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Opinions of Sunday, 26 February 2006

Columnist: Agyei, Joe

ROPAB: Forces of Progress vs. Simple Minds

I have listened and read about the various positions taken on ROPAB, yet not a single opinion has been made about upholding the constitution of the land. Our constitution simply states that any laws that are in conflict with the constitution is null and void. Defending the rights enshrined in the constitution has nothing to do with our financial priorities, the capabilities of the electoral commission, or which political party or group is going to benefit from the rights that are being protected. We must protect the constitutional provisions simple because we must respect and protect laws of the land, period.

Regardless of your political affiliation, you ought to understand that PNDL 284 is contrary to the provisions of the 1992 constitution. The only restrictions that the constitution placed on the right to vote were: 1) being a Ghanaian, 2) of age 18 years and older, and 3) of sound mind. However, after Ghanaians voted to approve the 1992 constitution, the government of the day (the same people who drafted the constitution), decided to insert PNDCL 284, to restrict the right of Ghanaians to vote. The question is ?why didn?t they include the provisions of PNDCL 284 in the original constitution?? Were they afraid that Ghanaians would vote against the constitution, or was a genuine oversight? Whatever, the motive PNDCL 284 failed to meet constitutional mustard.

The next point I would like to make is that the Kuffour administration campaign to amend PNDCL 284, and the people voted for them, twice. Therefore, this is not a hidden agenda that the government has sudden entrusted on the people. If I?m not mistaken this issue was put on a fast track, and the government had to withdraw it so that the bill will go through the normal process. Thus, the government has listened and taken the advice of the opposition. It is the opposition that is rather unyielding, and refuses to use common sense. What the opposition and the minority needs to understand is that they lost the last two elections, and the winners have a right to enact laws and implement the policies that will help them do the things that they promised to the electorate. As they the winner takes it all.

I have heard some in the minority make the excuse that we do not have a way of identifying who Ghanaians are. I find this to be excuse to be hollow because it is the same people who have fought against the government in the introduction of the national identification cards. Additionally, Ghanaians living overseas are the easiest to identify. There are several associations of Ghanaians in almost every country in the world. In the greater Washington, DC area we have a database of almost all Ghanaians. We use this database to invite people to parties, funeral, and Independence Day activities. The representatives of the different parties in the area to tell you who is Ghanaian, and who is not. If some does not appear on the list, the party representatives can ascertain the identity of the person, and check with others to validate that person?s identity. After all, most of us went to secondary schools and can call others who attended the same school confirm a person?s identity. Identification is not a major issue, and neither is our financial situation.



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