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Opinions of Sunday, 25 August 2013

Columnist: Essien, Frank

The Dangers of the No Justice No Peace Mantra

Frank Essien, Ph.D.

There are certain indispensable principles and ordinances such as the doctrine that there is God. The psalmist writes: The fool has saith in his heart there is no God. (Ps. 14:1). Well, this can be applied to those of us in the diaspora when we say that what is happening in the political arena back home is the problem for Ghanaians at home. That would be foolhardy and that is why I am throwing in my piece in the discussion for the need to preserve the peace in mother Ghana in view of the impending Supreme Court’s expected election petition verdict.
I have read several articles and heard several utterances from individuals concerning the final verdict from the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the general conclusions are couched in this unproductive mantra of No Justice No Peace. The important thing to note here is that being a supporter of a political party is not synonymous to supporting a sporting team. Sporting events have a beginning and ending periods and sporting events exist in a nation-state. A political party, on the other hand, is a political organization that typically seeks to influence, or entirely control, government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. In other words when we support a political party we are in effect supporting the outcome of a certain form of governance. The wellbeing of all citizens of a nation- state depends on how the government performs in terms of socio-economic and other derivatives for the citizenry and the nation as a whole. As a result, when we claim to be supporters of a political party we shoulder a lot more responsibilities than being supporters of say a sporting team.
This brings into fore the discussion of what we mean by justice in the eyes of political supporters. Justice is often defined as the philosophical concept of the morally correct assignment of goods and evils and may encompass global, retributive, distributive, criminal, social, economic, etc. JUSTICE. In effect, there are various definitions and forms of justice that I would not belabor my readers with. It should, however be clearly stated here that understandings of justice differ in every culture, as cultures are usually dependent upon a shared history, mythology and/or religion. Each culture's ethics create values which influence the notion of justice. I agree with John Rawls, a renowned American philosopher, that justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought. In the context of this discussion, our frame of reference comes from the Ghana Supreme Court’s definition of justice and I wish to quote a few Ghanaians in this regard. Mr. Kwasi Pratt, Jr. said: “if individuals can define justice in their own way, then we are moving into a state of anarchy, and the only one way of determining justice is the judiciary; other than that, people will come up with different definitions of justice after the Supreme Court has passed a ruling on a case.” Dr. Emmanuel Akwettey of the Institute for Democratic Governance also said: “We should refrain from ‘no justice no peace’ as democrats. This mantra is not right. In democratic theory, you go to court as a process of seeking justice. And you accept the rule that judges will make decisions because they are qualified and have the right to do so base on your evidence and their knowledge of the law and the interpretations they make.” These two gentlemen have made the case for all level-headed Ghanaians as we await the final verdict from the Supreme Court. The No Justice No Peace Mantra should be avoided at all cost by supporters of either parties involved in this court case.
Ghana, our motherland, is for all of us and not for the few who are notorious for making unguarded utterances that do not help in the cause of peace in the country. We are all swimming together in this nation-state called Ghana and any efforts by some misguided individuals could drown us all. It does not matter whether you are currently living in Britain, the US or wherever. I believe that most of us in the diaspora still love our country of birth. Let us all join together, including everyone back home, in wishing the country well as we await this final verdict which will definitely strengthen our nascent democratic journey. Accepting this verdict in a more civil way will enhance Ghana’s stand as the cynosure of all eyes in the world, especially in Africa. God Bless Our Homeland Ghana.

Frank Essien, Ph.D.
Department of Africana Studies
University at Albany,
Albany, New York

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