Sunday, September 1, 2013

Election petition hearing over, no lessons learnt by the NPP camp


Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013
Folks, the hearing of the NPP’s petition brought to the fore many aspects of the NPP leaders and followers’ mindset, posturing, and attitude to Ghanaian politics that either confirms or disproves certain (mis)perceptions of the Danquah-Busia ideology and explains why it is difficult for it to win the 2008 and 2012 elections. Don’t be misled by their recourse to court with all manner of allegations on rigging!
Too many controversies, contradictions, and uncertainties!! First, a fundamental conundrum to lay the basis for my opinion piece. The triumvirate (Danquah-Busia-Dombo) remains questionable to me because the Dombo part is just accessorized for petty political expediency on the basis of exploiting Northern Ghana sentiments whenever necessary. I don’t see it as an integral part to uplift in any critical and honest assessment of the ideological foundation of the NPP. Thus, the dualistic Danquah-Busia remains the big picture of the NPP. Tagging a running mate of Northern Ghana extraction to that tap root won’t change the reality.

Then, the just-determined petition. All that the petition entailed at conception and determination by the 9-member Supreme Court panel is gradually sinking in the dustbin of history as a fruitless political misadventure. The verdict went against the NPP in all the areas that the petitioners fought to be upheld by the Court to warrant its overturning of the outcome of Election 2012 to put Akufo-Addo in power. But it didn’t happen because the Court roundly dismissed the allegations by either a unanimous or a majority decision. In effect, Akufo-Addo stands defeated twice: first through what happened at the polls on December 7 and 8, 2012; and second, in the dark chamber of the Supreme Court. Ouch!!
Down and out, he quickly learnt his lesson, although lacing his acceptance of that verdict with bitterness—disapproving of the Court’s ruling yet accepting it and indicating that he would not seek any review so the country “can move on”. What he did next was a mere formality: calling President Mahama and congratulating him, which act made some commend him and turn him instantly into a statesman.
But wait a second. Not everybody agreed with him on that score. Hardly had his message sunk than voices were heard opposing him as “rushing” to concede defeat without waiting for the NPP’s National Executive Committee to deliberate on the verdict first. Frederick F. Anto (Ashanti Regional Chairman of the NPP) disagreed with him, Nii Ayikoi Otoo expressed disappointment at his line of action, saying that the error attributed to Justice Atuguba in announcing the stance of Justice Baffoe Bonnie opened a small window of opportunity for him to seek review and win.
The NEC of the NPP itself decided to set up a three-man committee to assess the Court’s judgement to help it “advise itself”. The implication is that the NPP leaders aren’t as accommodating as Akufo-Addo is. A house divided against itself?
From goings-on, one wonders what the Supreme Court’s verdict has taught these NPP people to help them re-strategize for the future. Have they learnt any useful lesson at all from the petition hearing? I wonder.
Here is why. Regardless of the clout of contempt of court still hanging around, notables in the NPP have given signals that they don’t accept the Court’s handling of their petition. They see a lot wrong and are not convinced that justice has been served. Comments from them speak volumes. Just consider some of those comments:
Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko says Thursday’s verdict on the election petition case was a “farcical” and “corrupt judgment”. And as he wrote on his Facebook wall, “This was a corrupt judgment, and I say so without apologies”. He added that the judgment was “potentially dangerous to our democracy”.
Otchere-Darko has also advised the party to “ignore the judiciary” because “they can't be bothered to undertake their primary duty of defending the Constitution. Let us work to do what we need to do to avoid problems with future elections”.
Although grudgingly accepting the verdict, he said that what the 9 judges did was “farcical, and the decision was a corrupt one, disrespectful of the Constitution of the Republic”.
Then, we have another one from Egbert Faibille Jnr. (one of the lawyers for the petitioners). He has expressed dissatisfaction with the judgment, stating that justice was not served by the 9-member panel.
Speaking on Citi FM’s news analysis program, The Big Issue, he said: “I believe sincerely that justice has not been served, not because of where I am coming from, but I believe that we are lulling ourselves into a false sense of security.”
He explained that the verdict does not support calls for reforms in the country’s electoral process and that the judgment will affect the country in future if a similar situation occurs.
Disappointed members of the NPP have also taken all kinds of actions, including public weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth in condemnation of the judges (especially Justices Atuguba and Baffoe Bonnie) whom they accused of sidestepping the tons of evidence adduced by the petitioners to dismiss the petition. Their threats are still thick in the air; and their uncompromising stance in public discourse is visible too.

They have resorted to questioning the integrity of the Supreme Court and demanding to know why its judgement is not made available for scrutiny as it promised to do?
Have we not heard their rumours that Justice Baffoe Bonnie was originally on the side of the petitioners but changed his stance when promised 25 million dollars and prevailed upon by emissaries of President Mahama? How about claims that Justice Atuguba won’t rule against the NDC because of his familial links with Dr. Raymond Atuguba, President Mahama’s Executive Secretary?
Others have latched on to the opinions given by Justice Anin-Yeboah that favoured the NPP to suggest that there was brow-beating and the judges in the majority disregarded the law to rule in favour of President Mahama, which was an affront to the constitution?
They are specific too in their claim: Justice Anin-Yeboah had concluded that “find the malpractices, omissions and violations enormous which rock the very foundation of free and fair elections as enshrined in our constitution which was itself breached through over-voting, lack of presiding officer's signature and lack of biometric verification which take its validity from Article 51 of the very constitution.
“I would therefore grant the relief (I) in view of the evidence led and decline to grant relief (II). I, however, as consequential order, order the second respondent to organize an election to elect a president as I cannot rely on an election which was seriously fraught with all the malpractices, irregularities and statutory violations proved in this petition to declare the first petitioner as having been duly elected.”
How do the NPP members see this opinion? It should have been the unanimous decision of the court as it upholds the rule of law as well as protects the citizens’ right to vote. Really?
They also quoted figures mentioned by Justice Anin-Yeboah concerning pink sheets without signatures of Presiding Officers and the invalid votes, which were declared as annulled by him, to be 659,814, out of which Akufo-Addo’s annulled votes would come to 170,940 whereas that of President Mahama would come to 382,088. As Justice Anin-Yeboah put it, it does appear that this would reduce the first petitioner’s valid votes to 5,077,958 whereas that of the first respondent’s would come up to 5,192,673. To him, then, neither Akufo-Addo nor President Mahama would obtain 50% + 1 as required under the constitution as Akufo-Addo’s percentage votes would be 48.68% whereas that of President Mahama would be 49.78% of the total valid votes cast.
Justice Anin-Yeboah did the same for the other categories too (over-voting, no biometric verification, etc.). Therefore, a re-run of the Presidential elections was his choice. But the majority thought otherwise.
How did Justice Anin-Yeboah arrive at those figures and percentages with only the partial results from the skewed pink sheet exhibits submitted by the petitioners? You see? These are issues that don’t add up but which are encouraging the incredulity in the NPP camp and sustaining their hot-headedness.
The underlying raison d’etre is not difficult to fathom. These were people who had so much faith in their sympathizers on the panel (as Sammy Awuku’s tape recordings might lead us to believe) and banked all their hopes on the numerical advantage rather than the quality of evidence that they presented. And when the faith and hopes evaporated in the faced of reality and their house of cards tumbled on them, they suffered double agony but can’t contain it. They have once again taken to the airwaves in droves, casting aspersions against the judges (whom they considered unsympathetic to their cause) and flexing muscles to fight the wind!
This belligerent attitude won’t allow for sobriety and a dispassionate assessment of issues to help them see things clearly. They are still unable to differentiate the trees from the forest. And so hamstrung, they risk not doing a proper appraisal of issues to know how to re-strategize for the future.
Having gone through the maze in the hearing of their petition, they should by now have put the verdict behind them and begun in-house consultations toward patching differences. They should have begun moving toward the drawing board to re-assess their “book politics” with the view to moving in a new direction altogether so the factors that have continued to hamper their quest for the Presidency can be isolated for tackling.
But they are not doing so, indicating to me how difficult it is for them to learn any lesson at all with which to re-position themselves on the political terrain for a brighter future. Not that I wish them to return to power, though; but a credible opposition (if that is what they have chosen to become because of their sterile “book politics”) can also contribute its quota toward growing our democracy.
Considering what has been happening in the NPP camp—and is likely to continue unless something else happens to give me a different impression—I can say that the party’s leaders are not giving a good account of themselves. It is time to put Election 2012 behind them and move on to conscientize their followers toward a better political trajectory. Only then will they prove that they have learnt the useful lessons that their defeat at Election 2012 taught them (but which they refused to learn) and the Supreme Court’s verdict reaffirmed (which they are grumbling over now and raising dust over for nothing).
The future beckons, and they should know that if they refuse to learn the lessons being taught them now by their bitter experiences, they will live to regret again at Election 2016. Let them prove me wrong.
I shall return…
·         E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com
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