10.01.2008 Feature Article

Kenya’s Lesson for Professor Atta-Mills

Kenya’s Lesson for Professor Atta-Mills
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In the wake of the still-raging post-election mayhem across East Africa's economic and cultural giant of Kenya, the perennial presidential candidate of Ghana's main parliamentary opposition, Professor John Evans Atta-Mills, issued a press statement, at a press conference, purporting to commiserate with the victims of the Kenyan crisis. Predictably, however, Professor Atta-Mills ended up issuing a rather desperate and barely veiled threat against Ghana's ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).

What was intriguing about his threatening press release was Professor Atta-Mills' apparently inadvertent acknowledgment of the otherwise glaring fact of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) being averse to the sacred and inviolable practice of democratic governance. To the preceding effect, this is what Mr. Rawlings' second-bananas cavalierly had to say: “Towards the end of the 1990s, African Governments in power led by the then-NDC in Ghana, were keen to advocate transparency, free speech and free elections for the benefit of the opposition parties” (see “Atta Mills on Elections in Kenya” 1/9/08).

In essence, what the one-term former Vice-President of the Rawlings government is saying, in the preceding quote, is that the rule of democracy is a patently losing proposition (for democracy is primarily geared for the benefit of opposition-party politicians rather than the Ghanaian people at large); and also that during the 19 protracted years that his so-called Provisional National Democratic Congress held Ghanaian by their scruff and throttle, Professor Atta-Mills and his cohorts saw absolutely no need for Ghanaians to enjoy the culture and time-tested fruits of democratic governance. However, having wantonly exploited and oppressed their fellow countrymen and women for nearly two decades, suddenly, the P/NDC and some of the latter's brother African governments had a change of heart and so mercifully decided to create Santa Clausian conditions in order to enable ideological underdogs like the now-ruling New Patriotic Party to share in political power, which had hitherto been exclusively and perpetually granted the Rawlings-chaperoned P/NDC by Divine Providence.

In short, what the three-time presidential candidate of the Provisional National Democratic Congress implied by his allusion to Ghana's change of government and, by logical extension, governance, is that the same Divine Providence that preordained the P/NDC to callously lord it over well-meaning and unsuspecting Ghanaians for two decades, has now decreed that come December 2008, when Ghanaians return to the polling booth to decide on their choice of leadership for the next four years, the P/NDC, come what may, must hijack, once again, Ghana's fledgling democracy, as Mr. Rawlings did on December 31, 1981, by prophetically returning Ghanaians to ideological neo-communism.

Interestingly, in his immitigable arrogance, Professor Atta-Mills would also have his countrymen and women believe that the ruling New Patriotic Party has, relative to the P/NDC's untold reign-of-terror, fallen far short of democratic governance and fair play: “It is significant to note that many of these [erstwhile African] opposition parties, now in government, are manifestly frustrating the tenets of transparency, free speech and most notably credible elections that brought them to power.”

From the preceding quote, in which Professor Atta-Mills himself emphatically affirms the fact that the New Patriotic Party “credibly” rode to power on the legitimate wings of democratic governance, it is rather paradoxically curious that the former Legon law school lecturer should also be calling the political legitimacy of the ruling New Patriotic Party into serious question.

Needless to say, two things could be happening here: Either Professor Atta-Mills is cognitively contused and thus in dire need of psychological and/or psychiatric examination (for, clearly, the man does not seem to understand exactly what he is talking about), or the former P/NDC Tax Commissioner is living in a veritable Fool's Paradise.

More to the point: Perhaps someone who is more knowledgeable about postcolonial Ghanaian politics ought to explain to Professor Atta-Mills that the post-electoral mayhem raging in the East-African republic of Kenya ought to have taken place right here, in Ghana, some 15 years ago, in 1992, in what became widely known as “The Stolen Verdict,” during which period Mr. Rawlings and his servile cronies, including Professor Atta-Mills, literally cooked up the results of the Ghanaian presidential elections.

In the foregoing episode, strikingly akin to the Kenyan situation, the P/NDC printed and tallied its own ballot papers, which was precisely why Ghana's Electoral Commission ended up with an electoral count far in excess of the official number of legitimately registered Ghanaian voters.

Still, knowing Ghanaians for the negative and unimaginative copycats that we largely are, it would not in the least bit surprise this writer if in the wake of their certain defeat in Election 2008, fanatical supporters and sympathizers of the P/NDC decide to take up the war-mongering “Asomdwoehene's” call for extra-electoral usurpation by resorting to a Kenya-type of civil pandemonium.

And on the latter score, what must be unreservedly pointed out is the stark contrast between the Ghanaian and Kenyan experiences. Unlike the Ghanaian people who merely “talked” their way to independence, thanks to the unique and epic constitutional breastwork of Dr. J. B. Danquah, the undisputed Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics, the Kenyans actually “fought” their way to independence.

Perhaps somebody ought to remind the bootlicking Rawlings aficionado and pseudo-Nkrumaist, Professor Atta-Mills, that there is, indeed, an age-long difference between revolutionary Mau Mau and the school-boyish, rhetorical cheerleading of Positive Action, a veritable ideological ventriloquy of peculiar Ghanaian mintage. Indeed, it was this outright embarrassing Ghanaian timidity that ensured the unsavory longevity of the Dzelukope reign-of-terror, otherwise called the Provisional National Democratic Congress.

Still, now that Professor Atta-Mills has boldly, unapologetically and publicly exposed his violent post-Election 2008 intentions, may we take this timely opportunity to admonish the Kufuor Administration of the urgent need to emplace the most efficient coercive statal apparatus in order to preempt the nihilistic designs of mayhem-mongering and rabble-rousing political arsonists like Messrs. Rawlings and Atta-Mills. Of course, we are also grateful to Professor Atta-Mills for making his true intentions clear in the lead-up to Election 2008. We have absolutely no doubt in our hearts and minds that the same Ghanaian electorate that twice rejected this shameless June 4th celebrant would, once again, show Professor Atta-Mills the exit-door of no return come Election 2008.

And by the way, Professor Atta-Mills, there is no such thing as “General and Presidential Elections.” You either have a general election, during which both a president and parliamentarian representatives are elected, or you have a “Presidential Election,” during which only a president is elected.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (, 2005). E-mail: [email protected]

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