…And donor-driven West African Electoral Commission
Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Aaron Mike Oquaye, has made a proposition for elections in West Africa to be directly controlled by donors, leaving shock in the air over what is seen as a call for the lordship of neo-colonial puppet masters over polls in the sub- region.
Against efforts to rid Africa of all neo-colonial influences, Prof. Oquaye is advocating for a West African Electoral Commission that will be funded and controlled by Western donors, especially Ghana’s former Colonial master, Britain.
Such an ECOWAS Commission, according to Speaker Oquaye, will be complete with a Commissioner and an ECOWAS voter’s register.
“If there should be a West Africa Electoral Commission which is donor-driven, we can have one register for West Africa to help solve the problem (of infiltration of the electoral registers of individual countries in the sub region).”
“Furthermore, as donors are withdrawing from Election Monitoring we can establish a West Africa Electoral Commission to superintend (on elections)” Prof. Oquaye said in the UK on Tuesday, this week.
The Speaker, who as an aficionado of the Busia/Danquah political tradition, has constantly preached that Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, is not the Founder of Ghana, made the proposition in a paper he presented to mark the 25th anniversary of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy in London.
His call comes at a time that his party’s government is seen to be trying to remove the Chairperson of Ghana’s Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei, from office.
The call which envisions donors as final authorities over elections in the sub-region also estranges him from his own government’s position that African countries must wean themselves off foreign aid
According to him, the need for an ECOWAS EC arises out of the fact that in West Africa, there are numerous complaints relating to the Electoral Register of independent countries being infiltrated by non-nationals.
Shocked observers have not failed to see the proposition as a request to put the political independence of Africa, which has, after its attainment, failed to lead to economic independence, as was expected, back into the clutches of the colonial metropolis.
It is not clear what Prof. Oquaye meant by the existence of numerous complaints of infiltrations of member countries’ Electoral registers with non-nationals, but, in Ghana, it is only the Speaker’s own party, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), that is in recent memory to have claimed that the country’s voter’s register was infiltrated.
In August 2015, the NPP, through then Running Mate and current Vice President, Mahamudu Bawumia, had publicly claimed that Ghana’s electoral register was bloated with some 76,286 Togolese.
In what was seen as a ploy to remove many Voltarians, who traditionally vote for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) from the register, Dr. Bawumia had claimed that that finding was just 10% of work that had been done in a task to identify foreigners on the voters register.
Later, Nana Akufo-Addo himself had followed up with claims that the voter’s register was bloated by some 1million foreigners who made it an “ECOWAS register” rather than a Ghanaian register.
According to the NPP, at the time, the bloating had been deliberately done by the then ruling NDC to compromise it as part of a rigging agenda.
Years down the line, the NPP has not been able to prove any of the allegations, even as the party has gone on to win the 2016 polls with the same register, albeit, amidst announcement by the EC boss that its electronic results transmission system had been hacked.
It is while the NPP is yet to provide evidence to the claims that Togolese had populated Ghana’s voter register that Prof. Mike Oquaye has asked foreign donors to put in place an Electoral Commission, complete with a register, for the ECOWAS sub- region.
Interestingly, his call is coming at a time that his party in government is seen to be making moves to remove the Electoral Commissioner from office.
President Akufo-Addo has asked his sister, whom he has made Chief Justice, to look into petitions that some detractors of Charlotte Osei have brought against her.
Among others, the petitioners want her removed from office because they believe she has NDC sympathies.
Meanwhile, Prof. Mike Oquaye’s proposition for a donor-driven Electoral Commission for ECOWAS directly chops against President Akufo-Addo’s call for Africa to wean itself off aid and donor handouts.
In March, this year, the President told the 5th Edition of the Africa CEOs Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, that the only path to sustainable economic growth for the betterment of the continent’s people is self-dependence.
“…To construct a better path for the nation. Even more importantly is for us to position our nation’s economies on path of self-sustaining growth,” he had added.
It is not clear if Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye does not subscribe to President Akufo-Addo’s self-sustenance policies, but the request for a donor-driven electoral system for West Africa is seen an insult to the intelligence of Africans, especially the ruling class, to which Prof. Oquaye belongs.