The decision by the Electoral Commission (EC) to heavily involve highly educated professional members of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana (ICAG) in this year’s general election must be unreservedly applauded.
Indeed, one wonders why it took so long for Mrs. Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei, the EC’s Chair, and her associate commissioners, to borrow this very progressive page from the playbook of Prof. Jegga, the retired Nigerian Electoral Commissioner. Better late than never, the maxim goes.
As it was to be expected, the Elections Director of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr. Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, has come public protesting this most refreshing and progressive initiative on the specious grounds that the status-quo-ante had served the country’s democratic culture well and therefore ought to be maintained (See “NDC to Protest Use of Lawyers, Accountants for 2016 Elections” 3News.com/Ghanaweb.com 8/28/16).
The fact of the matter is that neither major political party that lost a general election in the past deemed the system to have been fair and successful. In both the 2000 presidential election, that saw Mr. John Agyekum-Kufuor assume the democratic reins of governance, and the 2004 election that witnessed the retention of the then-New Patriotic Party’s leader as head of government for a second term, the prime loser, then-Candidate John Evans Atta-Mills, late, vehemently protested the validity and credibility of the election and even threatened a legal suit to have a ballot recount.
And so it is rather strange that Mr. Ofosu-Ampofo would be claiming that the old system of managing the conduct of elections in the country was, somehow, a remarkable improvement on the new progressive initiative proposed by the EC’s Chair. Mr. Ofosu-Ampofo, who doubles as a Vice-Chairman of the NDC, claims that the entire membership of the Ghana Bar Association is too politicized to be counted upon to be a neutral participant in Election 2016. The NDC stalwart has therefore declared his intention to bring his party’s grievances before the next meeting of IPAC, the Inter-Party Advisory Committee.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Ofosu-Ampofo has made a similar claim against the involvement of members of ICAG, unarguably the best qualified crop of Ghanaian citizens to be put in charge of ballot collation come Election 2016. What is clear here is that the NDC front-row members would like have in charge officials with the barest minimum of education and literacy whom they can easily intimidate and manipulate into doing their bidding. If such protest is not tantamount to plain lunacy and a devious attempt on the part of both Mr. Ofosu-Ampofo and the Mahama-led regime of the National Democratic Congress, one does not know what else to make of such capricious protest.
As for the logically porous claim that people whose services were engaged vis-à-vis the collation of the ballot by the EC in previous elections are invaluably experienced and therefore ought to be retained at all costs, the least said about the same the better. What with the patently criminally high frequency of “over-voting” and “under-voting” during the period of the engagement of the services of these so-called experienced collation and returning office? In sum, we expect the scandalous attempt by Mr. Ofosu-Ampofo and his NDC cronies to turn our national electoral clock back to an untenably benighted period in Ghana’s democratic cultural history to be resoundingly rejected by the overwhelming majority of IPAC’s membership.
If the key NDC operatives feel uneasy about the inclusion of the best professionally qualified personnel in the conduct of Election 2016, by all means, they have every right to participate in the monitoring system vis-à-vis the process by which members of both the GBA and ICAG get selected to participate in the conduct of the 2016 general election. Mrs. Osei and her Associate Commissioners must under no circumstances feel obliged to include ballot collators and polling agents and non-staff returning officers who have not creditably acquitted themselves in the past.
What is clearly at stake here is the collective destiny of Ghanaians at large. And on the latter count, NDC machine operatives like Mr. Ofosu-Ampofo have absolutely no right to hold the rest of us to ransom.
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
August 29, 2016
E-mail: [email protected]