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Opinions of Thursday, 18 August 2016

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Leadership is by example, Charlotte Osei

The decision by the badly embattled Chairperson of the so-called Independent Electoral Commission (EC) not to exercise her franchise in the December 7 general election, can only come as cold comfort. For the decision itself does not mean much.

What is needed is for Mrs. Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei to positively demonstrate that she is hell-bent on working for the salutary and credible advancement of the nation’s democratic electoral system, and not for the undue advantage of any particular benefactor or presidential candidate

(See “I Won’t Vote; It’s Not Compulsory – EC Boss” / 8/12/16).

Merely not voting as an individual Ghanaian citizen does not mean very much. Indeed, when he was Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan also claimed not to have voted in a couple of general elections; but that alone did not prevent the recently retired EC Chairman from calling the results of Election 2012, and perhaps one or two other elections before that, in favor of his candidate of choice.

Indeed, he may not have personally caused the criminal rigging of any particular general election or presidential election runoff, but in allowing some constituencies to vote far in excess of the number of registered voters in those constituencies, especially in the National Democratic Congress’ so-called World-Bank stronghold of the Volta Region, Dr. Afari-Gyan had shamelessly condoned, and one may even aptly say, connived with this patently criminal process.

Among the Akan-majority populace of Ghana, it is often said that: “The real taste of Ofam [ripe-plantain cake] is in the eating.” What the foregoing quote/maxim means is that much of her credibility as EC Chairperson, going into Election 2016, will depend on how religiously Mrs. Osei monitors and promptly extirpates the democracy - stifling process of over-voting.

Needless to say, we will be studiously watching to see if she is honest enough to cancel election results of constituencies that return more than the 50,000 number of eligible voters stipulated by the country’s 1992 Constitution.

Merely announcing publicly that she does not intend to vote in Election 2016 does not in any way prove her neutrality, as she would have Ghanaians believe. The latter aspect of the litmus test of her credibility and integrity squarely depends on how she conducts the election. And so far, she has dispiritingly demonstrated that she has a very long way to go.

For instance, her decision to submit a piddling list of 56,000 names to the Supreme Court, as the total number of 2012 general election voters who had registered to vote by the use of the National Health Insurance Scheme-issued ID cards, did not enhance her credibility and integrity as an efficiently performing Electoral Commissioner. Rather, it further aggravated and seriously put the same in doubt.

Now after months of stonewalling and accusing Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the three-time Vice-Presidential Candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), of electoral elitism, Mrs. Osei has gone public, perhaps out of genuine contrition, to tell Ghanaians that she is, after all, convinced that there is a significant number of registered Ghanaian voters who registered to vote in the 2012 general election by the use of the recently proscribed NHIS-issued ID cards whose names have not been deleted from the current National Voters’ Register (NVR), in compliance with the Supreme Court’s order in Ramadan-Nimako vs. Electoral Commission.

What this means is that the EC Chairperson either willfully or inadvertently deceived both the Wood Supreme Court and the Ghanaian citizenry at large, when Mrs. Osei vehemently insisted that only 56,000 registrants had voted by the use of their NHIS-issued cards.

The preceding is bad enough; but even more significantly, to-date, Mrs. Osei has yet to tell us how she intends to have the names of those NHIS-registered voters whose names remain on the NVR deleted to be in compliance with the Apex Court’s order.

In short, if she cannot present Ghanaians with a credible and practically sound timetable for fully complying with the Supreme Court’s order, even this late in the process, then she had better stop talking vacuously about her intention of conducting and/or supervising the most credible general election in Fourth-Republican Ghana.

As a former Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), the institution uniquely charged with voter education, it is rather irresponsible for Mrs. Osei to publicly announce that she does not intend to exercise her franchise come Election 2016. Such public announcement flagitiously defeats the entire rationale behind democratic citizenship.

She had better reconsider her grossly misguided decision or promptly tender her resignation to Mr. Mahama, in order to give way to a more civically responsible leader.

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