In principle, the General-Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr. Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, may be right in claiming that when it comes to the sticky question of the bloated National Voters’ Register (NVR), there is enough blame to share among all the key operatives of the 25, or so, legitimately registered political parties in the country (See “All Political Parties, Including NDC Register Minors – Mosquito” MyJoyOnline.com 5/6/16).
In practical terms, however, it is only Mr. Asiedu-Nketia who has proven to all Ghanaians, in the Zanetor Rawlings and Nii Armah Ashitey parliamentary primary impasse in the Klottey-Korle Constituency, that he is forensically sustainably culpable for the crime of deliberately and mischievously packing the country’s voters’ roll with ineligible voters. In this particular instance, the former NDC-MP from Seikwa, Brong-Ahafo, has stated publicly and categorically that he was the party official who singularly caused the eldest daughter of Chairman Jerry John Rawlings to register and contest the Klottey-Korle parliamentary primary, late last year, when the former Deputy Minister under the Rawlings-led NDC government knew full well that Dr. Zanetor Rawlings was not even a registered member of the National Democratic Congress.
This is a very unhealthy practice that bodes ill for the development of Ghanaian democracy. But what is even more disturbing is the fact that we don’t yet know how many other parliamentary primary contestants Mr. Asiedu-Nketia may have illegally either encouraged or personally registered or caused to be registered to participate in other local elections across the country. And this is precisely where the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) comes in. The NDC’s General-Secretary says that his party is responsible for the registration of ineligible minors and has routinely done so in the past which, of course, is clearly in egregious breach of the nation’s election rules. In short, Mr. Asiedu-Nketia would make a vintage prime witness for a BNI enquiry into this most significant and definitely worrisome matter.
Him claiming that all the other parties are complicit in this electoral illegality is totally irrelevant as far as the call for this particular enquiry is concerned, unless, of course, the prime witness in this enquiry can also provide hard evidence to substantiate his allegation. What this means is that for the moment such investigation as is being urgently called for here, may have to be restricted to the operatives of the National Democratic Congress.
It is also very disturbing to learn of more than several instances in which some NDC operatives have been accused of bussing in hundreds of thousands foreign nationals to illegally participate in Ghana’s upcoming general election. Now there is a simple way to obviate this patently criminal attempt to undermine the credibility of our National Voters’ Register and the integrity of the process by which our leaders are democratically elected. Indeed, I have hinted before that Ghana’s 1992 Constitution provides ample opportunity for promptly rectifying this anomaly.
For instance, the Constitution clearly stipulates that absolutely no constituency in the country ought to contain more than 50,000 (fifty-thousand) citizens. It is not clear precisely what percentage of this maximum cap of 50,000 citizens ought to be reasonably and/or legally expected to be qualified to vote. What is clear, however, is that any constituency that polls more than 50,000 votes should have to have its vote count promptly invalidated and not factored into the total national pool of votes recorded and counted during the 2016 electoral process, until the identity and residential status of each and every registrant / voter in the affected constituency/-ies can be ascertained.
We must also ensure that all eligible voters have been living at their current addresses for a clearly defined reasonable period of time to be legally reckoned as legitimate residents of the constituencies in which they have been registered to vote. Dual citizenship, as permitted by Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, ought not to be loosely and theoretically interpreted; it ought to equally entail such practical realities as of whether a voter aged 25 years old or older has been a taxpaying resident in the constituency in which s/he has been registered to vote. In other words, civic responsibility ought to be made integral to one’s inalienable right to vote.
We ought not to unhealthily perpetuate the patently untenable situation whereby foreign nationals mischievously recruited for the purpose periodically cross our national boundaries to determine whom our local and national leaders ought to be for the next four years. Citizenship must be squarely predicated on active residential status and active participation in the economic and social activities of any locality in the country.
The only people eligible to be registered to vote outside the country ought to be state-sponsored employees and staff of our embassies and diplomatic missions abroad, as well as government-sponsored students and other professionals and their qualified contingent relatives. In other words, Ghanaians need to sit up and get more serious about the nature and quality of the brand of democracy we desire and/or seek to pursue.
Source: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York