Yesterday, President Nana Akufo-Addo delivered the 2020 edition of the State of the Nation Address to Parliament. As usual, it was more political campaign than an assessment of the state of the nation, following a trend established more than a decade ago.
However, it was toned down somewhat from previous editions, which is a pleasant surprise. We have always maintained that the SONA should be a fair assessment of the state of the republic rather than a treatise on why the electorate should retain the incumbent administration in power at the next election.
But at the same time, we acknowledge that the intense political divisiveness that afflicts Ghana – which is actively encouraged by both major parties for their own narrow interests – makes it the only politically prudent option. Any admission of shortcomings by an incumbent government, no matter how small, would be pounced on by the opposition and distorted into an admission of total failure.
But what we found most disheartening yesterday was the ill-conceived boycott of the event by the parliamentary minority. One definition of the workings of pluralistic democracy is that it is a system in which the minority is allowed its say but the majority gets its way, because it has the mandate of the majority of the ruled. However, it appears that in today’s Ghana, the minority is insisting on having its way, as a condition for participating in certain aspects of governance for which some of its members are paid by taxpayers nationwide.
Cynics assert that yesterday’s boycott was always on the cards, with the minority simply looking for an excuse to execute it. They point out that the minority initially threatened to boycott the event because parliamentarians had not been given their respective shares of the MP Common Fund. When government quickly paid up to avert the boycott, the minority had to come up with another excuse for a boycott they were determined to carry out and the controversy over whether or not to create a new voters register was the immediately available one.
While we would prefer not to comment on this assertion, since we do not have the facts of the minority’s thinking in this regard, we find it necessary to break from our usual editorial stance of avoiding political commentary in our newspaper.
Simply put we hold that the Electoral Commission has the mandate and authority to make a decision on this matter which it has done. This is not to say that we agree with it; all we are saying is that we must abide by it and so must the minority. The only acceptable alternative is to take the case to the law courts for adjudication.
The fact is that Ghana’s electoral process is robust enough to ensure that any party that does the right things on election day can prevent their being cheated just as a result of a faulty voters register.
Ultimately, the opposition’s position – and it’s SON boycott – is basically political posturing but we also note that both parties are equally guilty of such when in opposition.
Nevertheless, yesterday’s boycott must be recognized for what it was – self serving political posturing that does nothing to improve the fortunes of the very Ghanaians that both parties claim they are fighting for.