Election 2016: Charlotte Osei's 49% voter turnout claim scandalous – Former CDD boss
Former Executive Director of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Professor Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, has questioned sacked chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei, over some disturbing incidents that preceded the declaration of the 2016 Presidential Election which brought about agitations and unnecessary tension in Ghana.
He described as “totally scandalous” claims by the sacked EC boss that voter turnout in the 2016 election was at a historic low of about 49 per cent when actually the turnout was about 70 per cent.
The EC, on December 9, 2016, expressed utter shock and disappointment at the voter turnout in the 2016 general elections.
According to the chairperson of the commission, Charlotte Osei, the voter turnout was 49 per cent based on collated results from 210 out of 275 constituencies, claiming there were irregularities in Ashanti and Eastern Regions.
But the EC officers in the two regions dismissed the allegations, supposedly stopping Charlotte Osei and her alleged manipulators in their tracks from manipulating the results.
President Akufo-Addo beat John Mahama with over one million votes
A total of about 15,712,499 eligible voters were expected to participate in the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.
The paltry figure of 49 per cent as claimed by the EC at the time was the lowest in the country’s history since 1992 when Ghana held its first multi-party election.
But Prof Gyimah-Boadi, in an interview with Ghanaweb’s Kyenkyenhene Boateng, cast doubts on the figure, saying it requires some explanations.
“We didn’t know how to do well in 1992 or 1996 certainly we ought to do better in 2016. But at the same time you noticed that there were some highly disturbing developments after the vote and before the declaration. One was for me and for those who were looking at the numbers and so on; the press conference at which the commission said voter turnout was at a historic low of about 49 per cent. That was totally scandalous. Where did they get that figure from? That figure did not match with that of anyone who was doing a basic monitoring and tallying could come with. That requires an explanation,” Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said.
The former CDD also questioned the rationale behind the unreasonable delays by the Charlotte Osei-led EC in the declaration of the results of the presidential election.
The EC, at the time, blamed the delay on unsubstantiated claims of over voting in some parts of the Ashanti Region but nobody has been able to come up with any proof to date.
The refusal of the EC to declare the results two clear days after the election, which clearly had the New Patriotic Party (NPP) leading by a wide margin caused some panic among Ghanaians with some habouring the fear that the EC might engage in underhand dealings to rig the election.
It was at that point that the Deputy General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Koku Anyidoho, claimed the “NDC was in a comfortable lead.” They however lost the election miserably.
Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said, “The claim of over voting in some parts of the Ashanti Region which was used as the big justification for the delay in announcing the final results of the election, we need to come clean on that again. Exactly what happened, which part of Ashanti Region had that over voting so that we know that it wasn’t just tossed to us an explanation and justification for the delay? That to me again was strange.
“This is the first election where by law party agents had to be given certified copies of the polling station results. It was super transparent so how come the tallying could be delayed? That is yet to be explained. I have no explanation for it but all I am saying is that the delay in announcing the final results of the presidential election puts a damper on the praise that I will give to an otherwise flawlessly organised 2016 election,” he indicated.
The NDC’s Election Directorate, headed by Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, had no collated results at the time.
Charlotte Osei Dismissal
Prof Gyimah-Boadi also indicated that the president was right in sacking Charlotte Osei based on the recommendations of a committee set up by the Chief Justice to investigate various allegations levelled against her.
“The kind of things for which the former chairperson of the commission was indicted; those indictments are very heavy. On that basis, I think that the dismissal was completely on point. That you engage in procurement violations of that magnitude, that you do sole sourcing of that magnitude, that you make unilateral decisions in matters like these when you are talking about a commission…anybody who says those were not grievous enough and are not enough grounds for removing a public official at that level of responsibility should come again,” he said.