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Feature Article of Thursday, 28 February 2013

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.

The “True State of the Nation Address” and .....

the NPP’s Quixotic politics

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My good friends, I have been putting two-and-two together to attempt comprehending all that has been going on in the country in this post-Election 2012 season, especially within the context of the NPP’s protestations and on-going challenge to the outcome of Election 2012.
The Constitution mandates only the President of Ghana to present a “State of the Nation Address” to Parliament once a year to serve as his government’s blueprint for handling national affairs. Parliament itself is enjoined to debate that Address as a way of offering input for policy formulation or for controlling the ship of state.
The Constitution doesn’t mandate any other person, institution, or political party to present anything in the name of State of the Nation Address” (whether qualified or not). But the NPP today came out with what it labelled the “True State of the Nation Address,” which its Minority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu presented in Parliament.
Of course, nothing prevents anybody, institution, or political party from reacting to the constitutionally mandated “State of the Nation Address” to be delivered to Parliament and Parliament only by the President.
The Constitution doesn’t allow such a person, institution, or political party to go to Parliament or to use the auspices of Parliament to do so. Anybody, institution, or political party that does so confronts the Constitution. So, why did the NPP do so? Mere muscle-flexing? Purposeless!!
First, it is clear that since the Constitution mandates a debate on the President’s “State of the Nation Address,” it is clearly commonsensical that it is to be laid before Parliament for that purpose. The decision by the NPP to resort to boycotts means that they won’t participate in the debate of that Address; that is, if they want to stick to their so-called “principle” as earlier established. No one will miss them, though.
Second, what does the NPP expect to be done to or about its “True State of the Nation Address” by Parliamentarians as part of the formal procedures for tapping into the essence of the “State of the Nation Address” as institutionalized? We know for sure that nobody will dare suggest any debate on their so-called “State of the Nation Address” in Parliament. So, what did they seek to achieve today?
Simply put, they sought to create tension and repeat their worn-out litany of allegations against the Mahama-led administration just for the purpose of continuing to tarnish its image. Unfortunately for them, their failure to provide solutions to all those problems they enumerated seriously damages their own credibility.
More important, the Ghanaian electorate had already heard all those allegations before Election Day; yet, they looked far ahead and chose President Mahama over all those contesting the Presidential elections.
This is where the NPP members’ insistence on the elections being rigged to favour him emerges for no further scrutiny but outright dismissal as petulant. And here is why, as I told one of that party’s sympathizers pestering me for nothing:
Ghanaians went to the polls on December 7 and 8 and chose their leader. Anybody else at the touchline making ugly noise is a nuisance to me. I won't bother my head over claims that Abu Sakara is this, Akufo-Addo is that, and all that emptiness. The voters heard and saw all of them and went for Mahama. Who am I to challenge their choice?
Anybody still talking about the NDC's being crafty at rigging elections with the connivance of the Electoral Commission annoys me to the core.
• Do the NPP petitioners and their followers want to tell me that the over 5 million votes for Mahama were manipulated or manufactured and dumped in the ballot boxes to be counted in his favour?
• Did the votes not come from live human beings who stood under the scorching sun to vote on Election Day? People whom we all saw in video recordings broadcast in the news?
• What happened to the NPP’s own “vigilant agents” monitoring everything with their eagle’s eye-watch?
It is bogus claims of this sort that make me dig in all the more. Again, let me tell these NPP people that unlike their Akufo-Addo, President Mahama is not claiming to be a Messiah. He has vowed to do what he has to do in addressing pertinent problems—certainly, not overnight!
That is why the NPP’s presenting its own version of the state of the country may raise all those accusations but won’t serve any useful purpose apart from feeding the public with an overdose of lamentations and melancholy. Not offering solution confirms the “intellectual mental laziness” that Kwame Pianim has accused them of.
The "True State of the Nation Address," as presented in Parliament, is not only unconstitutional but is also designed to sustain the NPP's muddying of the political waters.
Playing to the gallery won’t build Ghana, which they should have known better to avoid; but they didn’t because that’s their only approach to politics. I have better things to spend my time and energy on.
Anybody who thinks that the NPP is on course by pursuing its petition at the Supreme Court and that Akufo-Addo will be declared WINNER of Election 2012 is wasting his time/energy. No one can remove President Mahama from office. The next occasion for him to test his popularity/acceptability or otherwise is at the 2016 elections. Then, we can all tell how the tide will flow. Till then, all that the NPP is doing is purposeless and will end up in smoke.
By its very nature, the party’s petition is so skewed as to silently annoy the 9 judges yet to begin sitting on it in earnest. Unfortunately for the NPP, though, the Constitution hasn’t made the Supreme Court a kingmaker.
By its constitutional mandate, the Supreme Court will examine only the LEGALITY of the elections, paying attention whether all the electoral processes were adequately transparent and largely done in the full glare of the public as required by most of the safeguards in Article 49 of the Constitution and CI 75 (articles 29 to 41, particularly)
We have all along insisted that the Supreme Court doesn’t have any constitutional mandate or institutional capacity to make declarations on any elections in Ghana. That is the purview of the EC (Art 63.9). The Supreme Court can only determine the legality or validity of the EC’s handling of the elections or the outcome, meaning that it can do only three things:
i. Order the EC to re-collate votes,
ii. Re-run the elections, or
iii. Put its house in order and be in a position to conduct general elections with minimal flaws (Art 64.2). (Thanks to Abukari Adam, Ghanaweb article, “Lingering questions on the alternative reality of NPP’s presidential election petition,” Feb. 26, 2013).
But the NPP petitioners are not asking for any of the three possibilities in an electoral dispute. All they are asking for is that their Akufo-Addo be declared winner. The Supreme Court will definitely have none of that because that is not what the constitution mandates it to do.
There is nowhere in the Constitution that mandates the Supreme Court to nullify votes (even to the tune of over 4 million as the NPP’s Akufo-Addo is demanding). All the votes that the NPP are contesting went to candidates and will be difficult to substantiate that they were engineered for only President Mahama.
The voters at the 11,916 stated by the petitioners as the centres of electoral irregularities polling stations simultaneously chose Parliamentary candidates, which the NPP is not complaining about.
Whether the NPP waits for 2016 or continues to dance itself lame on the political landscape protesting at everything and everybody (including their own voices of reason) is none of my business.
I shall return…
• E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com
• Join me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/mjkbokor to continue the conversation.

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