Afari-Gyan and the Constitution Lack Credibility

It is not clear whom the Electoral Commissioner thinks he is fooling, when Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan asserts that “If the EC [Electoral Commission], [gauging] by the prevailing circumstances, finds it meaningful to create new constituencies, they would be created”.

Indeed, he is dead-on accurate in, implicitly, observing that blame for his decision to creating 45 additional constituencies, with barely three months to Election 2012, ought to be squarely placed in the hands of those of our countrymen and women who crafted the 1992 Fourth-Republican Constitution and placed the momentous legal authority of creating additional constituencies, as came to be deemed necessary, in the hands of an unelected official with no professional legal background, or a crackerjack staff of legal mavens for the same purpose.

Nevertheless, maybe we need to deafeningly reiterate for the benefit of Dr. Afari-Gyan that none of the key disputants in the debate over the creation of 45 additional constituencies is impugning the overriding motive of the EC for creating the aforesaid constituencies. The Fourth-Republican Constitution of Ghana clearly stipulates that anytime that the country’s population experiences a remarkable increase, parliamentary representation needs to be readjusted in commensurate, or proportional, response to the same.

What is being vehemently disputed by influential and distinguished Ghanaian citizens like former President John Agyekum-Kufuor, squarely has to do with the temporal frame within which the creation of these constituencies is being undertaken, particularly with regard to such pertinent issues as the conduct of parliamentary primaries geared towards the selection of parliamentary candidates, the affording of adequate electioneering campaign time in order to allow successful candidates introduce themselves to, as well as establish their confidence with, their prospective constituents.

If these fundamental ingredients of a functional democracy are too much for the key players in our national political culture to demand from the Electoral Commissioner, as Dr. Afari-Gyan clearly seems to believe, then, of course, the man definitely must have outlived his usefulness at the post which he has held continuously for some two decades now.

Then also, Dr. Afari-Gyan could be clinically suffering from professional fatigue, in which case he needs to be seriously considering the imminent possibility of either retirement or resignation. Linked to the preceding is what might be aptly termed as the “arrogance of longevity,” a kind of circumstantial intransigence that comes with excessive and cavalier familiarity with the performance of a job over time.

In reality, what the former Political Science lecturer at the University of Ghana ought to be doing presently, together with his staff, of course, is to be meticulously combing through the voters’ register to pollard – or weed out – double registrants and the so-called ghost names, such as those of the late President John Evans Atta-Mills, whose name, reportedly, still appears in the voters’ register.

Indeed, it is rather quizzical for Dr. Afari-Gyan to claim that the biometric voting system is virtually foolproof, while at the same time calling for utmost vigilance on the part of polling-station officials. Then also, Ghanaians ought to be discussing the highly economical possibility of increasing the average population size required for the creation of new constituencies from the current 50,000 to at least 75,000, or even double the current constitutional mandate.

In other words, blindly following the rules, even when it is clearly evident that they are incongruous with the proverbial temper of the times, does great ill to both responsible and mature leadership. This unarguably appears to be the overriding polemical thrust of those diametrically at variance with the apparent intransigence of the Electoral Commissioner.

While it certainly comes as quite refreshing to hear Dr. Afari-Gyan speak to the concerns of genuinely aggrieved sections of the Ghanaian electorate, nonetheless, what needs resolving is the imperative necessity for a pragmatic approach to our constitutional and electioneering protocol. On the latter score, Dr. Afari-Gyan ought to be more forthcoming and conciliatory.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net.