THE ROLE OF CERTAIN regions in the country as the “world banks” of some political parties has been with us for some time now.
It first surfaced in the 1996 elections when, in spite of inroads in some other regions by the resurgent opposition parties, the Volta Region turned out 100 percent for the then ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Election 2000 increased the number of supposed political world banks in the country when the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) took 30 of the 32 or so seats in the Ashanti Region with margins that challenged the 17 out of 19 seats won by the NDC in the Volta Region.
Thus for Election 2004 we have two world banks – one for each of the two leading parties – which are being banked upon to tilt the scales in favour of their claimants when the chips are down.
Consequently, it is to be expected that growing desperation will manifest in the Volta and Ashanti regions as December 7 draws nearer, in attempts by the NDC and the NPP to corner all the votes in their respective world banks and at the same time make inroads into the other. That is a recipe for a no-holds-barred electoral conflict, if the two parties are allowed to do whatever they think would help them achieve their objectives.
This is why the GYE NYAME CONCORD is alarmed at the news coming out of the Volta Region that the NDC will “set up task forces that would be sent round to urge the people to exercise their civic rights”.
According to Mr Francis Ganyaglo, NDC regional secretary, who broke the news, the taskforces would be in addition to the training of the party's “district, constituency and other frontline staff” in the Volta Region “facilitate the party's efforts to win Election 2004”.
He noted: “Although the region is the stronghold of the NDC, the party is leaving no stone unturned to secure all the seats there”.
The GYE NYAME CONCORD has no quarrel with the NDC's objective per say; what we are not sure of is whether the environment is conducive for the means to that end. For instance we have no problem at all with the proposed training of poll agents. Such practice is internationally accepted and is not controversial or trouble-prone.
However, we cannot say the same for the setting up of task forces that would ensure that the people exercise their civic rights, either in the Volta Region nor the Ashanti region. This is because the other party would capitalise on it and set up rival taskforces to ensure that its members are not driven away from exercising their civic rights.
Great prestige is at stake in the December 7 elections, both at the party and the individual level, and no loophole should be permitted for any vain glorious group or person to exploit it to their advantage and give our pace-setting democracy a bad name.
In the Volta region, the NPP is attempting to break the stranglehold of the NDC on the region. And the foot soldiers it is using are some “bright kids” working in and under the Presidency. These are names whose possible defeat in the forthcoming elections would grab ground-shaking banner headlines. They would therefore move heaven and earth literally to ensure that when they lose it would not be because of any sin of omission or commission on their part.
A similar situation obtains, more or less, in the Ashanti Region. Here the NDC is looking to convert its 30 or 40 percentage footage into a majority vote in as many constituencies as it can and would likely counter any NPP taskforces that would tend to arbitrarily make that dream more impossible than it already appears to be.
The GYE NYAME CONCORD therefore calls on both the Electoral Commission and the Police Service to strictly enforce our electoral laws. The Police especially should rise above whatever partisan inclinations that its officers and men may have and be equally impartial to all the political parties, incumbent or not.
The Inspector-General of Police should this very moment liase to have whoever is responsible for that, ban the formation of all party task forces whose duty it is to “ensure that the people exercise their civic rights”. It is a move that is too prone to gross abuse that could lead to avoidable bloodshed.
Almost four years ago Ghana beat America, the acclaimed bastion of democracy, at its own game. While the two major parties there battled through the courts to determine the eventually winner, who did not emerge until days to inauguration, our outgoing and incoming leaders were beaming smiles, shaking hands and embracing each other for local and international television footage.
That was no fluke and we should not allow anyone to rubbish it in pursuit of his or her inordinate ambition.