You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2013 12 14Article 295099

Opinions of Saturday, 14 December 2013

Columnist: Atiase, Frank

Fallout of NPP Polling Station Elections

It would be recalled that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) came out with many innovations within the party right after the 2008 electoral defeat.

This was codenamed the 3 R's - Reflecting, Rebuilding and recapturing power.

Key among such reforms was the expansion of the Electoral College for the flagbearership contest.

The proponents of the reforms were of the view that the expansion was the most ideal way of giving power to the grassroots and mobilising grass root support for general elections.

Since it was the considered opinion of many that general elections are won at the polling station level, there was a general consensus within the party that the reforms were long overdue.

Hence, the expansion of the electoral college from around 2000 voters to 115,000 in 2010. The NPP thus went into the 2012 elections in unity as there was no break-away faction within the party.

But, all I can say for now is that, the NPP's Polling Station Executive Election is "Democratically Undemocratic".

It is thus imperative for the party to make further reforms/innovations to reduce the challenges associated with it.

First, it is democratic because elections are being conducted somehow. However, it is undemocratic because of the way and manner the elections are being conducted.

In some constituencies, the incumbent executives in collaboration with MPs decide the kind of people who should have access to the NPP nomination forms.

A few, if not none of the favoured contestants actually paid for the forms or the filling fee.

This problem was evident in some remote areas. Personally, I had to pay for the passport photographs of certain contestants in my hometown.

There was widespread shortage of application forms, and this coupled with the limited time of filing, pushed many would-be contestants out.

For me, the shortage was artificial as those behind it knew what they were doing.

In some constituencies, court injunctions have been placed on the polling station elections because some aggrieved party members believe they were not given any hearing by the Constituency or Regional Executives.

In other areas, elections were held as early as 5am with the sole purpose of denying others the opportunity to participate in the elections,

In others, only 5 nomination forms were just given to incumbent polling station chairpersons for distribution to party members, who would genuinely vote for them when constituency and other elections are held.

Those perceived to belong to other factions were denied the opportunity to either buy a form or file their nominations.

This means that the incumbent polling station executives who are not popular in their towns and villages still retained their positions.

Not much publicity was given to the sale of nomination forms. However, those preferred candidates were aware of the election procedures.

Over 98 per cent of the polling station executives in the villages are illiterates, and the highest educational qualification of the remaining 2per cent was Middle School Leaving Certificate (M.S.L.C.).

Conclusion:

The expansion of the Electoral College is good on paper, but practically, it is very undemocratic.

It is the breeding ground of apathy within the party as most people I interviewed swore not to vote for the NPP because of the apparent cheating.

To some, those 'elected' polling station executives can remain in that position, but the NPP cannot win power.

Unless anybody who has the ambition to unseat the incumbent MP budgets for not less than GHC2m (2bn old cedis), it is a foregone conclusion for the incumbent MPs to be re-elected.

Nana Akufo-Addo is poised to win the next primaries. I'd be surprised if he fails to secure over 90% of the total valid votes in the next flagbearership slot.

This is because everything is cooked for him at the grassroots.

However, as to whether Nana could beat John Mahama or not is another food for thought. This is because many people at the grassroots are aggrieved with the polling station election procedure.

They believe they have been unfairly treated.

The fracas between Hon. Ursula Owusu and her Constituency Chairman is a case in point.

Over 90 per cent of the National Executive members are privy to this dirty politics.

Everything had been planned to favour the incumbent national officers, regional, constituency, polling station executives, MPs, and Nana Addo in the next primaries. It is the beginning of apathy in the NPP.

I can say for a fact that our electoral defeats are the making of NPP's own members and nothing else.