Ken Agyapong's outburst exposes institutional flaws
By: Sebastian R. Freiku, Kumasi
A former deputy Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Osei Assibey Antwi, says the recent outburst of the Assin North Member of Parliament (MP), Mr. Kennedy Agyapong, following disturbances during the biometric registration exercise in the Odododiodoo constituency and other parts of the country, has helped to prick national consciousness, and awakened stakeholders from deep slumber.
He said Mr. Agyapong should be spared the bashings and seen as a concerned citizen raising issues that needed to be addressed, because, at least, his outbursts had come to save us (Ghanaians) from a rather volatile situation.
Concerned Osei Assibey Antwi blamed the President, as Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, for sitting aloof and not asserting his authority to contain the situation until National Security was awakened by Mr. Agyapong's reaction.
The former minister said in the circumstance, Ghanaians should blame the tense political situation on institutional failures, pointing to the Electoral Commission's failure to administer adequate contingency arrangements to ensure that the exercise was conducted under a conducive atmosphere.
Mr. Osei Assibey Antwi condemned the lapse, and wondered why Electoral Commission (EC), in its capacity as the institution mandated to enforce rules and regulations governing the registration exercise, overlooked its responsibility of ensuring security for registration centres at the Odododiodoo constituency, which lapse permitted the National Democratic Congress (NDC) parliamentary candidate for the area, Mr. Nii Lante Vanderpuye, to openly prevent prospective voters from registering, which was against the law.
He said one would have thought that the EC, whose responsibility it was to ensure sanity and security at all polling stations during elections across the country, could not live up to expectation at selected registration centres at a point in time.
He said Mr. Agyapong should not be blamed, because he might have made those remarks out of despair from the inaction of the EC and the police to swiftly react to the activities and disturbances of thugs in a bid to disrupt the ongoing biometric registration exercise, to the advantage of the ruling government.
Osei Assibey Antwi also faulted the National Peace Council and civil society for not calling the thugs to order.
The ex-Minister in the Kufuor administration criticised the laxity of the police, evidenced by its (Police Administration) rebuff of the Tafo-Pankrono District Police Commander, Superintendent Kwasi Ofori's positive stance in the application of 'Rules of Engagement' to deal with a rather volatile situation in his area of Command.
Mr. Osei Assibey Antwi has, therefore, called on the EC to effectively collaborate with the police and all stakeholders, including civil society and the Peace Council, to work and avoid the recurrence of Mr. Agyapong's reaction to weaknesses of institutions in the system.
The former minister also hoped the EC would learn a lesson from the recent hullabaloo at registration centres at Odododiodoo, and not disregard its core mandate of enforcing the rules and regulations of the exercise.
Mr. Osei Assibey Antwi has also urged the government to ensure maturity and a political goodwill in dealing with the situation more decisively, without compromising the rule of law.
He reiterated US President Barack Obama's call for stronger institutions in Africa to enhance democracy.