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16.09.2013 Opinion

Is The Pen Mightier Than The Vote?

By Ghanaian Chronicle
Is The Pen Mightier Than The Vote?
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By Charles Wereko-Brobby
At age 60 and over, I find myself stuck pondering the answer in the same way that the Supreme Court could not agree on what was meant by over-voting. The Jury, as they say, is out on the chicken or egg matter, even as our Supreme Court did not have the benefit of Jury assistance.

My handicap is compounded by quite a lot of the advice I am getting for Every Ghanaian Living Everywhere as to how to extend my divine “three score and ten” tenure on this already dying planet. Every doctor, quack, genuine, witch and herbal, is telling me that at my age, eggs are bad for me but I must eat as much chicken as often as possible. Hmmm, 'Asem beba Da bi'.

Fortunately, the other JSS philosophical to me I learnt very early in my life was a statement rather than a question: 'The pen is mightier than the sword' was drummed into our ears incessantly to promote the idea that persuasion and consent were more powerful and durable than resort to brute force. Hmmm ' Again, as we have found in the 56 years of Oman Ghana, brute force has presided over us more often than the pen.

After 21 years of interrupted counting of heads instead of cutting heads as one preferred mode of deciding who should govern in our name and on our behalf, we almost got ourselves overtaken by an unexpected calamity of our freely expressed will being upturned by the very instrument that we have all been taught to be the fount of rationality and civilised conduct.

We have just been through nine grueling months of tense and exciting (sweet & sour) legal tussle to decide whether The pen must have the final say in who was duly elected as our president on December 7/8 2012.

'On the face of the pink sheets' was the mantra and the key evidential tactic that defined the Petition of Nana Akufo- Addo and two others to challenge not just the outcome but more daringly, to overturn the declared will of the people. Whichever way one looks at it, at the core of the recent Supreme Court Case was whether a form , The pink sheet, had been filled in properly with all of the structures of the laws governing elections, or as imputed without vocalising ,been subjected to deliberate obfuscation.

Whether done honestly or improperly, the actions and inactions of those who used the pen to sum up the operations and outcomes of the Presidential Elections was being used as the final arbiter of the winner of the Elections for which biometrically - verified votes (not yet a Chief,oohhh) had cast in long hot queues and 'fiili fiili' conducted polls. Please note I am not questioning my brother Nana's right to 'Go to Court, even as those he led are hollering that he had no right to do the honourable thing of congratulating John Mahama after the fact.

In the end and on the face of it, it needed just one of the nine eminent justices to have changed their mind on the three crucial areas of over-voting, voting without biometric verification and presiding officers not signing the pink sheet to create monumental topsy-turvy history in the conduct of elections in ghana, and probably in the entire global village.

The Petitioners( acting for and on behalf of the NPP, as we are now told), alleged that there had been several infractions and deliberate acts of omissions and commissions, whose entire effect was to produce a different outcome to that expressed by the people at the Presidential elections. Because of these, the Court was being asked to annul the results and not just that, declare him, Nana Akufo-Addo as the duly elected President of Ghana. The entire basis for the petitioners claims and reliefs was to be found on the face of the pink sheets as completed or not by the presiding officer and polling agents

I prefaced my comment on the result because after reading all of the 588 pages of opinions of all the nine justices, I am able to heave a big sigh of relief and add another notch to the effusive and wholesome congratulations I have been heaping on them. For on the issue that admittedly, exercised their minds most, the Justices came down firmly and decidedly on the side of the will of the people as expressed by their votes as the central and only legitimate way for choosing who should govern in our name.

If you examine the details of all of three of the four dissenting votes (no confusion here I hope), what emerges is that it is in only one case where the request to overturn the outcome of the Presidential Election and declare Nana Akufo Addo President was granted. In all the other 11 nays, the justices decided that the results affected should be cancelled and fresh elections called.

'It is my strong and considered opinion that they cannot be disenfranchised with the annulment of their votes. The least the petitioners could ask for is cancellation of the results. Where it is proved that the identified administrative lapses affected the conduct of the polls, then voters in such places must be given the second chance to exercise their franchise if cancelling their votes can seriously impact the outcome of the general election. By so doing, governance will be carried out by persons elected by majority of the people ready and willing to exercise their constitutional right to vote, and not by a small minority of the people, as is being advocated for by the petitioners.' (Baffoe -Bonnie, JSC, Nana Akufo Addo et al V The Electoral Commission of Ghana et al)

So it is done and dusted. When it comes to how we choose who should over us or more correctly in our name, the vote reigns supreme over the pen. This is buttressed by nature's own act of making sure that without being held firmly and decidedly by the thumb, (the instrument of our vote); the pen will not even have the grip, let alone the intent to fill in any pink sheets, whether correctly or by 'Kuluulu'

As for the chicken and the egg, I have resolved that the egg came before the chicken for the simple reason that eggs are good for us at birth and in our formative years, while chicken reigns supreme as we prepare to exit to meet our original maker (not the fakes posing as HIM in the immortally confident assertion of no one cometh onto the father but by me.

The writer is Chief Policy Analyst, Ghana Institute for Public Policy Options( GIPPO)- Email: [email protected]

source: Ghanaweb

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