Tomorrow, Ghanaians will start another process of electing the president and parliament for another four years.
For this reason the attention of the international community will be focused on Ghana. But which Ghana do we expect by December 10, when the Electoral Commission would have released the official results? A Ghana torn apart by civil strife as some politicians are allegedly planning or a Ghana held together by our common resolve to forge ahead as one people?
The answer to these questions may well depend on the outcome of the elections now hanging on our necks like the proverbial 'Sword of Damocles'. Ghana has come too far in our attempt at building a united nation; for this reason Public Agenda pleads with all Ghanaians, irrespective of religion, ethnic and geographical backgrounds, political affiliation, colour, size and age, to calm down and stop whipping up passions.
In our endeavour to maintain peace during and after the elections, we must guard against perceptions that have no foundation. History tells us that most of the wars, right from the First World War to the current war on terrorism, were founded on wrong perceptions. It was Adolf Hitler's wrong perception of the Jews that made him to cause their near extermination. The war in Rwanda that killed more than 800,000 people, was equally based on how the Hutus and Tutsis perceived each. There were no scientific studies to suggest that the perceptions were right or wrong.
But the result is still there for us to see. Priests, Nuns, Christians and Moslems, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, brothers and sisters took arms and hacked each other to death. The hate wave and the war scares are still lingering on, ten years after the genocide. Back in our backyard in Cote d'Ivoire, it was perceptions that turned the once peaceful country into a war zone. The perception that someone is not an Ivorian, and therefore, cannot vote or contest an election, the perception that people of one religion are superior to those of another religion and the perception that people from one geographical area are not civilized, are at the heart of the Ivorian crisis.
In our own country, some politicians have made it an agenda to peddle wrong perceptions of some tribes being too boastful and arrogant and some political parties being tribalistic. We cannot tell what such people hope to achieve. We are not holding brief for any tribe, knowing well that there are bad nuts in every society. However, we are at pains to point at the harm wrong perceptions bring on societies. We can teach the Ivorians some useful lessons by accepting the outcome of tomorrow's elections peacefully, without firing a gun.
Much as we trust that Ghanaians will rise above partisan politics, sectarian divisions and ethnicity to keep the peace, we wish to remind the security agencies that they owe this country a duty to protect the constitution and the Fourth Republic from self-seeking groups or individuals. While respecting the human rights of all Ghanaians, they must not take anything for granted. Needless to emphasise, all rights go with responsibilities.