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Opinion | Feb 5, 2019

There's No Need For 'kaakaamotobi' Forces In Ghana

There's No Need For 'kaakaamotobi' Forces In Ghana

Following the election through which the PNDC transformed itself into the National Democratic Congress [NDC] civilian Government in 1992, the Commonwealth Secretariat held a post-mortem on the issue in London. I was invited to participate, and it indeed turned out to be a good discussion.

Some of the discussants heaped praise on the NDC. The party, they said, had conducted a good election. The Commonwealth observers had felt justified in going on the BBC and proclaiming that the NDC had obtained a “free and fair” victory.

I got up and described the action by the Commonwealth observers as amounting to “interfering” in the affairs of Ghana. “Listen”, I said, “I called the NPP candidate, Professor Albert Adu Boahen, personally, while the counting of the votes was still in progress, to ask him whether he'd got an idea of how things were looking. He told me that it was too early to tell because his people were still collating the results that were coming in from the constituencies and polling stations.

“If those who had the greatest interest in the results had not yet got an idea of what the results were going to be, how could a Commonwealth team, made up of at most a score of observers, have obtained enough information to declare that the election had been 'free and fair'?” I asked.

I then declared: “This action was a gross interference in the sovereign affairs of Ghana. Now,” I added, “if you are going to interfere, then bloody well interfere! Did you hear about the >NDC's use of 'commandos' during the election campaign? I'll tell you something about Ghanaians – they don't like the unfair use of violence. They'd much rather stay at home than go out to take part in an election they know is going to be decided by intimidation and other unsavoury tactics.”

I was right, for because of the fear that characterised the political atmosphere of the time, only 50.2%of the registered voters turned up to vote. The parliamentary election that followed a month later had an even more abysmal and dramatic “failure rate” -- only 28.1 percent of the voters turned up to vote! And yet the Commonwealth team called that a “free and fair” election!

Some of my own British friends insisted that the boycott of the parliamentary election was wrong NPP MPs “could have done a lot of good things” if they had turned up in Parliament. I retorted that “Ghanaians are not like that. If you force them unfairly to give up something they dearly care about, they will let you take it. And watch you. It will be you yourself who will eventually realise that in forcing things through, you'd made a mistake. The Greeks called that sort of victory a “Pyrrhic victory”! That;s a victory that harms the “victor,” whether he knows it or not.

Now, I think everyone who has, in recent months, heard the NDC's founder railing against the party he had himself founded, would agree me that a few mistakes were made along the way! “Children with sharp teeth” given power, right?

The reason why I am bringing this up now is that I have been very disappointed to learn that the NPP machinery – I don't know how far up it goes – had somehow allowed masked and armed individuals to play a role (whatever it was – an impartial investigation has been demanded by civil society bodies) in the recent Parliamentary by-election at Ayawaso. Have these NPP apparatchiks not read The Stolen Verdict? They should go and find a copy of that dynamite of a document and read it. For it was compiled and edited by – the current leader of the NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana!

Now, Akufo-Addo didn't predict in The Stolen Verdict that because the >NDC had used reprehensible bugabuga methods in the election, the people of Ghana would chuck the party out at the next opportunity. But the 2,000 election victory for the NPP did occur, and anyone who doubts that something like karma does sometimes influence the affairs of humankind would be wise to think again.

No! Nana Akufo-Addo cannot, must not, condone violence deployed for political advantage, be it in his favour or someone else's. Indeed, I am surprised that the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Ocquaye, who, like Nana Akufo-Addo, is a respected legal luminary, apparently prevented the issue of the violence that occurred during the Ayawaso by-election, from being raised on the floor of Parliament.

If one of the two major parties in a country just finding its way back to democracy after many years of arbitrary military rule, had withdrawn from a by-election, because its supporters had been apparently attacked by masked men; if that party's presumed leader had then begun preaching that the party would match the governing party “boot-for-boot”; then what could be a more serious subject for debate by the Parliament of a country that's willy-nilly finding its way to good, decent governance, than that subject?

I was very critical of our former Speaker, Mr Doe Adjaho, for “unilaterally abolishing the sovereignty” of Parliament” on several occasions, when he was in the chair of the august House and resorted to using technicalities to curtail debate on subjects the ruling party felt embarrassed about. I do hope Professor Ocquaye will not oblige me to say that “obiara ba a, saa a!” [everyone who comes will do the same thing!] Standards must be set, even when bad precedents can mislead a Speaker into taking action that's not in the best interests of democracy. It would be a damned shame for Ocquaye to become another Adjaho, in my opinion.

For the Speaker is not there to assist the executive to make mistakes or cover up mistakes when they are made. He's there to provide a check on executive high-handedness. When the executive knows that the Speaker will pull it up if it goes too far, that knowledge will, in itself, serve as a deterrent that will save the executive from embarrassing itself. The “separation of powers” enshrined in the Constitution must be respected in the letter and in the deed, Mr Speaker Sir!

Yep! Violent politics does not befit Ghana; and particularly, a Ghana ruled by an Akufo-Addo. Yes, it is difficult sometimes to tolerate the behaviour of certain rascally politicians to whom shouting and insults constitute the apex of effective politics. Yes, there are foul-mouthed, hypocritical individuals in politics. But one must not descend to their level, for how will they learn to change their behaviour for the better unless someone takes it upon himself to set them a good example?

Yes, patience is a very difficult virtue to practice. But then, leadership is not easy. But it is easy to recognise, once it is practised by any individuals, anywhere. And history will record it for posterity if it is properly exhibited.

Cameron Duodu
Cameron Duodu, © 2019

Martin Cameron Duodu is a United Kingdom-based Ghanaian novelist, journalist, editor and broadcaster. After publishing a novel, The Gab Boys, in 1967, Duodu went on to a career as a journalist and editorialist.

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