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31.03.2004 Feature Article

Letter From The President: EC - “Animguase akwaba”

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Countrymen and women, opponents and loyalists at long last the Electoral Commission's comedy of errors has ended. We will never know how the comical manner the EC went about the voters' registration exercise actually affected the number of Ghanaians who have been enfranchised (or disenfranchised). All we are likely to hear in the next few weeks will be the usual “we did our best” and “we have learnt our lesson” choruses. But no matter what the EC says, I believe that the just-ended exercise has been one of the EC's best performances in mediocrity. I knew from the day the commission announced its plans for the registration exercise that it will start and end in fiasco. Thank God, they couldn't prove me wrong. Whilst the EC was busy making a mess of itself and botching the registration exercise, my “beautiful truth bearing” predecessor, Jerry Boom, was smearing more dirt on his already soiled reputation by appointing himself the Chief Observer of the exercise. At one point, he got so angry with the irregularities that he decided to vent his misguided anger on a poor man at Ashaiman. I hope someone has called Dr. Asare to prepare a bed for Mr. Boom. I think that both Jerry Boom and the EC deserve an award (let's say the Order of the Scum of the Volta) for their superlative performances over the past two weeks. While congratulating the EC for a job well done so badly, I hope to God that their fiasco of a registration exercise will not put any dent on the clean victory I am going to win over Asomdwehene Fiifi in December. If it does, I swear by my mother's balls that I will never forgive the current members of the EC and all those who were involved in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the just-ended exercise. You know very well about the problems which dogged the registration exercise so I won't bore you by recounting them. All I can say is that, I have noticed that the current Electoral Commission is suffering from very serious afflictions, which can very easily set our democratic engine on fire. The first affliction is complacency. After organizing the 2000 elections so well, they began to rest on their oars. I thought the rest (which they deserved, anyway) wouldn't last long. But, alas it turned into one long slumber. Whenever the EC got out of this slumber, it did so only to argue with my officials over who had responsibility to oversee the proposed national ID card system. The arguments overshadowed the importance and the very essence of the national identity system that the whole process itself was pushed onto the back-burner. On this issue, I must say that both the EC and my government are guilty but the EC should take much of the blame. Their job, from my very ignorant reading of the constitution, is to maintain an electoral roll and organize elections. Theirs is not to keep a database of all Ghanaians and provide them with ID cards. So if out of my brilliant foresight, I have decided to institute a national ID card system and they (the EC) feel that it will help them to maintain an accurate register and organize elections, all they had to do was to sit down with us and see how best we can work together. Instead, they threatened and blackmailed us with the law, thinking they could do everything by themselves. Now, they cannot even provide common indelible ink.
So right now, we don't have a national ID card system and the electoral register has almost been torn to shreds even before it could be put together. Thanks to a selfish, complacent EC. I hope you agree with me that if the EC had worked together with us to put in place the ID card system, as originally scheduled for somewhere last year, there wouldn't have been any need for a voter's registration exercise this year. All eligible voters would have been able to vote with their ID cards and there will be no 'wahala' when I beat Fiifi. I am so angry that I feel that someone at the EC should be fast-tracked for causing financial loss to the state. Come to think of it, if we had added just a little bit more to the money they've almost wasted on the recently-ended exercise, we would have been able to firmly establish an ID card system. As things stand now, we have to now draw up a whole new budget and go around the world with our cup in hand once again in search of donor support. I hope that the few donors who are not fatigued will muster the strength to deliver some slaps to our begging officials before giving them the money.
The second affliction of the EC is that they have run out of ideas. When they noticed that they couldn't provide camera's at each of the 21,000 polling stations across the country for the exercise they started panicking and failed to think straight. If they had thought straight, they wouldn't have come up with this bogus arrangement of registering some people and issuing them with photo-IDs in some parts of the country whiles others are registered in other areas and told to return after a month or two for the photo-IDs. When they announced this arrangement, I knew it won't work and it would easily lend itself to fraudulent abuse.
At the time I thought (and I still think that) with their three thousand cameras the EC could have zoned the country into, say, five areas. The cameras will stay in each zone for one week. Everyone who registers in the particular zone will be issued with a photo-ID IMMEDIATELY - No 'go-and-come' matter. After a week in one zone the cameras and officials move into another zone and the system rotates until the whole country is covered after just ten weeks. Very few people with very criminal minds would have been able to abuse such an arrangement. With the arrangement the EC forced down our throats, the floodgates have been opened for electoral fraud. All it takes is for someone in any party to tell his footsoldiers to try and steal as many of the slips, which are supposed to be exchanged for photo-IDs as possible. These stolen slips can very easily be given out to aliens and under-aged people, with sympathies for the party, to go and pick up photo IDs, which will be used to vote in December. The EC has given Fiifi and his people another very good excuse to reject the results of the December polls.
Still on the issue of insufficient cameras, why didn't the EC launch an appeal for cameras when it realized that it didn't have enough? If they had launched a very innovative campaign, many Ghanaians, especially those abroad and the few well-to-do within as well as friends of the nation (not the NGO) would have donated cameras for this all-important national exercise.
Perhaps my ideas are far-fetched or impracticable. But I can proudly say that they are better than what the EC used. I also believe that someone, somewhere might have had a better idea - if only the EC had asked, the registration exercise wouldn't have been botched so well. Shame on the EC. I hope someone pays for this setback in our democratic experiment, either in this life or the next.
Excellently Peeved,
J. A. Fukuor
[email protected]

J. A. Fukuor
J. A. Fukuor, © 2004

The author has 204 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: JAFukuor

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