Feature Article of Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Columnist: Diedong, Richard Dombo
In the book/film ‘The God Father’, there is a line that goes: “. You cross me the First time, it’s is a Mistake. The Second crossing is a Coincidence….But the Third time is Enemy Action!”
Readers may recall an article I published in November 2011 titled “Is Dr Afari Gyan on a dangerous ego trip?” At the time my concern was based on his dogged stance - in defiance of a wide cross section of concerned persons and bodies - against including Verification to the then yet-to-be-initiated biometric voter registration exercise [BVR]. At the time, the concern was raised following revelations that the Head of Research at the Electoral Commission, Amadu Sulley, had met with and briefed the Functional Council of the ruling NDC on the loopholes associated with the BVR. It made perfect sense for th EC not only to have considered the joint introduction of verification with BVR to achieve the purposes of the new EC era to eliminate multiple registrations and voting, but also to put people at ease that the EC was sensitive to issues that could affect the December 2012 elections. Yet Dr Afari Gyan and his outfit would not budge. It was obvious Dr Afari Gyan was enjoying the limelight he had pushed himself into, akin therefore to being on an ego trip. That was the First time offence…probably an innocent Mistake!
As the time wore on towards December 2012 elections, the country witnessed a series of disturbing incidents especially during the BVR exercise between March and May 2012. These included registration centres running out of rudimentaries like printing paper, ink cartridges and batteries for the cameras. There was also the spate of violence perpetuated by the likes of Nii Lante Vanderpouye on NPP supporters and notably on Ursula Owusu leading to then president Mills making his infamous “I am not a Policeman or prosecutor” lament when called upon to act to arrest the violence. Admittedly on this occasion the blame for these incidents could be shared by others with the EC.
In the midst of all these, there was the Population census figures released in May 2012. Pursuant to this, Dr Afari Gyan embarked on his own interpretation of what the Constitution enjoins him to do subsequent to the release of the census figures in May 2012. Constitutional lawyers endeavored to assist him ‘see the light’ on the correct interpretation of what should follow the release of census figures. Once again, the good Dr dug his heels in – quite inexplicably one must add – weathering all opposition to his desire to create 45 new constituencies with barely two months to go to the Dec ’12 elections.
Significantly, all the opposition parties, concerned citizens, leaders of religious bodies, NGOs and Think Tanks have petitioned the good Dr to reconsider his decision to no avail. All reason was thrown to the wind in his mad rush to assert his ‘constitutional independence and right to act’ as he sees fit! Except that in this instance, the good Dr sought to be the centre of attention once more –egotistic- and damn the consequences! Issues of logistical difficulties this late stage creation of the 45 new constituencies would pose to the political parties – except the ruling NDC – as well as the defeat of the concept of democracy this would bring, would simply not wash with the man.
The perception in all this debacle has been that the ruling NDC sees some advantage to itself in having these constituencies created now and participating in the December 2012 elections. A well intentioned Electoral Commissioner would distance himself from the suggestion of collusion with the ruling party and cherish the tag of being impartial, yet our good Dr Afari Gyan would not countenance any contrary counsel. Even when the ruling NDC shamelessly took advantage of the ECs’s stoic position and endeavoured to pass what was patently a flawed and bad legislation, Dr Afari Gyan would not waken from his stupor. CI. 78 was passed by a majority in parliament on Saturday 29th September and became effective on Wednesday 3rd October 2012 with all the flaws highlighted by the Subsidiary legislative committee of parliament that dealt with this issue. Dr Afari Gyan could have withdrawn his decision to go ahead with the creation of the new constituencies at this time whereupon parliament would not have had to bulldoze through CI 78. He could have ended all the fear and panic the passage of CI.78 has posed to all and sundry, except the NDC, yet he would not. By so doing, he has nonchalantly laid his bed with the ruling NDC – damn the consequences. This is all in spite of the fact that as pointed out by the Subsidiary Committee, whole sections of people would be disenfranchised.
This was Dr Afari Gyan’s 2nd Mistake, and hopefully only a coincidence of egotism.
Finally, the Electoral Commissioner has questionably sanctioned the limited registration of Ghanaians living abroad to participate in the forthcoming elections. The Commissioner is fully aware that the Representation of Peoples’ Amendment Act [ROPA] was passed in 2006. As a result of ROPA, PNDCL 284 (8) that legitimized this partial registration was abolished. To engage in this partial registration as is currently ongoing in Ghana’s diplomatic missions across the globe is an illegal exercise. ROPAL entitled ALL Ghanaians living abroad to be registered and to vote in elections taking place in Ghana.
The only reason given by the EC in not implementing ROPAL is that funding is not available. May I point out that comparatively poorer Francophone countries do provide this democratic service to their nationals living abroad. To hold on to this view of no money - in so far as PNDCL 284 (8) was repealed by ROPA – and yet to permit the practice legalized by the now repealed PNDCL284 (8), is nothing but ILLEGAL and must be challenged. For Dr Afari-Gyan to insist on applying the law granting him the right to create 45 new constituencies against all the odds, it is strange he is in this other instance going against the law by selectively registering Ghanaians living abroad.
Added to this illegality is also the fact that unlike the nationwide BVR exercise that took place between March and May 2012 supervised by representatives of all the parties at the registration centers, what is currently ongoing abroad is UNSUPERVISED! It is therefore open to unspecified abuse. After all, going by the bad faith so far shown by the EC, who can be blamed for believing abuse would be rife in this endeavour? When individuals attempted to get registered here in the UK, they were turned away as not being in the categories allowed. Those allowed are Diplomatic mission staff, excluding locally recruited staff, and students on Ghana government scholarships. From these categories, it is patent as to the political leanings they belong to. After all except for career diplomats, all other diplomatic postings are from within the ruling party. Equally, most government scholarships are given to family/friends/members, etc of the governing party. You see!
This is Dr Afari Gyan’s Third Mistake… and is now definitely Enemy Action!!!
Dr Afari Gyan has through the listed sequence of a combination of obstinacy, intransigence and egotistic predisposition, left everyone with no option but to conclude he has been compromised. In this final year of his otherwise illustrious EC administration, he seems to have yielded to the inducement of a sumptuous retirement package from the ruling party and damn the consequences!
Yes, damn the consequences! For indeed, his apparent collusion with the NDC to attempt to steal the peoples’ legitimate vote in the December elections would be resisted in what any sane person would describe as ‘all die be die!’ Dr Afari-Gyan is hereby voted the ‘Most dangerous man In Ghana’ because his selfish actions are almost certainly leading Ghana towards unprecedented electoral violence. Situations in Kenya and Ivory Coast have served notice to the wise not to mess around with elections, yet Dr Afari-Gyan seems oblivious to these vital and recent unfortunate examples. People will not be surprised that interim President John Mahama and the NDC are remaining silent and supportive of the Electoral Commissioner and his questionable decisions. What is surprising is Dr Afari Gyan’s ego trip and self pre-occupation and mindless pursuits that will inevitably bring untold misery to all Ghanaians.
Dr, the immediate destiny of Ghana rests on your actions and inactions. Do the right thing, not just what the in your opinion the law permits, because, indeed, ‘the law was made for man, not, man made for the law’.
Written by Richard Dombo Diedong