Is Nigeria really the benchmark for elections?

Wed, 16 Dec 2015 Source: Isaac Kyei Andoh

Since the call for a new voter register was made by the Opposition New Patriotic Party and Let My Vote Count Alliance- a pressure group in bed with the main opposition party, there have been countless calls for Ghana to learn from Nigeria.

We may have issues with our voters register and it may even be that the best way to get a clean register is to do an entirely new registration but hell no; Ghana is not ready for the Nigeria kind of election in 2016.

Yesterday, Prof Attahiru Jega- the Former EC Chair of Nigeria called Ghanaians to outdo Nigeria in the 2016 elections and I found it very funny. Forget about the court issue and the recent call for a New Voters Register, the 2012 election was more transparent, free and fair than what Nigeria did this year.

The problem we are facing now is that for the sake of political expedience, our opposition parties are going overboard to make the EC appear bias and not credible. This has been the case since 1992, anytime an Opposition wins the EC is objective, when they lose the EC is corrupt.

The NPP called the result of the 1992 and 1996 elections fraud and even boycotted Parliament on the first occasion but turned around to give Dr Afari Gyan the highest National Award when they came to power in 2000 and won the 2004 elections for his contribution to democracy and free and fair election.

Meanwhile the NDC were not amused by the outcome and took the matter to court after the 2004 elections.

When the NDC won in 2008, they praised the EC. Note this: in 2000 when the opposition won everyone praised the EC but when the government in power won in 2004 the then opposition- NDC took the matter to court because they felt hard done. In the same way when the NDC as opposition in 2008 won, no one accused the EC for rigging but when the NPP lost again in 2012: this time as opposition, they went to court.

Is it the case that because the government in power control affairs, when they win it is rigged but fair when they lose?

Since 2012, we have done everything to undermine the reputation of an EC that has done so well since 1992 and have upgraded periodically since to meet new challenges.

Today, Prof Jega looks like the man our EC Chair has to look up to when we have a Dr Afari Gyan with a better track record and experience to under his belt. We can’t look up to Nigeria as far us free and elections are concerned. As far as I am concerned and the fact on the grown have proven, the people of Ghana had a far greater freedom to cast their votes in 2012 than the people of Nigeria in 2015.

Over 60 people died in Nigeria during their elections and this has nothing to do with Boko Haram. There were demonstrations that run for days because the ruling party felt it wasn’t fair. I am not by any means suggesting those cries were legitimate, I am simply saying we have a system already better and more transparent than Nigeria.

Prof Jega has done a great job for the Nigeria people and deserve to be commended but we must note that the April election is called very successful because it is Nigeria, it would go down as one of our worse elections if same is replicated in Ghana.

It is about time we place issues into perspective and address our problems without trying to score cheap points from our neighbours and the international community at the expense of our pride, reputation and dignity as a nation.

Are we going to run down the whole electoral system because of minor issues that can be addressed through dialogue and negotiation?

Obviously we can learn from Nigeria as far as the use of technology in elections is concerned but which ever method is adopted, people should feel free to vote, vote without fear and in this regard, we are miles ahead of our Nigerian brothers.

Nigeria did great per their standard; our standard is a new high they are yet to attain.

Let improve where we need to: if there is the need for a new register, we must: if there is the need for cleaning the old one let do it but the focus should be improving what we did in the past and not replicating what was done in Nigeria because we are not ready for it.

An election described as free and fair in some countries will go down as war in other countries. We must know who our examples are in elections because standards defer from country to country and track records play huge role in assessment.

We have not lost our place as a beacon of democracy in the sub region and must therefore not make it appears so.


Columnist: Isaac Kyei Andoh