Ghana’s First Test of Democracy: Ref: NPP Finally in Court over 2012 Election Results
By: Kwaku A. Danso
As the year 2012 comes to an end and the NPP takes this case of alleged electoral fraud to the Supreme court, we all have to assess what we have learned on this earth this year and for Ghana, perhaps in the last decade, three or four decades to half a century after independence.
This election standoff will go down in our history as perhaps Ghana first test of democracy and rule of law. However is it the right test? Is it sufficient? The NPP or NDC, when it’s their turn, should not simply seek electoral victory but seek to change the society for all of Ghana through executive as well as legal actions. What happened to the centralization of power in one man appointing all chief executives and officials in Ghana’s 1992 post-dictatorial constitution? Is that not a defect needing to be fixed? To cite a few examples, what happened to $4.2 Billion in loans taken for highways not accounted for? What happened to abuse of power by one man using $3.6 million to buy gold chains and putting one around his neck! What happened to other known cases of bribery and corruption in the voting system, in the award of contracts, in denial of basic human needs such as utilities - water and electricity, and hence human rights of people in Ghana even after loans incurred for specific projects? Could these party leaders not have taken some cases to the Supreme Court also?
I am reading a book called: WHY NATIONS FAIL: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu of MIT and James A. Robinson of Harvard, and I can’t put the book down – due to the many writings I have been making over the last 3 or 4 decades that predicts poverty for our society but that nobody listens. Today the Chinese are ready to take strategic competitive advantage of our people and our resources because our leaders, the chiefs as the elected, fail to stand up for the people. They fail in critical assessment and planning due to their selfish and greedy mindset. It hurts to say this in public but if our people are not being captured as slaves, they will be working for somebody else due to the sell-out of our nation to others. If we are not producing our own goods and not regulating our own Banks to help them finance businesses but only for short term gain, others will take whatever resources we have and sell us cheap goods!
Gold is written on the front doors of Ghana but poverty is on the inside corridors for our people since our leaders are greedy and selfish and don’t listen to new ideas from those who have been exposed to the “secrets of the white man” (as our elders used to say) and willing to share. Post-colonial education has come to waste in most cases. A few elected or self-imposed rulers are using similar methods of centralized power with greed and selfishness as the Spanish Conquistadores used in South America and now even capitalizing the Ghana military as done in failed Egypt. It was the failed Spanish system that fortunately after 1498 the British learnt also and tried to use in North America and it did now work. When the landed British failed to capture the Indian chiefs or coerce or force them to work for them, the landed immigrants created a society of full citizen participation that has developed gradually through the experimentation and rejection of the greed of the few, to become the most successful socio-political and economic nation in human history, the USA. The people were ready to fight and die, go to war many times, to sustain their system. How did this happen that a nation that is only 5% of the world’s population has an economy larger than the next ten developed nations combined, consume more than 25% of all what the world produces, and (laugh at this one we found recently after the school shooting) has 50% of all the guns in the world! Our people should learn to move away from “patapaa”, physical force and action without critical thinking. The people should speak up, in towns and in districts and regions, and take the chance to elect their own leaders as the American settlers did in the 1500s to now. They should learn from others, experiment, compete for their own best standards with others they see, and let the Judicial system work! Yes, it is called the RULE OF LAW! I laugh in America here when I see these women police or security officers (a job is a job, right?) carrying guns on their usually woman’s larger hips,, but then as many as there is crime in America there is Law and order and the taxpayer’s funds work for the people. Just dial 911 anywhere in America and the police will find your location using GPS technology and your phone number, and be at your door or area within 5-10 minutes! There is every crime and corruption in America, but the system is set up so that the police and investigators do their work. Why are we in Ghana spending $240 million to buy some bio-metric registration system when electricity is not even reliable for the machines! Why can’t we spend half the money to expand Water Treatment facilities or Transformer equipment to make our electricity distribution more reliable for our people! As my late grandfather would ask: Are we animals?
We all get what we desire, pray for, and work for in life! Our people have to stand up and challenge their leaders as equal human beings! We should work together and use the same level of enthusiasm as we use in elections, to stand up for water, electricity and for decent roads, sanitation, health care and overall decent living conditions! If we allow open society for all to elect their leaders, from the towns to the Presidency, and hold our leaders feet to the fire, for us to struggle and learn, we will survive. If we work to sow so we reap our harvests, and elect a government which collects taxes and the people hold them accountable, we will succeed. Such citizen-participatory systems succeed more than in places where a few take power and all the money as pro and ex gratia emoluments, as well as cut deals to take all the wealth in the society as we see being done in Ghana now. Yes, we see all kinds of tricks on the books, $51 million dollar judgment debts, contract awards, over-invoicing without accountability, etc, and so why did they think elections will be different? Our political leaders are now going to court for a corrupt and fraudulent counting system? Aren’t we all paying the price for allowing corruption in public offices, and the government executives stealing from public funds! Will anybody go to prison if any election irregularities are found? We all know perhaps none will be punished. How can a nation like this succeed when crime is not punished? Enjoy the rest of the Holiday season and let us hope the nation will find its path to the right formula for human societal management and not perpetuate what we have now leading to disaster. I have seen the promise of Ghana but I may not be able to enjoy it since my time is past.
All the best for the New Year to all!
Dr. Kwaku A. Danso, Livermore, California, USA