I have been following with keen interest, the discussions and developments developing between the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) led by the largest opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), the Eminent Advisory Committee Persons (EAC) led by Mr. Justice Emily Short, the Civil Society Organization for Good Governance (CSOs), and the Election Management Body, led by Madam Jean Mensa. Fellow Ghanaians, in my silent mode of reflection, considering the final advice and verdict of the EAC, there’s a huge fire on the mountain! The statement of the EAC that “majority of the people within the IPAC want a new register” despite the fact that the EAC conveniently disallowed a slot for the Civil Servants Organization for Good Governance to make their submission on the issue, makes the entire work of the committee jaundiced!
Somebody should have reminded the EAC what George Bernard Shaw is quoted to have said: “Wherever you are on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” It is not about what majority want, but what would be good for Ghana.
Say what you like, there’s no smoke without fire. The debacle and fiasco that characterized the Ayawasu West Wuogon Constituency by-election last year, and President Akufo Addo’s White Paper which was issued to that effect, seem to have taken a toll on the latest Justice Emily Short-led EAC’s recommendation to compile the new voters register. Recall the Emily Short Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate into the Ayawasu West by-election violence left no stone unturned in their work to actually establishing the causes of the violence and who should the president place his thumb to condemn. The commission did a stellar job to the amazement and admiration of every Tom Dick and Harry in this country even though President Akufo Addo suppressed their recommendations with his White Paper. I think that stellar job of the Commission which exposed the president’s phony love and jaundiced pacifist perspective in this country, is the reason why the Commission this time around decides to cover his keister by supporting the EC.
From the Commission’s statement “each party should place Ghana first in pursuing their interests” sums it all that, they were not wholeheartedly in support of the move by the EC but because of government’s do or die mission to compiling a new register. But because of unmoderated greed to maintain their disequilibrated status quo of economic management where only few rejoice in their government having thrown commonsense and caution to the wind, the Commission in a low tone tacitly endorses the NVRC exercise in order not to expose President Akufo Addo’s fake patriotism for this country.
It’s important to point out the arguments that have been adduced so far by both sides of the Electoral Commission (EC) and the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), and why each of them maintain their stance. And let me begin with the EC first that is arguing in favor of the new voter register without substance.
Madam Jean Mensa and her entourage argue that the current electoral equipment are faulty and not in good shape to conducting this year’s polls, hence the need for new set of biometric devices. Again, the EC keeps pointing at the credibility of the impending elections, raising legitimate reason like the EC’s lack of access to the Source Code from the manufacturer of the current devices which were purchased under the NDC in 2011. And for them, it’s riskier since third party’s possession of the Source Code may risk tampering with the outcome of the elections.
Madam Jean Mensa and her Commission also alleged that purchasing new equipment and compiling a new register would save Ghana an amount of over GH¢136 million.
On the side of the biggest opposition NDC-led Interparty Advisory Committee (IPAC), they argue that there’s not enough time to undertake the exercise and failure to meet the timeline posited by the EC, could result in the disenfranchisement of eligible voters. They maintain the compilation of a new voters register is nothing more than an exercise in futility which would amount to waste of resources and time of Ghanaians. IPAC thinks to demand a new voters register on just the wee hours of the impending elections, is a calculated attempt to mar the credibility, and sanctity of the impending general elections by the governing NPP for political Animus Furandi reasons (rigging the election).
There are hypocritical other political parties that claim to be neutral and would only swing the direction of the political wind. Be that as it may, there’s the need to critically consider the views of both sides by commonsensically or intellectually dissecting each view, and exposing them to the statement made by the Eminent Advisory Committee Persons: “to place Ghana above personal aggrandizement in finding common grounds” as far as this dicey issue of a new register compilation brouhaha is concerned.
And to start with the arguments by the EC, one finds nothing but an animal farm attitude of one nation two moralities here and there in their claims for new voters register. A clear double standard character on the part of the EC.
In the first place, is it today that the EC finds faults with the current electoral equipment or when did the EC find out the current system is faulty? And which system did the EC want to use to conduct the Referendum President Akufo Addo abandoned in just December 17 last year 2019? Was Madam Jean Mensa going to rig the Referendum with the so-called (now) faulty voter equipment for her greatest benefactor President Akufo Addo when she was preparing to conduct that Referendum? Were the equipment not faulty in just last two months ago? If they were not, when did they get damaged and can no longer be used?
Talking about the claim of lack of access to the Source Code from the manufacturer and seller for which reason the EC believes its absence could have the tendency of compromising the elections, did madam Jean Mensa have access to the said Source Code from the manufacturer when she conducted the Ayawasu Wuogon by-election? Wasn’t Madam Jean Mensa’s paymaster President Akufo Addo who emerged the greatest beneficiary of the last elections with this same Codeless system? Did the absence of the said Source Code compromise the big win of her paymaster? Is it all voter equipment that has spoilt? How come their maintenance would be costly than procuring new ones? If they all spoilt, which equipment did madam Jean Mensa want to use to conduct the December 17 2019 Referendum? And if all the equipment has been damaged beyond repairs and new ones must be acquired as she wants Ghanaians to believe, mustn’t she be arrested for the damaged electoral apparatus under her watch as the EC chairperson?
Clearly, there’s something fishy indeed regarding this compilation of new voters register which the EC thinks must be compiled come rain, come shine. But I trust in the words of Mae West when he observed that between two evils, one should choose the one he or she never tested before. Obviously, there are two “evils” before Ghanaians to choose from. We always cause financial lost to the State. Let’s for once, save our country the lot of financial lost. Let’s maintain the current system and save the country from the impending danger looming that is more catastrophic than Coronavirus.
But you see, having realized the disappointment of the disgruntled Ghanaian voter, the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) wants to continue increasing the public debt stock in power to service their apparatchiks. That’s why they want to win the impending elections “all-die-be-die” even if it involves risking the innocent lives of Ghanaians.
The NDC-led IPAC’s strong opposition to this midsummer madness of the EC, and the Messiah delusions of the NPP to rig the elections, is legitimate. Right now the fear is that if unanimous consent is given to this ill-fated move by the EC and its benefactor NPP, as the Eminent Advisory Committee Persons are recommending for, the tendency and temptation to use the not so properly organized Ghana Card Acquisition exercise throughout the country maybe the yardstick to registering the Ghanaian voters. That is, government would want to disenfranchise some Ghanaians. In that case, majority of Ghanaians, mainly from the strongholds of the main opposition NDC, are going to be the heavily targets for disqualification and disenfranchisement ahead of the general elections. I even envision government wanting citizens to pay money in order to be registered because of the very limited time involved in the registration process when this temeritous exercise begins.
Ghana would likely go to a civil war with herself if that attempt is made by the government to disenfranchise other Ghanaians. We have had enough of President Akufo Addo’s deception, shenanigans, and profligacy of governance.
Until then, we all remain “civilized” Ghanaians.
Long Live Ghana.
The Writer, Iddrisu Abdul Hakeem, is a MasterCard Foundation Scholar (Alumnus) @ KNUST.
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