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EC Fires Starting Gun For Election 2016; But…   
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The Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC), the body charged by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, with the organization and conduct of public elections, has signalled its readiness to run this year’s general elections scheduled for November 7, 2016.

In a flurry of activities at the end of 2015, 1)the Parliament of Ghana met the EC and approved a budget for this year’s elections; 2) the EC released a timetable setting out a full schedule of activities and their timelines ; 3)the EC received the report of the Expert panel established to examine the merits of the call for a new voters register 4) the EC completed its investigation into the specific complaints filed by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and responded fully to the party with its findings; 5)the Commission reached agreement with IPAC on the areas of electoral reform for this year’s election.

All of the above activities have been carried out in full consultation with the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), whose membership includes all registered political parties in Ghana. As far as I can surmise, IPAC’s deliberations have been mainly amicable and the decisions have almost always been unanimous and without rancour

According to the published timetable, the first activity for this year, “Recruitment of Registration Supervisors and Technicians (Key Trainers)”, starts in less than 10 days’ time, followed immediately with the first meeting of IPAC on the 22 January 2016, under two weeks away.

So to all intents and purposes, the eleven month countdown to this year’s general elections has started with the firing gun signalling the start of the race to become the next President of Ghana. To confirm this, the two overwhelming favourite contestants, incumbent President John Dramani Mahama, and the third time Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, have already been elected by their political parties.

Given all of the foregoing, the people of Ghana deserve to know what is the reason for the incessant cacophony of ‘fury and thunder” that is being generated to disturb our ears and also put our pressure meter readings up a few mm It seems to me to be about nothing but a lot of hot air from supposedly entitled, but ultimately on looking cheer leaders for the two main contestants.

When all the noise and postures are put through the ‘sanity channel’, all that emerges reduces to whether we should prepare a new voters register or clean up the existing one to use for this year’s elections. Note, please note, all other issues, including the contentious “NO Biometric, No Vote”, and “what constitutes “over-voting”, have all been resolved through IPAC.

Without rehashing the arguments for and against a new register, i would simply like to remind you that at the core of the argument is “whether or not the current register is over-bloated and therefore inherently flawed and unsuitable for the elections?” What is even more baffling is that no one seems to know what is the acceptable threshold from which to establish whether a register is over bloated or not

Without seeking to define this, i want to share the results of my investigation into Ghana’s experience with voter registers during the 4th Republic; you will find the results very interesting and wondering what the fuss is all about?

Using the benchmark definition of “the number of actually registered voters divided by the number of voters estimated as qualified to vote” here are the numbers: 1992: 119.9%; 1996: 105.5%; 2000:105%; 2004:93.6%; 2008:95.8%; 2012: 102.6%. The plain truth is that every single electoral roll used for elections in Ghana’s 4th Republic has been bloated by comparable international Standards. Yet, the outcomes of all of all of these elections have been accepted, even where it has been challenged in court.

For those who seem to think that the Nigerians have achieved something extraordinary from the conduct of their last elections, if you compare the actual voter turnout on election day of 43.6%.’6% of the much vaunted and highly praised, but erroneously tagged as new, register by the good Prof, then I for one am persuaded that winning elections is more about who turns out to vote and less about the total registered to vote.

From my perch as a ‘Suspendee Emeritus’, I would advise the NPP to close the chapter on its call for a new register and encourage the various surrogate groups to douse the unnecessary fires and turn down the noise and empty rhetoric. The NPP must instead focus on its message of how its “change is gonna come” mantra will be endorsed by the long suffering people of Ghana who are literally reeling from excessive taxation and wasteful abuse of our public purse.

The NPP elected its flag bearer about 16 months ago. The rationale was that the party would have sufficient time to plan its agenda and raise ample resources to take on and unseat the incumbency on a promise of ‘The happy days of K4 are coming again”.

Instead, the past 16 months have been about “ethnic cleansing and purges” masquerading as suspensions of the renegades. What the NPP needs to remember is that it will be hard enough trying to cross the 50% +1 threshold to win the next elections with all hands on deck. Politics is more akin to the New Testament broad approach where you combine the “wheat with the chaff” to achieve a winning ingredient>

I have enough recollection of 2008 to sound the alarm of foreboding to the NPP of the impending calamity if it does not alter course from macho internal power play to telling us what it will do to improve our welfare and well being

If the NPP believes that things are so bad, it can ride in the darkness of Dumsor to victory 2016, it had better just sit up and observe what is happening now we have had uninterrupted light to chop buronya.

It must also be aware that the swagger and impudence with which the incumbent government is piling on ‘economic hardships’ on businesses and Ghanaians in general suggests that President John Mahama and his NDC is confident it has already gotten the measure of the NPP and has the people on its side if not in their pocket yet

Its eleven months exactly to Decision day 2016. The NPP needs to finish its warming up and shoot off the starting blocks to catch up Usain Bolt sprint. If instead, the NPP wants to keep on about a protest which has run out of steam, it should so advise us that it is not prepared to mount a contest to offer Ghana an alternative choice until the party gets its way on a new voters register.

If i so decides, the NPP will remain the “largest opposition party in Ghana”, but we the people of people will quickly have to look elsewhere for our redemption from the same or another John.

The race has started. The contest will be fierce and very competitive. The winner will not be the one who is not counting on his opponent’s tardiness of speed. The winner will be the one who takes off promptly from the blocks and runs fastest to the tape. They will deserve our cheers and fulsome praise.

Source: Charles Wereko-Brobby

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