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Feature Article of Monday, 19 November 2012

Columnist: Badu, K.

Is The ‘Squint-eyed’ EC Causing Unprecedented Fear And Panic?

It is pretty obvious that the Electoral Commissioner of Ghana, Mr. Afari Gyan, is a true Ghanaian, who is over eighteen years old and of a sound mind, therefore he has the right to exercise his full democratic rights. What is not conspicuous though is the Electoral Commissioner’s political leaning. It is against this backdrop that I have been soliloquizing for some time now on his political leaning, that is, I have been wondering which political party he belongs. In any case, the conventional wisdom tells us that he would wish that particular political party to perform well in the elections. If that is the case, could he then be viewed as a ‘referee’, who may exhibit sheer risible proclivity in the middle of a competitive match by ‘awarding dubious free kicks and penalties to his preferred team’?

Actually, referees are supposed to be neutral, but in many instances they tend to show overt bias towards a particular team. In some cases spectators suspect foul play because of some referees lopsidedness in a competitive match. It is also true that an Electoral Commissioner is a human being, and, therefore, such individual is not infallible, that is, he may be susceptible to favour one over the other. It is against this background that some discerning Ghanaians rightly smell foul play in the Electoral Commissioner’s decision making in the forthcoming general elections.

A school of thought also frets the man at the helm of the Electoral Commission, Afari Gyan is fading away-he is not ‘seeing his backside from his elbow’. That is, he is in a state of ambivalence, and therefore, has ceased being conscientious and pragmatic leader many discerning Ghanaians used to adore. Simply put, Afari Gyan has probably ceased being heretofore the provider of afflatus and urgency for free and fair elections in Ghana. Conversely, some observers are of the view that since Afari Gyan has managed the previous five general elections successfully, he is infallible. But, I beg to differ in this instance.

For example, in 2010 UK general elections, the Electoral Commission and the Commissioner, Jenny Watson, came under heavy criticism for the handling of the general elections. Needless to say, the Commissioner excelled in the previous elections, however, poor decision making during the 2010 general elections culminated in electoral anomalies. For instance, some legitimate voters were prevented from casting their votes due to the implementation of irrational policies. It is in the light of this that discerning Ghanaians are fretting over some of the decisions being put forward by Afari Gyan and his cohorts.

We should not lose sight of the fact that human beings are bound to make mistakes, but, such errors may be corrected through reflection. "reflection is the process of stepping back from an experience to ponder carefully and persistently, its meaning to the self through the development of inferences; learning is the creation of meaning from past or current events that serves as a guide for future behaviour"(Daudelin 1996, p. 39). The preceding definition construes that reflection is integral to learning, when learning is explicated as making sense of past experience in order to affect and understand future experience. In this vein, I will entreat Afari Gyan and his cohorts to step back and reflect on some of their decisions, in particular, the exclusion of the media from the forthcoming special voting.

We hear that the media exclusion came about as a result of the adoption of CI 75 by the Parliament. The big question then is: Who laid the ‘Constitutional Instrument (CI 75) in Parliament? The CI75 was laid in Parliament on August 14, 2012 in accordance with Article 11 (7) of the Constitution. The Instrument matured after the mandatory 21 Parliamentary sitting days. CI75 thus came into force and became law at the end of September 2012. CI75 replaced the Public Elections Regulations, 1996 (CI 15) and the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2012 (CI72).

As a matter of fact, it is oxymoronic for anyone to assume that the role being played by the media in our democratic dispensation is of less significance. In as much as the security agencies have uppermost role to play in maintaining the national ambiance, the role the media play in our democratic dispensation is also relevant, particularly during election process. You would expect those matured men and women who came up with such ‘diabolical’ decision to exclude the media from the special voting to know better. It is astounding that the power intoxicated decision makers failed to acknowledge that we cannot persistently preach ‘free and fair’ elections without full media observation. For instance, who will bring to the fore the unforeseen problems at the various polling stations that might require urgent attention? Can we do away with the important role the media play in bringing to fore such occurrences?

In this day and age, most democratic nations are coming up with epochal decisions that would move their countries forward. But, what do we see in supposedly democratic Ghana? If we indeed want to practice democracy, then we cannot and must not play down the role of the media in our efforts to achieve everlasting peace we are craving for. In fact, the exclusion of the media from the forthcoming special voting is undemocratic, and it can only be deemed as ‘communist’ Machiavellianism.

K. Badu, UK.

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