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Opinions of Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Columnist: aL-hAJJ

EC boss silences Noisy Agitators

Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei has ceremoniously silenced her avowed critics, particularly members of the opposition New Patriotic Party, who have unjustifiably been attacking her on every move the electoral management body makes to enhance its work, thus creating credibility crisis for the commission.

Speaking at an event in Accra last Tuesday to unveil the EC’s five-year strategic plan, Madam Charlotte Osei and her team of Commissioners held all present and those monitoring the event through the media spellbound as they succinctly provided answers to all the questions agitating the minds of Ghanaians over Ghana’s impending elections, which also allayed the fears of “doubting Thomases”.

The EC chairperson noted that it is the commission’s commitment to ensure that it becomes the most credible elections regulatory body in Africa.

The EC’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, dubbed: “Gearing for Greatness”, which replaces the 10-year plan which expired in 2009, Madam Charlotte Osei explained, was to ensure that the EC became legally and functionally independent, and also maintain a relationship of trust and credibility with citizens, parties, state institutions and all stakeholders.
Touching on the contentious and widely discussed cleaning of the voters register, Mrs Osei said the EC would take steps to cleanse the register, adding that the commission would implement the five-member panel’s recommendations to the letter.
She explained that the EC would follow its laid-down programs towards the 2016 elections, with current ongoing limited registration exercise to update the register as a precursor.
The EC boss noted that it was reasonable to expect the EC to conduct an exhibition of the voters register after the limited registration exercise.

Even though the NPP and their acolytes in civil society have expressed doubts about the readiness of the EC to conduct this year’s elections successfully, reports from the various regions on the ongoing limited registration exercises indicate that apart from few isolated cases of clashes between activists of the two leading parties, the exercise progressing as planned.

Responding to issues on the EC’s decision to change its logo, Madam Charlotte explained that the new logo was adopted to demonstrate the independence of the commission.

According to her, the old logo, which had the national coat of arms, portrayed the EC as an institution under the control of the government, a situation which affected its operations.

She said the new logo gave the EC a new identity which represented a unified common purpose and vision as an independent institution.

She said the design and selection of the new logo was not an artistic competition meant to impress, adding that the design of the logo was not opened up for invitations but the result of an internal consultation.

“We did not open up invitations for people to send logos in because the logo has to represent where we are going as a brand and an institution. So it’s not just about putting colors together… We also worked very closely with other ECs, we looked at their strategic plans, we exchanged information….it’s a process, a logo is not just an artistic competition,” she added

Left with no issues to hound the EC boss following these cogent explanations, critics of Madam Charlotte Osei, especially members of the NPP who boycotted the Tuesday event, have resorted to demeaning the program, describing it as needless.

The NPP Member of Parliament for Nabdam, Boniface Agambilla has said there was no need to attend Electoral Commission’s five-year strategic plan.

According to Mr. Agambilla, the entire program was aired on Radio and shown on TV which afforded the party the opportunity to monitor it.

“Why should the NPP being there or not being be a problem…out of 10 parties if nine are there and one is not there why is it a problem,” Mr. Agambilla told host Bernard Nasara Saibu.

But Managing Editor of the New Crusading Guide, Abdul Malik Kwaku Baako has lauded the commission for its five-year plan, saying it was readable, well captured and well-presented and he does not have anything in principle against it the mission and the vision as well as the objectives they have set.
The veteran journalist stated that if what are captured in the plan is implemented, it will be good for the EC as well as the image of Ghana’s electoral system’s efficiency and integrity.

However, he had issues with the timing of the launch of the plan as he believes this should have been done after elections seeing as November is near.