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Opinions of Saturday, 16 January 2016

Columnist: Eyiah, Kobena

Why Dr Afari-Gyan Should be Prosecuted, not Honoured (Part 1)

Kobena A Eyiah

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! ( Isaiah 5:20 )
They have sunk deep into corruption, as in the days of Gibeah. God will remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins (Hosea 9:9 ).

In my last article entitled “What kind of leaders do we pay to run the affairs of Ghana?” I discussed in part the fact that Ghana’s Electoral register at it stands today is not fit for purpose and that it is dishonest for the Electoral Commission or any so-called group of eminent persons to claim that there is no justification for a new register. The fact of the matter is that the state of the register was a deliberate plan by a small group of people to foist Mahama on poor Ghanaians so they can operate unhindered as they manipulate the system to build a new class of political party financiers.

For instance, it is not for nothing that the construction of the Bui Dam and the Atuabo Power station was delayed for several years, “through reviews” of the contracts. Asiedu Nketia in a conflict of interest situation as the chairman of the dam’s governing board, sold cement blocks at 400% the going market price to the authority and he is now one of the wealthiest men in Ghana. And guess what, the Chief Executive of the authority is the brother of the Vice President!

Travelling at dawn on the Accra-Winneba Road, one encounters a long convoy of tipper trucks carrying sand to various parts of Accra. The drivers of these vehicles treat other road users like dirt because they have a backbone, Asiedu Nketia. They are untouchable.

Armah Kofi Buah as Minister of Energy, connived with Sipa Yankey to move the gas power plant from Benyin to Atuabo because his brother had purchased prime land at the place which he sold to the Gas company for a huge profit, another instance of clear conflict of interest!

There are other clues in the individuals and organisations that have walked away with millions of the taxpayer’s money for little or no work done or been paid huge sums in dubious judgement debt awards. Even where competent courts of jurisdiction have ruled for the culprits to be punished and the stolen monies recovered, the state is mostly treating them with kid gloves.

As an Akan, I normally subscribe to our forebears’ injunction that, “the living never speak ill of the dead.” But it is almost certain that the late Prof Ata Mills, while pontificating about the “Asante Project,” was either directly involved in this criminal “NDC Project” to perpetuate the party’s incompetent rule or else looked the other way while the evil plan was hatched.

The origins of this “project” go back to the year 2000. Earlier that year, there were whispers of Jerry Rawlings’ rule being extended for another term. The duration of the Presidency is one of those entrenched clauses in the Constitution, which in this case required eighteen months of education and a referendum to change. As if by divine intervention, the people who conceived the idea of “extension” were not smart enough and therefore, waited till it was too late to carry it through. Even then, but for the plodding of Queen Elizabeth II of England and President Bill Clinton of America, Jerry Rawlings would have bulldozed the plan through, just as he did with the porous made-to-fit 1992 Constitution that now shackles the people of Ghana.

Generally, the NPP and their forebears of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition are managers, not politicians. Politics is all about winning elections, albeit not by any means. However there is the need to watch out for booby traps set by opponents. Unfortunately, they seem to enter elections blindfolded.

The Kufuor government had a golden opportunity to reform not only the electoral system, but the whole governance of Ghana, but they blew it. Not even the local government system that Mr Kufuor developed during his three-month stint under the PNDC featured on his radar. So today, the so-called non-partisan district assembly system, a largely dishonest system, continues to stifle the sustainable development of Ghana. And to think that he left the drawing of new constituency and district boundaries to the NDC? Really intriguing!

Fraudulent Electoral Register

Having now got hold of the main report of the 2010 National Census, I think the fraud in the electoral register is even more astonishing. If you believe the figures, Ghana had a total population of 25,758,108 in 2010. Of this 52.93% or 13,632,299 are aged 18 and above. So, even if Ghana should achieve 100% registration of eligible voters (a logistical and technical impossibility), there should only be 13,632,299 names on the Electoral Commission’s register. It has 14.8 million on its books and Mrs Charlotte Osei, says “multiple registration is only in the hundreds!” I have been wondering about the sort of jobs she has held and what she has done to her employers in the past.

Worldwide, the one country that registers the highest number of its eligible voters is Argentina, with 48%, followed by South Africa with 47.4%. Nigeria registers 38.8% of its eligible voters.

The Electoral Commission’s figure of 14.8 million means that Ghana registers 57.5% of its TOTAL population or an unbelievable 108.6% of its total number of ELIGIBLE voters, a new Guinness record or the 8th wonder of the world!

It is next to impossible to achieve even 50%, but if for the sake of argument, we assume 50% registration for Ghana, the figure comes to 6,816,150. In other words, Ghana's electoral register as it stands today, has 7,989,851 ghost names, more than double what it should be.

Clearly, the figure that the chairman of the commission is stoutly defending is simply bogus and fraudulent! Dr Afari-Gyan knew that way back in 2010, and Mrs Osei, if she is as intelligent as the rest of us mortals are being made to believe, should know that as well.

Considering the fact that Ms Samia Nkrumah was thrown out of Parliament with a register that had ballooned from an increase of 500 voters between 2004 and 2008 to 11,000 between 2008 and 2012, the nearly 8 million ghost names on the register should not surprise anyone. The real wonder is how the opposition parties in Ghana, particularly the NPP and PPP, have accepted these gross and clearly dishonest disadvantages in the electoral system for all these years.

In an election year, if the majority of Ghanaians decide that we are so foolish that we wish to allow ourselves to be subjected to another four years of untold hardships and unbridled corruption by Mahama and his band of Class F (apologies to Jerry Rawlings) appointees and MPs, by all means let us do so. However, we must not allow a few selfish and unpatriotic morons to blindfold and tie our hands behind our backs as they match us to the gallows.

That is why I believe that instead of allowing them to enjoy their undeserved pensions and national awards while the country teeters on the precipice, Dr Afari-Gyan and his lieutenants from 2010 should be prosecuted in the law courts. If found guilty of intentionally bloating the electoral register for whatever purpose, they should be stripped of all entitlements and jailed, to serve as a lesson to all public servants who are entrusted with sensitive positions in society. For it is difficult to imagine how any educated person can accept such levels of dishonesty in a national document of such monumental importance.