• Tuesday , 16 July 2019

ELECTION 2016 – All Hands On Deck

People cast their votes in presidential and parliamentary elections at a polling station in Tesano, Accra, Ghana, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012. About 225 polling stations reopened Saturday for an impromptu second day of voting after there were technical breakdowns on the first day of voting, Ghana voting officials announced. Some voters waited in line all day Friday and then returned to vote on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gabriela Barnuevo)

People cast their votes in presidential and parliamentary elections at a polling station in Tesano, Accra, Ghana, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012. About 225 polling stations reopened Saturday for an impromptu second day of voting after there were technical breakdowns on the first day of voting, Ghana voting officials announced. Some voters waited in line all day Friday and then returned to vote on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gabriela Barnuevo)

It’s unfortunate that parliament decided against changing the election date to November rather than December. Bringing the elections forward to November instead of December was a good idea. It would have given us time to ensure a smoother transition than is usual and enough time for a run off (should there be the need) and hopefully for the resolution by the courts of a possible dispute on the outcome. The last time around, we ended up spending too much precious time in the Courts. (I guess it’s better than on the Streets). If there was to be a disputed outcome this time around also, would the highest court of the land be ready to settle matters before January 7th?)

Sign of the Times

Some controversies never seem to die. That’s worrying. We will increase the risk of election related political turbulence if we stick to our practice of inventing a whole new set of controversies, as soon as one set is resolved. It can’t be good to be in a perpetual state of acrimony. No sooner have we resolved one issue, for another to be thrown into the mix. Listen to the discussion about the voters register and the argument that it cannot guarantee credible elections. Answered questions are re asked over and over again. And so the “problem” never goes away.

But we can guarantee a peaceful and undisputed election if we begin work now acting with a sense of urgency and responsibly.

Media Commentators

Those who speak for the political parties on radio and television should please understand that a discussion on whether we need to change the date or not is now over. Let’s move on. The repetitive nature of our discussions is not particularly helpful. I’m afraid though, that this is the result of ceding all discussion space to political party operatives. Other principal actors must speak up. The state actors that represent all of us, are too quiet.

National Commission on Civic Education 

The NCCE can help improve the climate. The usual polarized and often negative dialogue on radio and tv, can be diluted through voter education. NCCE please don’t tell us you don’t have enough money. You don’t have to have “enough money”. You need to do your job with what you’ve got and if you don’t have any money at all, you really shouldn’t be in existence.  Be more imaginative and proactive. This is not the time to be complaining of lack of resources. After all you were very much aware of the impending elections. Use your institutional leverage to have others provide support. Actually you don’t have to do everything yourself. Work at the strategic level only, bringing in a mix of professionals and determining what Civic Education is most necessary now. Develop a plan and let’s hear from you. The NCCE has such a low profile in an environment so pregnant with the need for political education and balanced information. If anything, they are the ones that need rebranding. Which brings me to the almighty Electoral Commission.

Electoral Commission

I beg them to speak up. They are too quiet. (I saw a good effort in the Daily Graphic last week). Mistrust for the EC is growing. Now not only do we not trust the EC, we don’t trust the Commissioner either. Poor Charlotte Osei. Afari Gyans shoes are proving hard to fill. I don’t think people realize how important Afari Djan was to the conduct of largely peaceful elections in Ghana. To think we don’t even hear from him. What a pity. The environment is so poisoned that people with so much experience and something to offer, prefer to remain silent. But back to the current commissioner. I still know practically nothing about her. All I know is that she’s “cheeky”. (I didn’t say that. I’ve just read that on more than one occasion coming from different sources). A cheeky Electoral Commissioner. I wonder what that means. I also know she’s “a qualified lawyer”. That’s what those who come to her defense usually say. Dear Madam, please grant some interviews. Do some good PR for the EC and yourself. Be more assertive about the good things you are doing. You surely must be doing some good things. It can’t only be about a new logo, can it? Even then, your defense of the issue was not particularly helpful. Please demonstrate your constitutional mandate as an independent institution to give us the much needed trust and confidence as we prepare for the polls.

Media Professionals/Practicing Journalists 

Now to my “friends from the media”. (It’s funny how often I hear that expression used at functions. Who dares make an enemy of the media?). There is no greater time for increased supervision. Editors have to be alert. There are too many people saying too many inaccurate and inflammatory things. The stakes are high and we can’t afford to lose guard. Please don’t invite just any “experts” into the studio. Take your

time and select carefully. Independent minded people are often a better option during times like this. Don’t expect your invitees to drop everything they have planned at short notice to appear on your program. Be wary of those who do. They often either have a hidden agenda or are just publicity seeking individuals. And we have lots of them. Guests with stature from whom we all learn something need to hear from you in good time or they will not be able to turn up, so you will end up with people representing special interests all the time. The reason we don’t move on even after flogging a subject for months, is because special interests have too much influence.

Political Parties

You want to make things better than they are currently. Please focus on that. What we want to hear from you is what you plan to do better and how you plan to do it. We are not interested in your internal wrangling and propaganda. Where are your 2016 manifestos? (The PPP is the exception, not surprisingly). How are we supposed to reference your plans for Ghana? On radio, television, print and social media? And please come out and ask those vigilante/paramilitary groups that fight for you to stop it. Reign in firebrands who stoke the fire. (No pun intended). Begin to act like you have power already. Show leadership. Don’t feel the need to respond to every petty squabble. (The people have made up their minds already by the way)

A new government is less than six months away and the potential governing party is still not out with its plans for when elected to power.  Why are you late? Or are we to take seriously the argument that neither of the main political parties wants to come out first for fear that the other will copy its ideas? So let them copy. And then when it comes to implementation, then what?

 

THE FACT THAT PEOPLE CAN STEAL YOUR IDEAS DOES NOT MEAN THEY CAN IMPLEMENT THEM. THERE IS “THE HOW”, BECAUSE A GOOD IDEA IMPLEMENTED BADLY IS A BAD IDEA.

It’s like paying someone to write your exams for you. Now go and do the job and let’s see. It’s all so shortsighted. If the idea is an end in itself, then that’s a problem. All it is, is an idea.

By the way, do we need a new manifesto every four years? What happened to all the focus on education last time around? Are the issues that were raised four years ago and that captured our imagination then no longer relevant?

Special Message To Younger folk

The younger generation has to take a real interest in these critical matters of national development on a non partisan basis. Please younger people, see yourselves as sharing a common platform for the mere fact that you are in the same age group, likely to experience similar problems and likely to share common aspirations. Decisions that are made by our political leaders today have far reaching consequences for you the youth. Consequently, you should see yourself as an important stakeholder in our elections.  Together you are a force for change. But if you are going to join your school branch of one political party or the other before you even leave school, consider yourselves compromised from the start. And to those of you who are not even interested in what goes on in Ghanaian politics, I have a message from Bertolt Brecht: ” The worst illiterate is the political illiterate. He hears nothing, sees nothing, takes no part in political life. He doesn’t seem to know that the cost of living, the price of beans, of flour, of rent, of medicines all depend on political decisions. He even prides himself on his political ignorance, sticks out his chest and says he hates politics. He doesn’t know, the imbecile, that from his political non participation comes the prostitute, the abandoned child, the robber and, worst of all, corrupt officials, the lackeys of exploitative multinational corporations.”

To President Mahama and us all

Every four years, we run the risk of national turmoil. Since 1992, every election has seen violence, albeit localized. It’s not on a grand scale, so we don’t mind. It’s not in Accra, so we don’t mind. All lives matter. Apologies to US politics.

President Mahama you often say “all will be well”. Sometimes you say “the NDC won’t be the ones to start it”. Which is it? You also say “Ghanaians are peace loving people”. I pray you are right. But please go beyond that and do the things necessary to make your predictions come true. I’m sure there are quite a few things you can do.

s for the rest of us, let’s try and practice our religious beliefs for the next five months at least.

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