One may assert with a significant margin of certainty that there is much wisdom in the adage that goes, "let the sleeping dogs lie" Said differently, don't disturb the sleeping dogs because they can attack you if they are abruptly woken up from slumber. Suffice to say that a person must not interfere in a situation that is currently causing no problems but may well do so as a result of such interference.
The aftermaths of the recent voter registration exercise in Ghana lead one to conclude that the Electoral Commission (EC) had unnecessarily woken up wild sleeping dogs that may bite them deep into the flesh with cascading effects on the larger society.
Prior to the compilation of the new voters' register, there was much nationwide brouhaha with so many voices of caution to the EC coupled with court actions to use the existing register to conduct the 2020 general elections but the electoral body would not take any such caution. The Supreme Court eventually gave the EC the backing to go ahead with the voter registration exercise even to the extent that birth certificates are no longer a valid prerequisite for voter registration in Ghana.
Eventually, the voter registration exercise was done but not devoid of mayhem and few deaths and injuries as well as Hawa Koomson's gunshots to signify that either the sleeping dogs were disturbed or to silence the awaken sleeping dogs.
Currently, there have been disturbing revelations emerging from the ongoing voter exhibition exercise. The new voter register that the EC argued vehemently that it was going to eliminate ghost voters rather got over bloated in some constituencies despite the military control of the registrations in Banda and Ketu South where the EC might have thought were the safe haven for the ghosts on the old register. The party in power, the New Patriotic Party has always been in support of the EC in the brouhaha just as the National Democratic Congress (NDC) also did prior to the 2016 elections when the NPP called for compilation of a new register. This brings Prof. Gyampo’s latest question to mind, “Why is it that the ruling party defends and supports the EC?”
Other problems that bedevil the newly compiled voter register exhibition exercise are omitted names, wrong gender assignation to names, reduced number of registrants, duplication of names on the register and others. Methinks that these are the wild sleeping dogs waking up from the new voters’ register, which the EC must deal with swiftly in order to make the register credible enough for a fair election.
Any inability of the EC to work swiftly and assiduously in this regard to produce a reliable register for the elections will create electoral problems for the country mindful of the fact that we have only 66 days to the general elections which will be held on December 7, 2020, using the new register. This is my foreboding.
As if these sleeping dogs are not enough for the EC to deal with, the Jean Mensah-led electoral body is now carrying out a one-day mop-up voter registration for eligible voters who could not register to do so. The EC has not yet finished cooking the heads of the animals but it is still adding the tails to the uncooked legs.
If indeed, another adage that “coming events cast their shadows” is true, then is the Ghanaian voter right to entertain the foreboding that if the numerous problems with the new register are not swiftly addressed before the elections, then some of the voters may witness Hawa Koomson Part 2? I say so because there is tension building up before the elections due to the new voter register controversy coupled with secessionist attacks.
Contrary to the Shakespearean assertion that “there is no art to fund the mind's construction in the face”, it appears the EC's mental construction can be seen in its face. The EC's mind got reflected in the new voter register and it appears to be a mind of impaired neutrality and if it is true, then we must be worried knowing the devastating effects of electoral - related civil wars on other African nations. Shakespeare says, “the eyes sees not itself, only by reflections of other things”. Despite this reality, the EC, which is the eye of the supposedly fair electoral system seems to portray two different reflections of the same eye. These are:
1. Reflections of impaired neutrality and ill intentions to complete the compilation of a new register for the conduct of elections that are supposed to be fair and
2. Reflections of unwillingness to admit the seriousness of some of the problems in the new voter register.
Indeed, the EC has awoken the wild sleeping dogs in the register and they are seriously barking at us about only two clear months to the elections. There were numerous warnings to the EC not to compile a new voters' register but the electoral body ignored them. The EC threw cautions to the wind. The cautions thrown to wind have now germinated and the Hawa Koomson-like chickens may return home to roost if care is not taken proactively.
Mindful of the deadline for the elections, is it too much out place and too late for the EC to use the old register to conduct the 2020 elections while it continues to address the problems with the new register?
Indeed, the unvaccinated sleeping dogs are fully awake in the new voters’ register and they can infect us with rabies. All of us must be concerned.
On this occasion, we need swift human corrective action and not the Duncan William prayer for the Ghana Cedi to rise type of action and perhaps we need another software like the COVID-19 App to help resolve the challenges with the new voters’ register.
Until then, the EC and similar state institutions must take good lessons from the saying that we should let sleeping dogs lie. If not, the forest will shrink but the trees will keep voting for the axe thinking that the axe is also a tree, merely because the axe has a wooden handle.
It behoves the EC to quickly tame the wild sleeping dogs that were disturbed in the new voters' register.
Asante Sana ~
Author: Philip Afeti Korto.
Email: [email protected]