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Opinions of Friday, 15 April 2016

Columnist: Ohemeng, Yaw

Can the EC and its defenders see beyond the term ‘validation’?


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Ever since the EC Panel, constituted to inquire into the Voters Register, presented its report, nothing has mattered more to the EC and its defenders than the term “validation”. This term appears to have offered a convenient excuse to all those who do not want to discuss the contents of the report.
To date, the only reaction by the EC has been that statement it issued towards the back end of December 2015, which highlighted only the recommendation not to create a new register. It failed to convey the finding that the register was bloated; it failed to convey the finding that its own proposed method of cleaning the register was deemed ineffective; and it failed to convey the Panel’s recommendation of a ‘middle way ‘whereby each voter would be required to confirm their continuous stay on the register.
I have read some people characterising the ‘middle way’ as not a recommendation but part of the analyses leading to the recommendations. But reading through the entire report, there is nowhere that this proposed method was ruled out or abandoned. Hence if it ends up not in the recommendations, the Panel’s report would be illogical. That would be strongly so if the EC’s favoured method of cleaning, which the Panel emphatically rejected, ended up as the recommendation.
There has also been this crusade by Dr Wireko-Brobbey seeking to downplay the report’s recommendations. Instead of discussing the contents, he has rather been arguing the dictionary definition of ‘validation’ and by that implying that there are several ways of doing that. Why does he not simply discuss the report and what it recommended, instead of looking for definitions outside it?
Then there is the laying in of Mr. Ofosu Ampofo that is way off on a tangent. He is seeking to explain what needs to be done in cleaning the register in terms of voluntary versus compulsory registration. His contribution would have been laughable, if serious.
I have also read elsewhere that the EC and IPAC have reached an understanding on what it intends to do. It is, however, withholding the announcement because it does not want to hand victory over to a group who are seeking to pressurise it into a decision. Really? Does the EC now see itself as pursuing a victory at the expense of some groups it sees as rivals? So much for neutrality, if true.
Why should all these be happening where a report exists whose recommendations are in very simple language? Why can’t our media and other Civil Society Organisations just pick it up, read it and demand to know what a public-funded EC intends to do about its recommendations? Is this too difficult a demand to make?
As a country, though, a lot of people, including highly educated individuals, prefer to be passive on a number of raging issues. It is this passive nature that has emboldened public officials to ignore our interests in favour of their own. Instead of serving the interest of the public that pays their salaries, a lot of our elected and appointed officials see themselves as the ablest, smartest and wisest in society. Hence their predisposition is to lord over rather than serve the public.
If this were not so, how could a Panel, whose work was paid for from public funds, not hold a public meeting to present its findings and recommendations? By failing to do this, we now have the disturbing situation where one of its members, Rev. Emmanuel Asante, cannot even remember what they discussed and recommended.
If the public’s interest were well served by our public officials, why would the EC fail to publish a formal document on what it accepts and rejects from the report? Such a document would have contained justifications and implementation steps for those recommendations the EC accepts. But alas, they cannot be bothered.
It should be quite clear by now that the EC and its collaborators intend to hide behind the term ‘validation’ to deny Ghanaians their views on the Panel’s report. The report provided clear answers on whether or not the register is bloated and on the propriety of the CI 72 procedures for cleaning the register (which the EC favours). It also prescribed a ‘middle way’ between doing nothing and creating a new register. It is in fact disgraceful to us, as a country, that we are using the term ‘validation’ to skirt around the clearly prescribed steps.

It has come to public notice in the last two days or so that the EC intends to rebrand itself by outdooring a new logo. It is obvious that it is not aware of the depth to which its credibility has sunk. The EC appears not to know that the orchestration, which it joined in with the NDC, to object to the disclosure of electoral records during the Petition hearing, has shot its perceived neutrality into pieces. The rebranding, if the EC sees it as something worthwhile to do, should be one of building up its shattered image and that ought to start with being transparent.

Dr Yaw Ohemeng

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