Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to this press conference.
It is a great pleasure to have this press conference on the eve of the Supreme Court’s hearing of a writ filed by the Electoral Commission of Ghana challenging the High Court’s decision on the disqualification of Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom. We are happy to share some thoughts on the judgment by His Lordship Justice Eric Kyei Baffour as well as other matters of our mutual concern.
A Just and disciplined Society
We all know that the 1992 Constitution depicts Ghana as a just state and the preamble bears this out: “In the name of the Almighty God, we the people of Ghana in exercise of our natural and inalienable right to establish a framework of government which shall secure for ourselves and posterity the blessings of liberty, equality of opportunity and prosperity; in a spirit of friendship and peace with all peoples of the world; and in solemn declaration and affirmation of our commitment to; freedom, justice, probity and accountability; the principle that all powers of government spring from the sovereign will of the people; the principle of universal adult suffrage; the rule of law; the protection and preservation of fundamental human rights and freedoms, unity and stability for our nation; do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this constitution”. Have we lived as a country by the dictates of this constitution?
Triumph Over Evil
This situation in Ghana is best summed up in the words of the British statesman, Edmund Burke, who many years ago, said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” The disciple whom Jesus loved has given an admonition in John 7:51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” Research indicates that the church as an established institution has the responsibility to serve as the conscience of the society. In Islam, believers are commanded to judge justly: Surat Al-Maeda: “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just and judge justly: that is next to piety: and fear God. For God is well acquainted with all that ye do”.
We wish to state unequivocally that as a political party, we are troubled that in the trial of selective injustice in Ghana, good people are silent. Where is the Christian Council of Ghana, the Catholic Bishops Conference, the Pentecostal and Charismatic Council? Where are the Peace Council and the Chief Imam? Why do you think Ghana’s Coat of Arms bears the words “Freedom & Justice” without mentioning peace? It is because freedom & justice are the backbone on which peace and growth will succeed. We need not to remind anyone that all over the world, most violent revolutions has been as a result of the absence of justice and fairness. In the US for example, slaves rebelled against unjust owners; Rev. Martin Luther King Jnr fought against an unjust system of segregation; Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko and the ANC leaders violently resisted the discriminatory Apartheid government in South Africa. The Arab Spring in North Africa was an uprising against decades of undemocratic, corrupt and unfair regimes. We do not want to travel on that path. Ghana needs peace.
High Court Judgment
Many will recall that on Friday, the 28th day of October, 2016 in the High Court of Justice, Commercial Division, His Lordship, Eric Kyei Baffour, Esq., Justice of the High Court in the Republic Vs. Mrs. Charlotte Osei, the Electoral Commission and Ex parte Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom case, the court referred to the Supreme Court in the TDC case, where Lord Diplock identified three broad categories of acts amenable to judicial review. The first is illegality. That is the person who takes a decision in the performance of his public function must understand correctly the law that regulates his decision-making power and be careful to give effect to the law. The second is irrationality otherwise now referred to as the Wednesbury unreasonableness. This is in respect of a decision taken of a public nature and is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no reasonable person would have arrived at the decision. The third comes under the rubric of procedural impropriety or failure to act with procedural fairness towards a person who is affected by the decision taken. Our right as citizens is given a wide-ranging boost under article 23 of the Constitution which states as follows:
“Administrative bodies and administrative officials shall act fairly and reasonably and comply with the requirements imposed on them by law and persons aggrieved by the exercise of such acts and decisions shall have the right to seek redress before a court or other Tribunal”. Our decision to pursue this selective injustice is grounded in this law.
Audi Alteram Partem Rule of Natural Justice
In the words of His Lordship Justice Kyei Baffour, “The principle of natural justice that Applicant relies on has been stated by the learned authors of Halbury‟s Laws of England (4th Ed Vol 1 @ 78) that no man shall be condemned unless he has been given prior notice of the allegation made against him and offered the opportunity to be heard”. “If the right to put oneself up as a candidate to contest an election is needlessly denied by the Respondents without due regard to well-trodden paths of fairness and propriety, it renders meaningless the exercise of the right to vote guaranteed by the Constitution in a participatory democracy. As the choice of a voter may have been denied him not through the fair means and processes prescribed by law. The conduct of the Returning Officer and the Commission in its denial of the right afforded the Applicant by law to make alteration or amendment to his form has been taken in a petulant fashion and their decision in respect of Applicant has been extremely perverse. The Applicant, Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, has made a clear case on the basis of the “audi alteram partem” rule of natural justice for the grant of the reliefs of certiorari and prohibition”.
Considering the fact that the EC gave NDC and NPP the opportunity to amend their errors, why did it deny PPP same opportunity? Or must we take that to mean we are in George Orwell’s animal farm where all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others? In the case of APC, the EC pointed out 30 mistakes for them to alter. The question we are asking is why this blatant display of selective injustice? How can we forget that injustice is not only cruel, but it is economic waste?
Promotion of Two-Party System
In a recent post by Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom on his facebook wall, he mentioned that “It has been reported that a former minister of state in an NPP administration has called on electorates in the Central Region not to vote for smaller parties because these parties do not stand a chance in a two-horse race election between the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC). He is quoted to have said: “Only two parties are destined to rule Ghana, the NPP and NDC so the choice you have is for the NPP and NDC.” Really? The question we are asking is that has Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku become another “man of God” ready to prophesy about current and future elections in Ghana? Such anemic thinking gives credence to the disappointment many Ghanaians have about the 4th Republic. The “lesser of two evils” syndrome is active and alive in Ghana. The potential to drift into a one-party syndrome is there. And our democratic experience is still in its infancy and the winner-takes-all 1992 Constitution hands all power to the Party in power. The arrogance of state institutions is clearly evident and is a present danger. Change of the fundamental type is needed including important change to the Constitution to make our democracy something positive all the people can feel. Ghana needs a strong, credible, third force to push for the change we need. That third force is the Progressive People’s Party. The December 7th election will prove this”. The question we are asking is that, are we not worried about the polarization of our country as a result of this by-force two party system? Is it not true that the two-party that some people are busily promoting keeps independents and moderates from being able to act on any worthwhile ideas they share which does not fall squarely within one party? Why do we want to create the impression that people have no other choice apart from the two?
Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom is reported to have said on ATV that “The decision by the Electoral Commission of Ghana to file a writ at the Supreme Court to “overturn” the High Court’s decision confirms our belief at this point that these shameful maneuverings are orchestrated by our opponents, who are uncomfortable with the growth of the great PPP. The inroads we have made, the support the party is gaining, the deep positive impacts on the lives of many Ghanaians in all districts in Ghana undoubtedly see an obvious PPP-led victory in the coming 2016 elections. Why are they afraid of PPP and Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom? Can the 7th December 2016 election be free and fair with such attitude of partiality? In any advanced democracy, there will be no election because of the actions of the electoral commission which is supposed to be a referee and not a player. Why will anyone be surprised if there are coordinated attempts to commandeer and rig the 2016 election results”? We are interested in knowing the architects of this grand plan. As a party, our interest ia to ensure that no one rigs the 7th December 2016 elections.
Good Electoral Commission
Fans of various sports, particularly football, know that the best games are typically the ones in which you do not notice the referees. Yes, the referees are there, making calls when appropriate. But they do not become the center of attention. They are not the ones scoring the goals. They are not making a spectacle of themselves. They go about their duties and are at their best when they are not noticed. The referees are not the center of attention; instead, the focus is on the players and the game. Any good electoral commission is like the referee that calls a fair game and does so in a way that does not produce a slanted playing field, or favour one team over the other. Good electoral commission is at its best when it is not the focus and is not grandstanding for attention. Why must the EC for example be a player and referee at the same time when it is the expectation of all of us that the 2016 elections will be truly free, fair and inclusive? Must we sit aloof and allow the EC to become a player in the political game? But who among us would want a player with the type of power the referee (EC) has? That is a recipe for arbitrariness and unfairness, because obviously, the ECs powers will be used to make the EC and its allies win the election. And the political players like PPP without special connections to the EC will always lose. This is why the call from the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Martin Lamisi Amidu Esq for the EC chair to resign because she acted arrogantly in proceeding to refer the aspiring candidates to the police for investigation for the commission of offences alleged by the EC as reasons for disqualification is a welcoming news.
So far, the PPP has the best policy priorities to present to voters. We have assembled the best men and women who will give the best leadership to Ghanaians from January 2017. We are the party committed to changing the 1992 constitution to empower the people to elect their own DCEs, separate the executive from the legislature and separate the office of Attorney General from that of the Ministry of Justice. We are the political party focusing on job creation, and determined to make Ghanaian state institutions use the government’s purchasing power to buy from local businesses. 2016 election is about job creation and no candidate has been able to practicalize the job creation agenda. Our candidate, Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom stands tall on the job creation agenda. Our objective as a credible alternative to the duopoly through a vigorous, focused campaign based on track record and what we are offering Ghanaians has been accomplished. We are active in the towns and villages. Many of our parliamentary candidates are working hard with the resources they have. Our unwavering commitment to all-inclusive administration using the best people has struck a positive chord with Ghanaians. Some of our opponents who ignored us are now attacking us personally, frustrated, because they cannot break our persistent, principled campaign. We will not go away. The PPP has come to stay and we are gaining ground with our good ideas.
It is obvious the Electoral Commission of Ghana is deliberately delaying the elections for reasons best known to them. We are shocked the EC is not interested in using dialogue to solve administrative challenges but is interested in sapping the energies of political parties through the court system. This is the time civil society organizations, international organizations, observers, members of the diplomatic corps, religious bodies, academic institutions, farmers, fishermen, the media, market women, traders and youth groups must support the PPP to campaign against unfairness and arbitrariness in our body politics. The basis of our political system is the right of the people to decide on who becomes the President of Ghana and that right cannot be replaced for anything. The PPP is sure that with a strong commitment and united leadership, we will make this country a great success and we count on your support and cooperation.
Arise Ghana Youth for your country
PPP – Ya sor
PPP – Ya sor
PPP – Ghanaman y3nnhw3 ma ons3e
Thank you very much. We will be happy to take your questions.