Opinions Mon, 16 Nov 2015

Blame Mahama and Afari-Gyan for EC’s Credibility Problem

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Garden City, New York

Nov. 10, 2015

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

It well appears that Ghana could be heading for a catastrophic civil strife late next year, if nothing is done to rectify the widely alleged compromising of the country’s voters’ register in the lead-up to the 2016 general election. According to a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report made public in August this year, the current voters’ register leaves much to be desired (See “Dumor: EC Has a ‘Credibility Problem’” Classfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 11/10/15). Titled “Conduct of an Institutional Assessment and the Development of a Strategic Plan for the Electoral Commission of Ghana,” the report decries the fact that in spite of the heavy government investment in the establishment of a Biometric Voters’ Registration Machinery and a hi-tech voters’ verification system, not much has been done by the so-called independent Electoral Commission to ensure the establishment of a reliable voters’ register.

The findings of the UNDP report strikingly echoes what the country’s foremost opposition leader, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has maintained for quite a while now, namely, that Ghana’s current voters’ register, even as acknowledged by the Atuguba-presided Supreme Court panel that adjudicated the 2012 presidential election petition, is irreparably compromised with the names and vital statistics of foreign nationals. Recently, for example, a crackerjack team of electoral forensic experts, led by Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the three-time vice-presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), provided damning evidence clearly indicating the packing of the Ketu-South Constituency voters’ register, in the Volta Region, with the names of nearly 80,000 Togolese nationals. Shortly thereafter, a group of disgruntled young National Democratic Congress (NDC) apparatchiks appeared at the offices of the Daily Guide newspaper and publicly confessed that it had been commissioned by some Ketu-South NDC party executives, in the lead-up to Election 2012, to assist with the criminal “bloating” of that constituency’s voters’ register.

We must promptly point out that the Daily Guide newspaper is owned by Mr. Freddie Blay, the Acting National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party. Likewise, it bears pointing out that the Volta Region, in particular the Anlo-Ewe southern enclave of the region, is the hermetic stronghold of the ruling National Democratic Congress, which routinely returns a voting rate of 98-percent one election season after another. We also need to underscore the fact that the Bawumia-led team of NPP election experts claims that it has publicly disclosed roughly only about 10-percent of the total evidence it has garnered from investigating irregularities on the country’s voters’ register. And barely a week ago, upon express invitation from Electoral Commissioner Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei, newly appointed by President John Dramani Mahama to replace the retired Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Team Bawumia submitted its evidence to the EC Chair and her staff.

It goes without saying that Team Bawumia’s reported evidence, whatever the contents therein may be, can only be aptly said to have been afforded the necessary forensic boost by the UNDP report. Which simply means that Commissioner Osei may choose to ignore such clearly articulated incontrovertible evidence at the certain risk of plunging the country into a civil strife in the immediate aftermath of Election 2016. We must also quickly point out that recently a group of National Democratic Congress primary-election candidates organized a team of vandals to summarily destroy a copy of the party’s biometric voters’ register in the Ledzokuku Constituency in the Greater-Accra Region. At the time, Mr. Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, the NDC’s General-Secretary, apologetically excused this flagrant act of vandalism on the dubious grounds that it had been precipitated by a “minor misunderstanding.” The alleged vandals had reportedly claimed that one of the primary candidates had mischievously packed the Ledzokuku Constituency’s biometric voters’ register with the names of at least some 3,000 (three-thousand) non-NDC members.

This, of course, further adds to Team Bawumia’s assertion that the country’s biometric voters’ register has been comprised beyond repair. A desperate President Mahama has recently resorted to calling his most formidable political opponents unflattering names, including the patently offensive label of “Patapaa” (Street-Brawling Bullies). This is rather ironic, because it has largely been the NDC operatives who have organized thugs to cause mischief and mayhem during major election and by-election seasons, such as recently occurred at Talensi, in the country’s Upper-East Region. Even more importantly ought to be highlighted the fact that it was President Mahama who personally instructed Dr. Afari-Gyan, then EC Chair, during Election 2012, to cavalierly ignore deliberately rendered dysfunctional Biometric Voting Machines (BVMs) and allow voters whose identities could not be verified, or ascertained, at some polling stations, largely in NDC strongholds to, nonetheless, vote.

Having evidently acquitted himself more than credibly by the lights of his paymaster, Dr. Afari-Gyan would be thrown a lavish sendoff party, studded with national-merit laurels, when after having been at post for some blotchy 20-odd years, the former University of Ghana’s political science lecturer announced his much expected and virulently pushed for retirement early this year.
Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame