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Opinions of Sunday, 18 February 2007

Columnist: Atta-Boakye, Ken

Wake Up NDC: Boycott Is Not An Answer

As a result of a ten-year jail sentence passed on Hon Dan Abodakpi, MP for Keta, for willfully causing financial loss to the State, the NDC MP’s have boycotted Parliament to protest the judgment. The boycott has been questioned by a lot of Ghanaians. In his state of nation address, the President appealed to them to rescind their decision and follow the due process of law to seek redress. However, there are others who support these MP’s and Hon Kennedy Agyapong, NPP Member of Parliament for Assin North, is of the opinion that Hon Dan should be set free since supposedly, he is not the only public official of P/NDC regime to have committed such a crime. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion but we can’t continue to practice the same old things that never helped the nation. What was the point of the 1992 Constitution? It is time to be forward-looking.

Ghanaians should be disappointed in what the NDC Party hierarchy and their MP’s are doing. In my own small mind the idea of boycotting Parliament as elected leaders does not reflect good leadership. We are passed the days when MP’s chose to boycott Parliament to send a message. Proactive leaders have to re-examine such line of action in the development of a modern nation. It is a repetition of an old tradition that doesn’t fit in modern Ghana. A better approach, perhaps, is to stay in Parliament to fight the problem through lobbying other Members of Parliament and issuing Press Statements to win public support by explaining what is at stake. Though there is a perception of partisan politics in Parliament there would be other MP’s who would want to protect their integrity by seeking objectivity and truthfulness. Hon Kennedy, MP for Assin North, who is not NDC but NPP thinks Dan should be set free just like the NDC’s party hierarchy is crying foul. I don’t agree though!

NDC should wake up. Of course they have not asked for the Law to be repealed yet but it is inappropriate to kick against a law purported to put them in check. They should do the right thing to pave the way for progress and development. As a matter of fact they have to desist from their previous ways of leadership that didn’t help the nation. They refused to enforce the same law when they were in government. Now that NPP is in government and applying the Constitution to enforce one of the best laws to fight perceived corruption, they are crying foul. Enforcing the existing Constitution is a great way in starting the modernization of Ghana.

However, it should be remembered that in 1992, while the NPP was in opposition they boycotted Parliament by issuing the “Stolen Verdict” against the Rawlings regime. That did not help the nation either. With a packed NDC Parliamentarians, Pres JJ Rawlings had the upper hand to dictate to parliament. The nation went through trauma politically, socially, and economically. The nation paid a price for that boycott. Would NDC want the situation repeated? As long as the NDC leadership hierarchy believes that the law of willfully causing financial loss to the state is useful to fight corruption they should support it and encourage the government to enforce it. Public officials should be accountable just like everyone else to their behavior. Those who argue that they serve the nation and should be set free should review their stand.

At NDC Press Conference in reference to the Hon Dan Abodakpi jail sentence, they hinted that they will jail NPP with the same measure when they are in government. Thus they declared: “when we have a government that is intent on prosecuting the opposition into oblivion, while it closes its eyes to blatant act of corruption and financial loss occurring in its own administration, the platform cannot exist for achieving national cohesion and reconciliation that we all crave” They stated further: “We just hope that those currently administering this measure of justice must remember that the same measure with which they judge their political opponents today, might be the same measure by which they are judged in future” The Ghanaian public does not care who is prosecuted as long as there is evidence to prosecute them as set forth in the tenets of the 1992 Constitution.

The NDC MP’s should go back to parliament to help pick and select corrupt officials to be investigated and prosecuted. For all we know they might have been involved too. They should bring evidences against incumbent government officials who they know to have caused financial loss to the state and to ask the Attorney General for their prosecution. NDC should learn to understand the difference between allegation and evidence since the former cannot be prosecuted. At their Press Conference they cited cases against NPP that were purely allegations. When they have evidence that the Attorney General fails to act upon they can then cry foul for the public to side with them. The President, His Exec, J A Kufour, has already stated that in a democratic government where there is the rule of law, people cannot be prosecuted without evidence. This is great.

I believe that NDC can do better than what they are doing now. To boycott Parliament without providing positive opposition is tantamount to digging one’s own catacomb. The 19 years the P/NDC ruled Ghana did not bring as much progress as has been demonstrated by the NPP government in this short while. The NDC has to put on a credible fight and a good intention of honest leadership to get the mantle back from NPP. The transfer of power cannot take place without a clear conviction that the NDC have learned their lessons and can now put on a better show. They lost power in 2000 and it will take them constructive opposition to regain power. Let them go back to parliament to continue the job entrusted to them. Thank you.

Long live Ghana;
Long live President Kufour;
Long live Every Ghanaian
Peace on Earth and Mercy Divine!

Ken Atta-Boakye
Woodbridge, Virginia, USA.
Feb 12, 2007

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