Gabby Otchere –Darko and I engaged in one of our irregular Twitter exchanges recently. It was short and polite enough not to make social media headlines.
In response to my comment that “the EC could not give a toss whether this year’s election was held on Nov 7 or Dec 7”, Gabby wondered if I had become the unofficial Spokesman for the EC”, I responded that I accepted the position gratis if it would assist in telling Ghanaians the truth about the EC’s activities.
The trigger for the above exchange was the latest pronouncement on Election 2016 from the Danquah Institute [DI], a think tank founded but no longer fronted by Gabby.
Addressing a news conference on Thursday 2nd June, the current Executive Director of the DI, urged the minority in Parliament as follows: “In as much as the country appears to be desirous of and impatient for change, the Minority should not allow the EC to impose a November 7, 2016 date on us if it cannot convince the country that it has taken the necessary, legitimate, logical, efficient and impartial steps to give Ghanaians a clean register as ordered by the apex court of the land”
The November 7 date was pushed by the political party representatives (including the NPP) on the Electoral Reform Committee set up by the EC after the 2012 December elections. Like most reforms proposed by the political parties, the EC agreed to the November 7 date. Why is the EC being vilified for simply implementing a proposal made by the political parties?
From the date of her appointment there has been a ferocious and, dare I say it, obsessive attack on Charlotte Osei led by The New Statesman, Danquah Institute and Gabby Otchere-Darko, including in the infamous “A love letter from Gabby to Charlotte” penned in August 2015. The actions of the three in one single source has acted as the catalyst for the irrational attacks on the EC chair since.
Here comes the punch line: “So far, the Charlotte-Osei-led electoral management body of Ghana has shown nothing but odd contempt at all efforts to address the issue of Ghana’s bloated register”.
The DI was making its latest fixation with Charlotte Osei, the Executive Chairperson of the EC, for it is this demonic woman who has supposedly and single-handedly thwarted every manouvre, fair or foul, to get what the DI and the many guises posing as ventriloquists for the NPP constitute a credible register for this year’s elections.
Even though the DI boss gave a very comprehensive historical account of what led to the suggestion for Nov 7 to be adopted, he still went on to make the absurd and inaccurate assertion that “the Minority should not allow the EC to impose a November 7, 2016 date on us”.
Alas his own account contradicts his assertion for the simple fact that the EC did not initiate the process, it was the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC): and, more crucially Charlotte Osei was appointed long after the process which resulted in a unanimous adoption of the Nov 7 date. So where from this ‘Charlotte Osei- led EC Imposition?
The ink had barely dried on the above effort to demonize the EC and its chairperson, when the General Secretary of the Christian Council, Rev Dr. Kwabena Opuni Frimpong, weighed in with a call on the Electoral Commission of Ghana “to do all it can to be transparent as that is the only way Ghanaians, as well as the world, can trust it and the credibility of the 2016 general elections”.
He suggested that “it will only take the openness of Madam Charlotte Osei and her commission to avert any doubt that may lead to another marathon court battle. “
Unfortunately the man of God did not anchor his charge on any factual or checkable evidence of Charlotte Osei’s supposed obfuscation with the EC’s preparation towards this year’s election. When you read between the lines, it was yet another voice asking the EC to adopt the so-called validation process for achieving a supposedly credible register for this year’s elections, as promoted by the NPP and totally rejected by the Supreme Court of Ghana on May 5, 2016.
Despite the court ruling and the EC’s constitutional status to conduct elections, the good Reverend opined “I want to hear EC do an independent assessment of the current voters’ roll and come out with concrete steps and solutions in ensuring that we have a credible voter’s document devoid of doubt; this will rest every argument as soon as all parties are satisfied”
Let me try to debunk the EC’s so-called lack of transparency with some verifiable facts to the contrary. The present EC has been the first in the 4Th Republic to publish a calendar setting out all of the major activities and scheduled dates right up to the presumed election date of November 7.
This timetable was presented to the IPAC meeting of 22nd December 2015 and is available on the EC’s revamped website for anyone who cares to know facts from fiction. This Charlotte Osei led EC has also been the first to publish the minutes of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), which minutes are circulated and discussed by all who attend IPAC meetings.
I could go on and to list the firsts of the many steps the EC has taken towards making its preparations towards this year’s elections very transparent. Rather than do that, I challenge all those who believe otherwise to offer verifiable evidence for their claims or forever hold their peace and not disturb the peaceful environment necessary for the elections and beyond.
In saying this, I separate the genuine differences of opinion about what the SC ordered unanimously on May 5, 2015. As everyone should know, I have publicly called for clarity on the judgment. You also know that, I announced I would be going to the SC to seek clarification on public interest grounds. Sadly, the best legal advice I have obtained indicates that I have no locus as I was not a party to the original suit and the matter is now decided.
The EC has interpreted the judgment as consistent with its already established process for cleaning the register to make it public. Alas contrary to the raging debate amongst legal luminaries about what the order means, I believe that it is now up to the plaintiff to carry out its intent to go back to the SC to get the clarification and other reliefs for the presumed intransigence of ‘the Charlotte Osei led EC’.
Ever since she assumed the position of Executive Chairman of Ghana’s Electoral Commission on 1st July 2015, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, has been abused, pillared, harassed and subjected to many wild accusations about her suitability, competence and presumed political bias.
Who can forget the ridiculous photo-shopped image of her as a supposed NDC Parliamentary Candidate in 2008? or the bogus petition to the President to have her removed as Chairperson on the ignorant grounds of her membership of the board of Ghana Reinsurance Company?
Instead of wasting so much capital on fighting and resisting her appointment, Mrs. Charlotte Osei is our current EC Chairperson. She is young enough to be in the position for the best part of the next 30 years.
She is qualified, assured and not easily ruffled or brow-beaten into submission into accepting positions that she believes are untenable and unlawful. If she has to, she will seek to show leadership by trying to persuade her six other colleagues, whip together with her make up the Commission, to deliberate and arrive at a conclusion that is consistent with the EC’s mandate and laws of Ghana.
It is both an insult to the other members of the EC and we the people of Ghana for anyone to seek to put sand in our eyes and suggest that Madam Charlotte Osei has been imposed as an inflexible dictator to ensure that the NDC wins the forthcoming 2016 Elections for the NDC.
Ironically, it is the persistence of this obsession and its inevitably doomed efforts to demonize her, instead of focusing on convincing Ghanaians that it is capable and ready to offer a real change for the better that may lose the NPP the next election.
I support the Electoral Commission of Ghana as I have done consistently since Dr. Afari-Gyan assumed the position of Chairman in 1994. Anyone who needs proof of this can find it in the opinions I have shared since 1993 to date. It is founded on the 1992 constitution that makes the EC independent of political party influence and direction in its duty to conduct public elections in Ghana.
As I have observed since the birth of the 4th Republic, the EC is always seen as being in the pocket of the incumbent government. But the same Opposition accepts the result of an EC-conducted poll when it wins.
And when it does, it accepts the processes that guide the EC work, including the appointment of new Commissioners when old ones retire. That was how Charlotte Osei was appointed, and we must all learn to embrace her appointment and work with her commission to deliver a free, fair, and above all credible election in 2016, whether on Nov 7 0r Dec 7.
By Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby