No Single Party/Individual Holds Monopoly Over Violence In Ghana?

Tue, 15 Jan 2008 Source: Agyepong, Benjamin Opoku

In recent times, there has been much negative talk from the opposition about the impending election of 2008. Kwasi Pratt warned of disastrous consequences if the impending election were to be rigged (Ghanaweb, Tuesday January 8, 2008). In the same way, Evans Atta Mills, the NDC flagbearer for the 2008 presidential elections also warned according to a press conference he organized thus: “Atta Mills warns against vote rigging”(Ghanaweb, Wednesday January 10, 2008). All these notwithstanding, the NDC founding father, Mr. Jerry –Boom -Rawlings also reiterated the same message warning of dire consequences should the NPP make any attempt to rig the 2008 polls. The GNA article captioned “Those in power have stolen lots of money-JJ”. The reporter quoted JJR at Akwatia as follows “He alleged that the NPP rigged the 2004 Presidential and Parliamentary elections and were out to repeat that this year and they should not be allowed to do so this time round.”(Ghanaweb, Thursday January 10, 2008).

This writer has observed that, though, the opposition was making noises here and there about election fraud and irregularities before the NPP congress, it seems the election of Nana Akuffo Addo as the presidential candidate of the ruling NPP has sent jitters into the opposition camp and fear of another electoral defeat has gripped them almost 11 months ahead of the November elections. Those utterances, combined with the Jerry John’s assertion that, the much talked about success of the recent past NPP congress was nothing but a failure, because Alan Cash was robbed of an election victory, well meaning Ghanaians can very well read into this and conclude that, the opposition’s fear of NPP electing a strong candidate to out-compete Atta Mills has come true. Why would JJR and for that matter, the NDC care about who becomes NPP flag bearer except for their wish for a weaker candidate who they can beat in the polls. Alban Bagbin, the minority leader in parliament is reputed to have said that they; at NDC were praying for Alan to win so that they could take him on during the campaign on his lavish pre-congress campaign spending and his failures in government. Their hopes were dashed when Nana Akuffo won at the congress. With all Nana’s political acumen and accomplishments, the opposition has nothing to use against him besides their usual “He is arrogant” slogan which nobody is buying. Short of ammunitions at this very stage in the game, they have resorted to fear tactics by preaching mayhem after the election if anybody rigs the election come November 2008.

Why should the NDC even think of election rigging at this stage instead of campaigning seriously on issues facing the average Ghanaian and try to win hearts and minds to increase their electoral chances in the polls? Why would they approach the election with all these negative feelings of somebody wanting to rig the elections? Does this mean that they also have plans to rig the elections or what? After all, it is not only the government in power that can rig elections; opposition parties can equally do so. What hard facts do they have at this early stage of the game to make them entertain this fear?

ELECTION FRAUD AND ELECTION IRREGULARITIES ARE NOT THE SAME The opposition in Ghana must be told that no country in this world, not even the so called advanced democracies can organize an election that is 100% free and fair, so they should not expect a third world country like Ghana to do what countries with over 200 years of democratic dispensations can not do, this notwithstanding, All Ghanaians must endeavor to prevent any deliberate attempt to disenfranchise anybody, to stuff electoral boxes, to over-tally the poll results and for that matter, any illegitimate means of tilting the polls in favor of any individual contestant or party. It is in the best interest of all Ghanaians to make sure that legitimate people would occupy the parliament and the presidency come January of 2009. Irregularities are bound to occur, and it would be a great disservice on the part of anyone to hype it to the level of national disenchantment and violence. Some people may not find their names in the voters register to enable them to vote, ballot papers may arrive late at certain polling stations, some ballots may be thrown away due to their illegibility but when such things happen in all sincerity, people must accept them in good faith as something normal in all elections, unless there is ample evidence to the contrary that they were deliberately done to influence the results. That is how elections results are weighed and accepted in all civilized societies. Civilized people do not jump into the street and cause commotion because of minor mistakes that have no potential of changing the results.

PEOPLE WHO LOOSE IN ELECTIONS MUST ACCEPT DEFEAT AND MOVE ON. When polls are conducted, definitely, someone must win and others must loose. It is becoming all too common for people who loose elections in Africa, to cry foul on any minor irregularity detected (irregularities, whose correction would not have changed the results in anyway) to resort to protest and mayhem that have the potential of destroying the very country they are fighting to lead. Electoral protest led to the Ivorian civil war, it has inflicted a lot of havoc in many African nations and playing out recently in Kenya. It is a disservice to the nation and truly selfish on the part of some individuals who loose elections to rally the masses behind them to challenge the results when they know that they clearly lost the elections. After the 2000 elections in the United States, there was some evidence that things went wrong in Florida which led to former Vice president Al Gore’s defeat in the polls, though he challenged the results which Bush appealed to the Supreme Court, Gore had to end his challenge of the results in the interest of national unity by accepting defeat. Similarly, John Kerry who bowed to Bush in 2004, also challenged the poll results in Ohio State due to some irregularities detected in the machine counts, but in the end, he had to accept defeat to preserve the constitution and national unity. It is in the true spirit these that I urge politicians in Africa to also learn to accept electoral defeat in order to prevent chaos and lost of lives and properties. The 2008 elections are 11 months away and the opposition has started preparing the minds of its followers to challenge the results if the ruling government wins. This is too infantile and very discouraging indeed. Has the NDC consulted any supernatural power and been told that somebody is preparing to rig the elections in NPP’s favor?

NOBODY HOLDS MONOPOLY OVER VIOLENCE IN GHANA It is very interesting that the opposition is threatening chaos and mayhem as if they alone hold the monopoly to use violence in Ghana. What makes anybody think that if the opposition initiates violence, the ruling government would not fight back and attempt to suppress it? There is a proverb among the Akans that literally translates like this: A fetish priest who wishes for the destruction of the very town, in which he dwells, also suffers the carnage wrought upon the town folks including him. Let the opposition preach violence and believe me, they would never escape from it should they incite people to fight after the election results are pronounced. Where would Kwasi Pratt run to hide when violence breaks up in Ghana? Where would Rawlings run to hide and where is Mills going to go? And what makes them think that, when there is violence, they can bully the NPP to transfer power to them? It has never happened in anywhere in Africa and would not happen in Ghana too. I guess the point is that, violence will not help anybody and we all would loose in the end. Ghana would be destabilized and most of the economic gains chalked by now would be reversed. In the interest of national unity, I urge the opposition to stop the threat of violence and adopt positive rhetoric based on issues and sound economic policies to persuade the electorates to vote for them instead of trying to instill fear and the threat of war in them. After all, they do not hold monopoly over the use of violence. I wish to make it known to the opposition that, instilling fear in the electorates is also an unfair electoral practice which does not lead to free and fair election. It is tantamount to trying to rig the election in your favor. Let us all make every effort to have free and fair elections this year, an election whose results would be accepted by both winners and losers in the interest of mother Ghana.

Long Live Ghana Long Live democracy

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Agyepong, Benjamin Opoku