The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, has admonished Ghanaians to “put Ghana first” ahead of the 2016 general elections.
Likening elections to a football match, the EC boss went on to say, “there will be a winner and a loser.” We agree with and welcome the Chairperson’s call to “safeguard the peace and stability” being enjoyed by the country.
We believe the EC’s analogy to a football match is apt, although we wish to add that referees officiate at such matches and have a solemn obligation to be neutral and fair to both teams. History is full of otherwise entertaining matches that were marred by poor officiating. In fact Lu Juan (aka Golden Whistle), one of China’s most accomplished referees who officiated in high-profile events such as the World Cup and the Olympics, was recently jailed for fixing matches. It is, also sadly true, that biased officiating can turn an otherwise peaceful stadium into fireball of violence.
Thus, it is apt to call on the Electoral Commission to also put Ghana first by acting as a completely independent referee. The NPP-USA remains concerned by the circumstances surrounding the appointment of the EC Chairperson. We recall that the President appointed her, without prior scrutiny, by Parliament. Such an appointment, of course, will be highly unusual and unacceptable in a football game and places a heavy burden on the Chairperson to not only be independent but seen as such in all her dealings.
Yet, the Chairperson seems to be doing just the opposite. She has recently appointed five individuals who had previously taken a negative position on compiling a new register to form a five-member committee to look into the voters’ register debate. Expectedly, this Committee has come out in support of the position taken by the Chairperson, while being hailed by the President and his political party. The Chairperson has refused to post even the disputed register online, as required by the Commission’s own regulation (CI 72). Equally shocking, the chairperson refused to meet with Professor Jega, who has now become a global phenom, for managing Nigeria’s recent elections.
We reiterate five issues that underscore our support for a new credible voters’ register
1. The current register is hopelessly bloated with 56.9% of the national population, as against the African average of 42%. With 45% of Ghana’s population under the age of 18, and an additional 10% or so comprising immigrants and other ineligible voters, it is mathematically impossible to have 56.9% of the population registered to vote. 2. Over 76,000 Togolese nationals have been proven to be on Ghana’s voter roll. 3. The Supreme Court has ruled that drivers’ license and NHIS cards that were used in registering voters for the 2012 elections were unconstitutional. 4. Given that the current register does not show who registered with what document, it is utterly impossible to just clean it up, because no technology exists today that can tell that voter A registered with a passport as against voter B who registered with an NHIS card. 5. Our donor partners, recognizing the importance of a credible election, have promised to fund the compilation of a new register. Therefore the cost constraint argument has become invalid.
The country is at a crossroad and the independence with which Chairperson Osei manages the 2016 elections, including the compilation, display and audit of a new and credible voters’ register, will determine the road that we take.
Public Relations Committee NPP-USA.