Last Friday, Ghanaians went to the poll to elect a new president and members of the country’s legislature. The election which stretched to the following Saturday was described as peaceful and generally credible by both foreign and local observers. By Sunday night, the results of the elections were known and winners declared.
The incumbent President John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress, NDC, was declared winner by the country’s electoral commission. Mahama won with 50.70 percent of the votes cast while his closest rival, Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party, scored 47.74 of the total votes cast.
After the winner was announced, the defeated candidate, though disagreed with the result, did not call his followers out on the streets for demonstration, killing and burning of houses as witnessed in Nigeria after President Goodluck Jonathan was declared winner in 2011.
This is the first lesson we must take from the Ghanaian election. Our politicians must learn to restrain themselves even if they disagree with the conduct of the election. They should not call their supporters out for violence because violence cannot solve anything.
The defeated candidate in the Ghana presidential election has elected to go to court to challenge the result. This is a better approach than asking supporters to engage in burning of property and killing.
Secondly, Nigerians must learn to conduct themselves peacefully during elections as witnessed in Ghana. There was no report of ballot snatching or violence. There was no bloodshed as usually witnessed during our own elections. This is commendable.
The third lesson is the flexibility of the country’s electoral system which allowed election to be deferred to the following day in some areas when the biometric machines in these areas malfunctioned. If this had happened in Nigeria, voters in those areas would have been disenfranchised as INEC would have refused an extention of time to give opportunity to the people to cast their votes for fear of being accused of favouring a particular political party or candidate.
The fourth lesson is the swiftness with which the results of the election were announced immediately after the collation. This is the way it should be so as not to give room for suspicions and manipulations.
Lastly, we should endeavour to adopt the biometric system used in Ghana during the elections. The system, we are told, is reliable and cannot be manipulated for election rigging.