Harruna Attah writes… Mac Manu’s Ostrichism: Good Governance, not Arrogance



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On Thursday 14/05/20, I read two media statements on Election 2020, one from NDC chairman Ofosu-Ampofo and the other from former NPP chairman, Peter Mac Manu. But please read the letter below, which I wrote to the NIA about my experience regarding the Ghana card registration, providentially, dated 15/05/19 – almost exactly one year to the day of the exchanges between the two party leaders on the same subject:

PART I

Letter to Colonel Ghansah, Director of Operations, NIA 15/05/19

“Dear Colonel,

My Ghana Card

Please kindly accept my apologies for bringing this my individual complaint to you directly, the reason being that I tried the helpline a number of times and had no help. I live in Tesano, Accra. On Monday, May 6 2019, I went to a Registration Centre near my house to register. After going through all the motions I was told I could not get my card because the printer had malfunctioned. I was assured that it would be rectified and I would be called later in the day or the next day to come for the card. I thanked them and left for home.  The call did not come that day, nor the next and after a number of days of waiting (Thursday 09/05/19), I went back to the centre personally, to find out, only to be told that my card was not among those they had printed. I left without any assurance that I would get my card. At the time of writing I still had no idea about the fate of my card…

I bring this to your notice because this kind of attitude would call into question the integrity of the exercise and many people may end up not getting their cards – it did seem to me that some favouritism was at play. I also noticed that the officials were encouraging the use of inaccurate data, like telling applicants who do not have street names to use street names “near” their homes, etc. One wonders how much more inaccurate information is being keyed into this all-important means of identification. I thank you for your attention.”

Yours faithfully

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Amb. Alhaji A. Harruna Attah, MOV

PART II

Mac Manu’s fatal flaw:

And now my comments on the two statements: I read the statements a number of times before arriving at my views. I was most surprised at Mac Manu’s tone and stance for he is not usually like that. So what has happened? Why that vitriol on an issue of such a grave national interest and possible national disintegration? The statement betrayed its premeditated nature coming only a couple of hours after the NDC chairman’s statement and containing that much detail. Let us say they anticipated the contents of the NDC chairman’s statement and so prepared in advance for it. But what a shame! Mac Manu’s statement was wide off the mark. It did not address the fundamental concerns raised by Ampofo. Instead it launched into a long diatribe of irrelevance. Ok your party won 2016 by so many votes. Ok your Mr. Cathedral claims he has done this and that and by your own estimation you will win again in 2020 and blah, blah, blah! So why the desperate attempt to bring on board another system to replace the one that gave you the numbers that saw you into office? And as for those attacks on John Mahama – pure cracked record sounds, which simply grate on the ears and nerves, nothing more! Why they have such a pathological hatred for the man, I do not understand. I will not put to paper what I suspect to be the real reason…

But are those the issues raised by the NDC chairman for the attention of Ghanaians? I voted late last year in the local elections using the tried and tested system. On verification, in one touch, my finger print was recognised and a voice gave me the all clear to cast my vote in record time. The Americans say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It is the NPP, party and Government of Ghana that are giving the cause for disquiet with their rather maniacal insistent on replacing something that ain’t broke…

I recently read about statements on the same issue in the media attributed to the deputy secretary general of the NPP threatening that Ayawaso West Wuogon was more or less the dress rehearsal for what was to come. Did you hear that?! Neither Mr. Mac Manu nor Mr. Cathedral have called him to order. The NPP majority leader in parliament has also been quoted as saying that there is no way the NDC can win an election in Ghana with the new voters register. At his level, he certainly must be standing on some deep intel to know something that the rest of us are yet to discover. So you see, there are genuine concerns and fears regarding the 2020 elections, which must be addressed through responsible leadership not one of bombast, arrogance and the threat of violence. Please note: the NPP does not have a monopoly on violence; everybody has a capacity to unleash violence if provoked!

My letter quoted above is just one clear evidence of the flawed and fraudulent system being imposed on Ghanaians. Its intent is clear: to rig the elections even before a single vote has been cast… I had the influence of my social position, backed by the strength of my conviction to write and complain, but can you imagine the thousands who would have thrown their hands up in despair and walked away in anger? I have a friends, friend that Mr. Mac Manu would know, who was so frustrated by the entire cumbersome process that he was unable to register for the card, so he cannot vote in December if the Ghana card is used as the main ID for voting. There are many others like him. But such people have genuine, valid voter ID cards from previous elections. Why are those cards being rejected as primary IDs for registration? Let us also not forget that there were many reports of NIA officials doing illegal registration in their homes and other unauthorised places. Those allegations have not been investigated in an open public inquiry to restore confidence. Another matter: The disability community was treated as an after-thought. My wife, who is disabled could not get access to the centres and had to find her way all the way to the NIA headquarters to complain before something was cobbled up. Can you imagine the thousands of disabled people spread all over the country without privilege, who are being disenfranchised as a result?

Instead of dialoguing to resolve the dangers and possible areas of conflict, the NPP and its cohorts are behaving as though winning an election has conferred on them the muscles of a coup d’etat. Remember, Ghana belongs to all Ghanaians, not just the supporters of political parties. In fact, those who do not belong to political parties are in the majority, so let those politicians who are not aware of this fact, wise up to that reality before their inborn need to cheat and misplaced claims to inerrancy plunges us into darkness at noon.

Mrs. Jean Mensa and Dr. Ken Attafuah are pursuing an agenda not designed to reflect the will of the Ghanaian people, but those who gave them their current jobs. There is time for good sense and genuine patriotism to save us all…

The constitution has no place for irresponsibility and arrogance. When it comes to the sovereignty of Ghana, power, it says, rests with the people, whose supreme power is exercised and expressed in free, fair, and non-violent elections. The actions of political cheats who would want to exploit the constitution to disenfranchise the people, stands condemned. The Ghana card is expected to have multiple uses. This crucial utility aspect is now being lost to the politics surrounding it. This is a document that should be allowed some more time to mature and settle on us so that its use becomes second nature to us. The way it is being railroaded, as if its only use is for elections, is as myopic as it is nugatory.

Shame on all politicians, civil and public servants parading as democrats but subverting our constitution to pursue their dictatorship agenda. All die be die? Let us be careful and not misuse the power being held in trust for the people. There are consequences. Not a threat, but a caution.

My letter published above precedes Chairman Ampofo’s statement by a whole year and is proof that the NDC’s statement is not in the abstract but rooted in reality.

PART III

A Good Governance Reality Check:

The document under contention, the voters register, (like the constitution or recordings of parliamentary debates or even a trade agreement between Ghana and another country), is a public document belonging to all citizens of Ghana. This entitles every citizen – an individual, an NGO, an academic institution, a CSO and particularly a political party – to have a say and a stake in its preparation and implementation. It is called accountability and open governance. The NDC and those millions of Ghanaians voicing their concerns are legitimate in their calls to be heard in the national interest and as expected of good citizenry. It is the NPP that has taken a fatally flawed interpretation by assuming that the introduction of a new voters register is its sole preserve. Mac Manu is wrong and subversive of democracy. My friend Mac is on the wrong side here…There is a simple solution: Listen, learn and cater to all concerns. That way, a register that would find acceptance from all of us will emerge and Ghana would be the winner.

PART IV

Another reality check:

When an election gives mandate to a political party, that party becomes the governing political party and cannot hold itself as the government. That is an entirely different entity, a part of the three arms of state plus the media as the 4th estate. The government itself takes decisions for the state on behalf of the people. That is why it is governments that enter into and sign agreements for loans, grants, contracts and other bilateral and multilateral relations and not political parties. A Government of Ghana agreement, for example, binds the state and people of Ghana to the obligations in that agreement, which remains in force even if that particular government is no more. The differentiation is significant, crucial and critical. The NPP is now the governing party (Election 2016) not the Government of Ghana. It is some of these misunderstandings that end up in the bad governance that Africa has become prone to over the years. The voters register and Ghana card are Government of Ghana projects which the people of Ghana have the right to question, approve, modify or reject. In this case many people believe the Government of Ghana is not acting in good faith through its agents, the EC and NIA and have voiced their feelings through petitions, street demonstrations, public lectures and more. It can be argued that over half the country – counting the non-governing political parties and the numerous CSOs and non-political general public, have voiced disagreement. This is too critical a mass to be treated with contempt. Is that not enough for any responsible government to pause, listen and modify to carry the nation along? Bad governance does not involve only financial malfeasance but even more, abuse of office, which the current Government of Ghana is indulging in, big time! A political ostrichism that may yet be the undoing of this our beautiful country…

 

By Alhaji Abdul-Rahman Harruna Attah