Coalition Government: Thanks, Dr. Jonah, But No Thanks – By Kwame Okoampah Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.

At a public lecture sponsored by a non-governmental organization called IBIS-Ghana, Dr. Kwesi Jonah, a political scientist at Ghana’s flagship academy, the University of Ghana, was widely reported to have called on both major Ghanaian political parties, namely, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) to sink all ideological differences in order to immediately form a coalition government (See “NDC, NPP Must Form a Coalition Gov’t – Dr. Jonah” Ghana News Agency (GNA)/ 12/5/13).

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Bitterly decrying the current winner-takes-all constitutional regime, Dr. Jonah was quoted as having made the following passionate observation: “This makes general elections [a] do or die affair. A party that loses the general election has no possibilities of controlling resources or taking authoritative decisions at the provincial or local government level. This makes general elections a very tense affair. The winner takes everything and the loser loses everything. To correct this situation, our parties must agree, not tomorrow, not 2016 and not 2020, but now on arrangements for an all-inclusive government.”

What is remarkable about the foregoing observation is the fact that it is not new. The immortalized Dr. J. B. Danquah fiercely battled President Kwame Nkrumah on this patently regressive winner-takes-all governance system throughout the 1950s until shortly before his prison assassination at the hands of his arch-political nemesis in February 1965 (See Dennis Austin’s Ghanaian Politics: 1946-1960; also Danquah’s The Voice of Prophecy). And, what is more, most of the members of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the current 1992 Republican Constitution were fully aware of this fact, and yet doggedly proceeded to draft the current governance framework that Dr. Jonah is now bitterly griping about.

It must be quite obvious to the Legon political scientist that the response to his cri-de-coeur will not happen overnight. For starters, in a constitutional democracy such as being practiced in Ghana presently, it would have to take an emergency session of Parliament to get a review process established, and then to start deliberating on the modalities of a decentralized shared governance system such as prevails right here in the United States of America.

From a personal observation of Ghanaian parliamentary protocol, this is likely to be an unduly drawn-out process. And the best way to go about it clearly appears to be to have the admittedly critical question of shared governance placed on the ballot of Election 2016. So far, our Parliament has demonstrated itself to be a virtual white elephant, when it comes to the conception, crafting and promulgation of landmark initiatives such as is being suggested by Dr. Jonah. Indeed, the last time that a constitutional review process was initiated, it came from the office of the now-late President John Evans Atta-Mills.

Personally, I doubt the sincerity of Dr. Jonah because the man has spent most of this year incessantly faulting the Akufo-Addo/NPP-led Election 2012 Presidential Petition for being squarely responsible for the current stagnation of the country’s economy. And so I am more than a little amused that Dr. Jonah should now be bitterly and desperately faulting the 1992 Constitution for having gravely retarded the rapid development of our country.

In other words, speaking with a forked tongue is not among the quite well-known salient characteristics of a credible scholar and an authoritative critic. Dr. Jonah needs to explain the rationale behind his sudden change of ideological and philosophical tack. My hunch, or good guess, is that Dr. Jonah may well have seen the proverbial handwriting on the wall vis-a-vis the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress government.

The President himself adumbrated this much recently, when Mr. Mahama desperately called on his most ardent critics to stop hopping from one FM radio station to another and help him set the country’s battered and frayed economy aright.

As for the apparent narrowing of the electoral gap between the two major parties, we think we perfectly know the answer. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the supposed wishes of an increasingly disillusioned and disenchanted electorate. It is simply that Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan has been increasingly finding it difficult to steal the vote for the Nkrumah-leaning National Democratic Congress.

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D. Department of English Nassau Community College of SUNY Garden City, New York


The opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or have the endorsement of the Editorial Board of, and