The military to rescue Ghana’s democracy? (Part II)

Mon, 8 Apr 2013 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Obviously, because tribalism is at the forefront, anybody who makes the mistake to initiate any action to challenge the status quo will be catalyzing a process with very disastrous consequences.

Let me be blunt to say at this point that Captain Koomson’s utterance is dangerous for all that it is, even if I regard it as insightful.

The point is that any talk of a coup d’état is nothing but a suggestion for a civil war. I must clarify this claim and support it for you to see things beyond your nose, dear reader.

Because ethnicity is a major factor in the kind of politics now going on in the country, who will be that capricious and foolhardy soldier to pick up his gun to fire the first shot? Will he be an Ewe, a Ga, an Asante, a Frafra, a Konkomba, a Dagbani, or a Gonja, just to mention a few of the over 100 ethnic groups constituting Ghana?

The question relates to the fact that there is widespread perception that while the NDC is an Ewe party, the NPP is an Akan one. Nobody needs any further elucidation on this perception because the outcome of Elections 2008 and 2012 reinforce such perceptions, especially in the case of the NPP. Of course, the NDC has a wider appeal than the NPP, making it rise above the narrow perception that it is Ewe-based.

So, if this ethnicity is factored into any talk of a military coup, where will the leader of that coup come from? Obviously, a guess can be hazarded that anybody in the military to pick up arms against the government will carry along with him (it’s usually the men in the Ghanaian military who have initiated the coup efforts, so we can use this sexist language here) his ethnic badge.

If that coup architect happens to be an Akan, the quick conclusion will be that he is an NPP follower. You can imagine the spontaneous reaction from other sections of the military, which will definitely spill over into the civilian population.

The assumption is that given the NPP’s origin and modus operandi, not to mention the ethnic extraction of its bigwigs, it is the only party that will favour a coup against an NDC government. I am not accusing them of masterminding any coup; but I am assuming so within the context of a hypothetical situation into which Capt. Koomson’s pronouncement fits.

There are several reasons to support such an assumption. You already know them; so, don’t ask me for any. If you think otherwise, just listen to the airwaves, read publications in the pro-NPP newspapers, and listen carefully to any NPP follower nearby. Then, turn to the pro-NDC side too to hear comments that shouldn’t leave you in any doubt about the mutual hatred that characterizes the NDC-NPP bad-blood relationship.

So, with the NDC in power against the wish of the NPP leaders and followers, how will one process Capt. Koomson’s pronouncement, especially when it raises a red flag about his own political persuasion? See things for yourselves:

“He equally expressed utmost surprise at the sudden silence of the National Peace Council after the election, in spite of the seeming tension in the country, stressing the need for it to put pressure on those he referred to as ‘the powers that be’ to expedite action since the situation was fluid.”

Really? Was Capt. Koomson hiding behind his own personal political intrigues? Judge for yourself:

But here is what he has failed to realize about where Ghana is today and where its citizens want it to be as far as democracy is concerned. The zeal with which Ghanaians have sustained the 4th Republic confirms that they have developed a strong distaste for a military coup d’état.

The conditions that catalyze an overthrow of a government have always existed in countries where the government fails to perform competently to serve the interests of the people. When the government cannot implement policies and programmes and behaves irresponsibly, supervising massive corruption, plain theft of national resources, and wanton disregard for human rights, it digs its own grave. Many countries in the world have had such governments and will continue to have them as a confirmation of the fallibility of the human race.

When the government confirms its incompetence, action is taken to get rid of it. The only benefit for which the citizens aspire—and which motivates them to sacrifice their lot to put a government in power—is that the government so formed will solve their existential problems.

They use their strong willpower and the institutions of state to do so, mostly without the direct involvement of those who have the monopoly over the instruments of violence (the soldiers). In circumstances, civil revolts have been used to overthrow governments (the Arab Spring being the latest example).

In extreme cases, attempts to get rid of bad governments have degenerated into civil wars with devastating consequences. It turns that way when tribal sentiments take over the collective national spirit.

From the way that tribalism is deepening in our national politics, we can’t fail to read deeper meanings into issues to guess what will happen at the poke of a finger. Anybody seeing current developments in the country to suggest that they are making the country ripe for a military coup needs to re-think because in our case, the explosion will go beyond a mere military take-over. It will spark off something worse. Is that what anybody should be hyping at this time? I don’t think so.

Those quick to imagine a military coup as the solution to the challenges brought about by our democracy are backward in their thinking. They are living in a time warp and need help to comprehend the fullest dimensions of what our democracy entails. Perhaps, because those who think like Capt. Koomson are still deceived by the mirage that their military experiences place in their way, they are unable to separate the trees from the forest.

The government may be doing or not doing things as expected, and there may be conditions indicative of instability, but the situation isn’t worth portraying as ripe for a military coup.

Ghana’s experiences aren’t peculiar. Unfortunately, we have not yet taken decisive steps to retool the institutions needed to prop up our democracy, which is why there seems to be confusion all over the place. Until the government strengthens those institutions to perform the tasks imposed on them by our democracy, they will not be able to help us soak up the pressure.

The conditions that Capt. Koomson is wary of as preparing the grounds for a military coup can be taken care of by the state institutions, not the military.

Indeed, a military coup d’état isn’t the solution to the challenges imposed on us by our democracy. Privileging a military coup d’état, then, becomes backwardness and a clear demonstration of ignorance.

Nobody in the military should deceive himself that he can get up, firing shots indiscriminately, and dash into any radio station to announce the overthrow of the government. It won’t happen. Such a move will be snuffed out and the perpetrators crumpled.

The good news is that Ghanaians have outgrown the wayward love they had for the military decades ago. On a global scale too, the world has found a potent way to stifle military take-overs. Unless any soldier is ill-informed of the bitter consequences awaiting him, let him listen to Capt. Koomson.

I shall return…

• E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

• Join me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/mjkbokor

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.