Opinion: NDC’s Boycott of Ghana Card Will Not Hurt a Fly – By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

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It has precedent. I am, of course, referring to the rather politically lame decision by the leaders of the country’s main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to boycott the issuance of the National Identification Card (Ghana Card) exercise being currently conducted by the National Identification Authority (NIA). We must quickly highlight the fact that the issuance of the Ghana Card has become inescapably important because the Voter’s Card issued during the last electoral cycle was declared by the Supreme Court of Ghana to have been seriously compromised and invalidated by the use of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA)-issued National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Cards as a voter-registration eligibility requirement document, even when both the Afari-Gyan- and the Charlotte Osei-led Electoral Commission (EC) was fully aware of the fact that the possession of an NHIA-issued health insurance card was not strictly based on the holder’s bona fide Ghanaian citizenship.

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The NDC boycott has precedent in the equally ill-advised decision by the first Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the late Prof. Albert Adu-Boahen, to have the then main opposition party’s Members of Parliament massively boycott the 1992 Parliamentary Election. The directive was grossly ill-advised and misguided as well, because it was selfishly motivated and based on the fact of Candidate Adu-Boahen’s having resoundingly lost the Presidential Election held earlier that year to the then-incumbent strongman suavely morphed into a democratic Presidential Candidate, to wit, Chairman Jerry John Rawlings. That proposition, in of itself, was both patently preposterous and ideologically stultifying. But we need to also quickly point out that the “Original Sin” belonged to the New Patriotic Party’s movers-and-shakers who seemed to have naively and promiscuously consented to the revoltingly ungodly compact of having the country’s most extortionate military dictator gun for the Presidency via the ballot box, without first demanding that the then-Chairman Jerry John Rawlings effectively stand down from his junta leader’s seat and contest for the Presidency on a level-playing field with the rest of his political opponents.

A defeated Prof. Adu-Boahen would later pen and publish a barely coherent tirade of a book titled “The Stolen Verdict” or some such wistful title. Indeed, no studious observer of Fourth-Republican Ghanaian Politics truly believes that Prof. Adu-Boahen had any fighting chance against Chairman Rawlings, for the simple fact that the entire electoral process was rigged up in favor of the incumbent. Then also, there was that aspect of the election that had to do with the morbid fear of what might transpire in the event of a pathologically megalomaniacal dictator losing an election in which he was the referee, linesman, player and team captain or skipper. Indeed, it is widely believed that at least half of the eligible Ghanaian citizens who voted in the 1992 Presidential Election had done so primarily out of fear. But even if they had not voted on fear, Chairman Rawlings would still have won Election 1992 fair and square, for the simple reason that Candidate Adu-Boahen woefully lacked the evangelical preacher’s charisma and the self-righteous indignation of his main political target.

Mr. Rawlings was not his political opponent or challenger because it was the incumbent strongman’s election to lose. Then also, the NPP leader was rather too full of venom and vengeance to have been strategically effective and rhetorically creative. The same mistake would be deftly and perfectly repeated by Candidate John Agyekum-Kufuor in 1996. Well, the upshot of the thoroughgoing boycott of the 1992 general election was that Ghana effectively became a one-party democratic dictatorship. The New Patriotic Party had absolutely no representation in Parliament, except for the late Ms. Hawa Yakubu, nicknamed “The Iron-Lady,” who had run as an Independent Candidate. And then, as was to be logically expected, Candidate Adu-Boahen effectively lost his leadership influence and credibility at the hands of a chastened NPP constabulary. He had his vestigial support all right, but that would only aggravate matters, as younger and more ambitious candidates stepped out of the woodwork to challenge his hard-won leadership and authority. He would be fiercely challenged by a fervidly overambitious Candidate Agyekum-Kufuor and be predictably defeated.

Even so, it was very obvious from the start that Candidate Kufuor, a former Local Government Secretary under Chairman Rawlings’ junta of the so-called Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), would not have a fighting chance against his former boss. Like Prof. Adu-Boahen, before him, Mr. Kufuor was an even more lackluster speaker and political campaigner who spoke English almost as if it was his third language. His accent in spoken English was nearly as embarrassingly dull as that of President Nkrumah but unlike Kwame Nkrumah, Mr. Kufuor scandalously lacked Nkrumah’s charisma and pan-Africanist or even nationalist zeal and focus. What the foregoing analysis boils down to is that in ill-advisedly deciding to massively boycott the ongoing Ghana Card issuance exercise, the leaders of the National Democratic Congress well appear to have conceded defeat to an incumbent President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia and the ruling New Patriotic Party, long before the official call by the Electoral Commissioner has gone up for all aspiring candidates for both the Presidency and Parliament to pick up their nomination forms and file up their candidacy.

Well, the good news here is that just like 1992, voluntarily depriving themselves of their constitutionally inalienable franchise – I am hereby referring to the NDC leaders, of course – will not stop an incumbent President Akufo-Addo and the New Patriotic Party from moving Ghana auspiciously towards its next stage of socioeconomic, political, cultural and technological development. A wise word to the self-infatuated and grossly misguided.