OPINION: Ghana: After The Storm, An Uneasy Calm Hangs Over The Nation
"...The electoral process in Africa today is increasingly violent because it has turned into a desperate fight between ambitious elites in an impoverished population for control over scarce resources. Scarcity is endemic because the colonial state system wastes natural resources by exporting them, and cannot set up the industries and Jobs needed to create decent living conditions for the African population ".- Ayi kwei Armah.
An important question political scientists would have to answer going forward would be why elections in Africa are increasingly characterised by violence. acclaimed Ghanaian poet, Ayi kwei Armah attempts an answer in the preceding quote, culled from a wide-ranging piece he penned in the wake of the 2008 election which like 2012, brought Ghana to the brink. The nation was virtually on a knife-edge that year. An incumbent government had just lost a crucial election by a whisker and the war drums were being beaten by the vanquished.
Elections 2020 have come and gone in Ghana. The state of anxiety and apprehension which had taken hold of the nation following the vote was brought to a halt at least momentarily with the declaration of the results of the presidential election by election Commission chairperson, Jean Mensah.
The announcement on the evening of December 9, 2020, led to a wild jubilation by supporters of the New patriotic party, Victors at the polls, at least as far as the presidency is concerned, and gnashing of teeth in the camp of the main opposition NDC which garnered a respectable 47.46% of the presidential vote as compared to the incumbent president, Nana Akufo-Addo's 51.18% of the vote.
For now, an uneasy calm hangs over the west African state, current chair of the 16 members Economic Community of West African states, and a model of democracy on the African continent. the opposition, led by the immediate past Head of state, the affable and Eloquent John Mahama, have already signalled that they intend challenging the results.
Mahama's challenge comes as little surprise, months to the polls he and his party, the National Democratic Congress had battled the election body both in the law courts as well as in the court of public opinion for what they perceived as the Commission's refusal to build consensus in the run-up to the elections as well as what they perceived as a deliberate ploy to rig the elections in favour of the incumbent, and signalled their lack of trust in the election umpire led by Jean Mensah.
But the closeness of the polls, something akin to a cliffhanger will further embolden the opposition party's challenge: a paltry 500,000 votes separated Mahama and Akufo-Addo in the presidential race.
President Akufo-Addo and his NPP would have to begin a serious soul searching, nothing short of a postmortem to determine how they came so close to losing the plot. They would have to answer how a party that only four years ago unseated an incumbent at the height of his power, in this case, John Mahama by almost a million votes had to struggle this hard to retain power, in the face of a Challenge by the same man.
The main thrust of this article though is to determine why our political environment has become so fractious. One gets an eerie feeling of a De ja vu this year. We have been here before. The images and scenes we have witnessed this year look like a playback of 2012. An incumbent wins a closely contested election, the opposition refuses to accept the results, the nation is on edge, there are skirmishes between supporters of the opposing parties, the case ends in court.
Our elections are increasingly looking like a well-rehearsed horror script and that cannot bode well for our fragile states.
Our politicians must understand that political power only gives them a false sense of security and cannot save them from the wrath of the people. The intensity of our political cycles is a testament to the desperation of our elite to escape the hopelessness they have created in the larger society. Their only saviour lies in their ability to deliver the dividends of democracy.
Democracy can only survive in a climate of opportunities and the time has come for our politicians to focus on creating opportunities for the teeming mass of youth. Democracy will endure only when it's dividends become self-evident.
The results of Ghana's 2020 elections points to an eventually divided nation.
For now, the spectre of a hung parliament stares us in the face. Without an absolute majority, the ruling party would have to reach out to the opposition, something that can only advance consensus building, something that can only bode well for our highly polarised country.
The two main parties should focus on policy formulation and stop the constant angling for power for the sake of power.
A country that is always in an election mood can expect nothing but a tensed environment. There is a time for elections, and a time to govern and our politicians must learn to focus more on the latter and not the former. the vain quest for power without an attendant desire to use the power of the state to advance progress is simply unsustainable.
For now one can only hope that the aftermath of election 2020 in Ghana will be handled with tact with the Country's stability as an overriding concern. Ghana is bigger than any of the two main political parties.
The next few weeks will test the resolve of Ghanaians to live in peace. We can only hope good sense prevails at the end of the day.
Credit: Rodney Tsenuokpor
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