To obey is still better than sacrifice (Part II)

Sun, 23 Jun 2013 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I return to the two main religious camps (Christian and Muslim) that the NPP has concentrated attention on for political capital.

That was even why the NPP’s official national campaign for Election 2012 was launched with a non-denominational church service at Essikado, near Takoradi, which immediately drew the parameters for the incorporation of religion into the agenda for hardcore politics.

We saw how Dr. Bawumia criss-crossed the country, entering mosques and commiserating with his fellow Muslims during prayers and celebration of Muslim festivals. We also read news reports on how Akufo-Addo had targeted the Muslim community and even declared his intention to establish a “Zongo Development Fund” for the Muslim communities.

Even though Akufo-Addo concentrated his outreach efforts on the Christian community, he beefed up his running mate’s campaigns among the Muslim community by ingratiating himself to Muslim leaders and rank and file, especially when he visited Northern Ghana.

We are aware of the dangerous rumours about his urinating on a mosque in Damongo, which turned out to be an expensive prank played on him by his detractors. But that prank did point something out to suggest that his tapping into the Muslim community for political advantage was being closely watched. Then again, we recall how Akufo-Addo visited Jerusalem and did acts, one of which was photographed and circulated as he went through the motion near the Wailing Wall.

Back home, all manner of church leaders congregated around him, taking him through unceasing rounds of spiritual cleansing and exhortations so he would be touched by the Hand of God and favoured to win the elections. The posture adopted was encapsulated in the Biblical vein: “The battle is the Lord’s”. We were bombarded with prophecies from the so-called “men-of-God” to whom Akufo-Addo had endeared himself. The Rev. Owusu Bempahs and many others hijacked the airwaves to prophesy a “one-touch victory” for him on December 7, which message was blared all over to pump up Akufo-Addo’s ego and heighten the optimism of the NPP supporters.

Come December 7 and the wailing from the Akufo-Addo camp was audibly clear that something was amiss. Come December 8 when voting was completed and the gnashing of teeth began. Come December 9 when the Electoral Commissioner announced the outcome of Election 2012 and the flexing of muscles began. There and then, rancour took over. Threats against the Electoral Commission and its Chair (Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan) dominated the political landscape as things fell apart for Akufo-Addo and the centre of the NPP’s political edifice couldn’t hold anymore. Their swan song couldn’t be missed.

Spurred on by this electoral defeat, the tune changed: “To the Supreme Court we will go to seek justice… We have been robbed… There can be no peace without justice…!”

The consequence is what has happened over 33 days of sitting by the Supreme Court to hear their petition.

Although the so-called “Men-of-God” whose predictions buoyed up Akufo-Addo’s expectations have receded to the background after their self-fulfilling prophecies exploded in their faces, the attempt to exploit religion hasn’t abated.

Akufo-Addo has gone to all lengths and breadths to virtually institutionalize prayer-and-fasting sessions at home and abroad. I hear his immediate family members can’t cease doing so, believing that their vanguard role was the impetus for all others in their circles to seek the face of God for Akufo-Addo’s benefit.

The man himself has turned to anybody or any group that professes to be using religion to fight his cause. We have seen pictures of him at a candlelight prayer vigil with JSS graduates whose hope was that he would eventually become Ghana’s President to fulfill his promise of fee-free senior high school education for them to move on.

The role of the Muslim community in Akufo-Addo’s post-Election 2012 politico-religious escapades cannot be missed. We have read news reports about prayer sessions organized for his cause by Muslims in some parts of the country. What has just been reported is the culmination of such efforts. Clearly, the Free Education Now Prayer Group (FENPG), a pressure group with links to the NPP, must be carrying their efforts to the extreme, hoping that they could sustain the atmosphere of religiosity for political purposes. But therein lies their problem.

A dangerous precedent is being set with this recourse to religious sentiments to whip up political activism. Not intending to impute any wrongdoing to these Muslims, though, I want to say that they have set in motion an event that will likely become the incubator for fundamentalism/extremism in our political affairs.

I know how dangerous religious fundamentalism (especially by indoctrinated Muslim youths) can be. The world already has evidence of such a problem, and I need not dilate on it.

Undoubtedly, doctrinal differences have been the catalysts for such fundamentalism. Add to that the religious differences (as it would be between Christians and Muslims, for instance) and you have too much in hand to contend with. Dogmatism is a major distasteful ingredient in this potpourri of faith. Worse still, add antagonistic political inclinations (as we have in the case of the NPP and the NDC) to this religious acrimony and you have a mountain of trouble to flee from. What I am saying is that we already have too much antagonism at the political front and need not sit down unconcerned for religious sentiments to be injected into the bloodstream. Militancy in religion and politics is bad; worse still is the danger that the society faces when the militancy at both fronts is amalgated and condensed as a weapon of choice to fight political opponents.

Only a sick mind will discount the danger portended by this whipping up of sentiments at the religious front for political leverage. I am foreseeing danger ahead, especially because those youthful elements being mobilized to use their religious fervour to prop up a disappointed politician’s dogged stance against reality constitute a rapid deployment force at the beck-and-call of their manipulators.

That is why it is important for us to point out this danger at this stage. Who knows what else is being done to prepare the minds of these malleable politico-religious elements for any future assignment or engagement?

We note here that little drops of water make a mighty ocean. What we see emerging from all these isolated events are clear warning signals to act on. I am not against any politician’s effort to mobilize support from all segments of the society; but I decry the extent to which these aggrieved NPP people are pushing themselves. They seem to be calculating and using religion as a subtle means to prosecute their grand agenda.

The sharp disappointment at Election 2012 has bitten deep into their affairs, but it has only helped sustain the religious fervour. What for, I don’t know. But they know it, which is to appeal to God to intervene in the affairs of the 9 Supreme Court judges hearing their appeal so that they would overturn the outcome of Election 2012 to put Akufo-Addo in power.

Why waste energy closing the stable doors after the horses have long run out into the wilderness?

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.