All peace loving people the world over heaved a big sigh of relief when the Electoral Commissioner, Dr Afari-Gyan on January 3rd 2008, declared Professor John Evans Atta Mills the winner of the December 7th 2008 presidential election in Ghana. I say a big sigh of relief because events that took place leading to and after the December 28th 2008 run-off were understandably worrying.
Apart from the closeness of the contest – 50.23% and 49.77%, for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP), respectively, the accusations of violence against members by both the ruling NPP and the main opposition NDC as well as the inability of Electoral Commission to declare a winner until after the elections of the Tain Constituency in the Brong Ahafo Region, ignited the atmosphere in Ghana. The situation was so tensed that one could be forgiven for thinking that GhanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s modest success story in regards to its democratic journey was under a serious threat.
Apart from pockets of lawlessness by a few people, from both sides of the political divide, which needs to be condemned in no uncertain terms, Ghana has once again proven to the world that when the script about Africa and democracy is written, it need not be only about Kenya, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo and recently Guinea. Ghana has once again demonstrated that it is truly the shining star of the continent.
It will however be disingenuous to suggest that the just ended election was the best. It definitely wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. Some of the situations that stared us in the face could have been avoided. I therefore hope and pray that the leadership of all the political parties have learnt a few lessons from this election and they will use that to work towards improving our democratic structures and endeavours.
It is an undeniable fact that, there is nothing like a perfect election procedure anywhere in the world. Remember America and the Florida fiasco?. I also remember that on the 21st of January 2007 Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe TimesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ of London published a comment piece by Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky suggesting that he had been notified of statistics by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of England and Wales that Ã¢â‚¬Å“revealed that there were no fewer than 390 cases of alleged electoral offences in the past seven yearsÃ¢â‚¬Â. Now, these are advanced democracies yet they have their own share of electoral malpractices. The unfortunate incidents that took place during the election should therefore not be used as a yardstick to underestimate the huge success Ghana has chalked in regards to our democratic credentials.
But that is not to say that we should not continuously find ways of minimizing these practices or eradicate them. We have to leave no stone unturned in our collective efforts to nip these electoral malpractices in the bud. It can be done if all Ghanaians resolve to work towards that. We have to, because, even though Democracy has its won inherent limitations as with any human endeavor, it is the best form of governance we have at the moment. We all have to put our hands on deck to actively seek methods of improving our democratic exercise each passing day.
It is therefore important that we strengthen the institutions that deal with electoral disputes, so that whoever engages in such acts is dealt with according to the laws without any fear or favor. This will then give people the confidence to allow the law to take its course when there are any alleged cases of electoral malpractices instead of taking the law in their own hands Ã¢â‚¬â€œ with its attendant consequences.
With the elections over, it is now time to marshal the expertise of all to push our dear country forward and I am glad the president elect, Professor John Evans Atta Mills has declared his intention to do just that. It is equally gratifying to note the Nana Akufo- Addo and the other presidential aspirants have also hinted that they will offer their support. That is the spirit Ghana needs at this crucial moment when the job at hand is enormous and varied. A situation that requires the support of all Ghanaians to tackle this uncertain world economic order that even the industrial world is struggling with.
God bless our Homeland Ghana and continue to make her great and strong.
Credit: Zakaria Tanko Musah [[email protected]]