IMAGINE THE ELECTION WERE AN EXAM By CAMERON DUODU
People should not be surprised that the NPP is disputing the results of the 7 December 2012 elections in Ghana.
Anything that pits one group of people against another in a competitive setting is automatically a dispute waiting to happen.
If you doubt that, talk to football fans after a match. Especially a match won through a penalty awarded by the referee in the 89th minute of the match.
If the penalty resulted from a rough tackle, or even if the ball was supposed to have been handled, there would be very many disparate views on whether the referee was right or wrong in awarding it. If, after the penalty kick had been taken, it appeared as if the entire diameter of the ball had NOT crossed the goal-line when the referee whistled for a goal, then the football world would be plunged into the mother of all acrimonious discussions over the incident.
Another good example is an examination conducted by a publicly-financed examinations board. Suppose in the course of the examination, an incompetent invigilator allows a student to go out of the examination hall unaccompanied, and the student comes back to continue writing, and is then caught glancing furtively at answers hidden somewhere on his person, what should the invigilator do?
A bad invigilator might allow the cheating student to continue writing, on the assumption that if he orders him out, he, the invigilator, would get into trouble for allowing the cheating student to go out of the exam hall and return, in the first place.
But an honest invigilator would conclude from the student’s copying from pre-written answers that the questions had incontrovertibly LEAKED, and report that fact to his bosses. The bosses might then decide that if one student was copying from prepared answers, then it was possible or likely that others too had obtained the leaked questions, and that the integrity of the whole exam had therefore been compromised.
If the exam board comes to the conclusion that the exam they had just held would produce results that lacked integrity, what should they do? Cancelling an exam brings untold hardship to thousands of people whose future career paths would be disturbed. Others might not have the money to survive pending a new exam. Thus, it wouldn’t be an easy decision to arrive at.
And yet the import of having a fool-proof system of conducting exams cannot be over-emphasised. Suppose two students who took the same exam apply for the same job. One student cheated and obtained a first class degree or a series of ‘A’s (in a lower exam). The other did not cheat and got a second class or a row of ‘B’s. Who would get the job? The chap with the superior marks, of course. For exams are meant to provide an “objective” testament of a person’s intellectual abilities.
So, unless the chap with the second class degree does particularly well at the interview level, he would watch his rival walk away with the job. Mind you – getting that job would necessarily have a most profound effect on either student’s life.
An election’s results are even more important than those of an exam, for certain. One affects the future of a few students, whereas the other determines the future life of everyone in a country. For whether a country’s people should be able to eat well or go hungry; whether they should receive cheap and expert medical care when they fall sick; whether their roads should be smooth or full of dangerous potholes; and whether their schools should be decent institutions or sited under trees – all of these depend on decisions taken by the Government that is formed as a result of an election in a democratic country.
That is why anyone who is entrusted with conducting elections in a nation has one of the gravest responsibilities imaginable. Common sense and a reasonable mind are the basic necessities for such a job, because the world is full of all types of people who do not act in the same way, and a national “invigilator” (which is essentially what an Electoral Commissioner is) must exhibit these qualities in order to be able to detect criminality and prevent crooks from benefiting from it.
In our just-concluded election, the NPP claims that it discovered numerous “anomalies” that prevented it from gaining victory. The NPP says it is carefully gathering these anomalies together to present a case to the Supreme Court, in a challenge to the election results as declared by the Electoral Commission. The Party is within its rights to use the procedure laid down for challenging election results. But the NPP should be aware that the public gets bored easily and that speed is therefore absolutely essential. NPP lawyers who say they are “not in a hurry” are deluded, I am afraid.
While we await the full details of the case the NPP wants to take to court, we note that the gravamen of the case is that the “manipulation” of figures in favour of President John Dramani Mahama and the NDC was of such a size that it had “influenced the final outcome”. The “manipulation” happened mainly in the “collation” of figures by Election Commission staff, says the NPP.
In the mean time, a “smoking gun” has emerged to support the NPP’s general charge that “anomalies” took place in the election. This “smoking gun” is of the greatest significance in that it provides corroboration of a “prima facie” case that undermines the integrity of the election held on 7 December 2012.
In a letter to the Electoral Commission, the Chairman of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) Mr Allotey Brew-Hammond, provided evidence that totally impugns the integrity of the election in one constituency. It should be noted that the PPP was a rival to both the NPP and the NDC in the election; that the PPP took votes from both of those parties; and that its evidence can therefore be taken to be of an independent and disinterested nature.
It must be remembered that as far as a presidential election is concerned, Ghana is regarded as a “single constituency.” So whether the anomalies uncovered by the PPP occurred in one constituency
or several dozen out of the 275 constituencies in the country, iss immaterial. What is important is that the anomalies place the integrity of the entire presidential election at risk.
The PPP letter to Dr Afari Gyan said the anomalies the PPP had identified in the electoral system, were “very disturbing, as they indicated a real likelihood of compromising the integrity of the entire 2012 results and future ones as well.”
The PPP gave as a concrete example, the ASSIN SOUTH constituency, where “the PPP was initially assigned 134 votes for both the Presidential and Parliamentary contests, but upon a protest to recount by the Parliamentary Candidate, our parliamentary vote count was confirmed at 1,487 and that of the presidential result was changed to 521.”
If we do the math, we find that the PPP was initially robbed of 1,353 votes in the parliamentary election and 387 votes in the presidential election. The question is: how did this “mistake” (if mistake it was) occur? Which presidential candidate benefited from the votes stolen from the PPP (if anyone did)? Anyway, how could 1,487 be “accidentally” changed to 134, and 521 similarly transformed into 134 by some miracle?
If it was just a “mistake”, why didn’t the “mistake” occur in favour of the PPP, but only against it?
This is one clear case where a party that was contesting against both the NPP and the NDC found itself cheated. The Electoral Commission therefore ought to pursue the matter and find out who was the EC official at post and how he came by his mistakes. And punishment, if any, must not be an “internal matter” but announced to the nation, so that in future, election officials should be fully conscious that if they cheated, they would be found out by their own employer, the Electoral Commission and duly punished. If he is let off, his belief that Afari Gyan will stick by his officials whether they are right or wrong and damn the consequences, will be reinforced. And that would infect other election officials, who would similarly try to steal votes on behalf of candidates and parties that have “greased their palms”.
The PPP letter to the EC went on: “This is only one example of the problems we recorded. We find it unfortunate that the EC did not take its time to re-check the provisional results before declaring a winner in the presidential election. If that had been done, it would have guaranteed the integrity of the results.
“It would have also been better if the EC had published the numbers from the verification machines, to enable proper cross-checking with the results obtained by our polling agents.
“The question is why the haste [by the EC] in declaring the results?” the PPP asked.
The PPP added that it was a party that had “come to stay”. It was therefore “interested in the long-term viability and credibility” of Ghana’s electoral system.
The PPP must be applauded for bringing its findings to light. I urge it to bring any further anomalies that are reported to it by its agents, also to light.
It is important, not only for Ghanaians but also for the diplomats who are dispatching messages home asking their governments to congratulate the “victor” of the 7 December 2012 election, to realise that all is not what it seems.
an independent candidate – like Nader – had come out with authentic figures like the PPP’s figures, to argue that fraud had taken place in a US election, would Americans take it lying down? If not, why is the US urging Ghanaians to accept the result of an election whose result is disputed by a party that represents over FIVE MILLION VOTERS, who actually VOTED FOR IT?