With the general elections mercifully around the corner, I am holding my breath and sitting on thorns. I am not mincing my words. To put it more bluntly, I am petrified of election violence on Wednesday.
Forgive me, if I sound so pessimistic: I have a premonition that things will not be orderly on December 7. Some misguided individuals bent on destabilizing the country will not look favorably on the results of the election, and will, out of spite, frustration and anger, proceed to rock the boat.
My fears are not unfounded. Recent events—the skirmishes between supporters of the two major political parties, the NDC and the NPP, coupled with the coarse language of the election campaigns, and charges of bribery and corruption —-have me wondering if some of our compatriots will conduct themselves above reproach on election day.
I am not the only one who is apprehensive about the coming elections. Millions of Ghanaians are just as fearful of pre and post election violence.
We, all Ghanaians, share a common purpose, and that is, a keen desire to see our country elect its next political leader peacefully, without chaos and bloodletting.
My fears notwithstanding, I take consolation in the fact that civil society groups and other genuinely concerned Ghanaians have voiced their displeasure at the tone of the campaigns and are imploring politicians to conduct themselves in ways that would inspire a peaceful election.
Just last week, the Northern Women For Peace and High School Students in the Tamale metropolitan area, urged the political parties to place the interests of the nation above their own by turning down the volume –the hot rhetoric, lest it leads to chaos and disorder.
What is worth noting is that the international community is keenly interested in our elections. Not that it is gunning for a particular party to emerge victorious. Far from it.
The international community is aware of the violence and dangers associated with politics in Africa, and is accordingly advising Ghanaians to be careful of the pitfalls of election violence.
Former Presidents Obasanjo of Nigeria and Ben Mkapa of Tanzania sounded the warning in a joint address to Ghanaian voters. They said emphatically that: “No life is worth losing over elections,” and urged the various political leaders to set good examples for their millions of followers.
On their part, the presidential candidates have pledged to do everything within their power to ensure that no violence erupts during the elections.
To this end, they have signed a peace accord that seeks to hold them to their promises. It will be interesting to see how they react to the results of the elections on Wednesday night.
President Mahama has told the country that should he lose the elections, he would graciously concede to the victor.
This is the kind of conduct we expect from our politicians, to place the overall interest of the country above their narrow political whims.
Small Gambia has shown the way. Its elections last week was peaceful and violence free. The former president, Yahaya Jamneh lost and, surprisingly, conceded with magnanimity. We can duplicate Gambia’s successful elections; we are capable of doing that and more.
One needn’t stress the importance of the elections on Wednesday and the terrifying implications of any sort of violence that should unfortunately occur.
We have just but one nation, and if we let it blow up, there is no where else we can turn to, because the welcome mat will be folded up quickly.
We must all, therefore do our best to ensure that the peace and stability we have enjoyed in the last twenty plus years are safely and judiciously guarded.
Let me end this commentary by quoting former presidents Obasanjo and Mkapa: “If there are grievances, such grievances should be pursued through the legal processes established by law without resorting to violence, acrimony and disturbances by any individual, political party or group of individuals.” The two former leaders could not have put it more clearly.