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Opinions of Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Columnist: Sodzi-Tettey, Sodzi

Why Ghana Won’t Burn

, Supreme Court’s Ruling Notwithstanding!

If we carry parts of the past forward, they should be what are best about the past – Appreciative Inquiry

Though suffused with elements of prescience, this piece is neither a prophecy nor an incantation. This caveat is relevant, given how prophecies have recently gained political currency in the run up to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the petition on the 2012 Presidential election. At the risk of contempt, I would explore the Court’s impending ruling and conclude rather optimistically that given our collective track record and God’s grace, irrespective of the ruling, Ghana, as a country, would continue to soar from strength to strength.
What will the Supreme Court’s ruling be?

To answer this question, we must focus on the two issues set to trial by the Supreme Court itself; one, whether or not there were statutory violations, omissions, irregularities and malpractices in the conduct of the elections held on December 7 and 8, 2012 and two, whether or not the said violations, omissions, irregularities and malpractices affected the outcome of the results of the elections which led to the declaration of John Mahama as President. Four permutations are thus possible: one, there were no statutory infractions and no adverse effect on outcome of the elections, two, no statutory infractions but an adverse outcome, three, statutory infractions but no adverse outcome, four statutory infractions and adverse outcome. Given that option two is not practically feasible, we are left with three realistic possible rulings.
Why are there reported widespread anxieties in the run up to the ruling? Why have some allowed fear to become their portion?
By 2000, President Rawlings had been in power for nineteen unbroken years, eleven of those years as a military ruler. Given the rarity of voluntary relinquishing of power on the African continent, fear was rife that Rawlings would not hand over. Some dawn preachers on radio whipped this into a frenzy as they begged for God’s deliverance from the man some branded as either the devil’s son or the devil himself. The devil was quoted on BBC asking whether the world was so faithless in Ghana in particular and in Africa in general that we would promote these rumors despite his pledges to the contrary. Ghana went to the polls, Rawlings’s NDC lost and he quietly walked away! Ghana did not burn!
In 2008, great tension visited Ghana after two rounds of voting in Presidential elections. On one Tuesday, the tension was palpable. I myself drove in circles in the East Legon area for two hours just reflecting on worrying happenings; corporate organizations closing around midday, radio stations opting for patriotic and/or gospel music with disrupted regular programming, and as I later gathered, some foreign missions alerting their nationals in various districts to be on stand by for possible emergency evacuation. That was what some politicians in the quest for power brought to us. It took President Kufuor’s gallant statesmanship and God’s wisdom, working through Electoral Commissioner Dr. Afari Gyan - the elections were too close to call, by some stroke of divinity, elections were not possible in Tain, let us go to Tain to settle the matter – he said. The rest as they say is history. Ghana did not burn!
2012. The politics of death was at its height and for three years, the air was rich with speculations of the President’s death. What was the worst that could happen if the President indeed died? Constitutional provisions would kick in, I thought. People were however seized with fear, arguing there would be some power vacuum and the country would be thrown into instability. The President subsequently died in office; an unprecedented occurrence in our nation’s history. National security immediately secured the Vice President as the incoming President among other measures. Within hours, Parliament was reconvened for an emergency session. Before live television cameras, Chief Justice Wood swore in the Vice President to serve the unexpired term of the deceased President as per the constitution. Ghana did not burn!
Time and time again, Ghana has run into difficulty. Time and time again, God has come through for us. Why do some now behave as faithless people? I am sometimes reminded of the faithless response of old testament Israelites to God’s continuous favor ; delivered from slavery, saved from marauding Egyptian forces, thirst and hunger and yet always questioning God at each new challenge. We pray and sing a lot, but it appears that we don’t actually have faith in God. We have abundance of fear.
After all, what is the worst that can happen? If the Supreme Court goes for option one, life goes on as usual. Option three might have implications for further electoral reform. Option four might occasion a rerun of some sort with further electoral reform. Ghana is able to surmount all these possibilities for which reason no fear is necessary. In any case, if appeals for parties to accept the results of contested elections as declared by statutory bodies had any weight, we would not be in the Supreme Court in the first place. After all, we had the Manhyia declarations where all manner of people pledged all manner of things. But legal rights have been asserted as they should be. So commendable though the current exhortations unto peace and acceptance of the verdict may be but these may not preclude a resort to judicial review which is very much within the right of a losing party, without the whole country feeling the world is coming to an end.
Finally, our National Security apparatus is encouraged to take any and every measure to secure the state from the actions of miscreants parading as democrats. Democracy is after all, not a license unto lawlessness.
Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey
22nd July, 2013