According to Electoral Commission, the 2012 Presidential Election is over but to the New Patriotic Party (NPP), it’s not over yet because the party has credible evidence to suggest that the declared President Elect, Mahama did not secure 5,574,761 votes but less. I am not sure if the NPP is also claiming that their Presidential candidate, Nana Akufo Addo obtained enough votes to win the Presidency outright, but from the declaration by the General Secretary on Saturday December 8, 2012, I assume that is part of their claim. With the figures announced by the Electoral Commission which informed the decision to declare Mahama the President Elect, I want to use those figures to consider the chances of NPP mounting a successful challenge at the court.
First, before NPP decides to go to court, the leadership must satisfy themselves that the figures will not only support their claim but also invalidate the results of the Presidential Election, at least to cause a rerun. Otherwise, any legal action would be an exercise in futility. Second, if their claim is that Nana Akufo Addo won the presidential elections, then they must also provide credible figures that will buttress this claim, otherwise, at best they may only secure a second round. Third, after NPP has tallied the figures that they believe are in their candidate’s favour, they must also persuade the court to rule in their favour. As I am not a lawyer, I will leave the legal argument to the experts.
Let’s look at the Mathematics that NPP will have to grapple with and put before a court of competent jurisdiction. According to the Electoral Commission the total valid votes in the presidential election were 10,995,262. That means for a candidate to win outright (the 50% plus one), the candidate must secure at least, 5,497632 votes.
President Elect, Mahama gained 5,574,761. This means for NPP to prove that the fraud allegation is true, the party must show that at least, 77,130 votes were wrongly or falsely allocated to the President elect. If they are successful, then Mahama could not have been the winner since he would be short of the 50% plus one of the total valid votes cast. This assumption is valid on condition that the total valid votes remained the same (10,995,262). Unfortunately, this may be unrealistic since NPP’s claim is that the figures allocated the President Elect were bloated. It is therefore possible that the total valid votes could come down and so could the 50% plus one magic number required for outright victory also go down since that figure is dependent on the total valid votes. It is therefore not guaranteed that if the total votes allocated to Mahama are reduced by at least 77,130 votes he will not win outright.
The challenge for NPP is that, having provided the credible figures that at least 77,130 votes were wrongly or falsely allocated to the President, would that be enough to invalidate the results or deprive the President Elect of his victory? That would be the case if and only if the total valid votes remained the same (10,995,262).
What is the scenario for Nana Akufo Addo being declared the winner? Again, according to the Electoral Commission, Nana Akufo Addo secured 5,248,898 votes. That means, he was short of 248,734 votes from reaching the 50% plus one vote of 5,497,632, assuming that the total valid votes is static. If that goes down then the requisite figure for Nana Akufo Addo to reach the magic number also falls relative to the decrease. The critical question NPP should answer is, are the figures they have up to what Nana Akufo Addo needs to obtain the 50% plus one vote to win outright?
I suspect, the answer may be no but it may be possible that the answer could be yes. If the latter is the case, then the bloated figures for the President Elect must be significantly higher. If they were, then they would reduce the total valid votes and also bring down the figure for the 50% plus one vote significantly and therefore improve Nana Akufo Addo’s chances of victory but reduce his opponent’s (all things being equal and in his favour).
Again, we should also bear in mind that, NPP is also claiming that the figures for Nana Akufo Addo were under-recorded. If that is also true and the numbers are significant, then it may be probable that, at least, there could be a second round if not an outright win for him. As at now, Ghanaians have not been given all the details of the fraud being alleged by NPP, therefore these assumptions may be premature.
However, in view of the figures announced by the Electoral Commission, whilst it would be relatively easy for NPP to prove that 77,130 votes were wrongly or falsely allocated to the President Elect, it would be a big challenge, if not impossible for NPP to show that Nana Akufo Addo lost 248,734 votes that were not allocated to him. Even if all the 77,130 are removed from Mahama and given to Nana Akufo Addo, he will still be short of 171,604 votes to reach the 50% plus one vote (of 5,497,632 votes), unless the total valid votes at the presidential election (10,995,262) also go down considerably.
Having analysed the numbers, it is my view that NPP will not take the fight to the court. The party is finding it difficult to accept defeat for the second time within four years, especially, in the face of all the allegations of incompetence and corruption against NDC versus NPP’s promise of free SHS and job creation, etc. In my childish view, NPP’s belligerent attitude is perhaps a ploy to claim that the verdict was stolen but for the sake of the nation they will accept the results declared by the Electoral Commission. This is a face saving exercise considering the Saturday Declaration by the party’s General Secretary. The other objective is perhaps, the whole exercise is a smokescreen to cast doubt on Mahama’s victory and to question his legitimacy for the next four years. It is also to show that they believe in democracy and the rule of law by going to court instead of resorting to illegal action.
NPP is aware that if they rush to court and the decision goes against the party, the damaged could be more devastating. This is the game by political parties in most developing countries and I have no doubt had the NDC lost they would have played similar trick. Though it is on record that the late President Atta Mills accepted defeat on two occasions, the hawks within NDC claimed that NPP rigged the elections and never accepted the defeats in good faith. The only difference is that, NDC as a party did not act collectively to challenge the results declared by the Electoral Commission. NPP on the other hand, often resorts to going to court to gain what they could not secure through the ballot box and to create erroneous impression that they believe in democracy.
Though it is within their legal right to challenge the presidential election results in court, the experience is that NPP appear to be abusing the judicial process. In the 2008 presidential elections, NPP went to court to seek an ex-parte motion but the motion was denied by the court. They then attempted to stop the Electoral Commission from organising the Tain Constituency rerun by seeking an injunction at the court, which was later abandoned.
Whilst I accept that, the preparedness of the NPP to resort to the judiciary in resolving election disputes is healthy to Ghana’s democracy, they are often recalcitrant in accepting the peoples’ verdict if it is not in their favour and that also casts a shadow of doubt on Ghana’s image as the shining example of democracy in Africa. The NPP should by this time know that they cannot use the Judiciary as a back door to secure political power against the voters’ choice. As it happened in the 2008 elections, I am confident that the Judiciary will have to be persuaded by not only the credible figures and NNP’s allegation of fraud but above all, the common good (of peace and security in Ghana). That will require that NPP’s complaint if presented to the court would be given a fair hearing, including all interested parties and justice would be served, democracy would be strengthened and Ghana will be the real winner. Let’s wait and see.