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Opinions of Friday, 1 March 2013

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.

Can these NPP people be honest for once?

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Many people have been wondering why I can't leave the NPP out of my opinion pieces; and I have a simple answer for them, which is that I won't because the NPP always gives me cause to say something about them.

Others wonder why I hate the NPP so much as to condemn it every day. And my answer for them is that it is not that I have chosen to hate the NPP; it is because the NPP and its leaders and followers always do and say what makes people like me distrust and hate them for what they are, what they say, and what they do to confirm our doubts, fears, and suspicions about them. They tell too many lies.

Now, here is why I am writing this post for discussion. I consider the duplicity with which the NPP is operating as motivated by political mischief, concentrated dishonesty, childishness, and churlishness—and above all, the desire to make the country ungovernable—which will all fail.

Here is ONLY one instance, the latest in their strings of contradictions, hypocrisy, and dishonesty:

“National Vice Chairman of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Fred Oware has debunked claims that the party is contesting the legitimacy of President John Dramani Mahama.

According to him, the NPP does “not question the legitimacy of the President” but rather what it has sought to do in the Supreme Court is to raise red flags over the declaration by the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan, who legitimized the victory of President John Mahama and the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).

“We do not question the legitimacy of the President. We question the pronouncement or the declaration made by Afari Gyan on the 9th of December and that we’ve gone to court to disprove it that, what he said was wrong; that it should have been the other way round,” he stressed.

Mr. Fred Oware disclosed this in an interview with” (Ghanaweb, Feb. 28, 2003:


How on earth can people be so dishonest to society and themselves—all in one breath? The NPP doesn’t question the legitimacy of President Mahama? Where and when? How? That the NPP recognizes the legitimacy of president Mahama, for that matter?

Then, why are they in court? Challenging the declaration of him as winner of the presidential elections means that his being in office is not the wish of the NPP. Isn’t he then illegitimate?

Why have they boycotted all events involving President Mahama, beginning with his inauguration and ending for now with his delivery of the “State of the Nation Address” in Parliament a week ago? Why have the NPP leaders and followers taken the liberty to insult him (as the NPP’s General Secretary, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie) repeated yesterday, describing him in the NPP’s buzz word “STEALER”? Do these NPP people not understand the meaning of the word “legitimacy” and how it is used in political discourse? I know they don’t and will help them. Legitimacy as accorded to political leaders has a simple meaning, which is that their status, authority, and power are beyond question and that all others over whom they are placed, will see them as the primus interparis (the first among equals) in the society.

We are all equal as citizens of Ghana; but once one of us emerges as the person who is officially placed in authority over us (especially in our case, where our democracy allows us to choose our leaders through general elections), we have to see that person as the font of authority to be deferred to. That’s the essence of that person’s legitimacy. You can’t refuse to respect that status and claim not to be questioning the person’s legitimacy in office.

Recognizing that legitimacy enjoins all the citizens under him to accept him as their leader and do what he commands in line with the constitution that supports his status.

Officially, the NPP as a whole doesn’t regard President Mahama as the legitimate President of Ghana. The National Executive Council of the party has taken an entrenched position on the matter and instructed the NPP MPs to act toward him as such. That’s why they have boycotted any event involving his presidency, particularly his inauguration into office, the vetting of his Ministerial nominees, and his presentation of the “State of the Nation Address” to Parliament last Thursday.

The attitude of the NPP members toward President Mahama confirms that they don’t recognize his legitimacy, especially as can be seen from their bad-mouthing him. They regard him as being in office through fraud. Some have disparaged him on various occasions, wondering how they can accept him as their President once they are convinced that he stole the elections. Imputing to him all manner of wrong-doing and cultivating such a negative attitude confirms that they don’t accept him as the President. That is why they seize every opportunity to discredit him at will in the hope that his power base will be eroded. Once they’ve gone this way, what else are they doing but questioning his legitimacy?

The worst form of disrespect for the authority of the President was displayed at the recent Dome-Kwabenya rally organized by the pro-NPP “Let My Vote Count Alliance” when the NPP elements displayed gross disrespect for President Mahama. Their sexpot MP (Ursula Owusu), for instance, effusively abused President Mahama and followed up to make other pejorative remarks just because she doesn’t regard him as the legitimate President of the country. She represents the values of the NPP on this score and nobody can tell me that all that she says about President Mahama is her personal beef against him. It is not so because it encapsulates the stated position of the NPP.

Recognizing the legitimacy of a political leader entails many things, some of which are: respect for that person, the willingness to work with that person, the desire to support that person perform his legitimate functions, the willingness to defer to the authority of that person, and the preparedness to obey the order of that person. All these elements constitute submissiveness to the authority of that person. So, the opposite is true that anyone who questions the legitimacy of that political leader will do the contrary, which is what the NPP leaders and followers have been doing since Election 2012. We didn’t see anything of the sort from them when President Mahama was sworn into office to complete the tenure of ex-President Mills. That was because the NPP recognized his legitimacy.

But in the post-Election 2012 period, the picture is different. Not only have the NPP leaders and followers openly denigrated him but they have also defied him in the performance of his legitimate, official, and constitutionally mandated responsibilities. Can these NPP people be honest for once to admit their folly?

Their stance has its root in their perception that the 2012 elections were rigged to put him in office. It is that perception that has shaped and shaved their belligerence and added more vitriol to their anti-Mahama rhetoric. By refusing to concede defeat at Election 2012 and going ahead to do all that they've done so far—and will continue to do—the NPP has proved beyond all reasonable doubts that it doesn’t recognize President Mahama’s status as the elected President of Ghana. If any leader of the party says otherwise, he will only be insulting our intelligence and arming us with more ammunition to destroy them. Having already confirmed their stance that President Mahama is not in office legitimately, there is no need for any of them to say anything to the contrary as Oware has done. It is a fat lie that will continue to erode public respect, trust, and goodwill for the NPP itself. Indeed, the degree to which the NPP elements are carrying their politics of public deception is reprehensible. The consequences for them will be dire.

For Oware to say that the NPP doesn’t question the legitimacy of President Mahama is plain “intellectual and mental laziness” (thanks to Kwame Pianim). And if his statement was in response to Kwame Pianim’s reasonable claim that the NPP isn’t qualified to “legitimize” President Mahama because it is the Electoral Commission that is constitutionally mandated to do so—which it has already done—then, it falls flat on its face.

Saying that the NPP doesn’t question President Mahama’s legitimacy while doing and saying all that proves otherwise is not the appropriate response. It has no basis in commonsense either because it runs counter to the basic meaning of the word “legitimacy”.

Here is the test: Do the NPP leaders and their followers defer to John Dramani Mahama as the President of Ghana? No!! Do they see him as being in office legitimately? No!!

So, what about President Mahama constitutes "legitimacy" for them to acknowledge and to warrant Oware’s statement? Can President Mahama be regarded as legitimate by them yet not deferred to as such? Impossible, because recognizing his legitimacy entails recognizing his authority and deferring to him as such, which they aren’t doing. His being legitimate demands that they respect him and deal with him in that capacity as the President of Ghana. Is that what they have been doing as other Ghanaians do? A resounding “No”!

I want the NPP people to tell me what exactly they have done, as all other Ghanaians have, to confirm that they recognize the legitimacy of President Mahama.

Even though Paa Kwesi Nduom and his PPP also complained (although faintly) at the end of Election 2012, they officially declared the President as the fount of authority and must be respected as such. The party's official message made it clear that although the PPP had grievances over the elections, it didn't think that going to court would be the solution. Instead, it was important for those responsible for the general elections to put in place electoral reforms to improve the process henceforth.

The PPP hasn't resorted to public pronouncements and utterances to indicate that it considers President Mahama as illegitimate.

The NPP hasn't. Instead, it has chosen the path of confrontation, belligerence, and a dogged attempt to undercut President Mahama in every way it deems appropriate for its narrow politics.

The delivery of its so-called "True State of the Nation Address" is the latest instance of affront to the authority of the President because it is a violation of the Constitution in its manner, intent, and venue for the presentation (Parliament House).

The NPP is operating on the basis of political mischief. Its numerous conflicting positions on issues reveals the extent to which its duplicity is affecting it negatively too. By coming out to say that they are not questioning the legitimacy of President Mahama yet saying and doing acts to confirm that they don't recognize him as the president of Ghana, they don't give any good account of themselves.

It is clear that either they are deliberately posturing this way and contradicting themselves as part of their grand scheme of purposely using the classical Greek rhetorical strategy of sophistry or that they are not as mature as they portray themselves.

They are confirming all that some of us have said and will continue to say about them when they give us cause to do so. Ghanaians are too smart for such peevish and misguided rhetoric. Lies of this sort annoy them.

I shall return…

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