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The NPP’s own flawed voters register undermines its credibility

Wed, 17 Jun 2015 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Monday, June 15, 2015

Folks, the NPP’s main beef against the electoral system in place is that the voters register is bloated and shouldn’t be used in general elections. It has accused the EC of incompetence on that score and made all kinds of ugly noises all over the place, threatening to move heaven and hell for a credible voters register to be put in place for Election 2016. As to what they will do if their demand is not met, they know that they have only two options: go to court or boycott the general elections. Either course of action has dire consequences for it.

Being led by their pride and self-righteous acclamations that they are “legal luminaries” and the cream of Ghana’s “interrectuals”, they will snatch at the first option, which is to go to court to compel the EC to do their bidding. They trust their friends in the Judiciary to fight that cause for them; but it won’t be an easy choice. The court will need a lot more before it before compelling the EC to clean up the existing register.

We saw what happened during the NPP’s useless petition hearing and are well-informed about the technicalities involved, which will probably disrupt the process. Any verdict by the court compelling the EC to do anything about the register won’t be implemented as soon as given. It involves money and other resources that aren’t available to the EC. It can’t even organize the district-level elections for lack of such resources. So, why add more to its burden? The court will have an uphill task if the NPP approaches it.

On another note, what can anybody do if the EC fails or refuses to do the court’s bidding? The snag is in sight, which makes any recourse to the courts a mere formality.

Option number two for the NPP is to boycott Election 2016 in protest against the “flawed” register (in their own conception of issues). But can they? Having invested so much in Election 2016 as the be-it-all-and-end-it-all for them, can they boycott the elections just because of concerns about a so-called faulty voters register? You, be the judge!!

Now comes the grand contradiction, emerging from their own camp as revealed by their just-held primaries to choose Parliamentary candidates in 245 constituencies. Voting couldn’t take place in 30 others because of legal or technical hitches. The ousting of 24 incumbent MPs from the list may raise some people’s eyebrows but not mine. And I have good reasons to tear apart much of what happened.

Defeated candidates attributed their loss to the very substance underlying the NPP’s campaign of calumny against the Electoral Commission’s handling of affairs: flawed voters register; malpractices during voting; plain cheating; and the buying of voters’ conscience with inducements such as money, material gifts, etc.

There is a resounding chorus against the manipulation of the voters register used for the primaries. Here are some instances:

1. ASHAIMAN: Thomas Adongo alleged the tampering of voters' register and claimed that the voters’ register handed down from the regional party to the constituency was doctored. He said deceased members of the party was replaced by certain persons at the constituency working to ensure his defeat. He decried the lack of “principles” and vowed to teach the NPP a lesson by going independent for Election 2016.

2. WEIJA GBAWE CONSTITUENCY: The MP, Rosemond Comfort Abrah, has alleged a grand conspiracy at the highest levels of the party to get her out of parliament. She insisted that she has uncovered a plot to doctor the voters' register to ensure her defeat. She said a copy of the register available to her was the same as what was used in selecting the 2016 flagbearer back in October 2014.

Ms. Abrah revealed that she “suspected foul play” after realizing her picture on the register was removed and replaced with that of a coordinator in the party. But on voting day, she was shocked to discover that “they used a completely different album. What they used was different.” “You could see that it was printed and implanted. It lacked my picture anyway.” She has not called the winner to congratulate her because “as for this one, it was clear…she hasn’t won”. (See http://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2015/June-15th/i-will-teach-them-a-lesson-failed-npp-mp-threatens.php#sthash.yvH8bAGj.dpuf)

Let’s hear her: “They have stolen it, they used a different album. Thieves, thieves…” she shouted. “I’m not accepting the results, Tina Mensah hasn’t won. They have used a different album for the voting,” she fumed. (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/politics/artikel.php?ID=362613)

3. NHYIASO CONSTITUENCY: Dr. Richard Anane insisted that the Electoral Commission (EC) revealed some electoral fraud (over-voting and so many other things). As reported, Dr. Anane confirmed claims that power in the NPP is being sought on factional grounds.

Another defeated candidate (Stephen Amoah) said the circumstances under which he lost his bid in the Saturday election was a “dent on democracy”. According to him, the balloting and counting of the votes was marred by flaws and obvious inaccuracies.

4. OFOASE-AYIREBI CONSTITUENCY: Irate youth resorted to violence in protest against the choice of Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah and not their pre4ferred incumbent MP (John Obiri Yeboah). They accused the Benkumhene of the traditional area Nana Acquah Frempong and another sub chief, Nana Asabro, of taking bribes from Oppong-Nkrumah.

5. ASOKWA CONSTITUENCY: Maxwell Kofi Jumah’s vandalizing of the voters register and other electoral materials may be immediately explained away with his dissatisfaction at the open bias shown his rival (the incumbent MP) by the delegates; but there is a lot more behind it all. He said he doubted the credibility of the voters register being used.

The NPP Communications Director Nana Akomea called on aggrieved aspirants to gather evidence and proceed to the appropriate committee of the party for further investigations. But Mr. Adongo rebuffed that urge, saying that using party structures is “useless”.

The big picture emerging from these isolated instances is clear: that the voters register is at the heart of the problems that characterized the primaries. In that context, it is fair and proper to wonder why after making so much ugly noise about such an issue at the national level and focusing on it as its main political tool the NPP cannot set a good example in-house.

If it cannot produce and use a credible and reliable voters register in its own elections (for reasons best known to its handlers), how can it go about condemning the EC and setting it up for needless attack by its unwitting followers? Can the NPP leaders tell us what the constraints are? Or are we to be left alone to assume that the faulty voters register was purposefully used to sabotage the defeated candidates? Why so?

We can infer from all that has happened in the NPP camp that those complaining about the voters register are doing so mainly as a political gimmick, having already realized that they are not getting the traction they need to succeed in political mobilization efforts. They are harping on the national voters register and blaming the EC as part of their grand scheme to cast its work in doubt and prepare conditions for howling and mischief if they lose again.

Electoral victory is won at the polls, not in court or through the boycott of elections. That is my message for these desperate NPP “rogue” and “book” politicians. Democracy demands a better and responsible behaviour than what they are putting up.

Now that their own lapses regarding the voters register have been exposed, what moral justification do they have to continue painting the EC black?

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.