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Opinions of Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Columnist: Dowokpor, William

Political Terrorism in Ghana

By William Dowokpor

Last Saturday - in Bolgatanga, murdered Upper East Regional Chairman of opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Alhaji Adams Mahama was laid to rest. He had been doused with Corrosive Acid, an improvised chemical weapon on Wednesday night, in what is believed to be a politically motivated attack linked to the ongoing power struggle within the NPP. He died from his wounds on Thursday.

A Political Science Lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr. Evans Aggrey Darko, calls it 'dangerous constitutional hooliganism". Chairman of the Progressive People's Party (PPP) Nii Allotey Brew-Hammond, describes it as "institutionalisation of violence in Ghana's body politic"

Political Terrorism:

It is recalled that on September 9, 2008, the Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) reported the shooting incident of August 31st that abruptly ended a political rally organised by then ruling NPP as follows: - "Charred remains of houses, walls riddled with bullets, and burnt cars and talismans of last week's violence in the Northern Region's capital of Tamale. A 12-hour curfew is currently in force and additional joint military-police patrols have been deployed on the streets. Fred Degbe, president of the religious non-profit Christian Council, told IRIN - "If Ghana burns because of politics we have nowhere else to go, so it's in our interest to do everything possible to preserve the peace we are known for in the sub-region."

Affected by the violence was Alhaji Mahama Jeboni, an opposition party chairman for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), who is based in Tamale. His 30-year-old daughter, Sayakulu Mahama Jeboni, told IRIN, "The attackers asked my father to choose between his life and his properties. There were about a hundred people all armed. They were arguing whether to burn the houses first or my father's commercial vehicles. They set fire to all of his eight cars." She said the flames razed their three homes to the ground. "Everything was burnt, all our possessions, possessions dating back to one hundred years. We have nothing left" As regards what happened to the investigations by the police? Your guess is as good as mine.

Two Evils:
By election year 2016, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) would have ruled Ghana for a total of 16 years since the establishment of the forth republican constitution. The decade of unconstitutional rule by the NDC founder Mr. Jerry Rawlings, if taken into account would give it a cumulative 26 years out of the last three and a half decades.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) which makes up the other half of the duopoly would still maintain its eight year record of ruling Ghana; 2001 to 2008. Either of the two has been ousted through the ballot box on account of non-performance and failure to deliver on campaign promises. The NDC was ousted in the year 2000 by the NPP. Eight years later, in 2008, the NPP was ousted by the NDC, which is a commendable pattern.
And if, this game of musical chairs by NDC and NPP had translated into sustainable development, I would say we have arrived in our democracy and hold my peace. But the one that emerged victor in each of the regime changes did so because it came across as lesser of two evils at the time of the ballot, not because it had any transformational set of alternative policy vision that resonated with the electorate – the kind a nation like Ghana needs for sustainable transformational development on all fronts.
So, eighteen months to the December 2016 elections, Ghanaians are asking for a credible alternative to the duopoly. Had the NPP delivered governance satisfactorily to the people, it would not be in opposition, struggling to recapture power today, because by the end of the year 2000, the NDC was so disappointing a party in power that the signs were on the wall it would be defeated at the polls. Today, the same signs have reemerged more boldly, ahead of election 2016. Should the electorate do the same thing and expect different results? What is that called? And what is the alternative?
Limitations of the NDC/NPP
The reason NDC and NPP have failed to deliver transformational development in Ghana is because they have similar limitations. They have both tasted the benefits of the excessive powers granted the Executive President by the 1992 Constitution which was crafted to all intents and purposes, ease former military strong man Jerry Rawlings out of power.
The NDC and NPP have settled for that arrangement which grants excessive discretionary powers to the executive; weakens an almost ceremonial legislature to ensure the lack of checks and balances, resulting in bad economic governance. This bad governance arrangement; also known as "winner takes all" is directly and indirectly responsible for the intra and inter political party violence in Ghana, as the stakes are high both in opposition and in government. Dr. Ekow Spio-Garbrah a former Minister of State describing his experience outside government said, - "Being in Opposition is like being in Hell".
Until the 1992 constitution is reviewed to remove the stated mischief and allow for open and accountable governance, where the legislature is strengthened enough to serve as the countervailing check to the ambitions of the executive, the dividends of multi-party democracy will continue to elude Ghana. And when it continues for a long time there would be a revolt by the masses to correct it. Because no one can foresee or guarantee the outcome of that revolt, it is in our collective interest to evolve the system through constitutional reforms. Those sleeping on this job must wake up.
Search for the Alternative:
As talks of the search for an alternative to the NDC in 2016 continue, it is important to stop and take a good look at the options available. The Ten Point agenda of the PPP is a great resource for this search. As a reformist party, I have recommended the PPP to the people of Ghana, especially the electorate as the political vehicle Ghana needs to turn things around and do the right things for once. The lofty alternative policy visions of the PPP cannot and would not be implemented for the desired impact on society if the party does not win power in 2016. To that end, we need to drop the duopoly and go for the PPP!