All Die be Die: First Blood at Ayawaso West By-election!

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My tongue had problems wrapping round Ayawaso West Wuogon (AWW), but no longer, for after the terrifying events of January 31 2019, it now rolls off easily, having had to repeat it over and over when the first shots of “All Die Be Die” rang out that morning. An infamous principle first enunciated by presidential aspirant Nana Addo-Dankwah Akufo-Addo in the campaign period of Election 2012, “All Die Be Die” has become the Damocles Sword hovering above us since….

It came as a shock to Ghanaians at home and abroad that a by-election would erupt in blood-drawing violence. This is a constituency which includes parts of East Legon, Airport Residential Area, Dzorwulu, Abelenkpe, the University of Ghana, all high-profile addresses. But it also includes the likes of Labawuleshie, a not so prime address.

The violence did not erupt as a result of a breakdown in law and order by over-zealous supporters of the main contestants, but as a result of state-sponsored terrorism – all independent observers and media are agreed on that. The texts and images regarding what took place on that day have been splashed all over the world and January 31st has been added to the days of infamy piling up in our country’s increasingly dysfunctional democracy. Hardly had our indignation calmed from the murder of Ahmed Hussein-Suale than this outrage was sprung on us…

Off camera details emerging, suggest that if the NDC Chairman had not announced his Party’s withdrawal from the by-election, there would have been more widespread violence – it was a life-saver. Mayhem had been planned to be visited at all polling stations – even at the seat of our highest learning, Legon.

It was the editor of the Ghanaian Chronicle, Nana Kofi Coomson, who once said in an article that he would not be able to sleep soundly should Nana Addo win an election and assume the presidency. He may have been tongue-in-cheek then, but really, evidence piling up these past two years are validating Kofi’s apprehensions for who can sleep soundly after the recorded acts of terror and impunity these past two years and with January 31 2019 so frighteningly close to general elections next year?
“All Die be Die” portends are writ large and clear.

President Mahama was therefore articulating the fears of many of us when he condemned the state-sponsored acts of terrorism at AWW and warned about such acts being met “Boot for Boot”! It is a self-defensive, self-preservation Darwinian turn of phrase. Of course, terrorism of any kind is an existential threat to the survival of the human organism and the most natural thing for the organism to do is to go into a survival mode and meet that threat with any survival means possible, boot for boot!

Rev. Asante, Chairman of the Peace Council has asked President Mahama to apologise for using the “Boot for Boot” metaphor. Is he unaware of the saying regarding being “Pushed to the Wall”? It is a basic fact of evolution that when you are pushed to the wall, the only options are either to succumb and be destroyed or to fight back to survive and yet Rev Asante chooses to castigate President Mahama, one of the most gentle and peaceful heads of state we have had since independence. What could be the Rev. Minister’s motives? Ethnocentricity? Party political bias? Or come to think of it, the church of preference? It is Rev. Asante who owes our former president an apology.

Bafflingly, Rev. Asante is distracting from the main issue: The terrorist acts of January 31 at AWW. Why? The unprecedented terrorist attacks at AWW, which independent observers, civil society groups, the Catholic Church and even the UN have all roundly condemned and called for thorough independent investigations, are being side-tracked by dragging President Mahama’s name in. This diversionary and unproductive introduction is no doubt meant to “equalize” for the NPP.

The controversial security officers who patrolled polling centers in masks
The controversial security officers who patrolled polling centers in masks

Since he has now found his voice after a long silence (in deference to the NPP) he breaks it now with an attack on former President Mahama, not the NPP transgressions which represent our present danger. What has the Rev. Man of God said about Kennedy Agyapong’s constant and clear threats to our national security? What has he said about Ahmed Hussein-Suale’s murder? What has he said about the NPP goons who attacked a court and freed suspects on trial with the government entering a nolle prosequi when they were arraigned? What did he say about the insults Nana Addo rained on us in a televised address to the nation when patriotic citizens objected to the stationing of US troops on our soil? For the first time in our history, a head of state was attacking his compatriots in the interest of another country. He labelled such patriots as “Anti America” The list is endless. Is Rev. Asante telling us that he is not feeling the tension, borne out of the arrogance of power, intolerance and exclusiveness that has gripped Ghana since January 7 2017?

All Die Be Die begets Boot for Boot. Don’t forget, when an animal is threatened, fright triggers flight or fight. But it need not come to that. It can be avoided/prevented, only when the impartiality, integrity, honesty of the voices of reason prevail… President Mahama was right and bluntly frank when he pointed out the dangers ahead…Let us rally to maintain the peace. For the avoidance of doubt, I have included in this article what Nana Addo said in 2011 and captured in the February 10 2011 edition of the state-owned Daily Graphic (see above). And I hope the Rev Asante would see his way clearer to offer President Mahama his unqualified apologies and also tender in his resignation from the National Peace Council. He is irreparably compromised.

And finally, I wonder if the NPP would consider the outcome of the AWW by-election a victory – a pyrrhic one as it is – but the NDC can take consolation from the figures and claim a moral victory and look forward to better it in 2020!

Commentary by Oli. A. Rahman, Tesano, Accra

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