A Political Science lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has said presidential and parliamentary elections can still happen in November if the Electoral Commission remains committed to its duties.
Doubts have arisen about the election management body’s ability to meet its own date for the poll following a ruling by the Supreme Court on Thursday May 5, 2016, ordering it to expunge from the electoral roll names of persons who registered to be voters in 2012 by presenting health insurance cards as a form of identification.
The apex court’s decision adds to the tall list of activities the EC is racing to complete, with the cleaning and exhibition of the voters’ register, and the limited voter registration all to be done.
But Mr. Abass is positive the EC can accomplish its task with the right attitude.
Speaking with Nana Ama Agyarko on Accra News on Friday May 6, the academic said: “Yes, it is true there are challenges and problems but as a nation if we come together and remain committed to making this year’s election smooth, then things will proceed smoothly. So, the commitment is very vital, especially on the part of the EC chair and other state institutions.”
He said the clamour for the EC to rid the register of persons deemed to be ineligible was not a new issue, as the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and pro-opposition groups like the Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) had called for a fresh voters’ register and, subsequently, a verification of voters on the roll, calls the EC did not budge.
“The posturing of the EC and its responses to issues raised by opposition parties is what did not help, as it forced a citizen to take the matter to court for the Supreme Court to give this judgement,” he added.
He urged the Commission to learn from the mistakes of its intransigence, adding that the EC being a public office needed to be run differently from a private one. “Public office is meant to serve the needs of majority of the citizens; you cannot run it to serve your own interests,” the KNUST lecturer stated.
Mr Abass advised the EC chairperson, Charlotte Osei, to delegate responsibilities towards the elections as “she will have so much on her hands if she decides to do it all by herself”.
In his opinion, if she could take advantage of the officials at her disposal and the access to numerous resources, including political parties and state institutions like the NCCE who are “sincere and committed and do the job the way it has to be done, seven months is enough to do all these things we require of them”.
Further, he said the ruling had “come at a good time and will push the EC to act”, saying that the EC could, among others speed up the legal aspects of its preparation by presenting legislation to parliament under a certificate of emergency.
“So there are a lot of things that can be done. What is necessary is that they will be sincere and committed and be humble and realise they are serving citizens, that they are not masters, hence their name ‘public servants’ not ‘public masters’. So the citizens are the masters, so they must listen to them and their interests so the citizens help them. But if they act as public masters, instead of public servants, that will not help”.