By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Friday, November 25, 2011
Every well-meaning Ghanaian must be alarmed at the spate of threats coming from the NDC government and its opponents (the NPP camp, especially). It is as if some people are convinced that their party will win the elections only through the volume of threats they issue. Poor souls.
We’ve heard Koku Anyidoho, Communications Director at the Presidency, respond to a series of threats from the NPP camp concerning the 2012 elections. He has warned the NPP’s Akufo-Addo and National Chairman, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, that they won’t be spared if they foment trouble in the country.
Then, Kennedy Agyapong bounced back with his response that the NPP would turn Ghana into “Rwanda” if the NDC rigs the elections. Still from the NPP, we’ve heard Kennedy Kankam, Ashanti Regional Organizer of the NPP, also repeat that warning, adding his own twist to it and including the Electoral Commission in its anti-NDC blitz to indicate that the NPP will install Akufo-Addo by force as a parallel President if the party doesn’t win the elections.
Regardless of where these threats are coming from, who is issuing them, or their different degrees of intensity, they have one common import: they are alarming and reflect the waywardness that has dominated our national politics. They also reinforce public fears that our politicians are not disciplined enough to do clean politics. It seems they’ve now graduated from mere politics of insults and sophistry to one of abject intimidation and violence, which endangers our democracy. Even if not yet translated into practice, such threats have the potential to disrupt relationships and create tension, which is likely to destabilize the system. National security is threatened at this level.
We may want to take a more critical look at the substance of the threats to be able to know how to deal with them. Or how to factor them into our assessment of issues. We begin with Koku Anyidoho.
In his threat, Anyidoho made it clear that the government will deal with the NPP flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, and NPP chairman Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, if they attempt to undermine the peace of the country. Making this threat in a recent talk at a radio station in London, Anyidoho challenged Akufo-Addo and Obetsebi-Lamptey to “dare make the wrong move” to see what the government will do to clamp down on them. In a follow-up interview, Anyidoho stood his grounds and said he spoke on behalf of the President.
Reaction to his threat was swift, coming from those in the NPP and others who faulted him. For instance, a member of the National Peace Council, Maulvi Wahab Adams, condemned the threats, saying that with Anyidoho’s position at the presidency, he ought to be more responsible and circumspect in his utterances.
To him, “It’s very worrying that those people from whom we expect the best of conduct indulge in such language that is likely to plunge the country into a state of disorder.”
We already know the volume of threats issued by the NPP’s functionaries to perceive their stance.
Then, here are the real issues. Long before Anyidoho made those utterances, the NPP activists had bared their teeth, issuing threats here-and-there, one of which is Akufo-Addo’s senseless clarion call of “All die be die,” which has been given various spins and used as the motivation for the NPP’s bellicose stance to date. We all heard numerous threats from the NPP camp long before Anyidoho stepped in with his brand of counter-threats.
Of course, as a responsible government, the Mills administration shouldn’t be expected to look on unconcerned while its opponents issue threats to create panic among the public. Not to be seen as supporting Anyidoho’s conduct, though, I want to say that every government will make moves to reassure the people that it is in control of affairs. Anyidoho’s statement should, therefore, be seen in that light and given the appropriate interpretation, not spun out of context or overblown to suggest that he is advocating ruthless action against the government’s bitterest opponents/critics. His is a step in the right direction for as long as it will prove to the opponents that the government will not bend to their will.
Again, we need to understand that Anyidoho’s utterances have nothing to do with the NDC’s agenda toward the 2012 elections nor is there anything in them to suggest that the government intends to use the security services to rig the elections. His is a blunt statement cautioning those propagating “brute force” or violence as their means to achieve their political objectives of winning the 2012 elections at all costs.
It is within this context that we have to assess the import of Anyidoho’s threat. It’s not borne out of mischief or the penchant for violence but is the direct response to what has been in the public domain all this while. The Newtonian principle is in force here: an action begets an equal reaction. The NPP’s activists began the action by issuing threats, which has given rise to the government’s reaction in the form of counter-threats and a reminder of who wields ultimate power in the country (by virtue of the voters’ mandate).
I don’t see anything weird about what Anyidoho has said, provided that no action is taken to hound the political opponents just to cow them into submission. But if there is the slightest indication of their preparing to destabilize the country or physically beginning to do so, every ounce of the force at the disposal of the government must be brought down to bear heavily on them to curtail the violence that they are constantly pointing to in their public posturing and utterances.
The government must ensure that it secures the country and its citizens against any wanton destruction by such forces. There will be nothing wrong with such an action from the government if it uses the people’s mandate judiciously to secure national life.
The question is: Why is it that it is only the NPP that is hell-bent on issuing threats concerning the 2012 elections? Or do its followers not think that there are other opposition parties and followers who also want to rule Ghana and need public goodwill for that purpose?
Don’t tell me that the NPP is the major opposition party that is capable of replacing the NDC and must, therefore, project itself more vigorously than the other opposition parties are doing. Indeed, any such thought will be extremely stupid and misplaced because nation-building doesn’t call for violence. Indeed, if all the political parties have the nation’s interest at heart and our politicians are motivated by the national call to duty (to help us build our country into a viable politico-economic system to provide congenial living conditions for the people), there should be no need for this head-butting and rampant issuing of threats.
I know it for a fact that these politicians have ulterior motives for wanting political power. We have enough evidence from what has unfolded so far to confirm that they seek political office for personal aggrandizement more than serving the people who would have put them in office. Much of what they do is to fleece the system for personal gains to be able to acquire the wealth that has eluded them in their various careers. Politics has become the gateway to wealth and comfort for them; hence, their uncompromising behaviour in the morbid search for political power. Ghana doesn’t care who develops it!!
I am confident that when the people become critically aware of some of these underlying factors motivating the mad rush for political office, they will act wisely to punish these politicians. Only then will they be contributing their quota toward refining our politics. Until such a time, these threats and counter-threats will continue to foul our air and put the people on edge for nothing. No amount of blaming or admonition will solve the problem, I daresay; but those who think they can abuse the government’s leniency to foment trouble shouldn’t be spared.
When there is enough evidence to take them on, let’s do so to prevent their personal ambitions from contaminating the national psyche and endangering the political well-being of our country. We need peace to develop, not this kind of senseless recourse to threats and mayhem in pursuit of political ambitions. All I can see happening is the NPP’s brazen attempt to create conditions for head-on confrontations between it and all those it sees as barriers on its road to electoral victory.
The NPP has already impugned the integrity of the IGP and his Police Service, suggesting that they are incapable of providing the atmosphere for free-and-fair elections. Now, they’re directing their venom at the Electoral Commission, discrediting it too. What will happen is that after discrediting all these institutions, it will create conditions for the elections to be doubted, which will provide it with the ammunition it needs to carry out the kind of agenda that Kankam has hinted at—to install Akufo-Addo as a parallel President.
May God forbid that the ambitions of such characters should throw the country into chaos. There will be nothing wrong if Ghanaians see Akufo-Addo and a government of the NPP as the solver of their problems to be given the mandate. After all, the people cannot continue suffering and anybody they see as a problem solver will have their nod. But that nod must be given through peaceful elections, not intimidation and arm-twisting tactics of the kind that has dominated the NPP’s petty politicking!! Nor should it be given to a government that has lost faith with the people but wants to remain in office through subterfuge.
For now, the message must be clear to both the NDC and NPP functionaries that the road to electoral victory is paved with hard work and effective electioneering campaigns, not empty threats and waste of resources. Any of them that takes our leniency to be our weakness will live to rue the day.