FEATURE: If Ghana Had Gone Into Flames

A compulsion to watch the movie, ‘Hotel Rwanda’ once again has amplified my gratitude to God for the peace we are enjoying in the Country. I dare not talk about the horrors of war revealed in this movie. Since I watched that movie again, I have had his question lingering on my mind; who was or were to be blamed if Ghana had gone into flames? Which people or group of persons’ action or inaction could have been deemed as contributing to this state we may have narrowly escaped? This has necessitated that pen be put to paper with the view to answering some of these questions.

The purpose of this piece is not to castigate anyone or apportion blames but to look out for these people, institutions and incidence which could have deprived mother Ghana of the peace she is enjoying with the view to pointing out their errors for the necessary corrections to forestall such future occurrences.

Words rather than ammunitions are known to have fuelled conflict longer than age itself. Conflict has started and protracted simply because some individuals did not agree to one thing or the other and have admonished their followers to take similar position.  The 2012 election in Ghana seem to have witnessed the highest form of irresponsible utterances as far as conducting of elections in Ghana since the beginning of the fourth republic is concerned. Whereas some of them came from ordinary party faithfuls, others came from highly respected political figures in the country.  All these comments regardless of whomever it came from and whatever might have occasioned them were unwarranted and had the tendency to escalate into something else but for the timely intervention of civil society groups and individuals who called for calm in the country.  It is about time politicians realized the key role they play in safeguarding the peace of the country hence the need to be meticulous about their utterances.

The Electoral Commissioner (EC) could also have to a greater extent thrown the wheel of peace we are enjoying off the road with some of his decisions.  This is with particular reference to the New Patriotic Party’s plea to be given three (3) days to gather evidence to the effect that there were irregularities that could affect that outcome of the elections before the result was declared. The NPP did well by calling the tripartite meeting involving the Electoral Commission and the National Peace Council to outline their grievances. The best decision that could have emerged out of this meeting regarding the concerns they raised was for them to be granted the number of days they requested or negotiate for it to be reduced to a day or two if it was too much to ask for. After all the constitution stipulates that election results are to declared within forty eight (48) after  voting was done thus if they had been granted at least twenty four (24) hours, it still would have been within the stipulated time frame.

When it became necessary, the whole election process had to be extended to another day because of ‘technical difficulties’, why couldn’t same be done for the declaration of the result? It was therefore improper for the EC to have swept their concerns under the carpet with the simply admonition that ‘They should go to court…’ You and I can only imagine what the state of affairs would have been if the NPP had not behaved like civilized people and resorted to the court of law to settle their differences.

The National Peace Council (NPC) could also be blamed at this point had any misfortune befallen this country.  Taking into cognizance the cost of peace, the best they could do as a the ‘custodians’ of the peace of the nation was to impress upon the EC to have considered the request of the NPP if not to grant them the number of days requested, at least push for a day or two to produce their evidence. This is reasonable to the extent that they were going to mobilize evidence from all over the country.  Regardless of the prevailing circumstances the NPC should have been able to I can impress upon the EC to give the NPP at least twenty (24) hours to produce their evidence. And again, I can only imagine whether this case would have ended up in court after all.

The last but not the least of these groups of people were the journalists.  The way and manner some stories were carried during this period was so appalling hence the need for them to be cautioned. The biggest threat to our peace in the 2012 election came from this group of people especially the print media. It is an open secret as far as journalism is concerned that headlines are what attract people to a particular newspaper but that ought not to be done at the expense of peace. It was so unfortunate but the headlines of most of the newspaper were full of violent-inciting headlines. You go to a buy a newspaper or go to news stand and all what you read was either ‘NPP man has been killed here or there and vice versa’,’ An NDC mob has attacked an NPP man and vice versa’,’ This man has said this concerning this people’ etc. The question that kept playing and replaying in my head was what these newspapers sought to achieve?  The radio stations kept playing sound bites of politicians insulting one another, making unfounded allegations; comment that had the tendency to plunge the nation into war and yet saw nothing wrong with it.

We are human and at times we let our anger get the better part of us but we should be able to control ourselves such that we would not pass comment whose consequences maybe to the injury of the peace mother Ghana is enjoying.  The election maybe over but the litigation surrounding it is still ongoing at the Supreme Court with us awaiting the final phase by mid-August. It is imperative that all and sundry conduct themselves especially after the verdict is given in such a way as not to put our peace in jeopardy.

As citizens of Ghana, we ought to understand that Ghana is far more important than any political party even if it belongs to one’s father and it is what brings in the daily bread. We should also understand that no politician is worth dying for because they will get someone to substitute you when you are gone. It is important that we subject the information journalist put out in the public’s domain to careful scrutiny before acting on them. Ghana is the only country we have, let us endeavour to safeguard the peace we are enjoying.

Long Live Mother Ghana!

By: Boadi –Manu Andrews


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