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Opinions of Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Columnist: Yeboah, Kojo

NPP's Numerous Boycotts: Helping or Hurting?

First, they, Nana Addo Dankwah Akuffo Addo led New Patriotic Party (NPP) of Ghana declared their intention to boycott President elect John Dramani Mahama’s investiture. And the party, minus former President Kufour, proceeded to sit out the 2013 Presidential inauguration. Yet Ghana’s President John IV was duly sworn into office without a hitch on January 7, 2013.

Next, his eminence, Lawyer Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, popularly known as Sir John, General Secretary of the NPP announced that the party would boycott By-elections in Akatsi South & Buem constituencies. The NPP kept faith with that announcement and fielded no candidate on February 5, 2013 when the Akatsi South special election was held. So Bernard Ahiafor of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) quietly retained the seat for his party.

Then, Ghana’s rumor mill began circulating the story that NPP Parliamentarians were planning to abstain from vetting President Mahama’s ministerial nominees. That rumor became reality on January 22, 2013 when mighty Jake Otanka Obetsebi Lamptey, party chairman, confirmed the boycott to the Ghanaian Press. NPP law makers have dutifully stayed out of the Parliamentary process and the President’s nominees are cruising through Parliament, waving white handkerchiefs.

Thrice the NPP has boycotted important national events since being declared losers in the December 2012 general elections and thrice those boycotts appear to have come to naught. So, are the NPPs repeated boycotts hurting or helping?

DISCLAIMER: This author is a Papa Semo (Ghanaian American) who has never voted in any Ghanaian political elections nor ever joined any Ghanaian political party home or abroad.

Truth be told, Ghana’s 2012 general election was rife with irregularities and some corruption. The NPP Petitioners deserve their day(s) in court although it is almost impossible to prove that the Electoral Commission with or without the Mahama led NDC, perpetuated electoral fraud to give the NDC victory.

However, the NPP’s current campaign of “boycott this,’ ‘boycott that,’ smacks of naivety. Since when did a political party’s boycott against native politicians achieve any results in black Africa? The NPP should look no further than its own 1992 boycott of Parliamentary elections to protest the so called J. J. Rawlings’ stolen verdict. What did that achieve? How many times will a party that traces its roots to the Dr. J. B. Danquah UGCC’s long term strategic vision, submerge itself in such myopic morass?

Many in the NPP are living in an alternate universe. Although it is understandable to see fanatical party foot soldiers wondering lost in NEVERLAND, it is downright pathetic to read or hear party elites with chains of degrees behind their names, drifting along like automatons, unable to accept the self-evident truth that President John Dramani Mahama is forever the 4th President of Ghana’s 4th Republic.

One prolific NPP writer who used to refer to the current president as the “caretaker President,” has (post elections) downgraded him to “Mr. Mahama;” as if that changes anything. The Constitution is quite clear. Should the Supreme Court rule against President John IV and invalidate the elections; his acts performed as President of Ghana, still stand inviolate.

The NPP leadership is using some strange logic to buttress their ill-considered boycotts. For example, in the lead up to the Presidential inauguration, their lawyer secretary general is quoted to have gone on Citi FM to justify his party’s impending boycott with the following:

"Well there are several processes and like we said, Article 64 (2) of the Constitution is very emphatic on that. A declaration by the Supreme Court that the election of the President is not valid shall be without prejudice to anything done by the President before the declaration and for us that means that the Supreme Court is constitutionally free to rule against the declared results with the effect of nullifying the inauguration of the 7th of January" CITIFMONLINE.COM, 3 January 2013.

Dear reader, do you see how the NPP scribe ignores the second part of the clause above in his conclusion? That phrase … “shall be without prejudice to anything done by the President before the declaration,” tells us that the President’s actions are legal up to the time the Supreme Court comes out with its ruling. In short, President John IV is Ghana’s President until the Supreme Court says otherwise.

Who exactly does the Constitution call the “elected President?” Article 64, clause 9b of the Constitution provides that the chairman of the EC shall by an instrument declare who the person elected as President is. That constitutional requirement was met when Dr. Afari Gyan declared John D. Mahama of the NDC the ‘President elect.’

And is John IV Presidency an illegality as the NPP charges? No! Before taking office, President John IV took and subscribed before Parliament the oath of allegiance and the presidential oath set out in article 57, clause 3 of the Constitution. He (President John IV) therefore has all the legal powers conferred to the Presidency in article 57, clause 4 through article 58 clause 5.

The NPP’s electoral complaint is rooted on article 64, clause 1 which reads: “The validity of the election of the President may be challenged only by a citizen of Ghana who may present a petition for the purpose to the Supreme Court within twenty-one days after the declaration of the result.”

Dear reader, note also that the Constitution allows for a challenge to be brought to the Court only after the EC has officially declared the results. And to think that the NPP did not want the results declared. The Constitution does not state anywhere that an elected President loses legality as soon as a citizen goes to court to challenge his election results. The NPP leadership is simply making up stuff.

The NPP cannot base its claim of Presidential illegality on article 63, clause 3 which states: “A person shall not be elected as President of Ghana unless at the presidential election the number of votes cast in his favour is more than fifty per cent of the total number of valid votes cast at the election.”

This is because the constitutional authority that determines whether a candidate received more than fifty percent (50%) of votes cast in an election is the Electoral Commission. And the EC has already made that declaration. The EC gave John IV over 50% of the votes, only the Supreme Court can reverse that.

The NPP should stare reality in the face. Although it is free as a party to boycott executive business or any other business for that matter, its claims are without constitutional merit. And the boycotts do not advance the party’s cause in any meaningful way. Instead, they make the party look petty.

The party has also said it will not participate in any future elections organized by the EC until the court renders a decision in their current case. How is that when the party is not in Court contesting the constitutional authority of the EC or that of its chairman, Dr. Afari Gyan, to conduct elections? How will any judgment in the current case guarantee that the EC will not be bias in future elections? The party claims it got cheated in Buem constituency at the last go round. Now that it has a chance to expose the corrupt EC and its NDC’s colluders to the entire world, it has balked at the prospect. How many of us will so readily forgo a second chance to redeem ourselves eh?

NPP’s legally trained leaders surely know that they have an uphill task at the Supreme Court. Hopefully, their supporters know by now that the party’s claim of illegal Presidency and numerous boycotts are mere smokescreens calculated to keep public interest in their case going. Long live (Tarzan) Dr. Charles Wireko Brobbey of the NPP!

Written and submitted by L. Kojo Yeboah, Raleigh NC USA on 02/18/13. This author is not a lawyer and has no chain of degrees after his name. He has just objectivity and common sense.