Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On the 45 new constituencies: What is the NPP afraid of? (Part I)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012
The ongoing bitter criticism of the Electoral Commission for creating 45 new constituencies is nothing but an act of empty political jingoism.
Of all the factors likely to threaten the upcoming December 7 elections and, thereby, pose the gravest challenge to our democracy, this creation of 45 new constituencies is the least worrisome.  I see no reason for all the hullabaloo that those stridently criticizing the EC are causing here and there as if the creation of new constituencies is unusual in democracies.

The EC must have already assessed the voter population and MP-constituent ratio as part of the demographic factors needed for its action. Again, it must have already felt the need to improve governance for all the 25 million Ghanaians determined in the 2010 population census. More importantly, the EC must be aware of the problems and be confident that it can handle any eventuality; hence, its action. What should be anybody’s beef against it, then, if not only for the sake of some misplaced political gimmicks?
There is nothing unconstitutional about the EC’s action to warrant all the head-butting that the NPP has begun with it. The only problem with this creation of the new constituencies is “technical,” bordering on the inconsistencies and apparent discrepancies in the Constitutional Instrument 73 that the EC presented to Parliament. Its attention has been drawn to the “technical” problem and it has taken action to correct the anomalies for the CI to be returned to Parliament for debate and ratification.
The due process leading to the creation of the new constituencies is being followed. What, then, warrants all this wolf-crying by those who claim to be liberal democrats but who cannot see this needless arm-twisting manouevre as unprofitable in any way?
Leading the group of critics is the NPP and its bigshots, actively supported by their affiliates, be they individuals or an identifiable institution such as the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), which has even threatened to go on a demonstration against the EC. Useless agitation, I call it.
So far, arguments being raised by these critics hold no water because they are baseless and informed by nothing but mischief and political naivety.
Had they produced any evidence to suggest that the EC’s action amounts to gerrymandering to favour only one political party, there may be cause for re-thinking. But they haven’t done so, which renders their criticism a clear instance of needless paranoia. They are only accusing the EC of being in league with the NDC to skew the electoral process in the NDC’s favour. This kind of reasoning is not only warped but it is also dangerous for our democracy.
None of the critics has gone beyond citing “timing” as the main reason for their stiff-necked stance against the EC’s actions. They have no basis for suggesting that the timing is bad or that by this action, the EC is preparing favourable grounds for the elections to be rigged in favour of the NDC.
After all, the 45 new constituencies are scattered all over the country with the Ashanti Region, the NPP’s supposed stronghold having the lion’s share—as it has done all along, it alone having 33 constituencies while some regions (Upper East and West) have 10 or 11.
I am not surprised that the attack on the EC is being led by the NPP, apparently because it has already positioned itself against its main rival (the NDC) and created the impression that it is in cahoots with the EC to rig the elections. We have heard several comments to that effect and discounted them as a mere figment of a war-mongering mind heavily influenced by the belligerent slogan of “All-die-be-die.”
All these agitations against the EC are rooted in this grand agenda of the NPP to discredit the EC and the security services in readiness for any mayhem they may resort to should the elections not go in their favour. By persistently crying foul when there is no need for it even, the NPP leaders and their affiliates are only conditioning the minds of their followers to act on the strategies already laid out to reject any unfavourable outcome of Election 2012.
The question to ask is simple: Why is it that it is only the NPP that sees everything wrong with the EC’s action and is, therefore, behaving as if everything being done in preparation toward Election 2012 is calculated to ditch it?   
I see in this wolf-crying nothing but a premonition on the part of the NPP. The reality on the ground suggests that it will not win the elections hands-down as its leaders have all along been deceiving themselves and making their uninformed followers believe.
The NDC government might not be able to fulfill all its 2008 electioneering campaign promises; it might also be unable to solve all the major problems facing the country. But it doesn’t mean that it is not a formidable force to scare the NPP stiff. Support for it is still widespread, which doesn’t only irk but also scares the NPP.
I am tempted to guess—and rightly too—that despite all the hollow noises of self-assurance that these NPP followers have been making wherever they go, the going will be tough for them. Knowing this fact, what will they not do but embark on a series of actions and scare-mongering public pronouncements as if all hell is already breaking loose to consume Ghanaians?
Rather surprisingly, former President Kufuor is at the forefront of this scare-mongering episode. What is wrong with the new constituencies being created now and the 30 that he had created when in power?
I have said it several times before that ex-President Kufuor does his image a world of good if he keeps his mouth shut. But he won’t. And anytime he opens his mouth to comment on issues that he knows very little about, he dents that personal image all the more. I will not mince any word here.
He is in the news again for the wrong cause. This time, he seems not to be wearing his thinking cap the right way. His condemnation of the EC’s action as “senseless” doesn’t only question the sanity of the 30 constituencies that his government had the EC create but it also casts him in a very bad light as a man of poor judgement.  Here is a former President who created new constituencies in 2004 but is now complaining that the Electoral Commission is adding 45 more constituencies to the existing 230.
Even though his former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ayikoi Otoo, has come out to condemn the creation of those constituencies under Kufuor’s watch, his pronouncement hasn’t righted the wrong that he saw in that action.
Neither will any legal action by those challenging the EC’s action serve any useful purpose. Those calling on the Chief Justice to empanel the Supreme Court to hear their suits against the EC are wasting everybody’s time and giving a bad account of themselves.
All of them are talking about TIMING as if the EC isn’t already aware of it. What is their problem if the constitutionally mandated institution (the EC) feels well-resourced and prepared to put in place all the measures to organize and supervise nationwide free, fair, and smooth elections as it has been doing all these years, even in the face of the new constituencies?
Is there any evidence that these aggrieved elements have to prove that any inclusion of the new constituencies in the electoral process will endanger our democracy? Let them produce it for scrutiny. Only then can we see eye-to-eye with them. Otherwise, to hell with their empty rabble-rousing.
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