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Opinions of Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Columnist: Amb. Alhaji Abdul-Rahman Harruna Attah, MOV

The executive director got it all wrong: JM will not put up or shut up!

Former President John Mahama Former President John Mahama

On the morning of Tuesday, December 22, a social media info popped up on my mobile phone announcing that the electoral commission, patting itself on self-praise of a job well executed was breaking for holidays today, Wednesday, December 23, 2020, for about a month…On the same Tuesday, members of parliament from the NDC benches staged a peaceful walk to the electoral commission to present a petition on a number of issues seeking redress. They were met with an overwhelming show of force by the Ghana Police…

The International Community

A few days before the introduction above, I picked from the social media a threat-sounding admonition from the Executive Director of a Ghanaian governance NGO that President Mahama would lose the respect of the “international community” if he did not concede to the presumed winner of Ghana’s Election 2020, Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

President Mahama, as a Ghanaian citizen, public servant and politician owe allegiance first and foremost to his country and its constitution. As a man of faith, first and foremost to his God. As a patriot, first and foremost to his compatriots. I wonder, is that too difficult for this executive director to comprehend?

You see, this executive director occupies a space recently created within the socio-political space with the solemn mission of making civil society organization (or CSO) voices matter and impact on governance – corporate and national. The media, once regarded as the watchdog is now partisan, compromised, and sometimes the instigator and initiator of social strife, has lost that cherished role and is considered by many as part of the problem. Many people do not like US President Donald Trump but his “fake news” now resonates with friend and foe alike.

And so civil society organizations have become the fifth estate, taking precedence of the media fourth estate, giving them prime of place at the dinner table. Though well meaning, and oftentimes spot on, in their interventions, some CSOs can also go rather too far with their exaggerated feeling of importance and omniscience, self-righteous pontificating on everything and expecting total acceptance by the rest of us. The CSO space, largely funded from donor sources abroad have to earn their keep and so they engage in magisterial pronouncements on issues that rather require sensitivity, tact and carefulness, an example being this executive director under discussion, but no doubt, some of them do really useful stuff.

We have just finished elections, considered by many as flawed and unacceptable, nerves are still raw and passions high, and all that the executive director of this CSO can manage is to take sides and order the aggrieved party to put up and shut up!

No, that’s not good enough. That is not how an honest arbiter behaves. Mahama will not put up and will not shut up. If there is one person who has dealt with and knows the so-called international community well, he is the one, so no one should lecture him on that subject.

What is the executive director saying about the EC as a public service, which, in an act of dereliction and negligence, is declaring a month-long holiday, when its mess is waiting to be cleared with the country showing signs of a constitutional and security meltdown? In fact, I am unable to understand this executive director. I believe he is versed in the law and will appreciate the opinion below, recently published in the social media:

“The notice that the EC is shutting down its offices nationwide for almost 30 days is blatantly illegal. EC can’t ascribe to itself holidays aside from those granted by statute: Act 986. EC cannot decide not to work because it’s on a supposed Xmas holiday. This is how democracies fail.”

True, and our democracy, with the complicity of Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his apologists, (which sadly may include some CSOs, whose neutrality we now can’t rely on) is gravely wounded…Techiman South alone should prick the conscience of any serious CSO that all is not well with our state and must be redressed. Any conscientious CSO executive director, putting his country first, would prioritise such things rather than the imagined tantrums of a so-called international community. After all, who/what is the international community? Are we not a part of it?

Mahama should not deodorize the stink created by others just to please the executive director of a CSO and the international community. We must turn our noses towards the appropriate direction of the stink holes: Need I specify?!

As I was completing this little write-up, a group of CSOs had also put out a statement on “Addressing the Current Post-Election Political Impasse”, trying to take issue with the EC and others. Clearly, we are yet to see the end of Election 2020.