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Opinions of Thursday, 22 October 2015

Columnist: Eric Bawah

Charlotte Osei: A woman with a finger on a nuclear trigger

Opinion Opinion

“If something is not done about the bloated voters register, Ghana will be like Kenya” – Late Prof. Atta Mills

The above quoted statement was made by the late President John Evans Atta Mills when he visited Professor Emeritus Daasebre Oti Boateng the Omanhene of New Juabeng Traditional Area at his palace in the run-up to the 2008 General Election.

When the EC was compiling the 2008 election results, Asiedu Nketia, the General Secretary of the NDC then in opposition went to Radio Gold in Accra and charged all the supporters of the NDC to mass up at the office of the EC with whatever weapons they had because according to him the NPP wanted to manipulate the results. All these happened in a country called Ghana but no one was arrested and no one was brutalized by the police. In fact not an eye was lost.

When the late Professor Mills made that unfortunate and inciting statement, Kenya had been in turmoil following a disputed election which led to the death and maiming of hundreds of innocent souls. When Mills made that statement, Kenya was at the brink of war and the people in that country were sitting on tenterhooks. If my mind serves me right, the National Peace Council never commented on that irresponsible statement and Mills had his way as we trudged towards election 2008.

That statement might have given Asiedu Nketia the ‘vim’ to call for armed resistance. Today, when the NPP is calling for a new voters register, this same man from Seikwa in the Brong Ahafo Region is kicking like a buffalo.

I have a very soft heart for the new EC boss, Madam Charlotte Osei because she inherited a mess caused by Dr. Afari Djan. She has a Herculean job to perform and she needs our prayers. Dr. Afari Djan left on his table a poisoned chalice and Charlotte should not handle it because if she does so it would be like shaking hands with an Ebola infected person. And if she listens to people like Asiedu Nketia and the hawks in the NDC as far as the issue of new voters is concerned, it will be like putting her finger on a nuclear trigger. And you know what happens when a nuclear weapon is triggered!

The NDC has come to realize that the opposition NPP will not sit down and fold their arms this time around for them to have their way and so the only thing they can do is to coerce the poor woman to submit to their whims and caprices. Other than that, why should the government release party policemen to pour pepper spray on unarmed demonstrators and beat people indiscriminately for daring to march to the EC office to picket. Today one young man who was part of the demonstrators had lost an eye through a rubber bullet fired by a criminal in police uniform.

Since the debate as to whether the voters register should be replaced or not, started, well meaning Ghanaians have added their voices to the debate.

The Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II said if there is the need to compile a new register, we should not think about where to get money to embark on the exercise since foreign donors prefer putting their monies into such ventures rather than using their monies to maintain refugees. That to me was very sensible. If an imminent citizen like the Asantehene speaks, every person should listen because their pronouncements carry weight.

Recently when the Catholics Bishops Conference had their annual meeting they came out with a communiqué which suggested among other things that a new election roll for the 2016 elections is relevant, if the current register is bloated and the alien registration allegation is proven to be true.

Listen to Most Rev. Joseph Osei Bonsu, the Conference President: “If this and other allegations are found to be true, it will be necessary to have a new voters register to enable people have confidence in the electoral process.” Undoubtedly, the Roman Catholic Church commands more congregation than all the churches in the country and so if the Catholic Bishops Conference comes out with such a bold and thought-provoking statement, Ghanaians should not take it lightly. The men of God knew very well that in case of any electoral violence like the one that happened in Kenya and Ivory Coast, their congregation would suffer.

When the German Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Rudiger John organized a press soiree to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the unification of the East and West Germany, he pledged his country’s continuous technical support to Ghana’s EC in order to organize free and fair election next year. Foreign donors have always come to the aid of Ghana as far as our general election is concerned and so what the German Ambassador said, to me is not surprising. What is surprising is what those who oppose a new voters’ register argue that the government will not get money for a new voters’ register. And yet the same government has enough money to take Akua Donkor to Italy (sic!!).

Listen to what Mr. Rawlings, the former President of Ghana said when the Let My Vote Count officials visited him recently: “There is a lot of stress in the air. There is a lot of nervousness; it is going to be a test to all of us”. Supporting the call for a new credible voters register “ as a means of ensuring that things do not get out of hand” Mr. Rawlings said the “atmosphere in the country is charged and the only way we can really contain and prevent things from getting out of hand is to ensure that the electoral register is as credible as possible”.

This is a man who has ruled this country for close to two decades and knows what he was talking about. Rawlings knows the real meaning of “things getting out of hand” and I do sincerely believe Madam Charlotte knows that too because at forty years and above, she might have lived in a situation where “things got out of hand” in Ghana. What this lady should know is that when the rain falls, it won’t fall on one man’s house.

Madam Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, the former First Lady did not mince words when the Let My Vote Count leadership met her. Hear the Iron Lady: “If pictures are scanned and put in the register, then it is already negated. If all are saying the same thing, they all can’t be wrong. It is not for the EC to do what they want but what Ghanaians want.”

This is a woman who together with her husband did put their noses on the grindstone to bring this country this far, as far as democracy is concerned. Today she has formed her own political party and so she is a stakeholder in the 2016 general election. The last time she wanted to contest as a presidential candidate, the NDC used their Mafia tactics through Afari Djan to disqualify her.

The next stop of the Let My Vote Count group was the residence of Mr. John Agyekum Kufour. Listen to the Gentle Giant: “I am with you entirely and completely that the EC should not plead excuses like cleaning the voters’ register. I have seen what faulty elections can do to otherwise peaceful people. So the EC should listen.” The ex-president went on to call on the EC to be accountable to Ghanaians by compiling a new and creditable voters’ register for the 2016 General Election.

And did I hear the president telling the world in France that the EC should be allowed to do its job? If there is anyone in this country who is inconsistent, it is no other person but John Dramani Mahama. When all Ghanaians were made to understand that “No verification, No vote”, president Mahama issued a presidential fiat during election 2012 that if even a person is not verified by the verification machine, the person should be allowed to vote. He also issued another fiat to the EC to allow people to vote after the close of polls because of some faulty verification machines. And this is the man who is telling us today to allow the EC do its constitutionally mandated job. A president with a forked tongue!!. If the President is denying that he never asked the Togolese authorities to compile a new register, what is he telling Auntie Charlotte since all well meaning Ghanaians have expressed their feelings? Somebody out there should tell the
President that denial is not a good defense in times like this.

From the foregoing statements made by these imminent citizens, Madam Charlotte Osei should not take things for granted. She has her finger on a nuclear trigger and any faulty move could send the country ablaze. Of all the shortcomings of Dr. Afari Djan he was able to scale through all the hurdles until he landed at the Supreme Court where he said “as far as his eyes could see” the “Finger of God” polling station result was correct.

As for Madam Charlotte instead of the Finger of God, she has her finger on a nuclear trigger which is more dangerous if she decides to press the trigger. If she decides to follow the likes of Asiedu Nketia, close her ears and eyes and fails to listen to reason, her finger, which is already on the nuclear trigger, could bring disaster which may lead to the loss of lives. And you know what? Her name will be written in brass when the list of nation wreckers is compiled and children yet unborn would say: “Once
upon a time a certain woman headed Ghana’s EC and plunged the nation into war due to her actions or inactions”