The 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections will go down in the annals of the country as the most dramatic and slippery of the country’s democratic and electoral wheels.
For the first time in our history we voted using the biometric system of verification (from opaque ballot boxes in 1992 through transparent boxes till date). We also had to let the elections travel two days because some bonafide citizens could not exercise their franchise due to the large numbers at the polling stations and of course the continued kaput of some of the verification machines.
Ghanaians exercised their franchise and as usual patiently awaited the declaration of the next leader within the 72 stipulated hours by the Electoral Commissioner, only for the drama to begin to unfold.
We never rehearsed for this; the nation sat on time bomb. Were we going to have the Cote D’Ivoire and Kenya experiences? Finally, the result was declared by the sole constitutionally mandated body, the Electoral Commission.
Permit me to quote the votes amassed by the dominant political parties, National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) with no intent of disrespect to the other parties that contested the elections. The incumbent candidate, John Mahama of the NDC garnered 5,574,761 votes, representing 50.70 percent whereas his fiercest contender, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the NPP had 5, 248,898 votes, representing 47.74 percent. Concession and congratulatory messages started trooping in from the other ‘smaller’ parties to the winner, John Mahama of the NDC.
Naturally, Ghanaians waited for the NPP, the main contender for the presidential seat to concede for the forward march to progress and prosperity of the nation to begin. This expectation, I am convinced is rooted in the age-long convention in which main contenders in elections concede, just to symbolise that the battle is over and the country can move on. But this was not to be in election 2012- the NPP and its candidate will not concede because they claim they have hardcore evidence to prove that the election was ‘rigged’ and could best be described as ‘fraudulent’ which is contrary to the acclamation of both Local and International Observers who described the election as free and fair. The Opposition (NPP) gave the most radiant indication that they would pursue the challenge of the election results in the country’s highest court, the SUPREME COURT. This act of maturity displayed by the NPP is commendable since they chose the most democratic means above all other options available to them, including calling their supporters to riot to make the country ungovernable.
The NPP finally filed the suit at the SUPERME COURT, a day after the inauguration of the ‘old and new’ president, John Dramani Mahama, after many Ghanaians (mainly supporters of the NDC) called their bluff.
The NPP after filing the suit opened the Pandora’s Box for the legal gymnastics to begin. The NDC legal team also responded to the suit and made a forward submission to join in the suit against the President, John Mahama, since he contested the election not as an Independent Candidate but on the ticket of a Political Party, the NDC.
At the hearing of the request by the NDC legal team to join in the suit, the opposition NPP is believed to have questioned the inclusion of one of the SUPREME COURT Justices on the panel to adjudicate on the suit.
The legal gymnastics began with some members of the NDC also threatening, albeit out of court, that if the NPP went ahead to object the inclusion of Justice William Atuguba, it will also oppose the inclusion of one of the judges, Justice Jones Dotse who they accuse of being a chairman of the NPP in the Volta Region.
I must confess that until these gymnastics began, I never knew some of our judges could be card-bearing members of political parties. I thought the speculations were mere propaganda to score political points. If these speculations are anything to go by, then we are in serious trouble so far as the dispensing of justice is concerned- a coloured justice system should be the last we should bargain for.
There have been various commentaries from individuals, academia, civil societies and supposed Spokespersons and Communication Directors of the two main parties involved. But I enjoyed reading two main write- ups by Mathais Kwesi Yakah in the 8th January edition of the Daily Graphic and Professor George Ayittey , in the 10th January edition of the Daily Guide newspapers respectively.
Professor George Ayittey in his piece titled ‘President Obama’s Shadow Of Ghana’s Elections, strongly fell in love with President Obama’s address to the Ghanaian Parliament when he visited in 2009. To him, the part of Obama’s speech that has become very famous, still ring bells - ‘Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions’. He mentioned that the strength of Ghana’s Institutions is being tested by the dispute over the 2012 election results. Prof Ayittey posited that the inauguration of John Mahama as the President was premature and should have been postponed until the SUPREME COURT makes a decision- for or against the petition.
In Mathias’ write-up titled ‘ The Magic And Honour Of Concession Speech’, he brilliantly gave us the scope of a concession speech and went ahead to interlace it with such speeches within the circles of international politics with particular reference to the United States’ recent electoral happenings where the losers have graciously made such unifying concession speeches.
Those speeches were made in the face of the contenders doubting the credibility of the elections due to similar irregularities such as machine break downs. He stated that a concession speech underscored the democratic notion that losing an election is not the end of the world but rather is an end of one phase and the beginning of another for the winner, the loser and the nation.
What fascinated me was his call for the NPP candidate, Nana Akufo Addo to take inspiration from the likes of John Kerry, John McCain and lately, Mitt Romney and for him and his party to still pursue their agenda but in the vein to bringing about improvement in future electoral reforms rather than having the hands of the clock turned to make a new president.
My issue is this, what remains the real situation after all the back and forth of these debates. I heard Mike Oquaye Jnr of the NPP and Ade Coker of the NDC on a News Paper Review Programme on TV3 on the ongoing court battle. Interestingly, Mike Oquaye sharply retorted to a submission made by Ade Coker that with the elections done and over with, the president needed to settle down to implement his programmes. Mike (And perhaps the NPP) do not think the 2012 Presidential elections are over yet. I therefore beg to ask; Are we still voting or who says we will vote before the next elections in 2016? Interesting times indeed!
Granted that the 1.3 million votes that the NPP claim were counted by the Electoral Commission to favour the NDC are proven to be true and the independent nine-member SUPREME COURT Justices deem it to be proven beyond every reasonable doubt, have we as a people considered the following:
1. Are we ready to use the tax payer’s money to organize another grand inauguration ceremony when we can use that money to improve sanitation in our cities?
2. How will the international community react after the massive endorsement they have given the current administration and both the ‘diplomatic and undiplomatic goodies’ already coming in?
3. That on the equal playing field where both NPP and NDC garnered five million plus votes, but the NDC more enough to secure the majority to form government, will the three hundred thousand more voters of the NDC in the figment of anybody’s imagination AGREE that for the sake of peace, President John Mahama should pack out of the castle for the NPP to take over?
I had a dream that none of the Justices at the SUPREME COURT was willing to give a ruling that will plunge the nation into chaos. Never! Not in Nkrumahs’ Ghana. Where would we turn to- Burkina Faso, Togo or Ivory Coast, they all chorused in unison.
All concerns aimed at improving our electoral system should be pointing to the next elections- I CONCUR!