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Opinions Wed, 4 Sep 2013

Elections have consequences

, so does election petition verdicts.

Congratulations to Mr. Nana Addo. Congratulations to whatshisname, ahem, President Mahama. Mr. President indeed, the only Ghanaian president to have been elected by foreigners or foreign items . Sorry to disappoint you. I am not here to decide whether the Supreme Court decision was fair or not, justice or miscarriage of justice because it’s of no importance. It’s like crying over spilled milk. However, I am here to tell you the consequences of the verdict in the simplest terms possible.

Ghana has kissed its good bye to fair elections (at least in this decade or century). Sorry to be disheartening but it’s the holy almighty truth.

Those who have wished and hoped the petition to bring electoral reforms to perfect Ghana’s democracy received the biggest blow by the court decision. The verdict maintains all the status quo so will our reforms maintain the status quo. To illustrate my point, let’s remember Al Gore vs. Bush . The United States Supreme Court ruled for the status quo, so Florida officials kept the status quo up to 2012. Had it not because Obama won a landslide victory in 2012, Americans would have gone through a repeat of 2000.

Therefore, any reform to be meaningful will has to be enforceable to move our elections forward to a more transparent, and fair elections. But some Justices have said no to enforceability.

It has literally said “once a vote is cast, it’s immune to invalidation” no matter how many constitutional articles or legislative laws were breached.

By this stands, anybody who advocates for reforms is doing a wishful thinking at the very best. Because any reform will need some legal backing to work otherwise it’s just a waste of time and money. Additionally, any reform must have beneath it the maxim of “one man, one vote” which cannot be achieved if votes are immune to invalidation. Here is a one hard truth: One man, one vote is only achievable under two conditions: a) an honest society where everybody will voluntarily vote once even if he/she has the opportunity to vote more. b) Where systems are put in place to make it impossible to vote more than once. The 2012 elections had the latter and it’s called Biometric Verification, Signature of an “independent” EC official and unique serial numbers. But the court says no to unique finger verification or assents of an EC official to results or unique anything. Not because it was not a law or parties were not aware of it. But because it will defy the doctrine of votes immunity to passing the due process test. Therefore, all the reforms the petition will have brought have been thrown to the sea by the decision. The judges have stood on our way from having cleaner elections. You may accept that implied fact or not. What is clear and explicit is this: we already have enough laws to preserve the sanctity of our votes, but do we have enough judges to enforce those laws? Not more reform(s) is the solution to fairer and cleaner elections in Ghana. The solution is absolute implementation of the laws. However, some (and majority) of our Supreme Judges have concluded otherwise. To those asking for more reforms, I will enquire from them: What is the essence of making reforms if they are not enforceable? What is the essence of making laws if the Supreme Court endorses breaking them? What is the essence of making more election laws when the Supreme Court doesn’t see breaking any electoral law as an irregularity, let alone to invalidate such outcomes?

Elections will become a thug of day light stealing. And the most efficient thieves or party will pick for Ghana whom our leader must be. If you think election 2012 was unfair, unholy and unrighteous for democratic Ghana; then brace yourself for more of all that was wrong with election 2012. Thanks to the unelected justices of the Supreme Court who have dismissed all the petitioners claims. Political consultancy has never been made easy than this. Let me give a single preview (out of many) of how elections can now be legally rig in Ghana courtesy of the Supreme Court decision.

You need an indelible ink remover, and one million dedicated foot soldiers. Those people will register at seven different locations and vote at seven different locations. Those people will refuse any biometric verification and /or cannot be refused to vote simply because they cannot be verified. The Supreme Court made it clear, unambiguously, that not been verified is not an irregularity. Strange to add, that same Supreme Justices have accepted that registering more than once even at the same pooling station is a clerical error. Never mind, the smart one million foot soldiers will register at different pooling stations. Thanks to the Justices for making the work of political consultants very easy. Nobody will challenge the outcome of such elections because it’s strikingly expensive and will ultimately fail to sway the justices.

All the argument unfurled by all those in favor of the status quo to say the very least have presented a basket full of unripe fruits of wisdom: One can actually present very solid and formidable logical arguments to make them look stupid. Take the case of over voting: getting more votes than ballots issued means somebody voted more than once. Translation, the election is not fair since we cannot identify or take away the additional votes. Therefore, the sensible thing to do is to reject the entire votes. Or rerun the election at the very least. It’s like receiving a basket of apples with one (or some) of the apples poisoned. And nobody could identify the poisoned one(s). Is the wise thing to do to eat all the apples because some of them weren’t poisoned or throw away the whole basket to save your life?

Aha. You welcome.

I can go for serial numbers, signatures etc. but I will hold on, at least for now.

Mr. Nana Addo, you might not have won the petition but you have won the hearts and minds of Ghanaians for centuries to come (Nkrumah in my mind). Like many great leaders we (the world) idolize today were rejected by the people of their time. Mr. Nana Addo “you can be as happy as make your mind to be” says Abraham Lincoln. To the Justices: I say to them kudus for turning your Brown vs. Board of Education to Plessey vs. Ferguson. History will be the best judge.

The ideas expressed here are solely that of Umar Najeeb Mohammed. I reserve the right to amend, retract or stand by them. Reach me at umarnajeeb@yahoo.com or facebook me.

Columnist: Mohammed, Umar Najeeb