You’re in court against the Electoral Commission (EC). You don’t want the Commission to compile a new voter register for the 2020 parliamentary and presidential election.
Almost all civil society organisations in Ghana have issued a statement saying a new register is needless. Some well-meaning Ghanaians agree with you and the CSOs. But the EC stands its ground. From the court proceedings so far, you’re arguing that even if the EC Should go-ahead to compile a new register, it should accept the current voter ID cards as one of the documents that make one eligible to register for the new one.
The EC has got the NPP Majority in Parliament to pass a Constitutional Instrument (CI) that says passports and the national ID cards should be the only identification documents to qualify one for the new voter register.
Only a handful of Ghanaians have passports. And the national ID card registration and distribution are still ongoing. The CI says those who don’t have these documents can only register if two people who are already registered agree to guarantee for them. You (the NDC) want holders of the old voter ID cards to register without guarantors.
The EC is against this. The EC’s position, like all its arguments for and concerning the new voters’ register, is consistent with the position of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP). This is not a strange coincidence.
The call for the new voter register is the NPP’s original idea since 2012. After the biometric register in 2012, the NPP later claimed some Togolese had registered in the Volta Region, your stronghold. The NPP wanted the register changed before the 2016 election. They were in opposition and the head of the EC then was not on their side on this. Today, the NPP is in power. A new EC chair appointed by an NPP president is in charge. The NPP wants it done. And it appears the EC is aligned.
Well, let’s return to the courtroom.
The Supreme Court is set to give its judgment on June 23, while the EC is set to begin the nationwide registration on June 30.
When you go to court, you should expect one of two outcomes: you either lose or win the case; you are either satisfied or dissatisfied with the judgment. If you win this case, many of your supporters will not be disenfranchised as you fear. But what if you lose? What will you do?
I have heard many of your supporters and party leaders at different levels say they would physically resist the compilation of a new voters register by the EC. Some have said they would do that with the last drop of their blood.
I have also seen the support your party is giving to the Chairman of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Bernard Mornah, who was recently questioned by the police for threatening to resist the compilation of the register.
I don’t know what the Supreme Court judges will say, but if the pendulum of justice does not swing in your direction, violence is not, should not, and must not be an option. There are many reasons for this.
The democracy you signed up for comes with a truckload of imperfections. And it’s not perfect anywhere. The imperfection of democracy is the only reason some of you ever got close to power. It’s the reason we are still living with the outcome of December 2016.
Democracy comes with disagreements. The court is where serious creases of disagreement are ironed out. The courts are also not perfect, but we have no option but to obey their rulings.
Not many in the NPP agreed with the Supreme Court when it ruled in 2013 that President Mahama had won the 2012 election.
Until we agree and codify the fact that if satisfactory justice is denied in the court, it should be obtained in the streets with bullets and machetes and cudgels, we cannot do otherwise. You must exhaust all the legal processes. And if you lose, you should obey what the court says.
You see, you need to think of the larger interest of the nation here when preaching violence. Just give it a little thought and you’ll realise any resort to violence would be an own goal.
Violence will favour the NPP and President Akufo-Addo, not you. The Ghana Police Service is a highly compromised state institution. The Electoral Commission is also not on your side.
The NPP government controls the coercive machinery of the state as mandated by the constitution through executive power vested in the president. Such powers can be deployed arbitrarily as we have seen throughout the life of the fourth republic.
If you resort to violence, the EC will go ahead to register. The police will give them protection. Even if one million people register – they will vote and declare Nana Akufo-Addo winner in December. And you may not make any headway in the Supreme Court.
When you boycotted the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, you only made it easier for the mistress of the late MP to take that seat. In parliament, you screamed all manner of names and slogans but she’s the MP.
So, if you lose this case, do as the NPP did in 2016. The NPP’s leaders and members were spitting venom, fire, and brimstone in opposition. They threatened violence when the EC was not yielding to their demand for a new register. For instance, the NPP’s youth organiser, Sammi Awuku, wrote this on Facebook on October 30, 2015:
“By her posture and utterances, the EC boss is setting the stage to deny the youth and the people of Ghana a new and credible voters register for the 2016 elections. We will not sit down for our future to be toyed with. The cost of a new credible voters register is cheaper than the cost of violence. Guess its [sic] time for the Youth to Arise! We cannot afford to fail the masses in 2016. Youth Revolution imminent.”
Others also made such dangerous utterances, but because John Mahama’s posture was to not to crush those with dissenting views, we did not see police invitations in 2016 like we are seeing today. The likes of Bernard Mornah are invited for words that are nowhere near the threats by Sammi Awuku and the like.
Perhaps, the police under this administration are rising up to their duties and it is my prayer that, going forward such reckless statements from anybody should be treated with same speed and dispatch by the Police.
In 2016, when the NPP failed to get what they wanted by way of electoral reforms, they went to work and won massively with the same register they despised. Learn from them.
Another reason you should not resort to violence is that you have everything to lose, while some of those urging you on have nothing to lose. People like Bernard Mornah have nothing to lose. He and the PNC as well as the so-called smaller parties are like the crabs who led animals in the forest to destroy the vaccine for headache because they had issues with the medical team.
When the epidemic struck finally, the crabs were not affected because they had no heads. The other animals realised they shouldn’t have followed the crabs, but it was too late.
The PNC and the rest have nothing to lose in this election, but you do. The only reason you may want to resort to violence, (and even that would not be justifiable under our laws) is if you don’t want to participate in the December polls. But I’m not sure that’s what you want.
That’s not all. The type of leadership Ghanaians witnessed in the administration of John Mahama and the NDC cannot be a reason to spill blood.
“What aaaa” are you coming to do that people must die to bring you back. The power?The positions? The The V8s? The contracts? Name them!
It is true that some Ghanaians have been scammed into believing in the accolades showered on then-candidate Akufo-Addo. Some Ghanaians, including me, think that the current President is not any different from the rest.
Those of us who believed he was the messiah to transform this nation and restore sanity have been greatly disappointed. But the agonizing question is: what is the alternative? We know the angel. We know the devil. And we now know that the devil you know is not better than the angel you don’t know.
Until Ghana gets an honest and selfless president who can help heal our land and transform the fortunes of its miserable masses, we must, at least, endeavour to keep the nation in one piece. We should not rebuild from refugee camps. So spare us the threat of violence.
What you the NDC should know is that all is not lost. The odds favour the NPP in this election, but they don’t have to be complacent. You the NDC can pull a surprise. It’s possible.
Voters like me who were apostles of the messianic Akufo-Addo are ashamed of what we are seeing. We are still asking whether there is a reason to queue and vote. Compiling a new register in this raging pandemic has made our task even more difficult.
I don’t know how many we are, but I know a good number of disappointed floating voters are gutted. If we don’t vote in 2020, you don’t need a soothsayer to tell you who loses and who gains. If someone voted John Mahama in 2016, there wouldn’t be a strong reason not to vote for him in 2020.
From what I see, the NPP is likely to lose a number of parliamentary seats – the fragile seats it snatched from the NDC because of the incumbency curse. The NPP’s own internal autocratic nature in recent times has not helped and will not help its parliamentary fortunes in December.
So, the NDC cannot be written off completely. And you should not write yourselves off by resorting to violence. If you muddy the electoral waters, the governing NPP will gladly fish at your expense.
Go out there and educate your supporters. Even if the current voter ID card is not accepted, help them to maximise the guarantor system of registration.
Get out there and tell Ghanaians your message. Tell Ghanaians how the “yentie obia” regime of the Mahama we know could be different. Tell us how you’re going to stop the looting of state resources.
Convince the disappointed voter who endorsed Nana Akufo-Addo in 2016 why you are a better option. Show them how they would lose if they don’t vote at all.
In 2016, you let your guard down. You had no means of challenging the final results because with all the resources you had, you did not put in the right systems to be able to track the results and do your own tabulations. I know this for a fact.
Tell us what lessons opposition has taught you. Show us you’re wiser now, for you cannot catch a witch with empty hands even if your biceps are thicker than the trunks of mature mahogany trees.
Above all, tell us who John Mahama’s running mate is. We have less than six months to the election. Don’t give us the impression that the unknown bride is too ugly to be outdoored in daylight for scrutiny.
Don’t give us the impression that you’re waiting to surprise the horny groom in a “dumsor” night because a charged manhood has no eyes.
Some of us have lost our libidinal urge in this trial and error, winner-takes-all, and wealth-amassing experiment we call democracy.
I hope you listen and act with tact and wisdom.
Manasseh Azure Awuni
(A Ghanaian who loves his country but no longer believes his votes is his power).