EMBODYING THE SPIRIT of a true African statesman a’ la Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Kenneth Kaunda, Ghanaian outgoing President, John Dramani Mahama, phoned in his rival, president-elect, Nana Ado Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and offered him congratulations following an intensive campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Ghanaian people and his (Addo’s) subsequent win as President elect of Ghana.
“A WHILE AGO, I PHONE Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and offered him my congratulations for emerging the winner of the 2016 presidential elections,” outgoing President Mahama wrote in an op-ed.
“EVERY ELECTION IS a hard fought battle and this was no exception,” he wrote. “For those of us who chose to be contenders and go into electoral contests, we ago about it as a win-lose proposition.”
THOUSANDS OF MILES AWAY in the tiny West African nation of the Gambia, President Sheikh Alhaji Prof. Dr. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh was defeated by property developer of less repute, Adama Barrow, in an election, signaling change that change had come to the small nation after years of dictatorial rule under Jammeh.
IN THEIR DROVES, MANY went to the polls and casted their votes in a bid to be done with the dictatorship of 22 years. However, many did not expect Barrow to win.
FOLLOWING THE ANNOUNCEMENT of the results by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), headed by Alieu Momarr Njai, Jammeh called Barrow and expressed his heartfelt congratulations in a speech broadcasted on television and social media.
The world watched in awe as many did not expect Jammeh to follow in the footsteps of John Dramani Mahama of Ghana and other leaders on the continent who believe in democracy—vox populi—and the rule of law.
AND SO HE WAS HAILED from far and near for the unexpected noble example—even though it is what’s expected of every leader who loses an election in democracy—of conceding.
HOWEVER, IN ANOTHER 360 degree U-turn and much to the chagrin of everyone, he backed off from his initial congratulatory messages and declared that the elections were fraudulent and many of his supporters were turned down. What we are watching, reading and listening of Jammeh’s chameleon like actions every day is becoming astonishing.
IN ALL OF THE SITUATIONS IN Ghana and in Gambia, one institution that have stood out is the electoral commission of both countries, proving to the world that Africa can conduct its own affairs void of western influence.
AS LIBERIA GET SET TO go to the polls in October next year, which will be a highly contested election in a field which is already overcrowded, our eyes are on the National Elections Commission and those who are contesting for seats in the Legislature and eyes on the presidency.
ALREADY CONCERNS ARE being raised by important stakeholders whose voices cannot be ignored and the NEC has remained impervious to those concerns.
Mr. John H.T. Stewart, Jr. in an op-ed in FrontPage Africa months ago titled “Assessing Vice Presidential Candidate Joseph Boakai’s Chances in 2017” questioned the impartiality and the competence of the NEC.
“as crucial as the impartiality, integrity and competence of the electoral body (NEC) are to the upcoming elections and given the current dismal fate of NEC, how much about NEC are we reading or hearing on the air?”
STEWART FURTHER LISTED a plethora of reasons why he thinks the NEC ought to be overhauled and given a keener look by President Sirleaf.
In similar vein and with what has happened in Ghana and what is currently ongoing in The Gambia, we take a pause to question how much the NEC is making sure that there exists cordiality between all players to make sure the field of play is leveled because certainly, no one wants a replication of the situation a’ la Gambia.
AND TO THE “POLITICAL LEADERS” of the various sprouting parties, none of you loves Liberia than the other. And so following the announcement of the results next year, we expect the loser, whoever it might be, to call the winner and express congratulations, not havoc, as we saw in 2011 because a stitch in time saves nine.