Election 2012 and the danger ahead (Part I)

Sun, 24 Jun 2012 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Friday, June 22, 2012

Even before the electioneering campaigns for Election 2012 intensify, there is every cause to be alarmed at the danger looming over our country. Everything points to one grave conclusion: that our country risks being blown apart by electoral violence.

I am no prophet of doom, but I can infer from the high degree of intolerance, impatience, and unforgiving spiritedness currently dominating national politics that we are heading toward disaster at Election 2012. Only an overly dishonest person will doubt my claim.

Two obvious sides likely to be the cause of this disaster are our main political camps—the NDC and the NPP—fully backed by their plethora of electoral agenda and mass of mostly uninformed functionaries who are more prone to use their hearts (emotions) instead of their heads (reason) to determine the ebb and flow of partisan politics. Sporadic clashes between the camps of these political rivals will soon emerge.

Unfortunately, in an electoral violence, such characters end up being victims of their own recklessness while the political leaders instigating them adroitly escape harm to continue living their lives in comfort.

As Election 2012 approaches, I can say with guarded pessimism that our country is gradually tottering toward the precipice. Only a calculating trouble maker in the employment of those manipulating the system to advantage will fail to see the danger looming. Or even deny that we are almost at the crossroads.

In this tangle, I am not as petrified by the NDC and its government’s manouevres as I am alarmed by those of the NPP. Barring any unforeseen machination, I don’t see how the NDC/government can disregard the outcome of Election 2012 to remain in power if the electorate vote it down. The government can’t defy the electorate and hope to continue in office. It is one of my least worries.

What is dreadful is the other side of the coin. Considering the high hopes that the NPP’s leaders have about Election 2012, I am tempted to guess—and rightly too—that any pressing of the button to trigger the explosion will come from their stables. They may claim to be peace-loving but I am skeptical.

The threat to national security will be posed by those who are desperately presenting themselves as winners of Election 2012, five clear months before the polls are conducted. Evidence of this bloated optimism is all over the place to suggest that the NPP won’t easily accept defeat. Then, what?

What nearly happened in 2008 when Atta Akyea went to court on a Christmas holiday to seek the overturning of the election results is likely to be magnified to the highest degree of absurdity if Election 2012 deflates the high hopes in these NPP functionaries. That is, if the outcome proves that they are losers, they will not accept it, and that is when all hell will likely break loose from their quarters. Therein lies the danger.

The other political parties (Progressive People’s Party, People’s National Party, CPP, or any other) may also be seeking electoral victory but haven’t so far portrayed the kind of desperation and heated belligerence as the NPP followers have done. I am persuaded by what has come from these minor political parties to conclude that their followers may not be those likely to set the fire on the political landscape.

They are likely to accept the outcome of the elections; and will be even satisfied with any Parliamentary seat they can win to make their presence felt in Ghanaian politics. Their Presidential Candidates don’t have any clout or justification to protest when defeated. After all, they are not as formidable as those of the NDC and the NPP are. And the rivalry between the NDC and the NPP is more concentrated than it is between them and any of these mushroom parties.

I reiterate that of all the factors likely to trigger electoral violence, none are so troubling as those from the NPP and the NDC. Let me explain issues, beginning with the NPP side of the coin.

So convinced are the NPP functionaries of their party’s victory that they are already in a celebratory mood, citing alleged disillusionment of the electorate and dissatisfaction with President Mills’ performance as self-serving evidence.

So clear is their optimism that they aren’t prepared for anything else short of which they will go ballistic.

So desperate are they that they will do anything to create the impression that victory for them at Election 2012 is a done deal. We have already begun being told of opinion polls favouring Akufo-Addo (something coming from the pro-NPP newspaper, The New Statesman, published on Ghanaweb.com today).

We are left in no doubt about this climate of excessive hopefulness, which the NPP functionaries’ utterances, public posturing, and taunting of the NDC reveal.

But beneath all that cloak of optimism is thick desperation, which will be the cause to trigger mayhem. I am more than persuaded from their hot-headed rhetoric that they won’t accept defeat. That is why they have begun putting in place measures to warrant anything they do to undermine the integrity of the institutions likely to be involved in the electoral process:

• They have already created the wrong impression that the Electoral Commission is in cahoots with the incumbent government to rig the elections, meaning that if the results don’t favour them, they will have enough justification to implement their hidden agenda of “All-die-be-die”;

• Their immediate vitriolic reaction to the creation of 45 new constituencies by the Electoral Commission is a further demonstration of their strategy of undermining the integrity of the Electoral Commission and conditioning the minds of their followers to doubt the election results if not in their favour;

• They have taken serious steps to condition their followers’ minds for victory and to provide enough rationale for anything they will do to subvert the electoral process if they lose the elections;

• Their propaganda machinery, especially the private print media and electronic (FM radio stations supporting their cause) and the Internet sources (especially Web sites rooting for them), are doing overtime painting the picture of an NPP victory at the polls;

• Their spreading of fabrications, half-truths, and outright lies against the government is on the increase as part of the broad agenda of vilification in readiness for the major campaign modus operandi to create animosity for the incumbent; and

• The tendency on the part of some of their functionaries to play the ethnic card, especially pitting the Ewes against Asantes and presenting issues through that lens for political leverage.

There are many other negative touches to what defines the NPP’s politicking. To cut it short, though, we can tell from the persistent verbal aggression against President Mills and all government functionaries considered as threats that the NPP’s strategies for the electioneering campaign process are fraught with troubling strategies that will cause mayhem if carried through.

And from the dogged determination so far displayed, there is little to doubt their ability and intention to cause mayhem in pursuit of their electoral ambitions. Claws are being sharpened to tear into those who may stand between them and electoral victory.

To be continued…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.