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Opinions of Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

NPP will never do another Presidential-Election petition, trust me

It is quite certain that should the 2016 presidential election be stalemated or found to leave much to be desired in the books of the leaders of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), the last place on Earth that they would likely seek redress is the Wood Supreme Court (See “We’ll Prevent Another Presidential Election Petition – EC Boss” Rainbowradioonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 10/27/16).

Which is why it comes as very refreshing to hear Mrs. Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei promise to ensure that the very first general election over which she will preside in December this year does not end up in a constitutional crisis or a judicial petition.

This is all well and good, for I have personally predicted that another presidential-election snafu of the sort experienced in 2012 would likely end in a shooting war, as far as the key operatives of the New Patriotic Party and their legion supporters and sympathizers are concerned, than back in court and at the capricious mercy of our apex-court jurists who, for the most part, have shown themselves to be more interested in not displeasing the ruling party than ensuring the prevalence of justice and fair play.

For instance, we have Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo on record as saying that she was far more interested in not rocking the proverbial ship of state than ensuring that justice and fairness were afforded preeminent priority.

Then there is also well-researched evidence pointing to the fact of at least a couple of jurists on the Atuguba-presided panel that adjudicated the 2012 presidential-election petition’s having had to change their verdicts more than once. And so, really, any expectation of the possibility of a reprise of the 2012 presidential-election petition may likely emanate from the courtyard of the Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

But what was unmistakably fascinating about the promise offered the members of the Asante Regional House of Chiefs, during the latter august institution’s meeting with the Electoral Commission’s Chief, recently, was Mrs. Osei’s poignant indictment on the way and manner in which the 2012 general election was conducted by Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the nation’s longest-serving Electoral Commissioner and former political science lecturer at the country’s flagship academy, the University of Ghana.

The EC Chair did not use the same exact words used in this article, but Mrs. Osei clearly appeared to concur with the fact that the general conduct of Election 2012 left much to be desired. Which is why the present EC leadership, according to the former Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), unreservedly consented to the adoption of nearly all the salient reform measures exhorted by the Supreme Court.

But even more significant, by way of the unmistakable indictment of the infamously smug and cavalier conduct of Dr. Afari-Gyan, was the quite refreshing promise by Mrs. Osei to ensure that the conduct of the 2016 general election would be strictly marked by a level of transparency the likes of which has never been witnessed in the country’s postcolonial history.

One could, however, not help but resort to head-scratching when Mrs. Osei rather pontifically and, some of her most ardent critics would even say, unctuously declared that “There is [absolutely] no way that all of us at the Electoral Commission can change [election] results.” The EC Chair further added, “It is really impossible.

For you to change the results of the [2012 general] election, you have to be at 29,000 polling stations, change the results on the sheets of all the party agents who are there. Then [, of course,] you have to run to the constituency collation centers, change the results on the sheets again and change the results on the agents’ sheet before you [hurry back down to election headquarters in Accra] to declare [these well-cooked] results.”

In theory, the EC Chair is absolutely correct, except in an instance where the EC Chair comes up scandalously short in the definition of what constitutes “over-voting” and “under-voting.” Then also, every forward-looking Ghanaian citizen has an inalienable right to be assured by the EC Chair and her staff of Associate Commissioners that absolutely no constituency in the country has a voter’s roll of more than 50,000 legitimately registered voters, as clearly stipulated by our 1992 Republican Constitution.

In principle, as well as in practice, an EC commissioner or director does not really need a battalion of crooks to deftly rig an election, especially in our high-tech age where even politicians of highly advanced democracies like the United States, for one ready example, can “credibly” accuse Vladimir Putin’s Russia of having hacked into the elaborate computerized system of the United States’ Board of Elections, the functional equivalent of Ghana’s Electoral Commission, with the singular objective of upending polling figures to skew election results in favor of Mr. Donald John Trump, whom the Russian authorities are widely known to highly favor over the latter’s Democratic Party challenger, Mrs. Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, of whom the Russians are alleged to be morbidly resentful.