Apparently drawing inspiration from the success of Ghana’s opposition in the recently-concluded parliamentary and presidential polls, Nigeria’s main opposition Action Congress (AC) party has hailed the polls, saying they have shown that a ruling party can be defeated in a free and fair election.
In a statement issued in Accra, after its delegation attended Wednesday’s swearing in of President John Evans Atta Mills, the AC also said the victory of Ghana’s opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) was made possible by a number of factors.
It listed the factors as ”a fearless and patriotic judiciary, security agencies that are insulated from politics, an electoral commissioner that has integrity and believes in democracy, an incumbent President who is more of a statesman than a partisan politician and voters who are ready to defend their votes.”
The party singled out for commendation the Chairman of Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, under whose chairmanship the ruling and opposition parties have both won and lost presidential elections since 1996.
“Dr. Afari-Gyan was appointed by JJ Rawlings when he was President of Ghana. Yet, Rawlings’ party – then ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) – lost the presidential elections twice to then opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) under his (Afari-Gyan) chairmanship. Now, the NDC has won again, for the first time since 1996. There is no stronger indicator of the man’s integrity than this.
“In Nigeria, our own electoral commission chairman not only ensures that the ruling PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) cannot and should not lose any election, he defends the ruling PDP more than even the card-carrying members of the party,” AC said.
It added: ”If Dr. Afari-Gyan were like our Prof. Maurice Iwu, Ghana will today be embroiled in post-election turmoil like the type witnessed in Kenya and Zimbabwe.”
The party also commended ”the statesmanship” of the immediate past President John Kufuor, adding: “When it seems his party was trying to prevent the holding of the election in the last of the 230 constituencies and prevent the release of the result, Kufuor issued a statement urging all stakeholders to yield to the authority of the EC when it declares the result of the presidential election. This is statesmanship at its best.”
It recalled that during the 2007 general elections in Nigeria, then President Obasanjo set the stage for the violence, rigging and manipulations that attended the polls by tagging it a do-or-die for his party, the PDP.
The party also praised Ghana’s judiciary for refusing to dance to the tune of the then ruling party, which has sought to prevent the holding of the crunch poll in the Tain Constituency, saying ”This in sharp contrast to ignoble role played by some of Nigerian Judges in the June 12, 1993 elections crisis.”
AC said Ghana’s security agencies also deserved commendation for remaining apolitical and for not allowing themselves to be used to kill and main their compatriots to pave the way for election manipulation.
It also said Ghana’s voters have shown that it is not just enough to vote, but such votes must be defended by the electorate before they can be made to count.
“Overall, Ghana remains a beacon of hope to all lovers of democracy in Africa and its successful holding of elections in 1996, 2000, 2004 and now 2008 is a repudiation of the cynical conclusion that democracy is alien to Africa,” AC said.