The fault is not within the Electoral Commission, Akufo-Addo and Co.

Sat, 10 Jan 2015 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Folks, I have been wondering why all manner of people and so-called civil society groups, politically motivated ones, and the clergy cannot contribute anything useful to enhance Ghana’s democracy apart from targeting the Electoral Commission and making utterances to suggest that it is the cause of the woes that they alone have perceived as afflicting Ghana’s political system.

Our political developments over the years have attracted attention all over the world, and we have been commended for ensuring political stability and national cohesion, especially since the coming into being of this 4th Republic. No doubt, a lot has gone into creating that impression and proving to the world that despite the acrimony exhibited by malcontents who cannot accomplish their political ambitions, Ghanaians know and value peace, national integrity, and oneness as mechanisms for political stability. Ghana has remained an enviable oasis in the desert of instability, plain carnage, and brimstone and hell in our part of the world.

Much credit should be given to all those whose efforts have brought us thus far. So also should the institutions charged with superintending over the electoral process be commended for their sterling role. That is where Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan and his Electoral Commission stand stall in the estimation of every reasonable Ghanaian who knows what partisan politics entails.

Not so for the holier-than-thou politicians banded together in the NPP who cannot bring themselves to accept their sad fate at the end of peaceful, free and fair general elections. After all that happened to put Kufuor in office, and even in 2004 when Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey unilaterally usurped the authority of the Electoral Commission to pronounce Kufuor as the winner of the Presidential elections, they still cannot see themselves as problems in the electoral process. They are very quick to point fingers at the EC as if it has chosen them for a special vengeance!!

Within this context, we condemn the orchestrated public posturing and damning utterances by all those malcontents creating the impression that the EC is unfit to help Ghana sustain its democracy. That is why I find the current campaign against the EC by just anybody or any group of people to be really reprehensible.

The latest has come from an advocacy group calling itself CENAB-UK that “is calling on the Electoral Commission of Ghana to respond positively to the numerous calls for electoral reforms in Ghana ahead of the 2016 elections.”

In a statement, it said that it “believes that as a nation we have entered a new year with lots of promises and the desire to start afresh and tackle national issues on the scale of priorities and electoral reforms which will forestall the derailment of Ghana’s peace and political stability should be the foremost on the national agenda.

The Christian Council as well as many other civil society organisations such as the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), IMANI-Ghana have all added their voices to that of the Christian Council as well as other political parties but so far it appears the Electoral Commission has failed to see the need to reform its operations.

It noted that “the recent call by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo recently in London for an independent body to help review and audit the voters’ register was met with a stiff resistance by the EC, through its spokesperson Mr. Christian Owusu-Parry. Always quoting the constitution as the basis for its independence and therefore subject to no other’s supervision, the Electoral Commission has become oblivious to the number of calls for reform.” (See details at https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=341613).

I won’t bat an eyelid anymore, but I will say aboveboard that calls of this sort are misplaced. They are designed to paint the EC black and create the impression that it is not fit to superintend over the next general elections; or to set the stage for some treachery and chicanery by those still disturbed and torn apart by their electoral losses at Elections 2008 and 2012. I condemn those making such calls and urge them to look into themselves rather than wasting time and energy criticizing the EC.

In truth, I see nothing wrong with the modus operandi being used by the EC for the conduct of the polls in Ghana. These very modus operandi have been in place since the establishment of the 4th Republic, which has seen the defeat of the NDC at Elections 2000 and 2004 and that of the NPP at Elections 2008 and 2012.

When the NPP won those elections (even with the backing of the mushroom political parties because it couldn't do so alone), none of these ugly noise makers talked about pitfalls; neither did they use their "coconuts" to determine what ensured Kufuor's victory. They went to bed, satisfied that their dreams had come true. But as Fate would have it, those dreams came true only to a point and metamorphosed into a terrible nightmare that has been haunting them ever since the electorate jettisoned the NPP at Election 2008 and will do so again for as long as they don't see anything worthwhile coming from it. No one needs any divination to say so.

Clearly, the EC has the constitutional mandate to organize the elections and ensure that our democracy grows on the basis of the free exercise of franchise by the citizens. It has put everything in place and has continued to appraise its performances at every juncture to be abreast of developments. It has recorded details of voters and opened the voters’ register at various times to admit eligible prospective voters. Nowhere in the course of performing its duties has the EC left any trace behind for anybody to point to as a dereliction of its duty or a skewed handling of issues to favour any particular party.

The issues raised by the NPP malcontents after Elections 2012 ended in smoke when the Supreme Court threw out their petition and validated President Mahama’s victory. The basis of that useless petition was technicalities associated with PINK SHEETS, which only went to prove how hollow they are as politicians.

Now, they are talking about the voters’ register and creating the impression that there is something mystical or mysterious happening that already foreshadows their defeat at Election 2016. That is why Akufo-Addo is making the ugly noise; but that noise will return to hurt him. Has he taken a good look at himself to know why he isn’t favoured by the electorate? I wish he would so he can save himself from all this torment!!

To ask the EC to introduce or implement reforms is nonsensical, to put it mildly. What are the specific reforms that it should implement? And whose reforms are they? Those of the malcontents expending energy to fight against the tide or those of any credible institution that has established incontrovertible facts to prove that there is, indeed, a lot wrong with our electoral system as it has been all these years? Why do these people think that unless their viewpoints are accepted, everything going on in Ghana’s electoral system is bad? Such self-righteous characters will continue to laugh at the wrong side of their mouths.

I am not sure if they even know what the EC can or cannot do as far as their noisome advocacy is concerned. Does the EC have the constitutional backing to unilaterally introduce just anything into the equation as its attempt at reforming the electoral system? Or is it the collective effort of the stakeholders to do so?

To me, focusing on the EC and blaming it is nothing but the product of a fertile but poisonous figment of imagination. Baseless premonition or predilection to cause tension!!

What wins victory at the polls doesn’t have to lie with the EC. It has a lot to do with the politicians themselves. Their ability to reach out to the electorate with good campaign messages and their own personal qualities count a lot. No amount of reforms can put Akufo-Addo in power, as I can infer from the drift of the advocacy going on. He is so shortsighted as to place himself at the centre of it all as if bringing in those auditors to work on the voters’ register will make those who don’t want him as their President change their minds in the polling booth.

To cut a long story short, let me remind all those making this noise disguised as an “advocacy for electoral reforms” that they are known for their own political affiliations and shouldn’t deceive themselves that people cannot read deeper meanings into all the dust that they are raising. The truth is that they are so blind as not to see the doors of Heaven open to them and are going round the building, looking for windows to pass through.

That is the unavoidable consequence of “book” and “rogue” politics. Those who are well-cut-out to win general elections don’t go to all this distance. They simply reach out to the voters with convincing campaign messages and present themselves for scrutiny. They have nothing to fear and, therefore, don’t seek to hide behind technicalities. Only those who see the Presidency as their “birthright” will look for dung where no cow grazed.

For their information, the EC (as constituted and mandated to function) will do all that is constitutionally required to ensure that Ghana’s democracy thrives, at least, if only the voters can freely and fairly exercise their franchise quadriennially. It is the voters who determine contestants’ fate, not the Electoral Commission. Reforms or no reforms, candidates who fall short of the voters’ expectations will be cast adrift on the high seas of Ghanaian politics. In that sorry state, all they can do is to wail, weep (on the quiet), and gnash their teeth. But that won’t solve their problems.

They had better learn how to descend from their high horses of self-importance and self-righteousness to be favoured by the electorate. Voters like those they can relate to, not those who scare them stiff. In Ghana, it is only the political scarecrows who will turn to technicalities to circumvent the due process. And when they come out to complain, they worsen their plight, even as Election 2016 approaches. So long!!

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.