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A poisoned chalice for Honourable Mama Lydia!

BY: Collin Essamuah
Ms Lydia Alhassan — MP, Ayawaso West Wuogon
Ms Lydia Alhassan — MP, Ayawaso West Wuogon

“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because its accepted by a majority”

— Booker Washington

We have really come a long way since the return to civilian, constitutional rule.

Democracy is what animates our politics since January 7,1993.

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It is supposed to be better than all forms of human government and governance principally because it rests on the consent of the governed.

What governments are supposed to do have also undergone subtle but important changes.

I myself have not been here for two weeks, marked by tumultuous events which are testing our resolve to continue with democracy.

Three weeks ago, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was reported as saying that massive development projects will commence soon.

Then the generally positive news that we have a new Yaa Naa, hopefully replacing the lack of peace occasioned by the tragic murder of his predecessor in March 2002.

An interesting aspect of news in my absence is the present status of the Right to Information bill.

A Member of Parliament of the ruling party was reported as suggesting that the bill should be operationalised a year after presidential assent.

The Majority Leader himself too has indicated government has no funds to operationalise it soon.

Where from these astonishing anti-democratic ideas? Now in my last epistle, I called on both public and private journalists to make appropriate noises to unravel and punish the murderers of one of their own, Ahmed Hussein Suale.

Now it appears the new views on the RTI bill requires even more noise from journalists to preserve the integrity of the profession.

But by far, the most significant piece of news to hit us and still reverberating in our body politic is the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election caused by the death of the sitting Member of Parliament which I had in earlier epistles commented on.

What happened at the by-election, the winning ruling party, and what transpired at the poll itself, would ordinarily have formed the grist for a racy novel.

Except the carnage and injuries wrought by people in masks and sporting national security unity Ninja-like uniforms which have seized the national discourse.

What happened at the Ayawaso by-election was remarkable because of one thing, the venue. Three or four things leap to the eye which definitely escaped the perpetrators of the violence.

Ayawaso is part of the capital Accra, but unlike Odododiodoo, also, in Accra which has experienced a by-election before, it is more urbanised, cosmopolitan, and elite, therefore much more prone to international exposure.

And so it was. Social media did the rest.

Even the personalities who stood on their parties tickets exposed the higher than normal interest which mark our by-elections.

It is rather surprising that some of us, mainly in the ruling party, see this as just another violence-prone by-election.

We have had several previous by-elections in which the widows of deceased Members of Parliament contested successfully, and the sympathy vote was lavishly garnered.

But Ms Lydia Alhassan cannot in all honesty claim the status conferred on her by her supporters.

That it became an issue made this by-election different as the young children were included in a keep-fit march by the ruling New Patriotic Party as this untraditional and unsympathetic abuse of the rights of the children were submerged in the cacophony of the campaign.

That she is yet to find time to visit and encourage the recovery of her constituents shot during the Ayawaso melee is another remarkable feature of this whole episode.

The Electoral Commissioner

The role of our new Electoral Commissioner, Mrs Jean Mensa, is also remarkable.

That the widely-respected Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has found it necessary, after their usual painstaking observer work, to condemn in no uncertain terms her initial performance in both the referenda to create new regions only last December and in this by-election does not bode well for us the electorate and her personal reputation.

I still cannot grasp the meaning of her defence that the trouble in the constituency did not affect voting.

At the end of the day, her reputation as an efficient and effective manager of our electoral processes is all she will have.

It is the anomalous national security outfit deployed on the orders of the Minister of State responsible for National Security which has attracted the most condemnation.

The universal condemnation assumes a wrong fact as truth.

The existence and role and use of National Security Council (NSC) and its members and operatives are clearly spelt out in our constitution.

They do not include the maintenance of a standing force because the NSC is a strategic-policy making body not a tactical device independent of the various forces whose heads constitute the NSC.

And most importantly, it is chaired by the President.

How to explain the existence of NSC troops would be a headache for our government in the days ahead because it raises constitutional issues.

And pray, what is the exact nature of the intelligence that necessitated this raid on the house of a serious participant in the election?

If the raid was carried out in the interest of public safety, the public in whose name it is being pursued are entitled to know the exact actionable intelligence that necessitated this raid.

That candidate Delali Brempong was keeping nuclear devices in his house with his pastor-wife and children? These kinds of rationalisations do not make sense.

Critics

Those who have found their voices to criticise this wanton abuse of power in plain daylight include several interesting people.

Right Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Martey has moved on from criticising bush airports in Ghana even as the new-spanking terminal three was being built as if that was part of his mandate as Moderator to counsel this government of wise men and women.

My brother Mr Kofi Totobi-Quakyi has been criticised for criticising the government through an open letter to the President for being hypocritical being a former National Security Minister himself.

Obviously the full import of what he wrote escaped his critics who refused to read or see his exact words that, ‘’the unsettled scores or yesterday’s men must not condemn the hopes of tomorrow’s and of their generation.’’

Not all Ghanaians, including him, had the benefit of SHS education at my alma mater Mfantsipim School in Cape Coast to know that our motto ‘dwen hwe kan’ loosely translated as think and look ahead, guides responsible behaviour that continually strives for the betterment of our previous conditions.

It is instructive that the opposition National Democratic Congress is not regaling us with what happened at the Offinso bye-election under President J. A. Kufuor when Kobby Akyeampong, Nii Lante Vanderpuije, Nii Amasa Namoale and Ato Ahwoi were thrown into police cells without reason.

The participation test, percentage-wise, may prove to those responsible for the carnage that terror is a useful tool in democratic elections, but they have conveniently forgotten or overlooked its dangers to the existence of democracy itself.

All this when victory for NPP or NDC would not have altered the balance of power.

This rash episode has pushed into the background the affirmation of the victory of 2016 and handed us all a poisoned chalice for our way of life and government.

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