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Opinions of Monday, 2 December 2019

Columnist: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

Whether December 17 Referendum passes or fails, Akufo-Addo wins

So far, the turn and twist that the fast approaching December 17 nationwide referendum, regarding the critical question of whether political parties get to contest the proposed election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), as well as the partisan election of District Assembly and Unit or community-level elections, does not one way or another affect the statutory powers and influence of President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Rather, failure to pass the December 17 Referendum automatically, effectively and permanently puts the President’s name and memory well above the class category of all Fourth-Republican Ghanaian Presidents, as far as the visionary and progressive democratization of the country’s political culture at all levels of endeavor is concerned (See “Can December 17 Referendum Be Withdrawn? Kwasi Prempeh, Kwaku Azar Argue” Modernghana.com 12/1/19).

I agree with the position of Prof. Henry Kwasi Prempeh, Executive-Director of the Center for Democratic Development (CDD), that Nana Akufo-Addo was not, to begin with, constitutionally bound or obligated to table the bill for the amendment of Article 55(3) to enable all legitimately registered political parties in the nation to actively participate in the election of MMDCEs. But I don’t for a split-second believe that the December 17 Referendum must be withdrawn under duress or threat by the very opposition politicians and parliamentarians who had earlier on proffered their support for the same. The joke is also clearly on the “NO!” advocates.

The fact of the matter is that even if the government’s vigorous push for a “YES!” vote fails to pass muster, as it were, President Akufo-Addo still wins massively because he will simply return to resuming his constitutionally mandated powers of continuing to personally appoint the MMDCEs, irrespective of whether anybody thinks and/or believes that these local chief executives could still be elected on purely nonpartisans lines, as the self-absorbed and cynical naysayers deviously pretend that such is the case presently.

Indeed, the President has absolutely nothing to lose, except the Commander-in-Chief’s salutary and avid desire to cede his current power to appoint the MMDCEs to the people whose aspirations and interests the Constitution is intended to serve to the maximum. This must have been the real rationale behind the proposal by Mr. Daniel Botwe, the Minister for Regional Reorganization, to have the entire referendum scuttled, although he invoked the rather weak excuse of undeserved abuse of the image and reputation of the President by some of his most ardent detractors and political opponents.

The net gain by default, as already alluded to, is that Nana Akufo-Addo’s name gets to go on record as having been predictably, desperately and mischievously sandbagged from deepening Ghanaian democracy by the key operatives of the main opposition National Democratic Congress, with the craven complicity of the virulently anti-democratic leadership of the National House of Chiefs (NHC), whose democratically inimical interest of 30-percent quota of nonelected representatives in our District Assemblies the current system inadvisably serves.

There is, of course, Article 243 of the Constitution, I believe, whose proposed amendment passage by a simple parliamentary majority could promptly authorize the election of MMDCEs without any political party participation. The President and the New Patriotic Party’s Parliamentary Majority may need to steer clear of this much-talked-about pending initiative.

The determined saboteurs among the vanguard ranks of the National Democratic Congress’ Parliamentary Minority must not be gratuitously rewarded with any room for maneuver. Simply put, “Nothing bought, nothing won.”

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net