“Ghanaians are poor” is a phrase on everyone’s lips, whether it is spoken from within or outside the country. Factually, nearly 13 million of the population live on less than two Ghana Cedis a day, according to the Pathfinder International, a charity organization. But why won’t we remain poor? We don’t need a rocket scientist to explain this.

Democracy is said to be working when it is properly applied to improve the living conditions of the people. How do we achieve this when our leaders are not mindful of spending?

Early this week the EC boss, Dr Afari-Gyan, was heard in court explaining how the Commission even before determining positions of presidential candidates on the Poll and Declaration of Results Form, popularly called ‘pink sheet’, went ahead to order two sets of the forms totaling 54 000 pieces from an offshore company (country unknown).

According to the EC boss this was arrived at on the basis of an expected 18 candidates to file for the presidential election. Thus, they needed two volumes of the Result Forms per polling station just for the presidential election. The amount suddenly doubled, running into several millions of Cedis.

What is most intriguing is that, despite the offshore company’s willingness to delay the printing process until they received the candidates’ names and their positions on the ballot, the EC upon knowing that only eight candidates will participate in the election and therefore requiring just one pink sheet per PS, proceeded to instruct the company to emboss the names on both sets (54000 instead of 27000) of the pink sheets ordered.

Dr Gyan indicated earlier that no printing company in Ghana could print the pink sheets (what a shame!). Surprisingly, the EC regards unused pink sheets as “blank” since they do not have any unique labels or security features (no serial numbers?). Therefore without names embossed on them, and deducing from the explanation given by the renowned election authority, these sheets could be saved and used anywhere in future elections. However, by allowing the names to be printed on the extra set of forms which were not intended to be used for 2012 elections, the EC knowingly spent unwisely and therefore the Commission should be investigated for causing financial loss to the state.

Election is extremely an expensive activity in this country. Almost our entire GDP is committed into it every four years. It is now clear that the EC’s extravagant spending, lack of confidence in the local firms which offer lower rates, and insensitivity to the country’s meager revenue, significantly contribute to the high spending in every election year.

The ongoing electoral petition hearing in the Supreme Court is best thing that has ever happened to Ghana since the inception of the 1992 constitution. The country will not only adopt new strategies to conduct and declare fair elections but also to wholly reform the entire processes of democracy being practiced in the country. We will surely emerge from the court much stronger, not only certain about the winner of 2012 presidential election, but knowing how to prepare and use voting materials, how to vote correctly without spoiling a ballot, how to count ballots and enter the results correctly on pink sheets, and finally and most importantly, how to manage our electoral budget for maximum return.

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