Ghana has just proven, through their recent national elections, that Africa is not entirely a basket case. A very peaceful electoral process has just been held for both parliamentary and presidential elections, culminating in the election and swearing in on Wednesday 07 January, 2009 of President Atta Mills of the National Democratic Party (NDC), who beat his closest rival, Dr Akuffo Addo, the presidential candidate of the incumbent party and vice president of outgoing president John Kuffour, of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Nigeria has been pretending to be running democracy since May 1999, whereas what we have been having is civilian dictatorship, where a few godfathers- they call themselves stakeholders- decide and impose candidates of their own liking as representatives at all levels of governance from councillors and chairmen of local governments, to State Assembly people and Governors, of the National Assembly lawmakers and capped by the imposition of a president on the people of Nigeria, who have no say in who leads them!. Charlatans and crooks parading themselves as "elected" representatives from the presidency to the local governments, but all living on stolen votes. Nigeria refuses to learn any lesson on why sovereignty should belong to the people, as Ghana has just proven.

Twice now in the current dispensation (Ghana's third republic, commencing in 1992) have opposition party candidates beaten the ruling party candidate in democratic elections in Ghana. Eight years ago, the current winner of Ghana's presidential election, Prof Atta Mills ran for the presidency, against the outgoing Ghanaian president Kuffour. Recall that Prof Mills then was the incumbent Vice President, whilst Jerry Rawlings was the sitting president under the NDC party. Kuffour trashed Prof Mills despite Mills been in the ruling party to become the president. Eight years later Kuffour's NPP (the incumbent president's party) has been beaten in a very tightly contested presidential election that went to second round of re-run. In the first round, seven candidates ran for the presidency although the two leading parties, Akuffo Addo's NPP and Prof Mills MDC were the main contenders, the ruling NPP got 49% of the votes whilst NDC' Prof Mill the main opposition got about 47%, and the electoral law says a clear winner only emerges with at least 50% majority.

If it was in Nigeria, if they would allow for a vote, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the Ghana Electoral Commission chairman ( Nigeria's Prof Iwu equivalent) would have changed that 49% of NPP to at least 60% so there will be no need for a re-run, for the ruling party. If the likes of Prof Maurice Iwu were the head of Ghana's electoral commission there may never have been any need for a re-run of the presidential election, not even a real first election like the one held on 7th of December in Ghana where over 50% of sitting parliamentarians from the ruling NPP lost their seats to new candidates of other political parties, would have taken place. Iwu's INEC would have ensured that results for the first election are written days before the actual vote, that will never hold anyway, and that the ruling parties candidate, NPP's Akuffo Addo, "won" at least 65% vote and with the necessary geographical spread of the votes, to avoid any case or argument by opposition candidates asking for a re-run! Do you now see why and how Ghana has left Nigeria behind as the champion of democracy in the West African coast?

An evil and cantankerous party like the PDP are imposing thugs and charlatans as governors and local government chair persons across the states of Nigeria in each periodic elections with the state governors using local Iwus, as State Independent Electoral Commissioners, who have been grossly compromised to install local leaders of questionable integrity and capacity on the people at the grassroots local government levels. The people, who ordinarily know the local terrain, would have selected the best personalities for themselves, if given the chance in a free and fair local elections. Just look at all the states controlled by the PDP and then look at the calibre of representatives in the local government secretariats- councillors and chairmen- and you can see why there can not be any reasonable development at local grassroots level, but rot of unimaginable proportion!

Little wonder then that the likes of Obasanjo and prince Ogbulafor ( Nigeria's People Deceiving People or PDP) would boast that PDP will rule Nigeria for 60 consecutive years without break! What informs that boast? Because they know they would use state machinery of violence to prevent elections and a heartless Iwu's INEC to write fraudulent election results. Shame on Nigeria! When you refuse to get your foundation right, you will be living in delusion to believe you will make any iota of progress. Ghana is making steady progress whist Nigeria is waiting for 2020 blind vision. Ghana have relatively stable power supply across the whole country, good pipe borne water supply to its towns and villages, well paved and marked roads as well as a very functional education system that is very well funded, to the extent that average Nigerians who cannot send their wards to Europe and American universities now send them to Ghana universities as educational facilities in Nigeria remain in shambles!

 Any doubt as to why Yar'Adua and all the state governors are ensconced in air-conditioned state houses power-generated by heavy duty imported generators and slumbering away on duty, whilst the majority of Nigerians have no light to even rum their fans and are at the mercy of sweat and mosquitoes day and night? What you sow is what you get. Nigeria has been sowing the wind over the years and will continue to reap the whirlwind.

Ordinary Nigerians (about 90% of the entire population) have been suffering untold hardships since the mid 1980s and have continued to tolerate all manner of charlatans holding forth as leaders both military dictators and since 1999, their civilian counterparts- civilian dictatorship! They have so institutionalised corruption to the extent that each succeeding government wants to beat the record of the past government's corruption and greed index.

The leadership have run down the Nigerian Airways, Nigerian Shipping line, The Nigerian Steel Mills in Ajaokuta and Aladja, Delta state using their stooges, as chairpersons of these government parastatals, in stealing and selling off all the assets and equipments of these organisations and nothing has happened by way of punishment or sanction to these thieves who caused misery to hundreds of thousands of Nigerians who became jobless by the excessive greed of a few, sending many to their early deaths.

And so millions of Nigerian are plagued by troubling poverty and disease, mass unemployment of its able youth who have now become so helpless that young ladies have turned to selling their bodies both in Nigeria and abroad, whilst young men and women who cannot go into armed robbery or other criminal behaviour for survival are forced to find any means to leave the shores of Nigeria- many dying in the Sahara deserts and the ones who manage to get to Libya and Morocco die in ramshackle boats they use in trying to cross the sea unto Canary Island, Spain and Italy- all in desperation to seek a means of surviving the hell that the political elites have turned Nigeria into. And this happening 9 years after democracy was supposed to have taken root and the massive petro-dollar wealth that has accrued to the country in the last 8 years. The people have nothing to show for it. Education is in tartars; Health and health facilities are in shambles; Roads are death traps as thousands of Nigerians are killed and maimed yearly in Road traffic accidents occasioned by lack of road maintenance. Yet a tiny minority of its political elite, current and recent past, wallow in shameless stolen riches and flaunt extravagance to the very face of the Nigerian people they have stolen blind.

Once you get the foundation wrong, as Nigeria has done, you don't get no development of any sort. You can sleep and dream as much as you like but all you will get is blurred vision, whether 2010 or 2020! The only way for Nigeria will always be one-way ticket to backwardness. Never mind dubious Nigerian politicians telling you they are in politics to "move Nigeria forward" whatever that means!

Tony Ishiekwene

( London, UK)

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