Feature Article of Tuesday, 16 April 2013
Columnist: Musah, Abdul Rahman
Ghanaian Academics don’t get it.
I was listening to News File yesterday. The issue of Coup d’tats in Ghana came up, and I heard Prof. Michael Kpessah Whyte, a colleague of mine at Brock University say that coups will not happen in Ghana because there are several radio stations. The dead in the Ivory Coast and all the other African countries will be turning in their graves. Radio Stations in themselves don’t stop coups from happening. There are numerous examples both in the continent and outside to prove my friend wrong.
Apparently, Professor Whyte’s comment were aimed to criticize his peers in the Academic monastery who had earlier argued that the current situation in Ghana is similar to others that lead to coups. There were several radio stations in La Cote Ivoire when Henri Konan Bedie was overthrown in a Coup. No one thought that could happen. It came to pass. In fact, in Rwanda and other countries radio stations and newspapers were used to commit genocide. The government by radio station theory does not pass the test of African history nor its experience.
Professor Whyte’s second argument is funny. Somehow he is putting the faith of the country on the good intentions of others. He thinks that Ghana’s military men are professionals and would not overthrow a government. That is neither empirical nor even factual.
This argument would defeat itself because if you allow the country’s essential services to strike. Demonstrations and counter demonstrations all over the place. Partisan division in Ghanaian politics led by a reactant opposition leader who lost and would not concede defeat. The divisions are also very dangerously along ethnics lines. The ethnicity of our President is an undercurrent of the opposition New Patriotic Party’s agitation. We hear their supporters whisper all over, both during and after the elections.
We can have a situations where a governments can be overthrown because of civil unrest in the country. It happened numerous times in Nigeria. The arguments of the coup makers are exactly Professor Whyte’s. They said they are professionals, that is why they should overthrow the government and maintain order in the country. Professor Whyte might not like the situation because his liberal democratic instinct might tell not to. In a politically toxic environment some, out of shear hatred for the other guys, might contemplate dictatorship. Ghana’s own experience in 1979 defuses all the air out of Professor Whyte’s arguments. I don’t know why he would say what he said. He should know better.
A few things are happening in Ghana at the same time. One is the meaningless and baseless election dispute at the Supreme Court by the opposition NPP. It is baseless because they are seeking to annul the result of an election that they clearly lost, according to Ghana’s Electoral Commissioner, all international and local observers, and the press. Everyone saw them lose the election. But they were encouraged and urged on by the media and the political establishment to dispute election in court. Not because they have any valid case to present but because they can. Causing endless and unnecessary election time hysteria in the country. This alone could cause serious security problems for Ghana.
Needless to add that they did same in 2008, but good people intervened and impressed on the NPP candidate to stop their endless and frivolous law suit.
The situation is couple with a newly elected President trying to find his footing, and group of politically motivated Doctors who want to go on strike despite a ruling against them. There is also a groups mainly associated with the NPP going on demonstration everyday in the country saying they want their vote counted as if the country is still voting.
I don’t want to sound like a dooms day prophet, but these conditions are similar to the ones in Ivory Coast when Henri Konan Bedie was deposed by the Military. The military would say it is precisely because of the chaos in the country that they are taking over. We have seen it in Africa and other place where Presidents were asked to go on exile, parliaments suspended, and citizens asked to sleep at 6:00pm because there is a state of emergency.
As for the civil society argument that Professor Whyte and others have been parading, the least said about them the better. In a military coup d’tat, people put their lives first. When the gun shoots are fired, everyone holds his or her head first. And therefore many people in Ghana would not put their lives at risk by going on demonstrations and getting shot at by armed military men. Moreover, political divisions create allies, not enemies, for coup makers.
To defuse the situation in Ghana, we shouldn’t pretend there are no risks in certain causes of actions. And we shouldn’t be quick to dismiss others as alarmist because they warn the country of a possible bad situation. We should all be becoming together as a people and say what is right, the Doctors strike is illegal, and tell NPP to call on their supporters to stop the unnecessary demonstrations and let’s all have our peace. The election are over.
Bad things happen when good people decide to be quiet.