Feature Article of Tuesday, 4 September 2012
Columnist: Owusu-Ansah, Emmanuel Sarpong
The Naivety And Arrogance Of The Ghana Electoral Commission Exposed
A couple of months ago, I did publish an article expressing resentment over the creation of new constituencies a few months into general elections in Ghana. I also questioned why the Ghana Electoral Commission with support from the ruling government, would want to create 45 new constituencies, bringing the number of constituencies in Ghana, a nation with a population of just 24 million, to 275. Those who have absolutely no knowledge of me, Black Power, and my political party affiliation, hurled vicious insults at me via email and other platforms; and compellingly assigned me a political party.
I did argue in the said article, that it is superlatively ridiculous that in an era where even big economies like Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, etc. are embarking on public spending cut plans to reduce their deficits and be able to stand on their feet economically, Ghana, a country that relies heavily on alms (i.e. foreign aid, grants and the benevolence of philanthropists), is rather increasing its spending, not on meaningful, but useless things.
I convincingly established that the creation of 45 new constituencies was going to cost the ordinary taxpayer at least 2.5 million new Ghana cedis (excluding the so-called ex-gratia and other things) annually. I argued that it was unwise for a nation to spend far more than the amount it accrues; but it becomes more than a national catastrophe when the spending is on baseless things like the creation of new constituencies. I asserted that it wouldn’t have bothered Ghanaians if the money to be spent on the would-be parliamentarians had rather been used to tackle the high level of youth unemployment, the poor educational system, and/or the huge water and electricity problems.
The article sought to comprehend the sense in spending over 2.5 million cedis annually on some so-called honourables who would evidently be doing almost nothing in their constituencies to deserve that title; and the logic in creating new constituencies when we already have District Chief Executives (DCEs) and Assembly men and women in almost all the districts in the country.
I concluded in the article in question that Ghana’s debt has ballooned to approximately 26 billion new Ghana cedis; and that creating 45 new constituencies is a waste of the taxpayer’s hard-earned money, and a recipe for total economic hardship and disaster. Indeed more that 60% of Ghanaians agreed with or shared my opinion. Pathetically, the Electoral Commission and the government are yet to convincingly explain and justify the rationale behind the poorly timed creation of 45 new constituencies.
Shortly after the publication of that article, and following a series of serious debates on the issue on radio, TV and other channels, Mr Christian Owusu Parry, the commission’s acting Head of Public Affairs arrogantly pronounced via the ‘Ghanaian Times’ newspaper that the creation of new constituencies less than four months before general elections, would not create any problems as they (the headless Electoral Commission) are on top of the situation. He ‘ignoramusly’ added, that the Electoral Commission does not envisage any challenge in creating 45 new constituencies and conducting general elections shortly after; hence, the electorates have nothing to worry about. Mr Parry is in fact quoted as saying, that "the Electoral Commission is fully prepared, and will go ahead to [create and] conduct elections in the 45 … [soon-to-be] created constituencies in the country” despite the huge opposition. “Fully prepared” my foot!
As dreaded, recent reports indicate that the on-going voters’ register exhibition exercise is unveiling huge incongruities in its compilation. Joy Online and Ghanaweb report that in some polling stations, there have been problems with the spelling of names, anomalies in ages and several other hitches. The 10-day exercise which is meant to afford eligible Ghanaians who went through the so-called faultless biometric registration process a couple of months ago, the opportunity to verify their names and other details, seems to be authenticating the fears that many if not most Ghanaians have been harbouring all along.
It is understood that hundreds if not thousands of the people who registered at some polling stations in places like the Ashanti Region, the habitat of close to a quarter of Ghana’s population could not find their names on the voters’ register. The report explains that out of 923 people who registered at one particular polling station, only 293 names appeared on the voters’ list. The Volta and Upper West regions are also named as places facing similar problems.
If Ghanaians continue to stand akimbo or with folded arms, they, or should I say we, will have no one but ourselves to blame if the stubbornness, arrogance and foolhardiness of the Electoral Commission and other selfish parliamentarians throw the impending general elections into a state of pandemonium.
Emmanuel Sarpong Owusu-Ansah (Black Power) is an Investigative Journalist, a researcher and the author of Fourth Phase of Enslavement (2011) and In My End is My Beginning (2012). He may be contacted via email ([email protected]).