By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK
Thank God Nana Akufo Addo’s regular medical check up in London was successful and he was able to tell party supporters and Ghanaians that “he was in better health than he left Ghana on June 4, 2013 for medical examination abroad” (see “God has something great in store for NPP", Ghanaweb June 21, 2013. Did Nana Akufo have a personal or spiritual encounter with God whilst he was in the UK for him to make this statement on his return to Ghana? In this brief article, I want to discuss the mis(use) of God in Ghanaian politics by politicians with reference to Nana Akufo Addo’s above statement.
Let me just make an observation on Nana Akufo Addo’s health before I go into the main topic for discussion. It is sad that the health of politicians, especially political leaders is politicised in Ghana. It was even rumoured that the statement issued by the NPP General Secretary asking party supporters not to go to the airport to welcome Nana Akufo Addo back home was misconstrued to mean he was unwell and either the party or he himself did not want party supporters to see him. I am sure Ghanaians have not so soon forgotten that no political leader can pretend to well when the reality is to the contrary. After all, Nana Akufo could not have slipped into Ghana under the cloak of darkness without anyone setting eyes on him. It’s high time the health of politicians is depoliticised and instead encouraged to be open and candid about their health because they, like anyone of us are also human. In fact, Nana Akufo Addo has done the right thing by subjecting himself to regular health checks and all political leaders should be encouraged to emulate his good practice.
Back to the main subject for discussion. It is not unusual to hear Ghanaian politicians from both sides of the political divide invoking the name of God to win elections. However, this invocation became almost synonymous with the main opposition party, NPP, in the last weeks and days of the 2012 presidential election campaign. We heard statements such as, “the battle is the Lord’s”, “we leave it in the hands of God” "Insha Allah" (God willing) and others.
Then, behold, the election was held and the results declared but God appeared not to have fought the battle for Nana Akufo Addo and NPP. At least, up till the time of writing this article. On a number of occasions, I commented on such reports that God is not a registered voter in or God has no vote in Ghana. Elections are won by votes and not by praying to God and hoping that God will deliver the expected votes, if the hard work of campaigning to win the hearts and minds of voters is not done prior to voting day.
Nana Akufo Add et al have petitioned the Supreme Court over the results declared by the Electoral Commission. The hearing is at an advanced stage at the SC and it appears Nana Akufo Addo is repeating the over reliance on God to deliver victory to them. Nana Akufo Addo is again invoking the name of God to reassure his supporters that victory is at hand. There is nothing wrong with that, particularly considering the fact that the Ghanaian has almost absolute faith or trust in God.
However, what is interesting and perhaps even contradictory about Nana Akufo Addo telling his supporters that God has something great in store for the NPP is that , at the same time, he tells them to keep faith in him and not in God (see “keep faith in me - Akufo-Addo tells supporters”, Ghanaweb June 20, 2013). Does Nana Akufo Addo recognise and accept that as far as the presidency is concerned, that matter slipped out of his hands the very day Dr Afari Gyan declared Mahama President Elect, followed by the day he and two others filed their petition at the Supreme Court? If so, why is he asking his supporters to keep faith in him?
Why is Akufo Addo not asking his supporters to keep faith in his legal team who have his fate in their hands? Why is Nana Akufo Addo not asking his supporters to have faith in the nine Supreme Court Justices who will ultimately decide his fate on this matter? Is it all about him when in reality, all what he can do is to depend on his legal team and hope that the team will persuade the Justices to rule in his favour?
I am not in any way suggesting that Nana Akufo Addo or NPP should not have faith in God but as I indicated above, God is not a member of the petitioner’s legal team, neither is God a member of the nine Justices. I am also aware that Ghanaian leaders are very religious and read about and saw pictures of Nana Akufo Addo in Israel praying at the Jewish Wailing Wall for God’s blessing for his victory prior to the election. There were reports of NPP organising prayer camps and special prayer services were held in parts of the country before to the election. Earlier this year, we heard about President Mahama’s abortive plans to send some religious leaders to the Christian holy land (Israel) to pray for Ghana and the government or for him. Yet, we still have political failures and disasters in Ghana. Has God deserted Ghanaian politicians or what? If presidential election was won through prayers to God alone, NPP’s presidential candidate, Nana Akufo Addo would have won the 2012 presidential election hands down.
I believe in God but if at this stage Nana Akufo Addo is asking his supporters to put their faith in him to deliver victory to them and telling them that God has something great in store for NPP, is he in denial that his own fate lies with others that he has no control over, let alone those of his supporters, even if they have the same destiny? Is he in denial that, after all the prayers in Israel and across Ghana, perhaps, God may not grant his request on this occasion and time to remember that God helps those who help themselves? For me, the time has come for Nana Akufo Addo and his supporters to do a reality check and accept that the battle is no longer the Lord’s. The battle should now lay in the hands of his legal team and even to a lesser extent the legal team of the respondents because their performance will also affect the final outcome of the petition. But above all, Nana Akufo Addo and his supporters’ fate lie squarely in the hands of the nine Supreme Court Justices.
In any case if God were to have a vote in Ghana, I am not sure which political party’s presidential candidate will God vote for. The simple answer is, God does not get involved in party politics and neither is God a politician. Please leave God out of Ghana’s intractable and divisive politics.
Kofi Ata, Cambridge