In the context of African politics, I have heard extreme stories, although unproven, about how far people can go to win political power or hold onto same. And that among others, include maligning your opponents in the worst possible form, the cruel spilling of innocent human blood, sometimes purportedly for rituals.
In other cases, blood is also spilled through post-election violence.
If the above is anything to go by, then sacrificing the ‘sanctity of the judiciary’ if you like, to hold onto political power, shouldn’t be too hard a thing to do. And in my candid view, it appears that is what the President, John Dramani Mahama, astonishingly deemed expedient to do with barely four months to the elections in December.
Top officials of his party (NDC) and government have signed and forwarded to him a petition to free the three men, who gleefully and shamefully sat on a pro-government radio station Montie FM, and poured venom on the justices of the highest court of the land, as if they were in the wilderness where nobody will hear them.
A handful of his party members who considered the four-month sentence as harsh, besieged the party’s headquarters and demanded the release of the three, else they will not vote for him [Mahama].
So the President, who’s not bound by the advice of the Council of State, pretentiously forwards the petition to them for an advice he doesn’t need, and with barely one-month of the four-month sentence served, approves the pardon for the trio.
Probably I am too young, but this is the first time in my adult life that I have seen people coerce a President in such a manner to invoke his prerogative of mercy.
Well; there is always a first time for everything, and indeed President Mahama has made history for himself. But this is certainly bad history.
But even politically, I do not really believe, that the President would have lost votes in the elections from those die-hard NDC members or sympathizers, if the Montie trio served their four-month jail term.
The President’s action, in my view, which has been met with mixed reactions, could instead cost him and his party votes from discerning floating voters, who play a pivotal role in deciding the outcome of elections in this country.
I have heard people attempt to hold brief for the President by saying his hands were tied considering the enormous pressure from his party. I do not want to swallow that. There was no gun pointed at him; he may just have supported this view albeit clandestinely, and did it willingly. Everything about the petition and the back and forth may have been calculated. And mind you; this is not impossible in the Ghanaian political space.
I hold the view that a principled person is one who stands by those principles even when they go against him or her, and the President could have decided otherwise if he so wished and had the willpower. And where integrity is non-existent; mediocrity rules.
Maybe the President should honestly tell us how many more wrong doers in government he has shielded from prosecution or dismissal merely because some party folks put pressure on him. It is no surprise that we haven’t seen him genuinely and effectively crack the whip on corrupt and incompetent officials in his administration.
Clearly in the scheme of things, party interest, has almost always been put above national interest, just like a former President once said that, if he is to effectively pursue corrupt officials, no one would be left in his government.
But I dare say, that a true leader is not the one who simply pardons people for wrongdoing. The resilient economies we see elsewhere were not built this way. And in Africa where the societal rot is so deep, a leader simply has to be ruthless when it matters most to get the best results.
Indeed, it is no doubt that Mr. President per this singular act has set a bad example for the rule of law and for justice delivery in this country. The circumstance of this pardon, albeit constitutional, is no doubt an affront to the judiciary; and somewhat emboldens the use of intemperate language on our airwaves that could potentially throw this country into chaos if not curtailed.
Well; we can only hope and pray, that the consequence of this unpatriotic decision, will be milder and will not boomerang so hard on us. I genuinely felt for the Montie trio when they were jailed because I believe it was avoidable.
Besides, the Ghanaian prison is not a place where I would even wish for my worst enemy. However, I believe the correction was very much necessary else the recklessness on our airwaves may take this country to a deadly point someday.
I have heard arguments that the offenders apologized profusely and were remorseful and so they should have been forgiven. Well; remorse can be feigned, but even if it is genuine; it must not be a window to escape punishment for one’s deeds. Many convicts in jail today may have showed remorse either genuine or fake, but were still jailed.
And an apology doesn’t undo the harm of one’s actions. I am even more worried about the highest level of hypocrisy and dishonesty being exhibited by us in this case. I can bet with my life, that if this self-inflicted misfortune happened to some ‘ordinary Ghanaians’ with no political party affiliation, they would have served their sentence fully, and no government official would have had the compassion, let alone the guts to petition the President for a pardon.
In fact, if the three were affiliated to the largest opposition party, they would have better rot in jail. And even the NPP, which lauded the imprisonment of the trio and will soon castigate the President for freeing them, would have gone to heaven and back to ensure that they are released even though they deserve to be jailed.
There must be justice for all irrespective of one’s political colour. The talk of peace without equal rights and justice would be an exercise in futility. Those in support of the release have argued that the President has the power under Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution to grant presidential pardon when he deems fit; and so he invoked it; and has done nothing wrong.
Well; per the Constitution, that makes a lot of sense; but can same be said in real wisdom? ‘All things indeed as the good book says in Corinthians are lawful; but not all things are expedient”.
The President’s act to me; is akin to the test Satan gave to Jesus to turn a stone into bread, but he refused. Jesus did not refuse because he couldn’t do it. He declined because it was not expedient although he had unlimited power to do so.
As usual, the sickening and unending politics of equalization will come to play, with some attempting to find similar scenarios of the past by the opposition party, to justify this unpatriotic but purely partisan and selfish act by the President.
So at what point will anyone handed the mantle of leadership in this country, change the status quo when the test of party and national interest is put to him or her?
And sadly, the craving to win political power at all cost or hold onto it in our part of the world; is not borne out of a genuine desire to make lives better for all, but for a few.
And don’t be shocked when the Montie FM trio, who had a vigil held for them when they were incarcerated, are given a heroic welcome when they are released from the Nsawam Prisons.
It will just be a replay of how the former NPP legislator, Eric Amoateng, who shamed Ghana internationally after he was busted for drugs in the United States, was welcomed upon his return to Ghana.
In fact, the trio will be drenched with powder to signify victory, and some women may madly lay their expensive and most cherished cloth on the floor for them to walk on it majestically, as if they were jailed for fighting for Ghana’s independence.
And that is when you will know, that indeed, this society has a long way to go.
Source: Ebenezer Newmann Afanyi Dadzie/[email protected]
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