Electoral Commission (EC)
Electoral Commission (EC)

Yanick Noah Agboado writes: The battle to annex the parliamentary seat of the Builsa South Constituency promises to be an exciting one.

The former affable Member of Parliament is seeking a comeback on the ticket of the People’s National Convention (PNC) to lead the constituency for the third time after he lost the seat to the former presidential staffer under the John Mahama led administration, Dr. Clement Abasinab Apaak. The Hon. District Chief Executive of the area is also in the race for the second time after his first attempt on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) did not yield the expected result in the 2016 general election.

All is however set for the people of the constituency to exercise their franchise. The stakes are really high with all the political contestants firmly on the ground and vigorously lacing their boots for the forthcoming electoral competition. The competition would be possible due to the successful compilation of the voter register for the constituency.

During the registration exercise, the representatives of the various political parties were firmly represented in all registration centers across the constituency while the contestants visited the various centers to witness and acquaint themselves with the process and to further ensure that activities were ongoing smoothly.

The registration exercise couldn’t have been possible but for the effort of the District Electoral Officer and her team who worked tirelessly to compile a new voter register for the constituency to be fed into the nationwide voter register for the conduct of the impending general election.

The registration exercise started on 30th June, 2020 across all centers in the constituencies. The exercise spanned for six weeks. Two more days was added to conduct a mop up exercise. This was to allow those who missed the opportunity take advantage of the grace period to register.

The exercise was conducted across fifty seven (57) polling station or registration centers in the constituency. These centers were clustered into twelve teams. Each team was grouped into five phases. Phase 1 comprised twelve centers which were subsequently divided into two batches (six centers per batch). Phase 2 comprised twelve centers, Phase 3 comprised eleven centers, Phase 4 comprised eleven centers and Phase 5 comprised eleven centers.

According to the District Electoral Commission, it projected that at the end of the exercise 21,000 residents would be captured on the new voter register using the past constituency voter registration figure as a benchmark. However, as at the end of the exercise on 9th August, 2020, a total of nineteen thousand two hundred and eighteen (19,218) persons were registered. This comprised nine thousand one hundred and twenty (9,120) males and ten thousand and ninety eight (10,098) females. The reason for the shortfall was attributed to the coronavirus pandemic which prevented many residents residing outside the constituency to travel in and register. Death of some residents and the ongoing farming activities were also identified as factors that contributed to the shortfall.

Even though the planned projection was not achieved, the exercise was evaluated as very peaceful and fruitful devoid of any incident as was witnessed across some constituencies in the country which led to the demise of a young man in the Banda constituency and several people sustaining various degrees of injury.

The successful execution of the exercise could not have been possible but for the dedication and commitment of the District Electoral Officers. But for their thoughtfulness and diplomacy, the outcome of the exercise would have been marred.

Registration officers often started the day’s activities very early in the morning and leave their respective registration centers very late in the evening.

Some of the officers had to travel on daily basis for several kilometers to their work stations and travel same in order to access the District Office and their homes. The roads to these remote centers were often cut off due to the heavy rains.

Other officers even slept, ate and bathed at the registration centers or the District office in the quest to attend to clients on time, meet target and registration timelines. They scarcely saw and interacted with their families, friends and love ones.

The sacrifices by these gallant officers could not have been possible but for the show of effective leadership on the part of their team leader (District Electoral Officer). Her ability in galvanizing and creating that motivational atmosphere for officers deserve much commendation.

On one of my duty tours, I sought to ascertain from the team leader what could have been her strategy in spurring her officers to undertaken an exercise that have been highly commended by residents of the constituency as peaceful and successful devoid of conflict and other related electoral violence.

She said “I think the successful conduct of the exercise was by the grace of God. Having supervised two elections in the constituency, thus the 2016 Parliamentary and Presidential election and the recent District Assemblies’ election, I can say the residents of Builsa South are peace loving people. We have enjoyed high level of cooperation from them and the various political actors in the constituency. Transparency, respect and humility to all stakeholders involved in the process were very necessary coupled with effective collaboration with local institutions such as the District Assembly, District Health Directorate, National Commission for Civic Education, District Education Directorate, Assembly Members and the Traditional rulers”.

I couldn’t have agreed with her more because the outcome and tranquil nature of the exercise is an evidence for all to see.

In the word of a traditional ruler “we are very grateful to the Electoral Officers for conducting a very successful voter registration exercise through effective dialogue and hard work which has glorified the image of the district. We hope the upcoming general election will also be conducted in this peaceful manner”.

The exercise was however fraught with some challenges. Noticeable among them was the unmotorable nature of roads leading to the various registration centers within the constituency and occasional low performance of the Kojak scanners when the weather becomes hot.

In all, the exercise was very successful and peacefully conducted due to the cooperation of the general citizens and various key stakeholders. The preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic were also duly observed across all registration centers within the constituency. Security personnel periodically visited and patrolled the registration centers due to their limited numbers and the vast and dispersed nature of the constituency.

We hope that the same level of enthusiasm and cooperation demonstrated by all stakeholders will be brought to bear on the impending general election scheduled to be held on 7th December and that all and sundry will play their complementary role to ensure the maintenance of peace and security in the constituency.

 

Author: Yanick Noah Agboado is a final year MPhil Leadership student at the University of Professional Studies, Accra and a Local Government Practitioner.

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