The noise of election campaigns in 2016 will soon cease. Some of us have already queued at some designated polling stations on December 1 for early voting.
One would have wished that this special exercise was extended to cover at least 20 per cent of the electorate so that there would be no congestion on December 7, the day of our moment of truth. While we stand in line, our hearts and minds should be at peace with only one message. It is that the world, in spite of its turbulence of events, will not end in a bang because of the simple, routine process of choosing our leaders in Ghana.
Elections take place everywhere in the world. They are supposed to produce peaceful outcomes but some do end up in violence. To avoid violence, we must conduct ourselves civilly by tuning up our minds to accept that the process has been free and fair and that win or lose, the world must go on. This demands that all outstanding misunderstandings about the fairness of the process is cleared between parties and the electoral authority before the voting day. Your choice may not be my choice but it is the preference of the majority that must prevail. The campaign might have been bitter, fought at times with inconsiderate words. Nevertheless, defeated parties and individual candidates must display losers’ consent.
Predictions have been made by pollsters and amateur pundits about the results of Election 2016. These predictions and result forecasts are contingent on certain conditions having been fulfilled, which in real life may not happen. Many of the polls are simply expressions of gut feelings, guessing from the crowd sizes at rallies. Others such as what prophets say are mere wishes that have been given esoteric expressions and have been proved wrong time and again. Therefore we must guard against false hopes arising from unrealisable expectations that give vent to unsubstantiated accusations of cheating, a sequel to mayhem.
Additionally, we must be aware of this strange phenomenon termed “the momentum” whereby one of the parties in a tight fight gathers steam and pulls away to become winner, contrary to general expectations. At this moment it is difficult to say whether NDC or NPP will be the winner, or indeed if the smaller parties and the independent candidates will play a significant role in determining the winner.
By all means, we must jubilate if ours is the majority choice. This means that for the next four years the party is the governing one. Victory deserves celebration but one must be guided by the story of Martina Navratilova, the great tennis star, on winning her first Wimbledon. She said she enjoyed only one fleeting second of elation. That moment was when she lifted the trophy and heard the hurrah. The next second, her mind went off busily planning the defence of the title.
There is indeed great work to be done to fulfil the manifesto promises to the people of Ghana. No gamboling, champagne popping, victory parades and teasing of opponents. In modern times it is base political conduct. Rather, winners must court the co-operation and loyalty of all.
Four years is such a split second in the life of a nation. If a party spends two years jubilating and two years campaigning, how much time has she to govern the country effectively?
Those of us who have seen governments come and go can attest to the fact that in many cases, public conduct and competence of our elected citizens do not match their rhetoric. But many times we accept their weaknesses and failures with a big sigh, “After all, they are human.” Politicians must accept that they are humans. They are, not more special than the voters. They are, in fact, the servants of the people. If they do not know what a servant is, they should go to some of our small towns and watch the activities of conscientious and effective assemblymen and women. They are our true servants. They have parties of their choice but to them, a victory on December 7 will not be greeted with, “It’s our time to eat.”