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Opinions of Monday, 9 September 2013

Columnist: Assan, John Fuo Nidjon

Ghana’s democracy was tested and ghana won

At last Ghana’s democracy was tested in the realms of the Judiciary and the electoral commission on their independence, but these state institutions undoubtedly responded appropriately to the call and were eventually seen emerged as solid as rock, no shuddering with their state responsibility vested in them, ultimately Ghana won. I told you so in my article published on the 2/01/2013 in the ghanaweb, captioned “election 2012 in Ghana was a real test” to test the electoral commission’s independence and the nation’s progressive democracy, undeniably, the test process lasted eight months when the opposition NPP petitioned the supreme court to adjudicate what they termed as fraudulent elections.
Notwithstanding the peace the nation enjoyed before the election petition, several stakeholders, other unseen hands and minds within and without Ghana constantly called for peace, just because of the uncertainty produced by the unprecedented nature of such case, ultimately however peace won. These stakeholders included the petitioners and respondents unarguably spoke in clear language that, they believed in the Supreme Court, therefore the outcome shall receive the best reception; eventually this assurance was seen manifested.
First of all, the supreme court judges are unique human beings with different dispositions and experiences, therefore have different worldview, however when the Supreme Court acted as a body and as a state institution charged with certain responsibilities, one of which was the pronouncement of the verdict which I think was a collective one. The president was validly elected and the petition was dismissed, this I think was a collective decision. Most of the electorates who are legally naive waited patiently for the verdict, and it came, we only picked these four words (validly elected & petition dismissed) they were self explanatory which did not need any spin doctor’s circumvention to confuse anybody. Keenly analyzing the outcome of the petition we can tentatively extrapolate that it reflected the outcome of the 2012 presidential election which the electoral commission proclaimed; in effect the Supreme Court confirmed the Commission’s pronouncement that the President was the rightful winner.

After all and in practice actually, not all Ghanaian electorates vote to make a president a winner in general elections, so the decision of the Supreme Court I think reflected the outcome of the 2012 general election. Some voted for the petition and others against it, all in the appropriate direction.
The independence of the Commission came to test and it passed the test as an independent institution, in which case backed by law in our 1992 constitution and as a consequence Ghana was branded positively and her political credentials heightened to another pedestal.
Obviously, many Ghanaians enthusiastically followed through the unfolded story of the electoral petition’s in contention during the eight months and I believe they remember some terms, I do too, what about you? E.g (you and i were not there), (… I thought you will show your powers here…),(… you know I cannot carry all the codes in my head…), ( transpotitional errors)( I will need a calculator to be sure of myself) among many others that calmed the tension…, by the way, let me pause to avoid the charge with (contempt).
The live broadcast of the court proceedings, we were told that was unprecedented- telecast to all across the globe did not only show the pool of talents we have in Ghana, but also the quality of judges and lawyers who adjudicated the case with flair and skills, role modeling that inspired those who will want to consider it in future. Even children now know most of the legal terms. A lawyer artfully approached a contemptuous case (also sang) to save somebody from the rough of the judges, otherwise their intended action could have soured the peace party, in any case the judges only roared and the nation sat up. Some people will term it minimum force … How will you term it?
One of the petitioners Dr. Mahamodu Bawumia seized the opportunity and marketed himself as a knowledgeable vice presidential candidate to the whole world; he also proved his worthiness of the situation. He was “fired” by three “powerful” lawyers who probed the basis for which NPP refused the 2012 elections; he stood his grounds, and said my Lords; he told his side of the story eloquently that made some people suspect he has tightened the criteria for potential vice presidential candidates.

The general secretary of the ruling political party NDC Mr. Asiedu Nketiah represented the first and third respondents, also proved to the world that he knew the electoral process, and amply demonstrated that he was fully involved in the electoral activities for his party, he got thumps up by some people who watched and listened to him. The general said it all, and categorically mentioned that his party won the general election because they worked assiduously and with their party structures functioning
The commissioner, Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan answered questions from the counsel of the petitioners especially, the lawyer was well prepared to “floor” the electoral commissioner, surprisingly the counsel did not only faced with somebody who knew and also knowledgeable with his job, but also the Dr. who lived his work . He enthusiastically seized the opportunity and introduced what we did not know, also educated the whole world about Ghana’s electoral process that justified the reasons for the many awards received and the lectures given by the commission to other countries. I think that, the commissioner wrote his experiential test on behalf of Ghana, and at last he passed the test, anyway, according to the verdict of the Supreme Court.
Any time the commission took an award the quality and reputation of the commission appreciated and therefore translated into the entrenchment of Ghana’s democracy, (I mean Ghana’s democracy). Let’s honor our national leaders who excelled in their field of work, so that we will have a bank of such for emulation. But for the intervention of the Supreme Court adherence to the independence of the commission, and thereafter the restoration of the commission’s credibility and the ultimate democratic credibility of the nation, justice would have been denied. Too bad.
Immediately after the pronouncement of the verdict the first petitioner who is also a renowned lawyer and the presidential candidate for the NPP in the 2012 presidential election came out to the admiration of many within and outside Ghana to wholeheartedly accepted the verdict and mentioned clearly he will not attempt any review, he also said, he called the president and congratulated him for his victory. What is more honorable than this matured gesture, many others think that, with this matured pronouncement alone, you have protected your reputation and reclaimed if any was at all eroded.

For now this also by extension denounced the notion that your party is a violent one. Unlike other countries whose approach to solving critical problem is being unfortunately rapacious, he rather chose the other arm of government – the judiciary, through which the Supreme Court adjudicated and brought to a close the case in a civilized way.
The validly elected president, his Excellency John Dramani Mahama, was he elected twice in the same election? … one pronounced by the Electoral Commission at a point and the other by the Supreme Court, (just to ponder) had his nation broadcast some few hours after the verdict, spoke to the nation as the father and chief executive officer of the state that psychologically, emotionally and strategically touched many hearts - saying that let put all the happenings of the petition aside and move the country forward in development, after all Ghana won. Let us work to develop the nation and share the cake, he added. He clearly confirmed in his speech that he had a conversation with the first petitioner, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo, and what I saw as the consequence of this timeous nation’s address was peacetime we are enjoying.
We hear pocket lawyers, but after the Supreme Court published the verdict, we can now add pocket judges, funnily, pretending to be more judges than the qualified bench of the state. These pockets lawyers and judges are just but spice of democracy, free to express but be careful of that contempt. I can say that this is not less than, government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Even though many stakeholders effort can be attributed to this peace we are witnessing today, the spontaneous attitudes exhibited by these two leaders Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo and His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama- the antagonist and protagonist sealed the deal for such peace and also crippled any potential evil plans. They proved that they are leaders, who could also take independent action though moral, on behalf of their followers, and this gesture is symbolic for generations upon generations to come and say thank you.
The rambunctious group of youth who were the most suspected to cause any confusion instead gave chance to peace and patience that signified that, after all Ghana is all that we have.

In any case, the leaders they would have been hitherto fighting for say they are for peace, so who will you wrestle for; I think this calmness gave the security agencies little or no work for the meantime. Nonetheless peace won and Ghana entrenched her democratic stands; therefore let us give it some meaning by improving on our economy, social and infrastructure development. Just political tolerance, peace and respect for state institutions, rule of law … will be meaningless until it is totally seen in the lives of its people socio-economic improvement.
The NPP minority in parliament rescinded their decision for non-recognition of the President and said their action was just on principle to be in tune with their party that sent them to power, it sounds cool but the biggest question I believe many will want an answer is how would they account to their constituents for the eight months partially represented. Though democratic principle was exercised by minority parliamentarian, how will they then make up the lost representation retroactively? I am sure their constituents will ask this obvious question at the appropriate time.
But the most affected person of this action says let’s put all these behind us and move forward with the nation’s development, therefore it will not be necessary at least for now to justify or refute to their withdrawal, after all the wheels of the nation did not stop moving, meanwhile the colours of the nation’s democracy rather became blare.
At a point I thought the Ghana peace council was a non- denominational religious group working hard to see peace during and after the period in contention, they surely achieved their aim, as we all could smell peace. The Rev. Prof. Asante and team even before the 2012 election organized the Kumasi (peace declaration pledge) and finally also did organize peace conference during the hearing of the petition in Accra, together with important stakeholders like- religious leaders, chiefs and queen mothers, youth groups, political parties, past and present Ghana presidents/ their representatives , security, civil society, media…etc discussed and strategized ahead of the verdict to protect Ghanaian peace and harmony. Their interventions and that of the peace council are worthwhile and must be emulated by other countries in crisis

We were told that some members of the international community privately, and also some unseen hands and minds worked hard to see Ghana intact after the verdict, so that they can always use her as an example for the other developing countries to emulate. The leading stakeholders were seen visibly working for peace but I think supplementarily, all of us Ghanaian achieved this as a unit through concerted effort.
Ghana cannot pretend to be too peaceful, so when we had just a little disagreement over who won …, we thank God and others that we did not walk alone.
The religious groups did a great work, while some prayed, fast and preached, kept vigil for peace, others also met and had discussions with the important persons involved in the court issue. Did the opium worked on the masses for peace? Or the highest God just listened to our prayers. Combination of factors I believe.

The media did not go to sleep at all, even when “contempt” was vigilant and prosecuting fearfully, however the media foundation prof. Karikari and his team, the media fraternity in general and many other associates reminded the media group to go beyond their routine responsibility to assure peace. This group did not fail to heed the call. Less exaggeration to exacerbate the emotions of the already skeptical society, yet the facts opined. Some balanced their reporting, but conspicuously the State TV and radio reporters were seen in the court and we also heard them using the legal jargons correctly, (we were told, as if they were trained lawyers).
The legal spoke persons of the petitioners and respondents they interviewed edified and schooled their supporters that they have total confidence in the bench and the outcome should not precipitate any confusion, and that worked superbly.

The security agencies only said they will act appropriately to uphold and defend the constitution and again give meaning to the second stanza of our national anthem. They just professionally exhibited that to maintain the ultimate peace and order, but will they stop just after this show? I think they should continue to completely handle the other social cancer.
No matter how high the marking scheme of Ghana’s democracy is raised our institutions will write the test and will pass with distinction. When president Obama of US visited Ghana sometime ago he said, we did not need strong men rather strong institutions, we just exhibited that… .
Since the electoral commissioner admitted frankly that there were some transpotitional errors, then it is obvious that the IPAC will do some kind of introspection, realignment to our electoral system and probably institutionalizing the party agents’ role to the mainstream of conducting election instead of mere observers as was claimed, and other reforms to be considered .
I remember when I was a kid in the kindergarten school I sang the national pledge unknowing the meaning but there is this line that says ‘to uphold and defend the good name of Ghana. So help me God’. But now I understand that just a positive word can uphold and defend the good name of Ghana. So help me God.
Judge me by the enemies I have made: by President Roosevelt, US.
TUMU-NYAMINJAN ,HSE. T 38 +233-0208496538 /0265661761