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03 March 2014

On calls for an Ukraine-style uprising in Ghana.

In the past days, there have been implicit calls on social media for Ghanaians to learn from Ukraine by taking to the streets to force an end to the administration of President John Mahama.

These calls have come from respected Ghanaians, some of whom are living very comfortably in the country.
These folks have good jobs, drive good cars, live in decent houses and generally have the means to take good care of their family and friends. They are largely insulated from the economic hardships some Ghanaians are dealing with, making their calls for a Ukraine-style uprising in the country very questionable.

Indeed, some of the most relentless, albeit subtle calls, have come, rather shockingly, from people who ought to know better, including two members of a local think tank and a communications expert in the telecoms industry. Not only are these calls regressive, irresponsible and reprehensible, but they also typify a chronic lack of understanding of the political situation in Ukraine, where democracy and the rule of law have effectively been sabotaged. But that's a discussion for another day.

This cannot be overemphasised: Our superior democratic system is one the few things that have distinguished Ghana from other African countries and bought us a lot of international goodwill. Since 1992, we've had six free and fair elections, with incumbent governments handing over to opposition political parties on two occasions.
This is a unique feat in this part of the world, and together with our relative good governance, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and an independent judiciary, Ghana is seen as one of the most stable and safest places to invest.

Three US Presidents - Clinton, Bush, Obama- have visited Ghana to personally laud and encourage us. This is not a small, insignificant feat! For his first visit to Africa as 44th US President, why didn't Obama go to the Nigeria - Africa's biggest economy and a powerful oil producer? Why didn't he go to South Africa - an African giant and a member of BRICS?
When Obama met the late President Atta Mills at the White House in 2012, he described Ghana as a “model for Africa in terms of its democratic practices”.

When he visited Ghana in 2009, Obama said: “Time and again, Ghanaians have chosen Constitutional rule over autocracy, and shown a democratic spirit that allows the energy of your people to break through. We see that in leaders who accept defeat graciously, and victors who resist calls to wield power against the opposition.”
Needless to say, it will be extremely naive and short-sighted for us to throw all these away just because some people think the Mahama government is clueless. Such a move will inescapably be catastrophic for our national development.

Yes, our country has recently been buffeted by a series of challenges - and that's putting it mildly.
The economy is growing a slower rate than envisaged while Inflation is in the double digits. We have a widening budget deficit and increased taxes and utility bills. The cedi has also depreciated against major international currencies. These challenges, it has to be said, exemplify the monumental ineptitude that has characterised the Mahama administration’s first year in office.
The dissipation of about $4 billion in public money by the NDC government in the last four months of 2012, which further widened the budget deficit, is especially senseless, insensitive and unjustifiable.
The poor quality appointments to some strategic positions in the country have also demonstrated this administration's propensity for the absurd.

However, one year of a four-year term cannot define someone’s presidency. A president may perform poorly in his first year, but recover to impress everyone in the following three years. And frankly, the perception that the economy is bad is not shared by everyone. There are folks who are currently having the best time of their lives.
Well-meaning Ghanaians must therefore reject calls for the constitutional order to be subverted through violent protests as has been thoughtlessly suggested by the aforementioned Ghanaians on social media.
Patriotic Ghanaians must not be part of any plot to destabilise a democratically-elected government.
This government has a four-year mandate that all Ghanaians must respect no matter how bad things are perceived to be.

Millions of Ghanaian voted for Mahama and some of them are likely to resist attempts to illegally undermine his administration.
This could lead to the loss of hundreds of precious lives, eroding the economic gains Ghana has made in recent decades.
Those calling for a Ukraine-style uprising in this country have their passports in their pockets, ready to flee the country at the sound of the first battle cry. It is ‘passportless’, defenseless Ghanaians who will bear the brunt of any insurrection.

We do not need to spill the blood of ordinary Ghanaians to effect regime change. We should rather look forward to 2016 when we can vote to elect any leader that we want. This is what political tolerance - an inextricable component of democracy - is about. And this is what journalists and civil society folks should advocate.
If some Ghanaians however decide that things are so bad that they cannot wait for 2016, they should call their MPs and order them to initiate impeachment processes against the President. The Ghanaian constitution makes adequate provision for this.

We've held six successful elections in this fourth republic. It's been arduous 22 years of democratic practice, but we cannot afford to look back now. We cannot afford to abandon democracy because as Winston Churchill pointed outed, democracy is terrible, but, there is nothing better.
God bless our homeland, Ghana.


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