I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the uncovering by the Bawumia Team of forensic experts of the double and multiple registration of some voters, and the criminal scanning onto Ghana?s Voters? Register of foreign nationals by some key operatives of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), in collusion with some staff members of the Electoral Commission (EC), is incontrovertible.
What I vehemently beg to disagree with is the rather facile notion that, somehow, merely causing the compilation of a new Voters? Register for Election 2016 would simply and effectively remedy this problem, which clearly appears to be more systemic than either tangential or accidental (See ?NPP Strengthens Case Against Voters? Register With Further Evidence? MyJoyOnline.com / Ghanaweb.com 9/28/15).
In other words, what ought to be done right now is for the relevant leaders of all the major political parties in the country to confer and determine precisely how the Voters? Register came to be so irreparably contaminated, as strongly argued by Nana Akufo-Addo and his associates of the New Patriotic Party. And then the next step will be for the Electoral Commissioner, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, her staff and representatives of the major political parties to proceed with measures to credibly and effectively clean up the problem. This process of de-contaminating, or de-coupling, the Voters? Register must involve punitive measures against those found to have either facilitated or actively collaborated in the criminal contamination of the Voters? Register, otherwise the problem will persist, thus rendering any progressive attempt to establish a wholly new Voters? Register ineffective. This has been the trend of my argument all along.
The NPP leaders, in a press release published by the party?s Communications Directorate, claims that the EC had promised to use its biometric technology to ferret out and promptly expunge the double and multiple registration of eligible voters from its system but has not done so to-date. And so what Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia and his team of expert forensic auditors ought to be doing presently is to be dialoguing with the Electoral Commissioner and her senior staff in order to ensure that the necessary expunging of the Voters? Register is effected way ahead of Election 2016. If the leaders of the New Patriotic Party cannot trust the Electoral Commissioner and her staff to expunge both the double and multiple, as well as foreign, illegally registered voters from the country?s electoral roll, then there is absolutely no possibility of them trusting the EC to establish a credible Voters? Register. For at the end of the day, the onus of ensuring that the current Voters? Register is credible squarely rests with those who have the most to lose if the status quo is lamely allowed to prevail.
And, of course, by the preceding is meant the imperative need for the leaders of the New Patriotic Party, as well as all concerned Ghanaian citizens, to be vigilant about the way and manner in which the Voters? Register is compiled, added onto every year with newly eligible voters and maintained. As I recently observed on a Kasapa Radio news program, the current Voters? Register was not compiled by some extraterrestrial creatures and dropped into the laps of Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the country?s former Electoral Commissioner. Don?t get me wrong, I perfectly understand the demand for a new Voters? Register, in terms of the great need for the country to put the hopelessly compromised Afari-Gyan era behind us. The fact of the matter, though, is that the past is highly unlikely to fade into oblivion anytime soon by the mere compilation or establishment of a new Voters? Register. The electoral process, as I observed in a previous column not very long, is inescapably a ?cultural process.? It depends very much on the attitude and temperament of all the key players involved. This means that the mere availability of biometric technology to both the EC and the Ghanaian voter, at large, has little meaning short of its most appropriate application in order to achieve the most objectively desirable results.
Where I unreservedly agree with Nana Akufo-Addo and his associates among the top hierarchy membership of the New Patriotic Party, is the imperative need for Commissioner Osei to issue an official statement either categorically agreeing with or disputing the findings of Team Bawumia vis-?-vis the illegal and criminal packing of the country?s Voters? Register with foreign nationals. Likewise, Mrs. Osei needs to address the critical question of double and multiple registration of voters by informing the nation about how she intends to deal with the problem. So far, she appears to have taken the right step in soliciting the opinions and proposals of leaders of all the legitimately registered political parties in the country. Now, let us afford the Electoral Commissioner ample breathing space and time and watch to see what she does with the same.
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.