I issue this statement on the back of comments made by Akufo-Addo at his acclamation as the flagbearer of the NPP among many issues. President Akufo-Addo pretended to be disgusted by the blatant disregard for COVID 19 protocols by the rank and file of his outgoing party during its recent primaries, which saw the unprecedented outster of some forty-two sitting members of his party in Parliament.
Ordinarily, I would have allowed this to pass without comment, but as a human rights and social justice advocate, I’m obligated by my principles to point out the hypocrisy, duplicity, divisive and selective application of the law by Mr. President. I shall illuminate and illusidate.
For the past few days, videos have circulated widely of pastors condemning the open flouting of the orders by President Akufo-Addo by members of his party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) contained in Executive Instrument 64 (EI64) during the recent primaries of the party held on Saturday 20th June, 2020.
Ghanaians were concerned over the total disregard for COVID-19 protocols, which have been criminalised with regards to the wearing of nose/face masks. Before the date of the NPP primaries, the law was in full force, which had prompted Ghanaians that it would be applied no matter what as the President had ensured was done to others in the past.
Ghanaians would recall that under similar EIs, pastors and ordinary citizens have been punished for failing to adhere to the directives contained in the laws developed to help the government and the nation fight Coronavirus.
Having the opportunity to address the nation a day after the NPP primaries on 21st June, the President failed to mention the unfortunate show of impunity by his party folks. Indeed, many videos and pictures that were circulated, showed identifiable faces, which should be of no difficulty by law enforcement to identify, culprits, if the President wished to apply the law.
But, as expected, a week on, the President, having grabbed another opportunity to address the issue, after a week of open criticism from a cross section of Ghanaians, to the effect of discriminating against some class of Ghanaians, President Akufo-Addo shamefully pardoned his party members for openly offending his own law.
Mr. Akufo-Addo stated during his acceptance speech as flagbearer of the NPP that “this past weekend, our party came to the end of the process that we have to go through to prepare for the elections in December with the primaries in the constituencies where we have sitting MPs. Unfortunately, in our enthusiasm and sheer, unbridled joy, we broke some of the COVID-19 safety protocols. It should not happen again”
By this statement, the President sees no wrongdoing in the conduct of his party members, and by default has placed their actions above those that were punished for similar unlawful conducts.
The law is expected to be applied fairly without discrimination. If for nothing at all, the fact that some have long been punished for similar actions, should inform the President that subsequent offenders could not just be left off the hook, regardless of which party they belong to.
But, as expected, the long silence was aimed at taking no action. However, the constant criticisms have forced a comment from Mr Akufo-Addo, which did not retroactively pardon all who have suffered the iron-feet application of the law, but only graced his party members.
Actions like these only go further to divide the country. It is unfortunate for a President to be engaged in such open discrimination and divisiveness. One set of laws cannot he applied to a section of people and another to a different section living in the same country, especially when that inaction benefits people from his political party.
As it stands now, churches have began calls on the President to pardon their members who were punished for crimes that have become “unpunishable” all of a sudden. These calls are in order, and must be adhered to in the name .
The President, Nana Akufo-Addo, must not place some Ghanaians above others. Ghanaians are equal citizens, and are under the same laws. Actions of the President must seek to unite the nation rather than to divide it. His comments to let go his party members, only goes to strengthen suspicions that he assumed political office to serve the singular interest of his party and its members, while disregarding the rights and liberties of those not found within his party.
To close churches and order citizens about in a certain manner without same applying to his party members, smacks of hypocrisy, divisiveness, and is detrimental to national unity.
Dr. Clement Apaak
MP, Builsa South