By Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
As Ghana prepares to hold its general elections on December 7, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on the two major political parties in the country, the NPP and NDC to ensure peaceful, credible and transparent polls.
Obasanjo, in a letter dated November 20 and addressed to the leaders of the parties by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, sought for building efforts aimed at enhancing mutual trust and confidence among themselves in the relevant national institutions and in the electoral process.
The letter, copied to Hon. Frederick Blay, the Chairperson of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Hon. Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, the Chairperson of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and members of the National Executive Committees of the two parties, reads in part:
‘As the preparation for the 7 December 2020 general elections continue, we must be reminded of the importance of preserving the unity, peace and stability of the country which has been bequeathed to you by those before you including our late brother.
‘Ghana has for a long time remained the beacon of democracy in our West African region and the continent at large. The progress in governance has been the pride of Ghanaians who continue to make enormous contributions and sacrifices to enhance nation-building, development, peace and stability in the country.
‘I write to you, leaders of the two main political parties in Ghana, to urge you to do all you can to ensure a peaceful conduct of the general elections. My concern about the elections in Ghana is not only as an African but also because of our shared colonial history, our anthropological background and the fact that I began my military career from Teshire, Ghana and without that I would perhaps have been what I am today.
‘As leaders of the two main political leaders, this is the legacy you have been entrusted to preserve heading into elections. Your role is unique in that the NPP and the NDC are the main players, have made significant contributions to the peace and stability of Ghana and are vested with the capacity, influence and control to constructively shape national discussions and processes such as the upcoming elections.
‘In this vein, the success or failure of the elections, a key aspect of democratic consolidation in Ghana will largely depend on the posture of the NPP and NDC leadership and how that manifested by the actions of their supporters’, Obasanjo said.
‘I would like to underscore that disagreement, frustrations, accusations and counter-accusations are common attributes in politics and especially in electoral processes. While Ghana is no exception in this regard, the Ghanaian political class has often demonstrated an admirably high level of political maturity in handling their differences and ensuring that elections remain issues-based. The call from Ghanaians and the region as a whole is for this to be the case in the 2020 general elections.
‘However, for this to happen, the NPP and NDC must enhance efforts to build mutual trust and confidence among themselves, in the relevant national institutions and in the electoral process. The NPP and NDC must ensure that the message of peace is not only delivered in closed-door settings but amplified to the extent that they are received and adhere to by their supporters at the community level. The NPP and NDC must constructively engage with all national institutions to identify, address or mitigate any potential threats to the smooth organisation of the electoral process”.
‘The NPP and NDC are opponents and not enemies in this process. They are both indispensable beyond the elections to preserve peace and stability in Ghana. That is why amid the tensions and disagreements, they must desist from language that incites violence and hate while reinforcing the messages of peace and togetherness.
‘Therefore, I implore you to approach these elections with a very competitive spirit but also with respect for one another, respect for democratic values, love for the country and a sense of responsibility to preserve the gains Ghana has made since the advent of democracy.
‘Let me also take this opportunity to make a special appeal to the presidential candidates of the two main parties who are both my brothers to demonstrate the statesmanship that they are known for throughout the election process.
‘My prayer for you and the country is that Ghana should emerge the winner irrespective of which party wins. Through my most humble voice, the region and the continent count on your sense of patriotism and guided by the aspirations of all Ghanaians who would want to see Ghana live up to its ideals by organising elections that are peaceful, credible and transparent.’