Governing from opposition: The kleptomaniac disorder of the New Patriotic Party

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The world over, I have not heard nor read of any government or president who desperately tries to shoot down campaign messages from his opponent yet makes U-turns to implement same. There wouldn’t have been the need for this piece if the opposition leader’s policies opposed and later implemented by the sitting president were just one or two.

 Consistently, the government of Ghana and the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) prior to 2020 general election had attempted unsuccessfully to rundown almost every campaign message from its main opposition leader and party but ended up implementing same due to their compelling nature and the fact that they had maximum support of the citizenry. It was fast becoming a norm for the opposition party to “think” for the ruling party to implement. Other times, it was the sitting president who had a policy direction, then the opposition leader comes up with a far better and more compelling reverse policy, then as usual, the president who was seeking reelection will have no choice but to reluctantly implement the beneficial ideas of his opponent in order not to face electoral wrath of the electorates. It all started when former president John Dramani Mahama (JDM) of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in his bid for reelection to serve a second term as President of Ghana in 2020, promised commercial drivers in Accra, the abolishment of the Luxury Vehicle Tax introduced by the current Government that affected their business.

 Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta upon hearing this campaign promise, hastily announced the scrapping of the Luxury Vehicles Levy ahead of JDM because the promise seated well with the commercial drivers and luxury vehicles owners at large. The NDC’s Communications Officer, Sammy Gyamfi, in a press briefing said, “The next Mahama administration will scrap the 50 percent increment in Communication Service Tax (CST) to reduce the cost of phoning and data, which will in effect reduce the cost of living and business transactions. To our dismay, government communicators who spoke against the NDC’s CST reduction were seen hopping from one media house to the other mentioning COVID-19 Pandemic Economic Recovery Measures as the sudden reason for their U-turn to reduce the CST from 9% to 5% which is less than the original 6%.

The policy theft continued when the flagbearer of the NDC sided with Garage Operators and Automobile Dealers to argue that the Customs (Amendment) Act, 2020 that banned the importation of accident and salvaged vehicles into the country will kill local businesses in favour of Volkswagen (VW) thereby destroying the local automotive industry and its livelihood. The former president then promised a review of the Act to scrap the law banning the importation of salvaged vehicles if voted into office. Out of the blue, we listened to Clement Boateng, the co-chair of the Abossey Okai Spare Parts Dealers Association speaking to 3FM saying “government has suspended the law on the ban of importation of salvaged vehicles.

 The decision was taken at a high profile meeting I was priviledged to join.” Right there, we knew that the NDC’s John Dramani Mahama has won the battle of ideas once again and has forced the government to govern his way. The former president and flagbearer on Wednesday 2 September, 2020 caused another stir when he made a disclosure that his government would enroll at least 200,000 youths under National Apprenticeship Programme (NAP) when voted into power on December 7, 2020. The ruling party in October, 2020 (a month later), quickly brought NBSSI and MasterCard Foundation together under the office of the Second Lady, Mrs. Samira Bawumia to train 80 youths in Sunyani West Municipality in soap making, antiseptics etc. to equalise the gains of JDM’s NAP campaign promise. Given the importance of Ghana’s gold sector, it was shocking that the Akufo-Addo-led government proposed to sell off the future receipts from the gold royalties.

Under the deal, Ghana would own 51% of the tax haven Jersey based company Agyapa Royalties and the remaining shares listed on the London Stock Exchange. John Dramani Mahama on the under hand believes that the Agyapa Royalties deal is questionable. He elucidated that the deal was shrouded in secrecy; as the individuals and shareholders behind the company were unknown to Ghanaians. He also quizzed that, “for a responsible government, why should you go and invest in an offshore tax haven, when we know that is where fraudulent transactions take place?” He then vowed not to respect the Agyapa Gold Royalty agreement and terminate it if voted into office. The U-turn government startled by these words, was forced to hide behind the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu to finally suspend the Agyapa Initial Public Offering (IPO), pending corruption risk assessment by the Special Prosecutor. But the letter to the Special Prosecutor, from the Deputy Finance Minister, Charles Adu Boahen stated that “government would delay the Initial Public Offering (IPO), following criticism from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC)”.

 That letter from the Ministry of Finance confirms my claim in this writing that “It is the leader and flagbearer of the NDC who is governing this country from opposition by continually suspending President Akufo-Addo’s policy directions and implementations for his (JDM’s) superior policies. There are other policy larcenies of the NPP like Vice President Mahamadu Bawumia’s Cars for Okada Riders that was formulated only because JDM had promised Okada legalization, but those ones will appear in another write-up.

Even though Ghanaians had wanted former president Mahama back as president, the December 7, 2020 election was too characterised with flaws and violence for that to happen. It was the only election in Ghana that saw the death of nine people who wanted the right electoral processes followed at their various polling stations. That election was the first time I ever saw or heard of any Electoral Commission (EC) in the world declaring six different figures as results of the same election and announcing the same candidate as the winner. The opposition leader went to court to get the Electoral Commissioner to mount the witness box to explain to Ghanaians why the commission had series of figures for a single election declaring same candidate as the winner, but the EC chairperson, Jean Adukwei Mensah refused to mount the witness box.

Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, lawyer for the opposition leader argued that the EC chairperson must enter the box because she had deposed to a witness statement and also made certain avowals in her affidavits which presumes that she was offering herself to be cross-examined. It was the further case of Mr. Tsikata that the EC opposed to the petitioner’s application for interrogatories with the explanations that those interrogatories could be served on her during cross-examination. The chairperson he said has elected to be cross-examined and had long crossed the bridge where they can say she does not want to mount the box. Even with all the superior arguments of Mr. Tsikata, the chairperson still refuses to mount the witness box. At this point, Ghanaians were wondering what exactly the EC Chairperson was afraid of after claiming she has done a good job.

Mr. Tsikata again indicated that, should they withdraw the Witness Statement, there is an option of subpoena for the court to compel her (the EC chairperson) to be cross-examined. To prevent the EC chair from being subpoenaed, the worst thing ever in the history of any judicial system in the world happened in the highest court of our land (the Supreme Court of Ghana), on a bench led by the Chief Justice of the country. Judges in Ghana are to enforce statutory laws like the Evidence Act, however, the seven Supreme Court justices sitting on the election petition, on Tuesday, 18 February, 2020 quoted Black’s Law Dictionary which is about English Common Law and does not refer to statutes in Ghana, in order to once again unanimously rule out former president John Dramani Mahama’s application to reopen the election petition to enable his lawyers subpoena Jean Adukwei Mensa. It is said that when a local law defines something, you don’t go looking for the same definition from a dictionary, you apply the local law. The resort to Black’s Law Dictionary was clearly to avoid applying the local legislation which did not support the position of the court. This can be interpreted as throwing the Evidence Act 1975 to the dogs by the Supreme Court.

 Mr. Tsikata after the ruling told the court that he was stunned by the fact that the Supreme Court judges including the Chief Justice relied on the Black Law dictionary in place of the Evidence Act 1975, but the judges ignored his comment unfortunately. To many Ghanaians, the 2020 victory of President Akufo-Addo remains soiled as the returning officer has refused to speak to the figures she change severally to declare him a winner. I would like to appeal to our judicial system, the media, Parliament, Civil Society Organisations, International Courts, and Ghana as a whole, to no matter how long revisit the Supreme Court’s ruling that threw our Evidence Act 1975 into the gutters for the Black’s Law Dictionary so that such shameful disregard to the laws of Ghana by the apex court of our land does not to become a precedent for future tilted rulings.

 I again entreat well-meaning politicians to formulate superior policies that will quiver their opponents and gain maximum support of the masses like Ghana’s former president did. Political analysts, political science students and lecturers, students of history and young politicians can equally pick few lessons from the honourable man, John Dramani Mahama who was wrongfully accused as president and tagged with innumerable derogatory names but has been proven by time, nature to be one of the finest presidents on the African continent. To conclude, I extend a humble appeal to former president John Dramani Mahama to contest the 2024 presidential election because many including myself do not believe he lost the 2020 presidential election in the first place. God bless our homeland Ghana.

 Kada Faisel.

 Concerned Citizen,

 Tema West

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