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17.01.2020 Opinion

When The Cistern Of Knowledge Exhibits Weaknesses To Matters Of National Importance

By John Antwi Boasiako
When The Cistern Of Knowledge Exhibits Weaknesses To Matters Of National Importance
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The temptation to despair may become so overwhelming when you realize that the best in the game, the cistern of knowledge when it comes to matters of national importance exhibits weaknesses known to be part and parcel of amateurs.

18 civil society organisations convoked on the EC's proposed plan to compile a new voters' register. They tell us they are not in support of the proposition. They give a number of reasons. The holes in these reasons are amazingly shocking.

Let me highlight on one or two. They asked the EC to do verification of voters with the view to removing ghosts and other 'debris' from the register.

The question is, how many people even go to polling stations to check if their names are in the register? In an event someone has travelled or is invalid, how does such a person do the verification exercise? What the CSOs failed to grasp is the fact that the register suffers from a multitude of challenges apart from ghost names.

They also gave a simple solution to the obsolete nature of the software. They asked the EC to update the existing software to make it more efficient.

Microsoft has just announced an end of life to Windows 7. The computer software giant is not giving any form of support to machines running Windows 7. How do we update such machines to make them more efficient? Does it not include acquiring a new set of software that is top notch?

And who told them updating a system excludes purchasing completely new products? The ultimate destination is efficiency. Whatever the EC does to make its work more efficient is what is important.

I am tempted to believe that a lot of research work didn't go into these reasons the CSOs adduced else some of these points wouldn't have made their way into the list.

At the tail end of 2019, these same CSOs joined forces together, met the press and expressed their frustrations over what they described as a seemingly needless interference of the work of the Auditor-General.

They also were up in arms about what they termed as the Government's deliberate approach to stifle the Auditor General's office of funds to work effectively and efficiently, an assertion that was later proven to be a palpable falsehood.

Simply stating the obvious, the CSOs were on a crusade. They asked the government to allow the state institution, the Auditor General's office to work. To them, a state agency like the Auditor General’s Department is an independent body that must not suffer any form of interference.

Why are the CSOs, the apostles of independent state agencies being left alone to work, at war with the EC?

Why are the CSOs trying so hard to stampede the EC as it goes about its constitutionally mandated job?

The CSOs must exhibit consistency in their dealings. They preached independence for the Auditor General yesterday but today, they are doing the opposite when it comes to the EC!

In their hurriedly penned anti-new register sentiments, the 18 CSOs asked the EC to walk through the seas of biometric verification devices with the view to winnowing the healthy ones from the frail and infirm ones. They believe the EC can detect the ones in good condition and those which are not.

They ask the EC to discard these dead machines and replace them with new gadgets. That, to the CSOs, cures the appetite for a new set of machines.

They have lost sight of the fact that the vendor said these machines are no more being manufactured and has accordingly advised the EC to move on to a different platform.

How does the EC buy machines which are not in production? It is akin to asking a phone enthusiast to look for BlackBerry or HTC with the latest and more sophisticated software like the ones we see on iOS and Android to purchase. BlackBerry and HTC have become historical artifacts as they are no more in the system.

Dear CSOs, you did a shoddy job with this matter. You were in a hurry to impress and came up with suggestions that are more outmoded than the machines the EC is trying to get rid of.

Our revered 18 CSOs insist that the EC is trying to torpedo the NIA in its job since the national ID outfit has the sole mandate to compile the biometric details and every other information about Ghanaians.

In their arguments, the CSOs draw our attention to the wording of the EC's mandate. They make the case that the EC is to see to the compilation and management of our register as well as elections. They are not, the CSOs argue, to compile a NEW register as that's not explicitly stated.

That's why, they contend, it is the duty of the NIA to compile a new register for purposes of elections.

Our CSOs are trying to school us in semantics. Our lecturers did poor jobs in the classroom when it came to the subject.

Not to deride this point, but it is comical. The EC has been compiling new registers for years. The laws that governed the EC as it went about the 2012 register compilation have not been scrapped. Until the EC's laws are changed, it remains the only constitutionally mandated body to compile new registers for elections.

Why waste their pen and paper when they have lawyers who could go to the Supreme Court to challenge the EC on this matter?

Our CSOs should abort the attempts to teach us English comprehension and semantics.

By John Antwi Boasiako
[email protected]

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