Short of being high on crack-cocaine, or any such narcotic contraband, it is not quite clear just what Mr. Agbesi Nutsu, the leading member of the Trokosi Wing of the National Democratic Congress, means when he calls on former President Kufuor “to render an unqualified apology to the Electoral Commission,” for aptly slamming the grossly “senseless” attempt by Dr. Afari-Gyan to rig the country up for a civil war (See “Kufuor Must Apologize – NDC” Ghanaweb.com 9/1/12).
In spite of his identification as a member of the protean so-called NDC Communications Team, it is almost certain that Mr. Nutsu was not speaking on behalf of the ruling party, assuming that the NDC is reasonably composed of citizens who are adequately intelligent to appreciate the temporal and electioneering dynamics of a genuine democratic culture, such as is practiced in Fourth-Republican Ghana.
And here, it bears underscoring the fact that what is at issue is not whether Ghana's population has ballooned well enough to necessitate the creation of 45 additional constituencies, thus bringing up the total number of parliamentary seats to 275, from the current figure of 230. Rather, as adumbrated above, the issue regards one of electioneering protocol having to do with the provision of ample time to enable serious parliamentary candidates to introduce themselves to their respective constituents and then map out a meaningful, progressive and strategic agenda for both their constituents and themselves. This is what the cynical likes of Mr. Nutsu and a remarkable percentage of key NDC operatives seem to be dead-set against, obviously because like the Rawlings-appointed Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Ghana's Electoral Commissioner, the overriding objective of creating an additional 45 constituencies and parliamentary seats has anything to do with everything but an effective democratic electioneering campaign.
In all the preceding, one government organization which is actually the real culprit, but which has been deafeningly and surprisingly left out of the raging debate is the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), whose tardiness and gross administrative incompetence, by way of releasing the country's most recent census figures well behind schedule, is squarely to blame for the raging confusion. Of course, there is another equally significant equation to the ongoing debate, and it is the urgent need for a constitutional amendment provision to increase the population of an average constituency from 50,000 (Fifty-Thousand) to at least 75,000 (Seventy-Five Thousand) or more. Here in the United States, for instance, the average Congressional District contains a population of 100,000 (One-Hundred Thousand) citizens. With a population of 313 million, as of the last census, the United States maintains a fairly stable seating of 435 in its lower chamber of Congress, plus a permanent and/or invariable seating of 100 at the senatorial (or upper-chamber) level of Congress. In the Senate, regardless of the size and/or population magnitude of a state, each and every state of the proverbial Union is represented by 2 (two) senators. The latter state of affairs is to guarantee a democratic balance of power in order to ensure that big states do not use their greater numbers in the lower-chamber – or the House of Representatives – to impose their will on the smaller states. The Senate, relatively speaking, is the legislative court of last resort.
With a population of just under 25 million, and a National Assembly which already sits 230 parliamentarians, Ghana's parliament is clearly bloated and economically unsustainable, especially when one also factors in the fact that the bulk of the most significant legislative work, such as Constitutional Review and Revision, is done by executive edict and government appointees who work outside of parliament and are remunerated by a separate budget. In other words, as it presently stands, Ghana's parliament may aptly be termed as a veritable white elephant, one with only a marginal relevance.
When Mr. Nutsu argues out of context and forensically sustainable logic that under the Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party government 30 new constituencies were created, the critic acutely insults the intelligence of Ghanaian voters and citizens. The fact of the matter is that no constituencies were created in the country between 2001 and 2008 with only three months before a general election, as clearly happens to be the present case. And so, really, if anybody needs to apologize to the Electoral Commission, it is Mr. Agbesi Nutsu. And his apology must be for deviously misleading Dr. Afari-Gyan and the EC into believing that the latter's attempt to deliberately and flagrantly destabilize Ghanaian democracy is apt and proper.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: [email protected]