I read Dr. Frankie Asare-Donkoh’s article captioned “Why Ghana Does Not Need a New Voters’ Register for the 2020 Elections” (Ghanaweb.com 12/25/19) first on Modernghana.com more than 24 hours ago and had intended to quickly fire off a rejoinder to the same back then. But, unfortunately, I found my brain to be too tired and heated to do the same, having already fired off some three or four articles of my own to the several media websites that regularly publish my columns that very night. Anyway, in the main, the writer’s argument is very sound when viewed from the theoretical standpoint of the fact that the present voters’ register has been used to conduct several local and parliamentary byelections since the Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) was democratically swept into the seat of power in the 2016 general election.
But, of course, unless he hermetically wrote his article from inside of a bubble or a political vacuum, as it were, the critic would have been keenly aware of the fact that the 2016 election was not altogether a smooth run or smooth sailing. Two or three days ago, for example, former President John Agyekum-Kufuor added his quite weighty voice to those of the leaders of his party, the New Patriotic Party, who have been demanding the creation of a new and more credible Biometric Voters’ Register (BVR). The former President’s equally sound, or perhaps even sounder, argument was that there had occurred too many instances of voter registration glitches or problems during the last election to warrant the creation of a new voters’ register (See “Kufuor Supports Calls for New Voters’ Register” News Desk-Modernghana.com 12/24/19).
The two-term President must know what he is talking about; for, there are only a handful of Ghanaian leaders and politicians still alive who rival the governance and electoral experience of 80-year-old Mr. John Agyekum-Kufuor. As for Dr. Asare-Donkoh’s argument that the money to be spent on the creation of a new voters’ register would be better spent on the Akufo-Addo-implemented fee-free Senior High School program, I find this to be inexcusably farcical, because there is absolutely no evidence that in the highly unlikely event of the New Patriotic Party’s losing the 2020 general election to the country’s main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), after President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had decided against the creation of a new voters’ registration, Ghanaians have absolutely no good or credible reason to either believe or expect that the man who is most likely to succeed him, that is – God forbid! – former President John Dramani Mahama, would be progressively poised to investing such a humongous amount of money in the fee-free Senior High School program, a program which Mr. Mahama has already pooh-poohed and even signaled times without number that he intends to scrap or get rid off altogether as one of his first acts in office.
There is also ample evidence to indicate that a second Mahama presidency would be absolutely no different from the last one, with cabinet and executive appointees blindly and criminally lining their pocketbooks, wallets and bank accounts by drawing home double salaries, instead of meaningfully and progressively investing the same in the fee-free Senior High School program. Neither would such money as may be saved by the scrapping of the decision to create a new voters’ register be wisely and progressively invested in the Agyekum-Kufuor-created National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). We were also, all of us, witnesses to what happened to the management of the NHIS under the previous Mahama regime; so absolutely nobody ought to be fooled by the loose talk about the rankly corrupt Mr. Mahama reemerging as president with any more progressive or people-centered social-intervention programs.
The Akan have a saying that “If Mr. Naked promises you a bolt [or even a half-piece] of cloth, you just listen to his name.” The current voters’ register lacks credibility because recently, Mr. Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, the dynastic General-Secretary of the main opposition National Democratic Congress, had the temerity to inform Ghanaians, not in so many words but implicitly, that the operatives of the NDC are in the habit of bloating the voters’ register in their electoral strongholds around the country. This was the same operative who sheepishly reported, in the wake of the 2012 general election, that then-Candidate Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had narrowly lost the presidential part of the election to an interim-incumbent President John Dramani Mahama because Nana Akufo-Addo’s polling representatives, assigns and observers had not been vigilant enough. Now, what more evidence do we need to assure ourselves that, indeed, the current voters’ register needs to be promptly replaced, if the outcome of the 2020 general election is to be made acceptable to all the parties and stakeholders involved without dispute?
And, by the way, even as I noted in a previous column, the bulk of the GHȻ 443 Million allocated to the Electoral Commission by Parliament will be used for the upgrading of some of the existing Biometric Voting Machines and where deemed necessary, for the purchase of brand-new BVMs altogether. Then again, whoever said that democracy was as cheap as Dr. Asare-Donkoh would have Ghanaians believe?
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
December 26, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]