Originally Published, December 13, 2012
When the presidential candidates contesting the December 7, 2012, polls, signed a peace pact in Kumasi on November 27, 2012, pledging their commitment to peace and violent free elections under the auspices of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), the National Peace Council and the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Ghanaians were impressed not just by the aptness and timeliness of the initiative, but also by the file of eminent persons the organizers arraigned, as backers to the initiative. Their choice of persons was one that was froth with wisdom, boldness and leadership.
For many therefore, the peace pact represented an appropriate, tangible seal to the many efforts the peace-loving people of this nation had undertaken. Irrespective of the nature of our efforts, both at the individual and the collective levels, they all found expression in this single initiative which gave us the Kumasi Peace Pact.
Suffice to say that there was unanimity, across the nation, about the need to support the accord; to protect the peace of the nation. Admittedly, the presence of the two former Presidents on the list of backers added a lot of impetus to the effort. To many Ghanaians, former Presidents Rawlings and Kuffour are the nation’s leading statesmen having led this country through its most trying moments in the recent history of the nation.
In the eyes of the general public, these are also the living giants in the front running political parties and therefore, by their reputations able guarantors of the peace of the nation.
Without prejudice to his national stature, former President Kufour is currently the most respected member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and one that we expect,- as a father- wields the most influence within the rank and file of the Party.
Without attempting to second guess Otumfour and the organizers of the peace pact, the invitation to former President Kufour to be one of the proponents of the peace accord was not therefore, done in his capacity as a private citizen, No! Rather he was invited as one of the fathers of the nation, as it stands now, and one whose voice resonates very much within the NPP; as someone whose appeal for peace and calm would be heeded to, if the nation came to a stalemate as it stands now, and he had to make that call.
It is on this score that I take issue with the swipe he took at the Electoral Commission during his chat with the Chairman of the African Union, president Yaya Boni of Benin, over the just ended elections; without considering the political temperature at the time, especially as a statesman/backer to the peace pact. If the EC has been engaging in acts beyond its constitutional mandate for that long, I think his excellency could have worked through his party to raise this matter at the floor of parliament for the house to consider the matter long ago.
State Institutions and the Need to Protect them
I hasten to acknowledge the NPP’s decision to go to court over the election results and I applaud their efforts, after all everyone wants to be treated fairly. That decision offers hope to the nation and its citizens and lays a shining example to the youth and children of the nation, that in this country, there are present within the State, institutions set up to deal with our grievances. So no matter how grievous, whenever we feel hurt or unsatisfied about any transaction, we have the right – without feeling encumbered in any way- to seek redress right away, using these institutions.
Yet, without minimizing the sterling leadership portrayed in determining to go to court, it is also important to also recognize that the route to the court has been made more tortuous and unnecessarily long for the NPP. As for the nation, the reprieve it expected from that line of action to go to court was delayed, because of the resort to violence and the attempts to undermine and set the society against the Electoral Commission.
In every nation, the state machinery represents the spine around which the society is built.The absence of a properly functioning State predicates hegemony of thugs over that society. State institutions are created to breath life in the State organism. The mandates or roles assigned these institutions give substance and meaning to nationhood. Without them, the society will plunge into chaos, and most people will have the least chance to pursue their aspirations because of the spate of disorganization and the threat to normal life. By their functions people in the nation experience purposeful, meaningful, and fulfilling lives because they act as auxiliary to the realization of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
For example, the Local government institutions like the District, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies bring government to the door step of the ordinary citizens. Without them government will feel remote and all kinds of organizations will spring up to try to fill that vacuum with heinous consequences to the people who live in that vicinity.
To enable both the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, the property owners and the paupers; to live side by side each other, we have the Judiciary and our chief palaces to adjudicate issues and laws to try to establish harmony in the society.
Jurisprudence, for example, bespeaks the complexity and the arduous effort required- through law- to maintain a genuine balance or harmony in order to make life in society livable. The Electoral Commission is one of such institutions and it is set up to conduct and oversee elections in this country, to give meaning to our representative form of government. And its work is not exempted from the complexity or arduousness of the others.
That is why most times, for the functions of these institutions to have meaning and effect; to enable us to“live and let live”, we seed part of what we consider as sovereign rights to these bodies, pledging to accept their contributions and to agree to live by what they offer us.
The Rule of Law
A little over a decade ago, especially whiles in opposition, the issue of the rule of law seemed to be NPP’s major platform. It observed injustices in the system because state institutions, to a large extent were not being allowed to play the roles assigned them.
Instead, it was perceived that certain group of people who by reason of the “strength” or “power” they wielded, were interfering with and making undue intrusions into the functional preserve of such state bodies. And because such situation usually engenders distortions, disruptions and sometimes threats to the citizen’s right to life; liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the NPP chose to champion the course of these institutions.
The two leading proponents of the rule of law and stalwarts of the struggle, those days, who successfully made the issue the “brand” of the NPP; H.E. John Agyekum Kufour and Nana Afuffo-Addo are today, its two outstanding members of the organization. As we read this piece, His Excellency is the de-facto father with a stature towering over everyone in the party currently. He, without prejudice to his compatriots, brought the party from limbo back into power and revived the UP as a political tradition; and Nana Akuffo Addo, the flag bearer in the 2012 presidential election had as a political activist, lawyer and Attorney-General spear-headed reforms to entrench the rule of Law in the country. Ayekoo.
I pray that they don’t deviate from that great tradition of protecting state institutions by endorsing violence and mayhem as if they are viable options in the nation’s democratic dispensation. They should not drop the brand they gave to the Party and the nation, to follow the hues of the provocateurs and political hawks in their party.
To accuse the Electoral Commission as acting as if it is above the law begs the question. And to say that;“if there is any violence in the country they should not blame the political parties but the Electoral Commission” is to hit below the belt. Did the supporters of the party see that statement as a coded message to swoop onto the streets with weapons which “needs no license” to wield?
If his Excellency says the EC is to be blamed for the current political agitations, because ,” it has been engaging in acts beyond its constitutional mandate”, over that, I think the accusation best fits what some leading members of the NPP have long been tinkering with, for which His Excellency with all respect, should have risen above partisanship to condemn.
The constitutional mandate for calling elections results lies with the Electoral Commission, but the current general secretary of the NPP, Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, sought to usurp the power of the EC to announce Electoral results with impunity. The nation wonders what he sought to achieve by that action.
On the issue of violence; and even long before the 2012 Elections, certain minds within the NPP already thought it fashionable and declared their intentions to import “Rwanda” and the “Tehari Square” episode into Ghana. Is it not what they are trying to foment?
Defining Political Parties
Political Parties by the nature of their work are ultimately responsible for the structure of the machinery of government, the organization of public services and the statutory authorities both in government and in legislation. So if any political party has qualms with any state institution, it has the right to call the work of such institution into question using appropriate means.
Does the NPP hope to reform the EC from Kwame Nkrumah Circle? We need not remind anyone that Political Parties are essentially civil society organizations, not fighting groups. Elsewhere, fighting groups engaged in conflicts are converting into political parties for the peace and betterment of their nation and not vice versa.
Let His Excellency lead the charge and withdraw the “troops” from the streets-if they will not demonstrate peacefully and show faith with the people of Ghana by sticking to the legal and judicial channels as the Party has opted to do: not violence. Again, ex-president Kufuor should lead the party to have a dispassionate introspection: consider the posture; strategies and particularly attitudes of some key functionaries both on and off the campaign trial and draw important lessons to build on.
Let us stop cutting the electoral commission down; let us not try to intimidate the judiciary by amassing armed supporters as is currently on-going because it does not bring stability to the political system. The situation, if allowed to go uncorrected would seriously damage the essence of the electoral process and the substance of democracy in Ghana.