The NPP’s “concert party” shows and the voters register of Togo

Sun, 23 Aug 2015 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Folks, you must have heard of the latest in the NPP’s package of electoral laughables that has pushed its “Concert Party” shows to the most bizarre level. It clearly has taken the shows beyond the ridiculous to the absurd and contemptible point. Here is the substance:

“New Patriotic Party's (NPP) 2016 Vice Presidential candidate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has revealed that a team commissioned by the party to go into Ghana’s voter register has identified 76,286 persons with the same data in both Ghana and Togo’s voter register.

Dr. Bawumia, speaking at a widely publicized press conference in Accra on Tuesday, said the party’s team identified this suspected anomaly after comparing Ghana’s register with that of Togo.

These persons, he said, were mostly found in the Volta region with Ketu South cited as one of the constituencies where the anomalies are abound.” (See https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Bawumia-uncovers-76-000-Togolese-in-Ghana-s-voter-roll-375993).

Consequently, the NPP on Tuesday petitioned the Electoral Commission:

• To compile a new voters register by June 2016 and Ghanaians a new Permanent Voters Card (PVC) as was done in Nigeria.

• To grant a period of two weeks for the registration to be carried out simultaneously across the country.

• To ensure that the new compiled voters register is edited by internationally reputed audit firms and all political parties given copies.

They also claimed that “Ghanaians have lost trust in the register hence must be scrapped and a new one compiled.”

Folks, the vitriolic reaction to the NPP’s so-called “discovery” in the voters register suggests to me that Dr. Bawumia and his team are not sure how to do politics to win Election 2016. Some have questioned the methodology used for that comparison of voters registers of Ghana and Togo as well as the rationale behind using Togo for this Don Quixotic exercise in futility.

Suddenly, the NPP’s motives are being interpreted as an insult to the people of the Volta Region, which will change the dynamics for it altogether just as Victor Owusu’s impolitic devaluing of the Ewes as “inward-looking people” has done to that political front all these years. Some are even unhappy that the Brong-Ahafo Region has also been lumped together in this voters register claim by the NPP, indicating disrespect for that area too.

I don’t want to support the claim that Dr. Bawumia’s pronouncements or showcasing of the NPP’s “discovery” is a direct insult to the people of the Volta Region, particularly. After all, whatever record informed the NPP’s claim has no direct bearing on the Voltarians because they didn’t compile the Ghanaian voters register to warrant their being angered. But if a deeper meaning is read into the NPP’s “discovery” to suggest that those in the Volta Region aren’t Ghanaians, then, something new could emerge to foment trouble. I want to leave this aspect as it is.

Some questions arise from the scope and intents and purposes of the NPP’s comparative analysis of the voters registers of Ghana and Togo. We know that Ghana is bounded by Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire as well. Why didn’t the NPP team do anything about those countries’ voters registers for us to see the overall picture? Why did it cherry-pick to create the impression that the Volta Region is a fertile ground for irregularities in the voters register? That is where the issue lies.

Again, we note that on the basis of the NPP’s self-interested agenda, its flagbearer, Akufo-Addo, has stated that “Whatever (in electoral terms) is good for Togo must be good for Ghana too,” in reference to President Mahama’s observations about the compilation of a new voters register before the Togolese elections last year. His claim here can be interpreted to mean that President Mahama must do all he can to ensure that Ghana’s Electoral Commission also prepares a new voters register.

That is where Akufo-Addo exposes his lazy thinking. The mandate regarding the voters register is for the EC, not President Mahama. What can President Mahama do as Akufo-Addo is demanding? To put pressure on the EC to listen to the NPP and do its bidding? How?

Again, we note that the EC has already dismissed calls for it to compile a new voters register, claiming that what it has in stock is fit for general elections in Ghana. Of course, the EC will definitely re-open registration of duly qualified voters and clean up the register, based on information regarding death, etc. of currently registered voters; but it has stated categorically that it won’t embark on any exercise to compile a new voters register.

So, what will the NPP do in consequence? Proceed to court to demand that the Judiciary listen to its cry and force the EC to do its bidding? Boycott the 2016 general elections? Or do what more?

No matter how hoarsely Dr. Bawumia and his NPP cabal shout, the die is already cast. The EC won’t budge; neither will the President overstep bounds to put undue pressure on the EC. The NDC has already made it clear that the NPP’s failure to win political power does not stem from any flawed voters register and that it doesn’t see the need for any new voters register.

From what has t6ranspired so far, I can still maintain that the NPP camp is confused and unsure of how to move forward with its campaign efforts. Having done everything possible only to lose Elections 2008 and 2012, the NPP leaders and followers appear exhausted mentally and politically and cannot add any new value to themselves to warrant their being voted into office. They are still stuck on their sterile rogue and book politics to the point of political suicide.

By fingering the Volta Region as the hub of irregularities in the voters register, the NPP has cut deep into its own political foot and will bleed therefrom. There are already opinions circulating to that effect all over the place. What do these NPP people have to prove that those “Togolese” that they discovered on Ghana’s voters register voted for the NDC at the previous elections or will do so in the next one?

I have been saying all along that Akufo-Addo and his followers don’t know how to do productive politics and will use every straw in their way to drown all the more in the turbulent Ghanaian political waters instead of surviving. With all the challenges facing the Mahama-led administration seemingly preparing favourable grounds for them to hit on issues in their electioneering campaign efforts, they are so short-sighted and mischievous as to turn to the irrelevant. Winning the hearts of voters shouldn’t be so difficult for them, but it is because they don’t know how to do productive politics. They are undercutting themselves and creating the impression that the electoral process is skewed against them.

Elections are not won on technicalities but on the reality of votes cast and accepted as valid. Interestingly, the NPP didn’t make any substance out of a flawed voters register when it petitioned against the outcome of Election 2012. It didn’t include anything Togolese voters participating in the process to give the NDC an advantage. It based that useless petition on irregularities (particularly pink sheets not6 being endorsed by Presiding Officers, etc.). So, what is the value of this “discovery” by Dr. Bawumia and his team? And how will this issue change the dynamics for the NPP to win Election 2016?

I am all the more intrigued by Dr. Bawumia’s fixation on NUMBERS. He has been bombarding public discourse with figures (quoted in his claims about the Ghanaian economy, and many other areas), which haven’t fetched any political capital to date. Of course, he claims to be an economist to whom NUMBERS matter; but in politics, NUMBERS matter as well, especially when they tend toward ADDITION and not SUBSTRACTION. What I mean here is that when a political party adds votes to its haul, it profits. And adding votes means not angering and alienating specific segments of the voter population. Unfortunately, the NPP is doing so.

I am waiting for the next in the series of the “Concert Party” shows and hope that I will wake up one of these days to be told by Dr. Bawumia and his team that they have discovered the names of mermaids (Maame Water and Papa Water) from the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean in Ghana’s voters register. This kind of rogue politics won’t put them in office in my lifetime.

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.