The upcoming 2024 general elections would be critical to the political stability of Ghana depending upon how the Electoral Commission of Ghana conducts the next general elections in the spirit of transparency, free and fair elections.
This means that the political stability of Ghana could be ruined by actions and inactions of the Electoral Commission to uphold the tenets of Democratic Principle of ensuring that every Ghanaian of 18yrs with sound mind is given the right and opportunity to register to vote in any electoral process as stipulated and enshrined in the 1992 constitution of Ghana.
In light of this constitutional provision, it's is clear in the minds of every Ghanaian that the Electoral Commission has the responsibility of ensuring that this constitutional provision is uphold and not trampled upon by any means involved in getting citizens to register their names in the Voter register to exercise their right to vote.
So, therefore, the Electoral Commission's Decision To Conduct The Limited Registration Exercise only at their District Offices is Afront To Democratic Principles of rule of Law and Rights of citizens. This development if care is not taken, could destroy the gains of our democracy since 1992 which could in effect, create instability in the country because there is growing perception that the Electoral Commission whose mandate is to be an arbiter of electoral processes be it voter registration or elections has rather become a political arm of the NPP government under the guise of President Nana Akuffo Addo.
This perception and assertion by civil society organisations, citizens of Ghana, minority political parties and the major opposition party NDC is borne out of the fact that the President has appointed political figures, sympathisers and cronies of the NPP government to the Board of the Electoral Commission to which it has received public uproar and backlash yet, the government has refused to annul these appointments although there's been call from civil society organisations to do so.
Against this backdrop, the call by civil society organisations and opposition political parties to get the Electoral Commission to decentralize the ongoing voter registration exercise resonates with the good citizens of Ghana in line with the constitutional mandate of the Electoral Commission enshrined in CI 91 AMENDED and ratified by CI 126 of the 1992 constitution of Ghana. This constitutional provision requires that EC ensures that places chosen to be registration centres could be suitable for use as polling centres in any elections. But the question is can the district offices of the EC be used as polling centres? Absolutely No. Since 1992 this constitutional provision has been upheld by the EC except the recent registration exercise. The constitution took into consideration the proximity of these centres to the abode of the citizens within an electoral area. This is because distance could be an obstacle to those who want to capture their names in the register to Travel far distances from their homes to district offices of the EC along with their guarantors. This could be capital intensive and could suppress the voter registration exercise which in effect could undermine the rights of citizens to vote in the next general elections.
So, the call by citizens, CSOs and opposition political parties which has fallen on dead hears of the EC is in the right direction and the EC in the spirit of fairness and transparency must heed to this call to bring the centres closer to the people to enable them exercise their Constitutional right to register to vote. Anything short of this could undermine the peace, security and political stability in the next general elections if Care is not taken. The arrogant posture of the EC not to decentralize the registration exercise doesn't reflect the democratic principle of the independence of the EC to conduct free, fair and transparent elections in 2024 and this perception which has sunk deep in the minds of Ghanaians is Afront to democracy and rule of Law because the EC is not an arm of government neither it is a political arm of the NPP government so to suppress voter registration could mean the EC may be doing the bidding of the government and not the citizens. This would ratify the perception of Ghanaians about the EC.
In light of this development, it is incumbent on the EC to listen to the cry of Ghanaians to decentralize the voter registration exercise to enable all qualified citizens to register to vote in the spirit of fairness and transparency since voting is a right not a privilege. It is also incumbent on the Supreme Court of Ghana to preserve our democracy and mandates of State Institutions by coercing the EC to do the needful if they refuse to address the concerns of Ghanaians by ensuring that the constitutional provisions CI 91 and CI 126 is upheld in trust of the good people of Ghana.
God bless our Homeland Ghana and make our nation Great and Strong!!
Dr. Michael Richmond Smart-Abbey (BA Hons, Ghana MDiv. USA, ThD, Philippines, PhD, USA), Exec. Cert, Exec. Adv. Cert. Security Intelligence and Forensic studies, Ghana, Gen. Cert. Organisational Security Management, UK
Writer and Author, Theologian, Security Expert and Political Analyst. Consultant in Organisational Security Management.