No need to draw swords at each other

Sun, 23 Aug 2015 Source: Jojo Sam

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There have been incessant calls lately for compilation of a new voters register. The demand is led by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in conjunction with other opposition parties who also do believe that the register needs to be changed before general election scheduled for next year.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) and other group of opposition parties on the other hand oppose the idea, urging that the register be left intact and ways rather found to purge it of any sordid information.

NPP press conference

The matter now seem to have got to a head following revelations by the NPP at a press conference in Accra recently that there were foreign names in the register, a situation which has led to a bloating of the document.

In fact, according to the party’s investigations there could not be free, fair, transparent and credible elections in the country with the old register. But the NDC is saying that the NPP has got it all wrong based on ignorance.

Listening to phone-ins into a number of radio programmes I have monitored, all that the ordinary voter is seeking is to be able to vote on the appointed date free from hassle and in peace.

Under the circumstance, if it is a recompilation of the register that would remove doubt from the exercise and ensure a smooth process, then they are all for it.

But, the problem that arises is how to guarantee that any new register that is to be compiled would itself also not be bloated. This is because since the inception of the Fourth Republic, all registers in the country used for elections have been bloated.

Bloated register

In 2012 for instance there were many reported cases of minors who were registered.

In addition, there were reports of people coming from Togo to register. This, I believe, got to the security agencies but not much, if anything at all was done to curtail it. I am not surprised therefore to hear that there are names of foreigners in the register.

My worry though is why the NPP is reporting it at this time. What I know is that after the register has been compiled, a copy is given to all the political parties to scrutinise and raise questions on any abnormalities they may find, which I believe they may have done.

At the Supreme Court hearing in 2013 even though a number of issues were raised at the time regarding the register which the court itself in the end called for a review, these new aspects the party has presented were not captured.

I believe also that at this time in the nation’s history when money is a scarce commodity, finding resources for the exercise will be difficult.

I would rather the money was found for the doctor’s to return to work than on a register that with the support of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), all political parties could sit at round table and resolve to clean.

For me, the matter can be easily resolved if all concerned resolve to put their heads together to clean the document.

Need for calm

Under the circumstances, comments that raise tension must be avoided at all cost. Just like the Chairman of the NPP said at the party’s recently held press conference on the matter, we do not need to draw swords at each other.

It is my hope that in their response, the NDC would not try to dare their opponents into taking actions which would be inimical to the country’s forward march.

The Electoral Commission has said that it had only just received the report and which it was studying before it would comes out officially to make its pronouncements on it.

I hope that we give it some time to look at the matter. If it finds that the evidence presented is overwhelming and therefore there is need for change, then so be it.

If it decides that we can go ahead with the register that must also be respected and then ways found to improve the document to the taste of all sides.

It needs not to be emphasised that the electoral register is an important document that can make or break the nation, and therefore the truth must be made to stand.

We have come a long way since 1992 and everything possible must be done to sustain the democratic path that the country has chosen.

In any endeavour there will be problems but it is the will to resolve those problems and move ahead that really counts.

Columnist: Jojo Sam