The rigid posture adopted by Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of Ghana’s Electoral Commission is sending shivers down the spine of Ghanaians both at home and abroad. It is also sending wrong signals to the International Community that Election 2016 might after all not be free from problems.
Almost every action or pronouncement made by this “Jezebel” of a woman since her appointment has been dogged by one form of controversy or the other. Where she is expected to provide a soothing balm to an already volatile situation, she rather aggravates it. Her action can be likened to a quack medical practitioner performing an operation with crude instruments, especially unsterilized needle on a dirty slab.
First, the Commission set up a Committee to proffer advice on the election. One of the members happened to be a hard core member of the NDC. Was that deliberate or mere co-incidence? Did the Commission do due diligence before settling on the NDC member?
Secondly, the pronouncement by the Chairperson of the EC to the effect that there were over 200,000 suspected multiple voters in Ashanti Region has turned out to be the hoax of the century. That pronouncement was fiercely challenged by Mr. Mark Manu, Head of the NPP Campaign Team. According to him, the EC had stated on page 23 in its response to the NPP petition on the need to have a new voters register that there were 150, 000 cases of suspected multiple voters on the register throughout the country. Based on that, Mr. Mark Manu queried where the EC boss got her figures from.
What we see here is that if Mr. Mark Manu had not reacted to Mrs. Charlotte Osei’s mischievous assertion, the latter would not have come out with the admission that she had made a mistake and that the 200,00 figure she mentioned was the total figure of those who registered in the Region.
And so the figure would have stood, if Mark Manu had not challenged the EC. Over the years, that had been the trend of the ruling party. They come out with allegations which they present as facts, but when they are challenged they cannot defend. What was going on in the head of Mrs. Charlotte Osei as she was making such gargantuan and mischievous mistake? Was it pre-meditated? Again questions, questions and more questions.
Again, does she discuss major policy decisions with her Deputies or she runs a “one man” show at the commission?
And if I may ask: “Was it important to have made the comment, “it’s still the highest”, why correcting her earlier mistake? It was not necessary. It was as if she had an axe to grind with the figures in Ashanti Region and was doing everything to justify her earlier assertion. To those of us who are laymen, the comment could be described as reckless. Such unguarded comments do not portray her as “a Daniel come to judgment”.
For the short time she has been at the helm of affairs as EC Boss, she has exhibited blind prejudice against some political parties and open partiality with the Governing party. She should not pretend that all is well with her stewardship. At the rate that she is going, Golgotha will surely be our destination.
The Electoral Commission had stated that the total number of suspected multiple registration in the whole nation was 150,000. But from the figures she gave while correcting her earlier “error” the total figure from all the regions does not come anywhere near the 150,000. In fact, the total is 69,053, which is less than half of the 150,000 the EC had earlier given. Again, questions, questions and more questions.
Charlotte Osei’s posture is akin to a referee who whistled for a goal and later rescinded his decision. If In course of declaring the results of the Presidential Election, she comes out with a gargantuan mistake as she earlier on did, what do you think will happen in the country? Killings, destruction, looting, violence, confusion and the State of Nature will set in. Did we bargain for these when this so called “Amazon” or Jezebel” was appointed to head our Electoral body?
Again, when her Deputy, Ahmadou Sulley was giving the final certification of registration to Hassan Ayariga, Founder and Presidential Candidate of the All Peoples’ Congress (APC), he said that the party should give the EC particulars of their branches and offices nationwide so that the EC could easily locate or trace them when necessary. Did the EC do due diligence to ensure that the party had conformed to the guidelines for it to be recognized? To the best of my knowledge, the onus lies with the Electoral Body to ascertain the information given by the prospective political party before recognition is given, From Ahmadou Sulley’s own statement, the EC has put the cart before the horse.
The above incident and many other infractions give credence to the rumour going round the country that Ayariga’s party is being sponsored by Government.
This takes me to the recent limited Registration Exercise. The EC claims it cannot deprive peoples their franchise, but it has done so to many Ghanaians. The mark of a good leader is the willingness to accept one’s fault and make an orderly retreat so that the citizens in the community will heave a sigh of relief. But this EC under Charlotte Osei is being consistently inconsistence and unreasonable. Why should the Commission put up only one registration centre each in all our Universities and other tertiary institutions? Oh why, Charlotte? Were you brought in act the scrip of those who appointed you?
And even when some concerned people appealed for an extension, she refused to budge. Thus, quite a substantial number of our youth in tertiary institution got disenfranchised due to intransigence of Mrs. Charlotte Osei.
I cannot understand for a moment why the EC decided on only two registration centres in a ward. Maybe, it took the cost implication in arriving at such decision. But the exercise revealed the shallow mindedness of the EC’s Boss and her Deputies. It must be borne in mind that the registration and verification machines have not been in use since the December, 2012 Elections apart from the few ones used to conduct the primaries of some political parties. Some of the machines malfunctioned for hours and in a few instances for a day, thus further preventing eligible voters from fulfilling their constitutional rights and obligations. Was that fair?
I am a realist, not a pessimist. Professor Attahiru Jega, Former Chairmen of INEC of Nigeria was in Ghana to deliver a lecture on Transparency in Elections. He gave a comprehensive analysis of how the Commission under his leadership was able to surmount the entire bottleneck which could have derived the elections in Nigeria. That election which saw a change of guards at Aso Rock is deemed by the International Community and in the country as the freest of all the elections in the country, apart from the June 12, 1993 Presidential election which was annulled by General Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babangida, the Evil Genius. The 2015 presidential election in Nigeria was so transparent that the incumbent President, Ebele Lucky Jonathan conceded defeat by calling and congratulating the winner, General Mohamadu Buhari, even before the final declaration of results was announced.
Would our revered Charlotte Osei come down from the top of her Mount Olympus to seek wisdom from this internationally acclaimed Academic Erudite on how he was able to transform an already volatile atmosphere into a friendly one where the gladiators who were armed to the teeth sheathed their swords and embraced each other in the interest of the nation? There are always people who are much wiser than ourselves whom we should consult or seek their opinion in order to improve on our knowledge and understanding of issues. Even Solomon with all his glory wanted more wisdom.
Mrs. Charlotte Osei should realize that very many people, indeed her betters have lived before her. They tried to invent God and failed because they cannot possibly change nature. Napoleon Bonaparte, Saddam Hussein, Mobutu Sese Seko, Muammar Ghadafi, Ceausescu, Adolf Hitler, Sanni Abacha, “Chemical Ali”, Charles Taylor and many others tried this feat and failed. We live in a wonderful world where anything can happen at any time.
During the Limited Registration Exercise, I went to the Polling Station at Unity Pentecostal Church in the Nii Ankraman Ward. A young lady came to register. The lady doing the registration asked the girl where she comes from and she said “Burkina Faso” Thrice she repeated same. The Electoral Officer in charge of the Station came in and asked the same question and her response was “Burkina Faso”. Everybody, including the agents of political parties monitoring the exercise heard it loud and clear.
The supposed mother of the girl rushed to the centre to tell those gathered there that the girl is from Bawku, not Burkina Faso and that she had made a genuine mistake like what Charlotte Osei did with the figures from Ashanti Region on suspected multiple voting. The mother went on to state that the lady in question should have registered four years ago to enable her take part in the 2012 Election. Going by the statement of the “mother” of the lady in question, the latter is at least 22 years old, but could not differentiate Bawku from Burkina Faso.
My next grouse with the EC has to do with the Supreme Court Verdict which states that the names of Minors, the dead and all those who registered with the NHIS be deleted from the Voters’ Register. The verdict went on to say that those who registered with the NHIS card should be given opportunity to register again if they so do. What is ambiguous about this order?
If Mrs. Charlotte Osei and her Commissioners do not understand this simple order from the Highest Court of the Land, then they do not merit to be part of the body charged with overseeing Ghana’s Election. When the verdict first came, the EC said it had the same agenda as the order given by the Supreme Court to delete names of affected voters from the Register. Why is the Commission dragging its feet now? Why is the Commission shifting the goal post now?
Are the members of the EC principled men and women? If they are, they should act the talk. The stance they have taken does not inspire confidence in them. It does not portray the Commission as being neutral and fair, and this portends a bad omen for the country.
We have a porous registration system where foreigners are “imported” into the country and coached on what to say at registration centres. A case in point is the one I have enumerated above. And once these foreigners manage to beat our “immigration” they become Ghanaian citizens and their children automatically become Ghanaians who will be eligible to vote and be voted for. We cannot discount the fact that in the not too distant future, a foreigner might find himself presiding over affairs in this country.
I wish we had a situation where anyone who is not a Ghanaian, but presents himself as one and attempts to register as a voter is arrested, prosecuted and if found guilty is jailed to act as a deterrent to others. That will be the end of registration of foreigners in the country. After all, the MP for Bawku Central was jailed for having citizenship of two countries without renouncing one at the time he contested for the position.
Let one minor be arrested, prosecuted and jailed and we will see the end of such saga. Let a macho man who goes to a polling or registration Centre to snatch a ballot box or destroy electoral materials be arrested, prosecuted and jailed and such a criminal act will become a thing of the past.
The Yorubas in the Western parts of Nigeria have an unwritten “Policy” which has put paid most electoral malpractices in the Zone. Snatch a ballot box in any of the Western States in Nigeria and see if you will come out alive! There is a recorded case of Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State who has come back as Governor. In his first term as Governor one young man pounced on the Governor when he attempted to stuff ballot boxes with ballot papers. The Governor would have been strangled to death and beaten to pulp if the Security details of the Governor had not reacted quickly.
And let me also re-iterate that no foreigner dare take part in voting in any of the Western States of Nigeria if the one values his or her life. Many Ghanaians spent many years in Nigeria but nothing would make them embark on such a terrible adventure. The Yorubas would announce to all and sundry to “snatch a ballot box if you want to die” and that is the catalyst which always does the trick.
All these unconventional methods have put paid to nefarious activities related to elections in that part of the country.
The Electoral Commission should be up and doing and refrain any act which is likely to tarnish its image and make someone doubt its neutrality. In this wise, the EC’S Chair person should carry out her schedule with her Deputies after exhaustive deliberations. She should not be seen to be running a “One Man Show”. The Commission should ask the ruling party to desist from speaking on its behalf on issues relating to Elections. The Public Relations outfit of the Commission should be revamped to enable it come out with official statements which will endear it to Ghanaians and the international community.
This special appeal also goes to the family of Mrs. Charlotte Osei. The family owes to Ghanaians both living and the dead to have a heart to heart discussions with their daughter to discharge her duties with circumspection and the fear of God in order to leave a good legacy behind. The family should advise her to swallow her pride and come down from the top of her “Mount Olympus” where she is presently perched which precludes her from seeing the realities of situations on ground. She should relate to her other colleagues on the Commission, Ghanaians and other Political Parties as partners in the process of entrenching Democracy in the country.
What legacy is the EC Boss going to leave behind if she continues in this rigid posture? Is it going to be said of her as playing the role of “Jeroboam who made Israel to sin?” She should know that there have been her betters who tried her feat and fail. She cannot invent God. In most parts of the world, especially in Africa, disputes over election results have led to very dire consequences for the citizens. In Cote d’Ivoire Laurent Gbagbo who had lost the mandate of the people but wanted to hang on to power was humiliated by the very soldiers who were meant to protect him. The wanton destruction of life and property in Kenya over disputed election results are still fresh on our minds.
My candid advice to Mrs. Charlotte Osei is to read Chinua Achebe’s novels, “Arrow of God” and Things Fall Apart”. In “Arrow of God” Ezeulu is the Chief Priest of Ulu, which was the leading deity of a group of Ibo villages. Ezeulu2s fall is the result of his pride and his refusal to take advice from family and friends. In the second novel, Okonkwo, the leading character is a respected leader in Umuofia. He is so wrapped in being tough and emotionless that he alienates himself from his family and clan.
And this is the reason why I am appealing to Mrs. Charlotte Osei to tread cautiously if she wants to write her name in gold by ensuring that all political parties in the 2016 Elections are given a level playing field. Anything short of that will portend a bad omen for the country. Any partisanship whether veiled or open should not preclude her from seeing and saying the truth. If she hears the sound of a mosquito, Mrs. Charlotte Osei should not say she has heard the sound of a helicopter. If the suspected multiples of voters list in Ashanti Region are a little over 14,000, she should not raise our adrenalin to a very high level by giving us a gargantuan figure of over 200,000. If there is any conflagration in the country as a result of her indecision of swindling the pendulum against the flow of tide, she will not escape the wrat6h of the people and of God. It is not only we, the poor masses, for she will surely go down with us, and her family’s name will be worse than Kwame Abeh, the legendary high way robber of Ashanti and Al-Capone, the never to-be forgotten, terrorist, cheat and gangster of the United States.
Daniel Danquah Damptey(Damptey_daniel@yahoo.com)0243715297