Stop pampering John Mahama and call him to order

Mahama Sad 1 620x330 NDC flagbearer, John Dramani Mahama

Tue, 15 Dec 2020 Source: Sylvester Nuama-Mensah

I listened to part of a message by one of the respected Ghanaian ministers of the Gospel, Rev. Sam Korankye Ankrah, advocating that the president of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo should call the NDC presidential candidate and former president John Dramani Mahama and try to win him over.

While this advice might appear harmless and even noble, it is anything but. It would seem like a subtle attempt to get President Akufo-Addo to kowtow to John Mahama. That may not be the intent of the respected minister of the Gospel, but that is no doubt what heeding such advice would amount to. President Akufo Addo should never heed that ill-advice.

You might ask, isn't that posture intolerant? As the father of the nation, isn't the President expected to be more tolerant? Ah! But therein lies the trick. Let's be honest, tolerance is not about cozying up to a deviant citizen who appears to be inciting trouble and lawlessness. And it is certainly not about encouraging deviant conduct or lawlessness from citizens, even if one is a former president.

Let's put things in perspective. John Mahama is a former president of Ghana. He is expected to respect the law and to abide by the laws of the land. The law is no respecter of persons and no one is above the law.

The Constitution of Ghana makes provision for how to seek redress if a candidate in an election has grievances with the process and/or the outcome. In the case of the Presidential election, the aggrieved candidate is to petition the Supreme Court for redress.

This is the only Constitutional provision and legal avenue available to John Mahama. And he would be well-advised to avail himself of that unique judicial opportunity.

I challenge John Mahama to do the needful by petitioning the Supreme Court if he truly believes that he was cheated in the 2020 Presidential Election and if indeed he has evidence to back his claim.

That is exactly what then-candidate Akufo-Addo did when he felt cheated in the 2012 Presidential Election. Akufo Addo held one press conference to tell the Ghanaian people why he was disputing the election results; then he proceeded to court and provided the evidence to back his claims. Incidentally, John Mahama was the incumbent president then. Ironic, isn't it?

John Mahama has told the whole world that 'data available to his party (NDC) shows that he (Mahama) won the presidential election.' Fine. Armed with that evidence, John Mahama and the NDC should have no problem whatsoever proceeding to court for redress. But instead of doing so, they have resorted to insufferable press conferences and baseless accusations.

Master! If you truly have the evidence to back your claims of vote-rigging, you will be all too happy to go to court, and there will be no need for any "patapaa" actions and pointless press conferences.

It is instructive to note that, in a country like Ghana, where the people are so discerning and our democracy has advanced so far, the former president would soon lose his audience if he and his party continue on this "patapaa" path for much longer. Soon, John Mahama would exhaust any goodwill he may be enjoying now and nobody would bother to listen to anything he has to say.

Ghanaians are not only discerning but are quite sophisticated too. And make no mistake, given how far we have come in our democratic advancement the Ghanaian people are unwilling to go back to the 'bad old ways.'

Moreover, Ghanaians are generally fair-minded. That is why even supporters of your political opponent may want to see that you are treated fairly. For example, free and fair elections, unencumbered legal access, due process et cetera.

But that is also the same reason why Ghanaians would never accept sheer allegations of vote-rigging without credible evidence -- because they believe it's unfair to your opponent whom you are so accusing. It is a two-edged sword, so you need to tread cautiously.

Now to my point: Stop pampering John Mahama!

As I've already noted above, the law is no respecter of persons and no one is above the law. As a former president of Ghana, John Mahama is expected to respect the law and abide by the laws of the land.

Since the Constitution of Ghana provides that an aggrieved candidate in an election should go to court to seek redress, this remains the only legal avenue available to John Mahama. Anything outside of that is noise that may border on illegality or lawlessness.

Just consider some of the inflammatory comments that have been made by some of the NDC leaders and John Mahama himself since the declaration of the 2020 Election results.

They have accused the Electoral Commission (EC) of conniving with the government to rig the Presidential Election for the incumbent; they have accused the military of being used to intimidate and subvert the will of the people in the elections; they have accused the police and national security of conniving with the EC to rig the elections for the ruling party; and, they have even accused the media and some CSOs of conniving with the ruling party to rig the elections. Absurd!

As if that is not enough, some leading members of the NDC, as well as some of their activists, have done the unthinkable by declaring John Mahama as president of Ghana, contrary to the declaration by the EC chair who is the sole constitutionally-mandated Returning Officer of the Presidential Election.

Worse still is the impunity with which the outgoing NDC member of Parliament, Inusah Fuseini, is reported to have said that Mahama should declare himself president and form a parallel government. (See "Ghanaians descend on Inusah Fuseini for asking Mahama to declare himself president -- Ghanaweb: https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/politics/Ghanaians-descend-on-Inusah-Fuseini-for-asking-Mahama-to-declare-himself-president-1132148)

What?! Why would such an experienced parliamentarian and lawyer make such irresponsible statement? A treasonable statement!

Indeed, the stakes must be really high in this election for John Mahama and the NDC. It seems as though they have something to cover up, which they believe can only be successfully achieved if and only if John Mahama regains power by hook or by crook. I'm speculating, of course. But I can't help it. How else do you explain their conduct?

By the way, in spite of the foregoing, how could anyone honestly suggest to President Akufo Addo to call John Mahama and try to win him over? Aba!

Why this pampering of John Mahama? Rather than advise the former president to be law-abiding, comport himself and act in a lawful manner while he seeks redress for his grievance, you are instead advising the sitting president to do what?

Let it be known by all and sundry that the State has an obligation to protect the citizenry and to ensure national security. Therefore, whenever necessary, the State can deploy the full force of its police power (the police, the military and the national security apparatus in this case) to enforce law and order and to ensure public safety and national security.

John Mahama and the NDC ought to know that action and reaction are equal and opposite. They must be told in no uncertain terms, that if they want to incite and ferment trouble in the country, that is a choice they make. But they must understand that every choice has consequences. And the consequences could be grave.

We have only one Ghana. And we are all one people. It does no good to set the country on fire in the name of politics or for the sake of political power. Politics is just part of the way we govern ourselves. And there are rules of the game, including rules for seeking redress in case of dispute in an election. Besides, there's been a precedent. We've seen it before... in 2012 when the Presidential Election was disputed. The aggrieved candidate simply followed the established rules. That's what is expected of each and every true patriot and statesman.

Let decorum prevail. Let peace prevail.

Long live Ghana!

Columnist: Sylvester Nuama-Mensah
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