went wrong. This failure by the Akufo-Addo camp accept defeat also meant that no lessons were going to be learnt from it. In that sense, Dr. Kennedy's book marks the first serious attempt at a look at what went wrong, and to help the NPP from repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.

Ironically, the only people who were keenly aware of the defeat starring at them in the face were those members of Akufo-Addo's inner-circle. According to Gabriel Asare Otchere-Darko, the Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, and a member of the inner-circle, they were no more than five individuals. Only these five people ever set eyes on the report. Thus even though the first time most of us heard of the existence of such a report from was from Dr. Kennedy, Otchere-Darko, sought to discredit the revelations in the book as simply based upon second-hand briefings from those who had actually read the report, and not on the report itself. The “official line” of the Akufo-Addo campaign was that they had been cheated in the elections, which was neither free nor fair to the NPP. They blamed their defeat on the violence that was visited upon some of their supporters in the Volta Region.

Thus the NPP found a convenient excuse to boycott the key by-election in the Tain constituency, when it became obvious that Tain was not their territory. With defeat starring at them in the face, the rhetoric of being cheated went to a pitch unprecedented in our electoral history. They began making ridiculous calls on the candidate-elect to concede defeat to the defeated NPP candidate! Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., at the time of writing his article was yet to be dismissed from the Danquah Institute was then a member of its Governing Board, published a feature article on the 31st of December asking President Mills to concede to Nana Akufo-Addo. [See: “Atta-Mills Must Concede Defeat!” By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.,, Featured Articles, 31 December 2008]

The very next day, 1st January, 2009, the Akufo-Addo team filed an ex-parte motion in a Nicodemus manner, seeking to restrain Ghana's Electoral Commission from declaring the electoral results. Curiously, the motion was heard on the 1st of January, which was a statutory Public Holiday.

As a commentator on Ghanaweb, Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK, recently put it:

“Odikro, Ghana owes her peace to the Accra Fast Track High Court Judge, Justice Edward Amoako Asante who refused to grant NPP Chairman's ex-parte application to stop the EC from declaring the Presidential results. He is my hero (see "Redirect request to stop declaration of results-Court tells NPP", Ghanaweb January 1 2009) Accra, Jan. 1, GNA - An Accra Fast Track High Court presided over by Mr Justice Edward Amoako Asante has asked New Patriotic Party (NPP) to redirect its request to stop the final declaration of the Presidential Election Run-off results.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Mr Mac Manu, Chairman of NPP, on Wednesday filed an ex-parte motion to stop the Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan and the EC from declaring the final results. They were represented by Mr Atta Akyea and Ms Irene Addo. But Mr Justice Asante said the case was so important and of national interest and could destabilise the country that it could not be heard ex-parte.”

One other person to whom Ghanaians must owe a depth of gratitude for talking sense into the Akufo-Addo camp to abandon their childish and dangerous pranks was the late B.J. Da Rocha, former National Chairman and member of the NPP Council of Elders, who came out publicly to condemn “the action taken by the party against the EC”, as “neither in the interest of the nation nor the credibility of the NPP.” Mr. Da Rocha said the "action is wrong and must be abandoned." He told Joy News on Friday, “the constitution must be allowed to play out without any interference.” He intimated “there are provisions within the constitution which allows for the party to seek redress of all their grievances, adding the process must be allowed to go on.”[Da Rocha: Leave the EC to do their job | Elections]

The most disturbing aspect of this act was in its secrecy. We were able to learn from Mr. Da Rocha that even though he was a member of the National Executive Council of the party, said he was not aware of the legal action taken by the party. Neither did the President, whose comments in the New Year’s message asking the two political parties contesting the run-off to respect the authority of the EC confirmed. So it is completely misleading to hear Akufo-Addo take any credit for the peace that finally ensued, as he did at the 2012 Oppenheimer Lecture in London, after all the troubles he caused to frustrate this peace. It is clear that the condemnations from key power brokers from within the NPP itself that finally convinced Akufo-Addo to throw in the towel. And the lawyer, Mr. Atta Akyea made that clear when he told Joy News FM that, “In the face of these”, his client, the NPP’s National Chairman Mr. Peter Mac Manu, “had instructed him to withdraw the cases from court.” [NPP withdraws legal suits | 2 January 2009, Elections]

There was no doubt, that the legal injunction was ill-conceived and calculated to subvert the will of the people of Ghana and to frustrate the Electoral Commission from doing his job because some people were not ready to accept the verdict of the good people of Ghana. There was no doubt that the Akufo-Addo camp had chosen to selfishly embark on a dangerous path of untenable political controversy, civil strife, and the concomitant death and mayhem, in order to “'win' the elections 'at all cost'”! Not even the President of Ghana was informed on this chicanery targeted at the stability of the nation. Indeed, the then President Kufour, who was himself an NPP leader, had to come out on the 1st of January with the New Year Message calling for calm.

“For many Ghanaians the joy of the New Year has been tampered to an extent by the intense anxiety and high tension arising out of the ongoing Presidential elections which is yet to throw up a clear winner, despite last week’s run-off”, said President Kufour in his New Year message. “The two contesting parties have raised pertinent concerns which are being addressed by the Independent Electoral Commission, among others. It is important however that we meet the Constitutional time table for handing over on the January 7th. I therefore urge all stakeholders to yield to the authority of the Electoral Commissioner when he declares the results. Any outstanding issues may be settled later by due process.” [Ghana: President calls for calm - Posted on Friday 2 January 2009, Kent Mensah, AfricaNews editor in Accra, Ghana]

Forward Ever! Backwards Never!