Leave Electoral Commission Alone; The Other View – By Paapa Stephens

I read in the Daily Graphic of Monday, September 10, 2012 an article attributed to the Convention People’s Party (CPP), advising all Ghanaians interested in the 2012 Elections to allow the Electoral Commission (EC) to carry out its constitutional obligations.

To say the least, some of us were very much confused as it seemed even contradictory. That the EC must be allowed to carry out its Constitutional obligation regardless of all the threats to national security is certainly not the best option. It is needlessly careless and surprising, coming from a party with such a rich pedigree, but hopelessly fragmented by selfishness, greed and narcissism.

Our late President Nkrumah must be turning in his grave, especially since her own daughter, Samia Nkrumah, is perceived to be the centre of the controversy.

The surprising thing about the CPP’s text was that it acknowledged that “we do, however, believe that as a country we should at a point in time, properly consider the maximum number of constituencies we should have.” So there is a point in time that, as a country, we can interfere or stop the EC from carrying out its constitutional obligations.

Would that not amount to violation of the very constitution the CPP is advising us not to violate? And can the so called ‘point in time’ not be applicable to the present circumstance?

When the CPP itself admits that “we are not unaware of the deeply, partisan nature this issue has taken and as a national party we have to restate that this has the potential of undermining this critical national institution,” some of us are deeply confused. That the EC should carry out its constitutional obligations when the very action itself has the potential of undermining this ‘critical national institution.’ So should the EC undermine itself? And would that make sense?

It is noteworthy that no less a person than the Most Rev. Joseph Osei Bonsu, who is the Chairperson of the Ghana Conference on Religion and Peace (GCRP) that comprises almost all the religious bodies in the country, along with other stakeholders and also the President, Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference, have called on all public spirited Ghanaians to support with prayer all efforts at ensuring peace and stability in the country.

Already, the group claims to have spoken to the Electoral Commissioner and intends to meet the leadership of the various political parties and then get back to the public. Would it not be better to wait for the GCRP to conclude its rounds for an informed decision to be taken for the benefit of the nation rather than a Court to throw the whole nation in turmoil merely by an interpretation of the Constitution?

Why is the Constitution not taking care of pupils schooling around the Weija dam who climb dangerously over the lake to attend classes? Yes, Constitutions are very necessary as they control and govern our lives, but they are not the alpha and omega of our lives.

That is why God in his wisdom has given us what it takes to solve unforeseen problems that confront us, whether in Constitutions or examinations. Again, we can reasonably assume that the peace that followed the last elections (2008) was partly due to the fact that ROPAL (representatives of people amendment law), though forced through parliamentary approval, was eventually, and to date, not implemented. Peace surely may be disturbed if this new constituency matter is not properly handled in the light of past and coming events.

When people feel that the courts are not helping their cause, they are likely to resort to other means to achieve their aim. Who says Boko Haram is not aware of the existence of the Nigerian Constitution; or the Al-Shabab of Somalia and similar militant groups? The catch here is that we must not create any fertile grounds for them to exploit. These groups can only operate with local assistance or local invitations and under various guises.

It is equally noteworthy that when the two legal teams of the two parties in court, Mr Joe Ghartey, for the plaintiff and Mr James Quarshie Idun for the EC appeared before Mr Justice Julius Ansah of the Supreme Court, the latter asked the two parties, “can’t both sides decide on something until the next adjourned date?” Just like the biblical Pontius Pilate clearly washing his hands from any upheaval that may arise if he eventually gave judgment based on law and not any extraneous circumstances.

It will be recalled that Justice Ansah had earlier indulged Mr Joe Ghartey to state how the Supreme Court could restrain Parliament. A very disturbing and intriguing interjection indeed, especially when one knows what happened to our Lord Jesus Christ after Pontius Pilate had washed off his hands; a disclaimer.

Dr Afari Gyan and all people who think the constitution is sacrosanct and must dogmatically be pursued must calm down and rethink. We must remember that whenever there is post-election violence, constitutions are torpedoed and thrown overboard and significantly raising no protest or even a remote challenge by Electoral commissioners.

Dr Afari Gyan must calm down. Some of us would even urge him, and seriously too, to read Mr K.B. Asante’s article which appeared on page 7 of the Daily Graphic of Monday, September 10, 2012 under the heading “Are Land Lines Necessary.” It would look like Dr Afari Gyan almost typifies the late Mr Osah Mills that Mr Asante was paying tribute to.

According to Mr K.B Asante, Mr Osah Mills was “a stickler for rules and regulations and procedures.” He was also very abrasive and had his rules to keep. He, therefore, earned the title the Establishment Secretary. Notwithstanding, Mr Asante, was able to resolve a very contentious matter with the abrasive Mr Osa Mills, while still keeping to the rules and avoiding some of the tricky procedures. He said he was able to change Mr Osah Mills only after the latter had “calmed down.” Dr Afari Gyan, please calm down. Ghanaians are more important than Constitutions.

Is the CPP listening? And Dr Afari Gyan too. That’s my prayer. And they must take note that even our next door neighbour, Togo, has put an earlier decision to increase their new constituency demarcations from 81 to just 91 on hold in view of criticisms levelled against the intention.

Not only that, it decided that the number of Parliament should be maintained at 83 in line with the 2006 electoral code. The most significant thing about Togo’s issue is that its next election is schedule for 2015; three clear years from now. Not three months, December 7, 2012 like Ghana. And some of us think that in the interest of peace, that’s the most sensible option.

Ghana cannot refuse to welcome this wisdom.