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Ghana's 2012 Elections – Observations from the Sidelines

Thu, 13 Dec 2012 Source: Amponsah, John

By John Amponsah

I watched our just ended elections from start to finish from the sidelines with very keen interest. In fact it has been a long time since I pulled an “all night” session as I awaited updates to the results.

It is all done now. The rules of the game were agreed to by all parties, referees and third party overseer groups played their role splendidly, voting took place in an orderly fashion (in general) to the great credit of the Ghanaian people, and after almost three gruelling days of waiting for results, we finally discovered who is to lead us as a nation for the next four years. It is all over. Albeit with a small margin, the Ghanaian people have decided. It is now up to all the political players to act graciously and in the spirit of good sportsmanship.

Yet congratulations are in order! President Mahama now has the mantle to lead the nation so as one people we must accord him that earned position and pledge to work with (or at least not against) his group for the betterment of all our people. As I have often intimated in the past, my ultimate desire is to observe the rise and prosperity of our Ghanaian people and all black Africans who with us are really one people aiming to arrive at a better place in life on this planet. Ghana must be a leadership example for the nations of black people to follow.

In this regard, it is also the right occasion to remind those who have now been elected into power that governments are chosen and exist for the purpose of guiding, protecting and serving the best interests of those who elected them. It is not the other way around. As Ghana strives to make the world become more and more aware of its democratic credentials, it is important for our leaders to remember this fundamental truth about true leadership.

We want to see our people progress. We want social policies and economic deals which put the people and the nation first, and not those which are drafted only in the best interests of foreign corporations, nations and blocs. We want political decisions which do not endanger our society economically or militarily. We want accountable, honest and transparent dealings bereft of corruption between our government who represent us and those external interest groups who liaise with our government. In short we want good leadership, good governance.

Good leadership is a crucial part of what will take us to the next level. Quoting the words of Malaysian leader Anwar Ibrahim, [on leadership] “It is courage, conviction, tenacity of purpose, you want to do something good...you must not be corrupt”. This message is self-evident, but not always easy to put into practice. Great men and women must rise to, or above the occasion when faced with such an important opportunity. Once good governance is put in place, the people will do the rest by themselves.

Mr President, take control over your government, over those who work under you. You have been given a unique opportunity so do not misuse it or allow it to slip out of your hands. You and your people work for us (it should be this way) so as conscientious citizens, it is our duty to hold you and your team responsible for what you do during your mandate. I for one will remain on the sidelines and continue to perform my duty as a responsible citizen.

Let me also take this opportunity to say a few words to the NPP. The last two elections have shown that your party has a “challenge with demographics” on your hands. If you seek to comfortably return to the game, you must take a cue from what the US Republican party realized from the just ended US elections, where minority groups such as the Latinos who voted heavily for Obama allowed him to secure his place, narrowly beating the Republican candidate in a very similar fashion to what happened with our just ended election. The percentages will remain close and likely in favour of the NDC unless the NPP are able to come up with a strategy to attract and keep more groups not of the Akwapem, Akyem, Asante, Denkyira and other Akan groups who provide the bulk of votes for NPP. To illustrate my point, much if not all of the upper East and Upper West and much of the Northern Region went to your political competitor, so you have work to do. In my eyes, that is your challenge. I wish you all the best in the next election.

I would also like to thank Dr Afari Gyan for the services he has rendered to this nation, as this could well be his last run as Election Commissioner. You have played a role akin to a king maker (a “president maker” in your case) and your name will be written in the history books. You will be remembered as having played a key role in the elections processes of the fourth republic of Ghana.

I would like to end by saying that having survived another successful election, it is likely that our country will be inundated with foreign investments as our image and reputation as a stable African democracy has been strengthened. Above all, it is likely we will be seeing more Chinese investments, as they have already invested big money in the country during president Mills' time. It is the duty of the re-elected NDC government to make astute judgements with foreign investors, that they will avoid STX-type deals, that they will always put the people first. Also noteworthy is that America seems to be planning their next “war on terror” in West Africa, centred round Mali, Al Qaeda in Magreb (AQIM) and the Azawad nation of Tuaregs (never mind the vast uranium deposits in that area etc. etc). It is up to President Mahama and his team to avoid getting our nation Ghana involved in any of this and also to defend our nation and our interests, for our own good. Di wo fie asem?

Best wishes, NDC government, but we will continue to watch from the sidelines, doing our duty as citizens of the country. Let's see if your government can take us closer to where we aim to reach as a nation, and as black people with high hopes and aspirations.

Columnist: Amponsah, John