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Opinions of Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Columnist: Ata, Kofi

Mahama, Does God Ordain Presidents?

By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK

When I last posted an article on the mis(use) of God in Ghanaian politics by politicians after Nana Akufo-Addo’s statement that “God has something great in store for NPP", little did I know that within twenty four hours of that article, the President of the Republic, His Excellency, President John Mahama himself will be committing the same offence, if not worst (see, “Is God Still with Nana Akufo-Addo?”, Ghanaweb June 22, 2013). This article is, perhaps a continuation of the last and a consideration of the implications of the President’s pontification.

President John Mahama is reported to have said that his victory in the disputed December 2012 presidential election was “ordained by the Lord” when he addressed worshippers of the Mount Horeb Prayer Centre at Mamfe in the Eastern Region to mark the church’s 20th anniversary on Sunday. The President did not only stop there but also claimed that the divine nature of his electoral victory was the result of a befuddled New Patriotic Party (see, “my victory was ordained by God”, Ghanaweb, June 23, 2013). Really? My first reaction when I read the story was, OMG, what has come over these two politicians? Are they still in the campaign mood to outdo each other?

His Excellency, President Mahama should be told in no uncertain terms that, he should leave God out of politics and particularly the presidential petition. All over the world, whether in a democracy, theocracy, dictatorship or whichever form of government, I have never heard of a President being ordained by God. A president or political leader is either elected or imposed on the people. Even the Pope is elected by fellow Cardinals as we saw with the recent election of His Holiness, Pope Francis.

For the purposes of this article, let’s give President Mahama the benefit of the doubt and assume that, his election was by some divine intervention. My question to him then will be, is Ghana now a religion, faith, belief or church? In fact, if Ghana were a religious state as the Vatican and the election of the leader was by divine intervention, I am sure there would have been no white smoke over the chimney of the Electoral Commission to signify God’s blessing over the results, neither would there have been a black smoke in the December 2012 presidential election. There would certainly have been none, resulting in Ghana being leaderless because of the election petition. But thank God Almighty, Ghana is ruled by constitutional democracy through universal adult suffrage and therefore the Constitution made arrangement for a leader to be in post at all times and whether a white smoke signified the presidential election result declaration or not.

I have another question for the President. If his election was truly by divine intervention, then, why did the same God who ordained him allow his ordination to be challenged at the Supreme Court? Was that also part of the divine plan? It is often said, God works in a mysterious way but I definitely do not believe that the presidential petition is by any means, mysterious in any shape or form. It is a legitimate democratic and constitutional process and the right of the petitioners, whether one agrees with it or not.

There is a very serious implication for the president’s invocation of God’s hand in his disputed victory. Both the President and Nana Akufo-Addo are fully aware that the Supreme Court is hearing the presidential petition and will one day make a determination. A determination that both leaders have assured Ghanaians that they would accept and abide by it whatever it is and whenever it is pronounced. For Nana Akufo-Addo, he is probably done nothing wrong if he invoked God or divine intervention to assure his supporters that he will win his petition at the Supreme Court. In fact, he could even be forgiven if he claims he won the presidency but by some divine act, the Electoral Commission wrongly declared Mahama as President. President Mahama on the other hand, cannot and must not claim any divine victory as far as the 2012 presidential election is concerned. Why?

His Excellency, Mr John Dramani Mahama is not only the President of the Republic but he has also sworn an oath office to respect, protect, and defend the Constitution of Ghana. By claiming that he won the disputed presidential election which is before the Supreme Court, the President had broken his oath of office. This is because the presidential petition is being heard under the directives of the Constitution that he has sworn to respect, protect and defend. He is indirectly undermining the Constitution and the authority of the Supreme Court with such statements.

Nana Akufo-Addo has not sworn any such presidential oath to respect, protect and defend the Constitution, though as the leader and presidential candidate of the main opposition party, who is seeking the same office though his petition at the Supreme Court, it is expected that he will also respect, protect and defend the Constitution of Ghana. However, that is only an expectation but President Mahama has not such luxury except to respect, defend and protect what he has sworn to. Nothing more, nothing less. His, is not an expectation but rather, a mandatory obligation on him. It is non-negotiable.

Mr President, in the best interest of upholding your oath of office, you should refrain from making any further public pronouncements about the 2012 presidential election results as long as the petition is undecided by the Supreme Court. Keep your views to yourself and do not make them public, whether you are speaking to party workers, supporters or your congregation.

Mr President, Ghana is not and cannot be a religion, faith, belief or a church for the head to be ordained by God. God is not a registered voter in Ghana and did not vote in the December 2012 presidential election. If you need reminding, you were elected by Ghanaian voters who queued for hours in the hot sun to cast their votes for you. Do not be ungrateful to them. There is nothing wrong if you thank God for your election even if it is being disputed but never say your were ordained by God as President of Ghana. Ghanaian Presidents are not ordained but elected by Ghanaians themselves. Please leave God alone and do not bring God’s name into disrepute by associating the Omnipotent in the divisive election petition. Do not ridicule Ghana by this laughable statement of ordination.

Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK