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Opinions Tue, 5 Feb 2019

NPP, NDC must halt ‘verbal violence’

Ever since former President John Dramani Mahama made his infamous “boot for boot” comment to caution the National Security to be fair to all political actors in the country, I have been wondering whether such mantras win political power.

Hear the former President in his reaction to the violence that rocked the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency by-election last week: “We are a revolutionary party and we can also unleash violence…no one can unleash more violence than us”.

The former President is not the only one to have made such scary comment in our political discourse.

President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo himself, in 2012, also made a similar statement with his “all die be die” comment in his reaction to the violence that hit the Atiwa Constituency by-election.

Hear him also: “Atiwa by-election, we showed them something small there”.

Our political engagements are replete with multiple examples from both the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the major opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Fear of many

However, whether it is boot for boot, all die be die, toe to toe, it can all not be treated as mere warning or slogan.

This is because the impression being created is that no one has the monopoly to cause mayhem in the country and this is the fear of many who are hoping that the country should not get to this point.

Really, can we do politics in this country without causing fear and panic among the citizenry?

Regrettably, the politics of insults, blame game and equalisation seem to be the order of the day, especially in engagements between the NDC and NPP.

Battle lines

Both the NPP and NDC are barely 25 years under the current Fourth Republican dispensation and if the two parties were humans, they would retire at age 60.

It, therefore, means that the two parties alternatively will rule the affairs of state for a long time to come.

That is why the two parties need not draw the battle lines and rather be civil and decorous towards each other, notwithstanding the high stakes in politics.

Partisan politics definitely should not be a do or die or boot for boot affair because the stakes are high. The NPP and NDC must rather remain committed to issue-based and decent discourse.

Violence at Ayawaso

After watching the videos of the eruption of violence during the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency by-election and the slaps a Member of Parliament (MP) received from the National Security, I kept wondering whether that was the best approach from our security officers.

I saw many hefty people in uniforms handling and brandishing weapons, charging inappropriately on suspects of alleged electoral crime. Fortunately, the leadership of the security forces have commenced full-scale investigation into the whole matter and it is the hope that the outcome will help the nation avoid such nasty scenes in future elections.

Wearing scary masks and dressed in full-scale warfare military accoutrements are not only a scare, to say the least, but enough intimidation to scare the electorate from exercising their franchise.

Election security strategyn

Since the 2020 general election is around the corner, what happened at Ayawaso West Wuogon must also be a useful learning experience. This, I believe, calls for a total review of election security matters guiding the conduct of national elections and position our security officers to be always professional in their dealings with the electorate and the citizenry.

Addressing the issue of political vigilantism can also not be treated with kid gloves if we are determined to shun violence in our body politics.

Ghana cannot be in the news for all the wrong reasons in our democratic journey - election violence, recklessness and war mongering, abusive statements by some MPs both in and out of Parliament, gruesome murders, Ponzi schemes, corruption, kidnapping, the failing banking sector and the recent US visa sanctions on Ghana.

These are not developments that any Ghanaian can be proud of and they are definitely not the way to go. As a matter of urgency, we need as a country to refocus on the bread and butter issues and continue to maintain our peace-loving nature.

That is what all well-meaning nations are doing to prosper and we in Ghana cannot do otherwise.

Columnist: Graphic.com.gh