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Opinions of Friday, 29 April 2016

Columnist: Appiah, Papa

We saw it, we loved it, we chose it – The EC logo saga

We are virtually 6 months from an important national election and one would have thought that the Electoral Commission would have other priorities to introducing a new logo. That’s not all, they are introducing measures to rebrand the whole of the Electoral Commission, that’s right, rebranding, six months to a general election. So it was with baited breath that we all waited for what we thought would be an in-depth explanation and justification from the EC as regards the need for these changes at this time.

We were in for a shock. “We saw it, we loved it, we chose it” was all Mrs Charlotte Osei could say in defence of the introduction of the new logo. And when asked how she was going to fund all this rebranding, she said that would be the headache of the Finance Minister. She did however explain, that they had decided to get rid of the coat of arms to signify their total independence and freedom from the shackles (my words) of State. But I was a bit taken aback by her choice of words. I came to only one conclusion. The woman was angry! And everybody beware!

You see, my brother, Charlotte Osei is not an Afari-Gyan, the wily old University lecturer who had seen and heard it all before and did not care one hoot what anybody said about him, so long as he was allowed to do his job. He smiled his way through several years of criticisms and insults and despite a few bumbling errors is believed by most reasonable people to have contributed immensely to the growth of our democracy. We have moved from an elderly, male, University lecturer to a young, female lawyer and without in anyway attempting to be sexist, or ageists, my brother, don’t be fooled, there is a difference here. Anybody who is married knows, that whatever the feminists say, one cannot offend a woman and simply get on with it. Women generally do not forgive that easily. And the younger they are, the more trouble you have on your hands. But is Charlotte Osei capable of managing such a sensitive national institution?

In trying to find an answer to that, I cast my mind back to my days in the university; the girls always sat in the front rows, scribbled notes as if their very lives depended on it and generally prepared for examinations more thoroughly and far more in advance than the guys, who often sat at the back pretending everything was under control. When things got tough though, the boys could sometimes have the confidence to bluff their way through, while the ladies would often break down and cry if confronted with anything they had not thoroughly prepared for. So I have always believed that as much as women could do far better jobs in most posts than men, it’s often a lack of confidence and of course, the usual familial pressures sometimes, that holds some of them back. Not so for “no nonsense” Mrs Charlotte Osei.

I’m not surprised that she is already planning far ahead by instituting five year development plans. Of course the 2016 election is coming, but apparently the whole plan for the election has been discussed and agreed at IPAC meetings and all the political parties have copies of the plan. She is thinking ahead while others choose to allow themselves to be consumed by the 2016 election because, for some reason which I cannot fathom, it is “a make or break” election.

This woman is full of confidence, sometimes even bordering on arrogance. She is not a politician and is not interested in saying the right things at the right time. She wants to be allowed to do her job and her aim is to make our electoral commission a world class one. And a world class electoral commission is not one where the electoral commissioner becomes a hero when elections go well and needs a military escort when there are problems. Just go to London or New York and ask the average man in the street who the electoral commissioner is? They will think you are crazy for asking such a question. Nobody knows. They just get on with their work.

Charlotte Osei does need to prove her integrity to anybody in Ghana, least of all members of our political parties, most of who are simply in politics for what they can make for themselves at the expense of Ghanaians. She has studied hard all her life and built a reputation through hard work. It would take more than silly hollering to shake a confident character, such as she is.

So, we saw it, we loved it, we chose it, may not be the harmless, unfortunate choice of the wrong words by somebody who, after all, is not a politician, as I had initially thought. It was actually, a warning! A warning to all, and especially the NPP, to back off and allow her to do her job. She is a lawyer and she perfectly understands her rights as set out in the constitution and no amount of shouting, yelling, threats or insults can move her. They will see it, love it and chose it.

Could that be any clearer?

Papa Appiah