Feature Article of Monday, 1 October 2012

Columnist: Frimpong, Paul

Peace...our strength for sustainable development

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood” – MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

Peace is a state of harmony characterized by the absence of conflicts, chaos and the freedom from fear of violence. Peace means there is an existence of healthy interpersonal or international relationships. Peace means freedom from civil or public disorder.

Ghana, our dear nation heads to the polls come December 2012. This year’s election is indeed a test to the well touted democratic credentials of Ghana. There has been a high political upheaval over the period. We have witnessed a situation where both the government in power and the opposition are making predictions beforehand. The print and the electronic media are filled with accusations and counter accusation; character assassination and libel, all serving as indicators that pose a great threat to the peace that we enjoy.

Not a day will pass that we will not hear on our waves with political topics to be discussed. This phenomenon is of course not exceptional in any electoral period. Ghana is considered as fortunate, as since the inception of democratic rule from 1992, elections have witnessed little or no violence. Ghana, our dear nation is considered the citadel of peace and growing democratic governance on the black continent of Africa.

The stakes are very high in the December 2012 elections. Some analyst describes the election as a real test to our democratic dispensation. I believe that they are not far from right. It can be recalled on the African continent that most of the violent clashes which results in deaths, displacement and destruction of properties worth billions which again blocks developments, subjecting citizens to hunger and poverty are often as a result of the struggle for political power. Elections in most part of Africa are characterized by conflicts which drags development in our regions.

Peace is a basis for a sustainable national development. We have so many examples as a country on how the absence of peace impedes against development. Taking for instance, a neighbouring country of Cote D’Ivoire, due to the lack of peace and understanding between the ruling government and the opposition, a nation which was once pride as the beacon of West Africa and the leading producer and exporter of cocoa in Africa, became a nation that citizens have lost hope in. All the efforts used in building the country after independence was brought to a halt abruptly due to the absence of peace. Lives were lost. Citizens became refugees in their own country. The level of economic hardship was very unbearable. Businesses collapsed and the country lost foreign direct investment. The electoral violence in Cote D’Ivoire have cost the nation more harm than good. Can you imagine the amount of resources needed to rebuild the nation? A lot have to be again sacrificed in order to bring the nation back on its feet, mean while those resources could have been put into alternative use to cause more development should there have been no clashes. At least this is a perfect example for us a country to observe.

Let all as people analyze and put ourselves into the shoes of the Ivoirians and imagine how our case would have been in such circumstance. At least this would never be the wish of any Ghanaian citizen. Brilliant, that is why we all have a role to play in order to safeguard the peace that we are all enjoying as a nation. Ghana our dear nation is crying for peace; we are all crying for peace to prevail. We have done it before; we have showed to the world how peaceful we are. Let’s all play our role to uphold the peace in our dear nation. Remember elections or no elections, we yearn for peace and benefits from peace are so many and it comes in diverse ways. We need peace to run our businesses; we need peace to see our children through schools; we need peace to enjoy the fruits of our labour; we need peace to ascertain the development that we all want to see. Development cannot occur in the absence of peace likewise whenever and wherever there is peace, there is development.

The Electoral Commission and our security services have a very crucial role to play in our quest for peace. Political parties as major stakeholders also have a role to play to champion the peace rally; and supporters of various political parties must exercise some level of political tolerance to help safeguard the peace that we are all enjoying. We have only one nation; Ghana. Ghana is the land of our birth and the bedrock of the hopes for generation even yet unborn.

Lets’ all come together and say no to electoral violence. Lets’ all come together and rally behind the flag of peace and hold high for the world to see how tolerable and loving Ghana is and continue to be.

Please notify me when published. Thank you.

By: Paul Frimpong University of Ghana, Legon- Accra Tel: 0241 229 548 Email: deonepf44@yahoo.com