Opinion: For your sake, don't trust Jean Mensa

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power” – Abraham Lincoln

Jean Adukwei Mensa is chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana

The wise words of Abraham Lincoln can be evidently seen in the posturing of the Jean Mensa-led Electoral Commission towards criticisms regarding the Biometric Verification Devices (BVDs) from Ghanaians which has been very unfortunate. The blatant disregard for Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) and defensive utterances in response to concerns from well-meaning Ghanaians regarding the electoral roll are examples of the show of arrogance which has characterized the current administration of the Electoral Commission. Jean Mensa assured Ghanaians of a credible voter register and by extension, a free and fair election on December 7th. Unsurprisingly, the BVDs have, so far, not produced the expected results, and one can only pray that the worst is not experienced on and after 7th December 2020.

The recently held voter exhibition exercise exposed the anomalies with the voter register compiled using the BVDs. The anomalies include, inter alia, missing names, swapped biometric data and deleted pictures, duplicated voter identification numbers etc. The Electoral Commission claims to have rectified the challenges but with the posturing of the EC towards criticisms and the inconsistencies of their utterances, it is difficult to take their word for it.

  • Are we going to sit down and pretend as if the words of Jean Mensa can be taken as the gospel truth because she says she is a Christian?
  • How consistent has she or any member of her institution been concerning the electoral roll since her appointment in 2018?
  • What happens when these anomalies resurface on December 7th?

The only way to ensure that it has been done is to allow for an audit of the technological, operational and administrative systems of the Electoral Commission.

According to La Rochefoucauld, “Sincerity is an openness of heart. We find it in very few people. What we usually see is only an artful dissimulation to win the confidence of others”. If Jean Mensa wants to be trusted, she should make sincerity her virtue.

It is rumored that two different types of BVDs have been procured and would be deployed strategically to polling stations depending on perceived affiliation to either the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) or opposition parties. One type of BVD, whose pre-loaded data (that is, data on the number of verified registered voters at the designated polling station) could be deleted when the reset option is activated, would be sent to perceived strongholds of the ruling NPP, and the other type of BVD whose data (that is, number of verified registered voters) cannot be affected even when the reset option is activated. The intended purpose, one can only allege, is primarily to interfere and remotely alter the voting process on Election Day by giving those polling stations using BVDs with the reset functionality a high voter turnout of about ninety to hundred percent. This could be done because the BVDs are reported to have slots for telephone SIM cards and Wi-Fi connectivity and as such could be accessed remotely. On the day of the election, it is suspected that multiple ballot papers will be given to known NPP voters within the polling station with the sole intention of casting multiple votes for their preferred candidate(s). In the end, over-voting cannot be ascertained, should it be suspected, because the total number of votes cast cannot be compared with the total number of verified voters (with the BVD) since that data would have been lost.

Pericles, a Greek statesman during the time between the Persian and the Peloponnesian wars, once said “Just because you do not take an interest in politics does not mean politics will not take an interest in you”. As a youth, I urge my colleagues to take an interest in the electoral exercise. The enthusiasm for the EC which has evaporated into a more cynical disillusion has created some disaffection towards the whole electoral process. Jean Mensa has not conducted herself in a way to instill confidence in well-meaning Ghanaian youths but my advice to them is a quote from Plato;

“If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools”.

Do not lose hope. Do not be afraid to speak up. After all, it is H.E. Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo who told all of us to “be citizens and not spectators”. It is our civic duty to ensure that our country is being ruled in our own interest and that of generations to come. Our elders have chosen to remain quiet for reasons best known to themselves when, in fact, they were very loud during the last regime. For reasons best known to them, our elders who make up the Peace Council, Catholic Bishops Conference, and other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have gone completely dumb from the 7th of January, 2017 till date. I have a few questions for our elders;

  • What is accounting for this deafening silence?
  • If it is because of fear, what is causing the fear and what are they afraid of?
  • If it is not fear, have they been paid to be silent?
  • Are they too humiliated to speak up?

In the natural order of life, our elders may have been long gone when the seeds being sowed now bear fruits and hence, do not seem to care about the consequences of the actions of this administration. Probably, this could be the reason for their loud silence. There is a popular French quote which when translated in English says “The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open” and as good citizens, we will keep our mouths open because our future depends on it.

By: Efo Edem

The views and opinions expressed herein are the private views of the contributors and do not reflect the views of the organization Pulse.

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