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Feature Article of Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Columnist: Nyarko, Kingsley

The Electoral Commission Should Tread Cautiously

They are living dangerously. Many a times I hear people say Ghanaians are peace-loving, and as such are not likely to engage in acts that could throw the country to the dogs. This observation could be true to some extent considering the admiration some of us have for our respective religions. However, what we should not forget to appreciate is the fact that every human being has within them the tendency to be peaceful and hateful. The same person who was peaceful today could be destructive tomorrow. That is why we should not act either wittingly or unwittingly to create conditions that are likely to create confusion, mayhem, and anarchy in the country. The National Democratic Congress’ indecent haste to force the Electoral Commission to create 45 additional constituencies in a country with a current 230 member legislator is not only worrisome, but also disingenuous. Does it even make sense for a country with a 24 million population to have a legislator with 275 members?

Have you ever asked yourself why a married man or woman, after several years of a blissful union, could abbreviate the life of the partner? I don’t think you have seriously pondered over this seemingly easy, but very important question. Folks, no condition is permanent, and as such we have to tread cautiously in order not to disturb the fragile peaceful ambience in the country. The perceived peaceful atmosphere that we have been priding ourselves on should not be taken for granted.

Although humans are supposed to be rational beings, there is also an instinct within us that could be devastating. This instinct is the “animal or irrational” part of our being. If we take our fragile peace for granted, we are likely to wake up one morning to mourn our delusion and naivety. We don’t only have to talk peace; we have to consciously work towards the creation and consolidation of peace in the country. This is because peace or peaceful co-existence is not like mushrooms that grow overnight. Countries that have developed and have been able to maintain peace within its borders have always ensured the independence of state institutions. The public institutions in those countries, unlike ours, are made to work independently, and not manipulated.

Our actions and inactions could lead to the destabilization of our dear country. Ghana could burn, but the question is how will it start? This is a significant question that most of us are shying away from, without giving it a critical evaluation and response; but instead, delude ourselves by repeating the cliché “Ghana is a peaceful country.” Ghana is not more peaceful than the Ivory Coast, Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya, among others before they witnessed unfortunate internal wars and conflicts that resulted in the lost of precious human lives. In fact, until recently, the Ivory Coast was seen as the most peaceful and stable country in Sub-Saharan Africa. If we want to live peacefully in this great nation of ours, we have to eschew and avoid all tendencies that have the faculty of destabilizing the country. Our established institutions should be proactive in safeguarding our infant democratic dispensation. Talking peace is not synonymous to working towards peace; the latter demands consciousness and tenacity in the achievement of enduring peace.

The desperation by the NDC in creating 42 districts, which was meant to tie the hands of the Electoral Commission to create 45 additional constituencies when we have barely 4 months to the December 7 polls, confirms our long-held suspicion that the NDC government is desperate to steal the verdict of the people in the upcoming elections. This intention was hatched a couple of years back as was revealed by Mr. Herbert Mensah—an aide to President Rawlings—the founder of the party, and has been corroborated by influential personalities in the ruling party such as President Rawlings and his wife—who have stated emphatically that the NDC government is bent on stealing the verdict of the people as they successfully rigged their presidential primaries for President Mills (may his soul rest in perfect peace) in Sunyani last year.

What is melancholic about this unfortunate development is that they are doing this with the tacit support and collaboration of the Electoral Commission. Although, the Electoral Commission is constitutionally mandated to review and alter the constituencies within 12 months after the publication of the housing and census data (Article 47, clause 5 of the 1992 Constitution), it has to do this within an aura of transparency and a certain degree of caution. What prevents the Electoral Commission to wait till the upcoming elections are over before creating the additional constituencies, if it is so necessary? Why the indecent haste, when the Electoral Commission is very well aware that their action has the potential for disturbing the fragile peace and tranquility we have been privileged to have over the years?

Why is it that in the dictionary of the Electoral Commission, review means an increment, and not a reduction? In the above quoted article, the two important verbs that should guide the actions of the Electoral Commission are review and alter. Alter, according to my understanding means change, which could be an increase or a decrease. This alteration must also be done with recourse to clause 7 of Article 47—which talks about the population quota. I therefore find it extremely difficult to fathom why in spite of all the obvious constraints, the Electoral Commission is living dangerously, which might have serious, dire, and egregious consequences on the nation.

In concluding, I would like to state emphatically that the creation of the new constituencies, if even necessary (I doubt it), should be deferred till after this year’s elections are over. It is very important for the Electoral Commission to listen to the voice of reasoning, instead of portraying behaviours that lead a section of the population to believe that they are in cahoots with the current regime to give them undue advantage in the upcoming elections. It doesn’t only take a politician or a religious sect or a bigot to trigger instability in the country; public institutions such as the Electoral Commission could be the triggers. This is why the Electoral Commission should act cautiously in order not to create the platform for instability via the creation of superfluous constituencies that could derail the little socio-economic gains and the shaky peace we have been enjoying as a nation. A word to the wise, they say is enough. God bless Ghana!

Source: Kingsley Nyarko, Psychologist, Accra (kingsleynyarko73@yahoo.com)

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