Former President John Mahama has hit back at the Chairman of the National Peace Council (NPC), Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante, for asking that he apologise to the people of Ghana for warning that the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) will be forced to match the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) “boot for boot” in the 2020 general elections as far as violence is concerned, if the Akufo-Addo government does not reign in the “hoodlums” that fired gunshots at NDC members and injured several of them during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on Thursday, 31 January 2019.
While addressing NDC delegates in the Adaklu Constituency of the Volta Region on that Thursday, Mr Mahama said: “We are not going to joke in 2020, and I’m sounding a warning to the NPP – we are going to match them boot for boot…”
“I want to sound a caution that NDC has a revolutionary root and when it comes to unleashing violence, no one can beat us to that. It is just that we are mindful of this country’s democracy and that is why we must be the first to respect it. That is why we are acting as a party that is docile and respecting the rule of law. But if we believe that the government cannot protect our people and we believe that the government is using its vigilante groups and illegal forces to intimidate and harass and injure our people, then we may have to advise ourselves.”
He added: “We respect the Constitution of this country and the NDC is a democratic party and that’s why we abide by the rules of the Constitution. But the same Constitution says that Ghanaians should resist anybody who attempts to subvert the Constitution. When you go rampaging with forces and intimidating people when they should come out and vote, you are subverting the Constitution. And we have a right to resist you.”
Reacting to Mr Mahama’s warning to the NPP, Rev. Asante told Benjamin Akakpo on the Executive Breakfast Show (EBS) on Class91.3FM on Friday, 1 February 2019, that the former president ought to be circumspect in his speech.
Rev. Asante said: “If President John Mahama did say what he said, then it is very unfortunate because he has been a head of state, he has been the president of the nation, he is vying for his party to make him the presidential candidate, and if the people of Ghana want him again, he could become the president of this nation. And if it is going to be ‘boot-for-boot’ for the nation to be on fire, then there is no mercy for anybody. And I think it is unfortunate that in anger, such things should be said.
“I pray and I want to believe that he didn’t mean it, he did it out of anger. We have to be very circumspect and under such circumstances watch the things that we say.
“If he said that, I would want to say that President Mahama, with all humility, I will plead with him to apologise to the nation. In making that statement, he has really created fear in the hearts of people and it’s not just President Mahama I will say this to, I want to say this to all our leaders, people we are looking up to in this nation; that under such circumstances one would expect that they will be the voice of wisdom, a voice that will calm tension, a voice that will help Ghanaians to be able to say: Indeed, we have leaders. So, please let’s be very careful about these things that we say”.
Responding to Rev. Asante while campaigning in the Volta Region ahead of the NDC’s flagbearer primary, Mr Mahama told party delegates and supporters in Battor in the North Tongu Constituency that: “Look at what happened in Ayawaso West Wuogon, and what was pitiful was that these were armed people that our Ghana Police Service say they don’t know. And yet, at Ayawaso West Wuogon, the guys were running rampage and our police service could not control them. They were rather giving orders to our people.
“… The principal responsibility for security in any election in Ghana is the IGP, it’s not the Invincible Forces, it’s not Delta Forces. In any case, go and read the Constitution, the duty of the National Security Council is not to control a force, they coordinate the existing security services. They are not supposed to have hoodlums dressed in police uniforms using police vehicles and firing bullets at our innocent citizens.
“All those people they shot were unarmed, they were not holding anything, and yet they discharged weapons and eight people today have received gunshot wounds.
“And when you talk, it is rather me they are accusing because I said if they continue what they are doing, we’ll be forced to defend ourselves. And you say I should come and apologize. The one who has been shot, I should come and apologise. Meanwhile, you won’t condemn the one who shot”, Mr Mahama said, warning: “We will not tolerate this in Ghana”.
“And we are serving notice: the Deputy Minister of National Security has said they were responsible for deploying them. We are serving them notice: they shall never deploy such a force in any election in Ghana again. We will resist it. You haven’t seen armed people running away before. When the power of the people come after you, you will run. We are for peace, but to enjoy peace, you must be vigilant and you must be alert. We must defend our democracy. This is the ‘all-die-be-die’ philosophy at work. We won’t accept ‘all-die-be-die’ in this country. And when the chiefs are advising, they should advise the ones who are unleashing violence, not me”.