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Opinions of Thursday, 28 May 2020

Columnist: Patrick K. Arko

On the verge of a constitutional breach

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On Thursday 14th May 2020, the NPP organised a press conference just at the heel of one held by the NDC that same day. I thought the NPP was going to respond to the claims made by the NDC concerning the machinations of the NIA and the EC to get a lot of Ghanaians disenfranchised during the 2020 election. To my disappointment, the NPP instead used the press conference to lambast the former president and the NDC.

The NPP said among other things that this is the first time a political party has come out to challenge the EC in a bid to carry out its mandate of compiling a new voters’ register. Although this is true, the NPP failed to acknowledge that there are numerous other first happenings that no one should lose sight of.

First, this is the first time that a sitting EC chairperson has been sacked from office and has been replaced. Second, this is the first time the EC chairperson has seen herself as an appointee of a sitting-president and has openly attended a party for female appointees of the president to show her loyalty.

Again, this is the first time the EC has discarded IPAC and formed its own advisory body of eminent persons to help her make decisions but whose suggestions she snobbishly ignored. Further, this is the first time that a political party chairman has announced the schedule of the EC long before the PRO of the EC became aware of that programme.

Furthermore, this is the first time that the EC has presented a CI to parliament without the knowledge of IPAC. Finally, this is the first time that the EC is seeking to compile another voters’ register since the inception of the fourth republic.

The 1992 constitution mandates the EC to compile one voter's register and revise or upgrade it as and when the need arises. Before the 1992 election, the EC compiled that voters register. Over the years, the EC with the massive collaboration of IPAC has worked hard to perfect our electoral system. We have moved from the use of opaque ballot boxes and not very reliable register to the use of transparent ballot boxes and a very credible and reliable biometric register.

In all instances, no new register was compiled. A registered voter only had to present the existing ID card, provide the needed new information and is given a new voter ID card. This time around the EC is asking parliament to rule out the law that gives the Ghanaian voter the right to present the existing ID card so as to be given a new one. Is the EC trying to grant voting rights to all persons who possess the ECOWAS card and passport?

If the statistics coming from the NIA is anything to go by, then it is evident that the EC is out to disenfranchise many eligible voters during the 2020 elections. I believe this is a cause for all political parties and all well-meaning Ghanaians to be worried. I think the NPP should have instead teamed up with the NDC to make the EC do the right thing rather than lambasting the former president and the NDC.

At the press conference, the NPP asked the NDC what it has put into the existing register that it cannot afford to lose. Maybe the same question can be asked the other way around: what does the NPP intend to put in the register they are so bent on spending huge sums of the taxpayers' money to compile? Is it not with the existing voters register that the NPP won the 2016 elections with the president beating his keen opponent by a whopping 1 million votes? What then is the cause of such stupendous phobia for that register? Or are we to draw the conclusion that the NPP did not legitimately win the 2016 election, as was alleged by one of its own members?? Of course, the NPP has alleged that if the existing register is used in the 2020 elections, the NDC will have a one million votes advantage in advance? And this begs the question: Where was that advantage during the 2016 elections?

What should anyone expect the NDC to do when one of the ‘okro-mouth’ NPP members has bluffingly said that when a new voters register is compiled, NDC will stay in opposition forever? Maybe the NPP does not believe in its flashy programmes any longer.

Perhaps Bawumia's “economic magic” waned and failed to work. Will the members of NABCO not improve the NPPs electoral fortunes? Are the beneficiaries of the free SHS not of voting age yet? Where are the state prophets? I think there is nothing for the NPP to fear about the existing voters' register. Ghosts do not vote. Let all Ghanaians join hands with the NDC and stop the EC from compiling a new voters’ register. It is not only needless, but it is also illegal and a waste of the taxpayers' money.