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If anything can destroy our democracy, it is the intolerance from those in power

Nana Akufo Addo Thinking.png?fit=640%2C401&ssl=1 President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

Thu, 17 Dec 2020 Source: Denis Andaban

There is an ensuing political tension in the country precipitated by entrenched political interests by the ruling New Patriotic Party, the largest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress, as well as, the Ghana Electoral Commission who from scratch seems to be adamant of any issues raised by the opposition.

The NDC has been raising issues right from the time of the compilation of a new voter register till now. Most of the issues raised were/are very genuine issues that if listened to, could better our democracy, which has been the envy of African democracy.

Unfortunately, the NDC, merely because it is an opposition party, is seen as evil and tagged as "a threat to democracy". By this position, any idea from the NDC must be swept under the carpet but what ever comes from the ruling government or the Electoral Commission, it must be taken as final and sacrosanct! It is this posturing that has landed the Electoral Commission in the comedy of errors.

The ruling party and the Electoral Commission's lack of tolerance for the views of the NDC is what has culminated this disputed election results. The attitude of " you can go and burn the sea" cannot in any way contribute to the growth of our democracy.

One of the most known distinct attributes of the Ghanaian people is tolerance and our institutions must necessarily be tolerant, reflecting the true values of the people. It is by tolerance that people have their grievances resolved amicably.

Tolerance is a great pillar of every democracy and a sine qua non in building a free and just society. The foundation of democracy is divergent ideas, disagreement and consensus building. This, I do expect every leader to know and practice.

According to Eamonn Butler (2013), "tolerating other people's ideas and lifestyles benefit society. Truth is not always obvious; it emerges in the battle of ideas. We cannot trust censors to suppress only ideas. They may mistakenly suppress ideas and ways of acting that would greatly benefit society in the future."

The freedom as guaranteed to us by the 1992 constitution will not be real freedom if people's views are disregarded.

We need to have a comforting ground to listen to others, interrogate their claims and to arrive at a resolution. A society built on tolerance is a society where everyone feels proud to be part of. It is an ideal society that people will sacrifice to build.

Conversely is what Butler advanced in his argument that a free society is not directed from above by some elites using force. Rather, it is the one which must work naturally and boltered by reliability and honesty.

Can we say that we have tolerance in and within our systems? If we tolerance exists what would have caused a whole Electoral Body, the Ghana Electoral Commission to ignore very serious issues raised by a major stakeholder like the NDC and went ahead to announce results? So by that declaration, to compel the aggrieved party to accept it without question?

This act of exercising power is what is heightening public perception of politicisation and polarisation of important institutions, constitutionally created to serve the interest of the people. It reiterates the perception that people appointed by the president of the Republic are hell bent on serving his (the president) interest and not the interest of the people. It is further consolidated by the fact that all the commissioners are the appointees of President Nana Akuffo Addo. If these perceptions derail the confidence people have in such constitutionally created bodies, why should they have trust in the others? Are some of these bodies spared of the political infiltration and desacredition?

When people are pained and have no hopes in having their issues resolved, conflict becomes inevitable, that we must prevent by respecting dissent views.

Multiparty democracy has its own imperfections but we have adopted and lived with it by far with some amount of significant progress but if we have a leader who wants to capture every state institution to himself, just to advance his personal political aggrandizement, then trust and confidence for state institutions will be eroded and the entire society is devoid of fairness.

This is why everybody has a role of check and balance. I mean the Civil Society Organizations, Faith-based Organizations and others must put the political leadership on check. If we succumb to the whims and caprices of the government by overlooking the wrongs, then the entire system would be corrupted and can collapse like the walls of Babylon city.

People, speak out!

Let people own the power and show responsibility of maintaining the peace and tranquillity of this nation. It is the collective spirit, our tolerance, resilience and fortitude that will ensure fairness for all.

We have a terrible government whose supreme interest is advancing what interests it at all cost. A good government should be the one seeking the happiness, security and prosperity of its citizens. When people are shot and killed and nothing happens then that government becomes a predator. The government becomes complicit and its powers contaminated.

Indeed, Robert Guest (2005) says "I think the most important thing holding Africa back is the abysmal quality of governance there. What do I mean by that? A good government should seek to promote the prosperity of citizens by creating a framework within which ordinary people can pursue happiness and prosperity in whatever way they choose. Too often, that is not the case in Africa. Too often, you find that governments are predatory and incompetent".

Such is the case we have in Ghana.

Political and social discrimination have become the new norm. People including those who have the mandate to rule, see no reason they should tolerate or give fairness to others because of their political, religions, ethnic affiliation.

We must change now or perish together!!!

*Let's rebuild an ideal Ghana*

Denis Andaban

The village boy from DBI

Columnist: Denis Andaban
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