Opinion

Did EC chairs sleep with governments?

Think of this. Every Electoral Commission Chair in Ghana since 1992 has been “in bed” with the Government in power. Fifteen seconds after the announcement of a new EC, there is a dagger at their throat, held by the Opposition. The sharp-edged murder weapon remains till elections are over and it is found out that the suspect had been stranger to the reality, after all.

Sometime in December 2012, there was an allegation that the EC was erasing the data on the biometric verification machines and resetting everything to zero, wiping off evidence considered vital to its intended cause.

Subjected to strict proof, it was found that erasure and re-setting did actually take place, but only in the imagination of the accuser.

in September 2011, at the time President Atta Mills was extolling the virtues of the Electoral Commission at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the EC Chair, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan was under fire at home from the then largest opposition party in Ghana warning of “dire consequences if the Commission continued to ignore all promptings on the red flag hoisted by the party for the forthcoming biometric registration exercise”.

What could compel a politician to go on air to utter the following:

“Let me be very honest. Should I see Dr Afari Gyan suffering to the point of death on my way, I will never convey him in my car to the nearest hospital. I am being honest. I worship with the Catholic Church but I will never help Dr Afari Gyan.”

That was (allegedly) Nana Obiri Boahen on NeaT FM’s morning show, ‘Ghana Montie’. He is reported as saying, “We of the NPP are firmly convinced that Afari-Gyan’s position is untenable; he has lost credibility and public confidence so he must go”

I did not personally listen to the interview. I did not go for the tape to review it, but a transcript of the interview with Kwesi Aboagye was published online in 2016 and has never been denied.

Years later, on February 25, 2016, hear Nana Obiri Boahen commenting on the conduct of the new EC chair, Charlotte Osei: “As for the present EC boss, she is a pale shadow of Dr Afari Gyan.”

The NPP-Afari Gyan dance with death climaxed on 31st December 2012 when the party decided to go to court in what has gone down as one of the longest drawn out electoral wranglings in history.

A few days before the decision, representatives of the NPP presented evidence of election irregularities and malpractices to the EC. The submission was in direct response to an Afari-Gyan remark, insisting that “The name of the game is evidence”.

On June 16, 2015, Afari-Gyan exited.

To this man will be credited, forever, the advice to all politicians everywhere that “elections are won at the polling station”.

June 25, 2015. Enter Mrs. Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei, the new EC chair.

She waded into a hail of bullets over the issue of a new voters’ register. For months, the opposition NPP and others had been pushing for the compilation of a new electoral roll, insisting the register “is bloated and therefore cannot confer credibility on the winner of the 2016 general elections.”

But Charlotte Osei did not think so. She was certain that “the electoral system is robust and fool proof”. The ruling NDC issued a statement declaring that “the EC has done a yeoman’s job”.

On June 28, 2018, Charlotte Osei and her two deputies were removed from office following recommendations by a committee set up by the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo into allegations of corruption and misconduct.

July 23, 2018:  President Akufo-Addo appoints Jean Adukwei Mensa as the new EC Chair.

July 24, 2018: The top news item in the morning was that “the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has described Jean Mensa’s appointment as shocking, saying the appointment “defies all senses of decency, fairness and justice”. The party said it saw her mandate “only in terms of getting Nana Akufo-Addo re-elected”.

A few days later, Asiedu Nketia came waving a red flag. She said Jean Mensa was “a ‘King Kong’ who has come to change everything she met in the office”. This was his reaction to a disclosure by Jean that “plans are underway to change the Israeli company, SuperTech Ltd (STL) from handling the data of the voters’ register.”

Then came Jean’s first press statement. The EC was going ahead to compile a new voter roll.

Bam! On Thursday December 19, 2019, the NDC reacted, saying, the decision “is part of a plot by Jean Mensa to rig the 2020 polls in favour of President Akufo-Addo and that “their conduct, so far portends a devious plan to set the stage to suppress voter numbers in the strongholds of the NDC and to bloat voter numbers in the strongholds of the NPP”.

We’ve had three ‘devils’ so far since 1992. What is there at the Commission that makes every Minority suspect that there are daggers in their smiles?