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Opinions of Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Columnist: Ransford Yaw Gyampo

Yaw Gyampo writes: Creating new regions an irrational pathway to development

Folks Happy New Year. I wanted to take a vacation from Social Media for a while but I am compelled to speak my mind about some videos making the rounds concerning some brazing and “opulent” display of rigging at the recently held PLEBISCITE (The proper name is plebiscite, not referendum).

I must state right from the onset that I never liked the idea of creating new regions as in my view, it was an irrational pathway to the quest for closeness and development. So long as the District Assemblies that operate within the regions as agents of development, continue to face the challenges of limited and late release of funds, corruption, lack of qualified personnel, etc, increase in the number of regions would serve no meaningful purpose. Additional regions would not lead to the disappearance of the problems that confront the District Assemblies operating within the regions.

Secondly, I vehemently disagreed with the ruling that limited voting to only those who liked the regions to be created. It didn’t make sense to me. If such an important exercise is to be held among those who already want a new region, then a Yes or No voting would be superfluous as the Yes would record near 100 percent. The exercise, in my view, should have been held in the entire affected regions and those opposing should have exercised their constitutional right to campaign against it.

Unfortunately, the ruling made it so easy for the Yes to win. Those opposing it underwent some surreptitious intimidation from some chiefs and people who wanted a Yes Vote at all cost. Indeed, it looked politically unwise for any politician to openly oppose the Yes Vote and I am sure this partially explained why John Mahama openly showed his Yes Vote to the camera.

On the videos circulating, I have imponderable objections to their authenticity.

First of all, why will someone rig the outcome of an already known plebiscite? Per the ruling, the people who voted were the people who already liked the idea. Again, those opposing the idea had unofficially been banned from speaking or campaigning against it in the areas where the voting were to be taking place. The posturing of some chiefs, and their demeanors that threatened to incite their people against politicians who opposed the YES Vote, made the outcome of voting predictive. In such a predictive situation, why would anyone whose head is properly screwed on attempt stealing or rigging? Videos to expose crimes are done via subterfuge. But these videos looked well taken, open and plane. The alleged rigging filmed, looked orchestrated and stage-managed with no secrecy.

Secondly, who took those well taken videos? These videos were better in quality than those of Anas. Why didn’t the person show or mention the names of the Polling Stations? Why were the supposed EC officials not in their jackets? Why didn’t the “videoer” send copies of the “clips” to the EC if he or she meant well?

We were in Ghana when technical irregularities that were not perpetuated in full glare, landed us into an eight month Election Petition period at the Supreme Court in 2013. If the videos circulating are true, then I can say without equivocation that the opposition would have no chance in the 2020 elections. If this is the case, why is the opposition leaving the discussion of this issue only on social media, where everything is possible? Why is the opposition not formally complaining to the EC? Why are they not heading to court to ensure that this doesn’t repeat itself in 2020?. Why haven’t they issued a formal statement about this? Any opposition that witnesses this alleged grand rigging and yet refuses to take drastic action beyond social media grumbling, is not fit for purpose and is simply not ready to be in government, finito!

Those questioning the voter turnout and number of people who voted Yes are simply demonstrating that they are creatures of emotions and not creatures of logic. If for instance 100 people in an area likes a new region to be created and they all vote, we must rather question why the outcome wouldn’t be 100percent. As I said, I believe the courts were wrong in their interpretation to limit voting to only those who wanted the regions to be created. With this interpretation, the overwhelming Yes voting pattern was to be expected without “manufactured rigging videos” that cannot find their way to the EC but can circulate ONLY on social media.

I condemned the removal of Charllote Osei and do take the view that if the videos are part of the reasons being built for the future removal of the current EC Chair, we may be weakening our institutions and we won’t be able to build any resilient one as a nation. It is politically suicidal for us to be plagued with the situation where every regime would appoint a new EC Chair.

Unless credible responses are provided to the questions posed above, I would dismiss the videos as nothing but grand attempts to bastardize the image, legitimacy and credibility of the EC and a commencement of another process of the bogus practice of political pay back. With this tendency, state institutions would forever not be trusted to deliver on their mandate and we would be the losers.

Every well meaning Ghanaian who understands our electoral processes know that with vigilance, no EC official or boss can rig an election. Otherwise, NDC wouldn’t have been in opposition today. Let us learn and not be too gullible to the ignorant machinations of a few selfish politicians.

Winning power would require a message that exposes challenges and convinces Ghanaians of powerful alternatives. If you destroy a state institution just to win power, the challenge created would stare at you when you have power.

Afenhyia Pa!