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Elizabeth Ohene writes: Monster, raving, loony decisions

When I lived in the United Kingdom, one of the highlights of election night for me was the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, (OMRLP). The leader of the party, Screaming Lord Sutch and his outlandish outfits fitted perfectly my image of the quirky English.

Ghana’s 2016 elections: New boss, New rules!!

The first queen of England, Queen Elizabeth, was regarded as too controversial for mainly three reasons; the fact that she was a woman had the people doubt her ability to rule, her refusal to wed was a threat to getting an heir to the throne; and her ban of Catholicism. But incidentally; her marriage to England proved successful.

The kind of President we need

The tragedy we face as a nation is that most of the people who seek to lead us are con men. The stories they tell us to convince us to vote for them are mostly lies and the vocabulary they use all come from the lexicon of the con artist. But why should we complain? Telling lies to the ones we claim we love is a Ghanaian thing! Ask the young men who seek to sow their wild oats among unfortunate young girls. They break their hearts as they ‘con’, ‘boss,’ spin them ‘lines’ and tell them outright lies straight in the face by promising to love them all their lives. All the nice rhetoric means nothing, except as a window dressing for a possible future broken heart. Sounds familiar?

The fall of a mighty star: Dr Abdulai Choggu

A tragedy of the 21st century for Dagbang, the Northern regions and Ghana as a whole, occurred today, 3rd October 2016, in the death of Dr. Abdulai Choggu. Dr Choggu’s death symbolizes the fall of a mighty tree or the brightest of all stars.

MANASSEH’S FOLDER: Where are the NPP billboards?

I spent the past weekend in Cape Coast. Like any other town or city in the country, one thing was obvious. The smell of election was very thick in the air. And one hardly moves without seeing signs of the impending elections – billboards and campaign posters advertising all manner of characters, who need our mandate to have unfettered access to the national purse.

Ghana, under Mahama, is a divided nation

I was chatting with a woman lecturer in Communication Studies from Nigeria yesterday, who said: “In Africa, a whole ocean separates official pronouncements from action.” She was absolutely right.

People first? Surely not under the NDC

It is official! Better Ghana is dead. The burial and memorial service dates have not been officially announced, but it is as clear as tomorrow is Saturday that the concept is interred with the mortal remains of the deceased leader of the party, who originally out-doored the mantra.Political connoisseurs never left the old Slave Castle when President John Dramani Mahama beat a hasty retreat from the Castle, following the death and interment of Prof. Evans Atta Mills at Asomdwee.

Six tell-tale signs that could signal vote rigging

As Ghana goes to the polls on December 7, the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) which beleives it was cheated of vicotry in the 2012 presidential elections has vowed not  allow itself to be cheated again.

But how does one spot vote rigging?

BBC's Elizabeth Blunt has witnessed many elections across Africa, as both a journalist and election observer and looks at six signs of possible election rigging.

Too many voters

Watch the turnout figures ‒ they can be a big giveaway.

You never get a 98% or 99% turnout in an honest election. You just don't.

Voting is compulsory in Gabon, but it is not enforced; even in Australia where it is enforced, where you can vote by post or online and can be fined for not voting, turnout only reaches 90-95%.

The main reason that a full turnout is practically impossible is that electoral registers, even if they are recently compiled, can rarely be 100% up-to-date.

Even if no-one gets sick or has to travel, people still die. And when a register is updated, new voters are keen to add themselves to the list.

No-one, however, has any great enthusiasm for removing the names of those who have died, and over time the number of these non-existent voters increases.

I once reported on an election in the Niger Delta where some areas had a turnout of more than 120%.

"They're very healthy people round here, and very civic-minded," a local official assured me.

But a turnout of more than 100%, in an area or an individual polling station, is a major red flag and a reason to cancel the result and re-run the election.

A high turnout in specific areas

Even where the turnout is within the bounds of possibility, if the figure is wildly different from the turnout elsewhere, it serves as a warning.

Why would one particular area, or one individual polling station, have a 90% turnout, while most other areas register less than 70%?

Something strange is almost certainly going on, especially if the high turnout is an area which favours one particular candidate or party over another.

Large numbers of invalid votes

There are other, more subtle ways that riggers can increase votes ‒ or reduce them.

Keep an eye on the number of votes excluded as invalid. Even in countries with low literacy rates this isn't normally above 5%.

High numbers of invalid votes can mean that officials are disqualifying ballots for the slightest imperfection, even when the voter's intention is perfectly clear, in an attempt to depress votes for their opponents.

More votes than ballot papers issued

When the polls close, and before they open the boxes, election officials normally have to go through a complicated and rather tedious process known as the reconciliation of ballots.

After they have counted how many ballot papers they received in the morning, they then need to count how many are left, and how many ‒ if any ‒ were torn or otherwise spoiled and had to be put aside.

The result will tell them how many papers should be in the box. It should also match the number of names checked off on the register.


The first task when the box is opened is to count the number of papers inside, this is done prior to counting the votes for the different candidates.

If there is a discrepancy, something is wrong. And if there are more papers in the boxes than were issued by the polling staff, it is highly likely that someone has been doing some "stuffing".

That's a good enough reason to cancel the result and arrange a re-run.

Results that don't match

Mobile phones have made elections much more transparent.

It is now standard practice to allow party agents, observers and sometimes even voters to watch the counting process and take photographs of the results sheet with their phones.

They then have proof of the genuine results from their area ‒ just in case the ones announced later by the electoral commission don't match.

It has clearly taken crooked politicians some time to catch up with the fact that people will now know if they change the results.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMobile phones have made elections more transparent and caught some politicians off-guard

In south-eastern Togo, local party representatives told me that they witnessed the count in 2005 and endorsed the result; they saw the official in charge leave for the capital, taking the signed results sheet with him. Yet the results announced later on the radio were different.

The same thing happened in Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011. The results announced on the radio were not the same as those international observers saw posted outside the polling stations.

But this transparency only works if the official announcement of results includes figures for individual counting centres ‒ and this has become an issue in the current Gabonese election.

Delay in announcing results

Finally, something that is not necessarily a sign of rigging, but it is often assumed to be so.

Election commissions, particularly in Africa, can appear to take an inordinately long time to publish official results.

This is not helped by local observer networks and political parties who, tallying up the results sent in by their agents on mobile phones, have a good idea of the result long before the more cumbersome official process is completed.

But the official process takes time, especially in countries with poor communications, and the introduction of modern electronic transmission systems has not necessarily helped.

Where these systems have proved too demanding for the context, as in Malawi last year, they can actually increase delays as staff struggle to make the technology work.

In that particular case the results eventually had to be transmitted the old fashioned way; placed in envelopes and driven down to the capital under police escort.

By then, allegations of rigging were flying.

Delay is certainly dangerous, fuelling rumours of results being "massaged" before release and increasing tensions, but this is not incontrovertible proof of rigging.

Amissah-Arthur’s new found mojo

Since the beginning of the fourth republic in 1993, Ghana has seen various technocrats transitioning from the tie and suit type to becoming seasoned politicians who blend their ‘book-long’ orientation to the field reality they face in the political sphere.

A leader refuses treacherous friendships

Never forget that you reap what you sow. If you are a traitor, traitors and rebels will surround you. If you are a loyal person, loyal people will surround you. If you are honest, dishonest people will not flow with you. If you are holy, unholy people will not be at ease to become your friends. As they say, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

'Kwatrekwa' manifesto unveiled!

There is an Akan proverb which literally translates, “If nakedness says it would give you clothing, just look at its name.” How profoundly true!

On The Appointment Of (Prof) A.F Okoe Amartey as UPSA Vice-Chancellor

The appointment of (Professor) Abednego Feehi Okoe Amartey to the position of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), is perhaps the most outrageous bastardization of Ghana’s university education since independence. In our view, no member of the UPSA University Council deserve to keep his/her job.

The Ghanaian Business Environment and Going Global

Ghanaian businessmen and women are among the best brilliant brains on the continent of Africa. They are innovative and entrepreneurial as well as creative in coming with products for market, and yet, after nearly 60 years after independence,

Pan-Africanism, Women’s Rights and Socialist Development - Part 3

Socialism, Women’s Liberation and the Struggle for World Peace

Revolutionary socialists throughout the period from the late 19th century to the middle of the 20th, viewed gender oppression and discrimination as integral to the class struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

Bribery impeachment process is a dent on Government House

I did not attend the 21st Awards Night of the Ghana Journalists Association on Saturday. It was a personal protest against the invitation of Mrs. Charlotte Osei as Guest Speaker at the greatest night for media practitioners in this country.

The moment the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission was announced as the Guest of Honour, I called the Ghana Journalists Association President, Mr. Affail Money, and informed him that I would not be at the awards night on the basis that the association had sought to confer legitimacy on Mrs. Osei, whose eligibility as a fully-fledged Ghanaian is dodgy.

According to an entry in Wikipedia, the world-wide web, Mrs. Osei, (nee Kesson-Smith) was born on February 1, 1969 in Nigeria. Her mother is of Nigerian nationality, precisely, from Anambra State. The problem with this kind of information is that the 1992 Constitution emphatically states that for a person to be one of the commissioners of the Electoral Commission, that person ought to be a fully-fledged Ghanaian.  That is not the only proof of Ghanaian identity required. He or she must satisfy the nationality requirement necessary to become a Member of Parliament.

One intriguing aspect of the long lecture she delivered at the GJA Awards Night is that the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission failed to take advantage of the platform offered by the GJA to put her nationality conundrum to rest.

I was not going to listen to a lecture from someone who, to all intents and purposes, ought not to be leading the group conducting elections in my native Ghana. Mrs. Osei was fondly referred to as ‘Ama Alata’ while a student of the Faculty of Law, at the University of Ghana, Legon, I am told.

I understand that when she attended Queens University in Canada, together with a number of Ghanaians, she chose to join the National Association of Nigerian Students. It is interesting to note that at the time she joined the Nigerian student body, there was a similar association for Ghanaian students.

Mrs. Osei’s long lecture, asking Ghanaian journalists not to pander to political patronage, is interesting. But one would like to know why the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission has failed, so far, to put her nationality conundrum to rest. I am told that Mrs. Osei bored guests at the GJA Awards Night with a very long speech that could rival Kil-il-Sung at his best, when the deceased North Korean leader spoke on the imperialistic aggression of South Korea, at a time when the Great Leader presided over the political direction of North Korea.  Why she failed to enlighten us on her nationality tells everything about the confusion which is directing this nation-state.

It is beginning to look like in this election year, confusion is being deliberately manufactured to mislead the people as a political strategy. I was going through the internet yesterday, when my attention was drawn to a very interesting news item sourced to the Minister of Communications, Dr. Edward Omane-Boamah, who is fast emerging as the heir apparent who has the ear of President Mahama

With Mr. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, 2012 Campaign Manager of President John Dramani Mahama, virtually sitting aloof in this campaign, the sighs are there for all to see that the man driving Ghana’s migration to the digital age is lacing his boots to replace his immediate boss in the next elections. Of course, the next vote after December 7 is quite a while away. In this game, anything and everything can happen. For now, the medical doctor, who speaks for the Head of State, appears to be the main ally of the occupant of Government House.

It is difficult to put the assertion of the heir apparent into its proper context, given the cloud of suspicion surrounding the main occupant of Government House. The Minister of Communications is quoted as saying that his boss does not need the endorsement of former junta head Jerry John Rawlings to win the next vote. The statement is pregnant with meaning, I would like to believe.

For some of us though, it tells a lot about how the party is shaping itself up, that the founder of the party, who signed the National Democratic Congress into being with his blood, is becoming irrelevant in the scheme of things, as the sitting President goes wild on the campaign trail with statements that might be classified as devoid of statesmanship.

Does it mean that Mr. Rawlings is no more the founder of the party which is driving the presidential campaign of the Head of State? Once upon a time, there were hints from very reliable sources indicating a challenge to the assertion that Mr. Rawlings is, indeed, the Founder of the NDC.

In official documents though, the junta head, who ordered state-sponsored murder of three former heads of state and five top officials of the Ghana Armed Forces in June 1979 under a dubious house-cleaning exercise, is still listed as Founder of the NDC.

Mr. Rawlings must have his hands soiled with the blood of many innocent Ghanaians, especially when it was established by the Special Investigative Board, which tried to unravel the mystery of the abduction and murder of the judges in June 1982, found that that four of the five-man assassination squad lived at the boys’ quarters of Flt. Lt. Rawlings and Mrs. Konadu Agyeman Rawlings at their Ridge residence in Accra, at that point in time.

It is being hushed in silence, but there are those who are openly making their submissions in public, that the open confession by the man who was once worshipped as Junior Jesus that he took US$2 million bribe from Sani Abacha, the butcher of Nigeria, to fight his cause at the time the Nigerian leader was an international pariah, has dented the image of the former military strongman. That is one reason emerging why the Presidency is distancing itself from the founder of the party.

If it were so, it is a very interesting development. Apparently, bribery scandals involving the Presidency are not limited to the former junta head. On Thursday, September, 1, the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana will be recalled from recess to deal with a matter that will go down in the political history of this nation as a novelty in our democratic evolution.

The 275-member House will assemble to discuss a motion brought by the Minority, inviting the House to consider impeaching President Mahama for accepting a car gift from a Burkinabe contractor. Mr. Djibril Kanazoe, who constructed a wall around state property in Ouagadougou at an outrageous cost of US$650,000, and later presented a Ford Expedition four x four vehicle to the President of the Republic of Ghana . The news in the presentation is not only that the President accepted the gift on the blind side of Ghanaians. Following the presentation, the contractor was given two more juicy contracts – a 35 million Euro and 85 million Euro job – to contract part of the Eastern corridor road network.

It is interesting to note that since the exposé, the contractor has voluntarily given up on those two juicy contracts.

As expected, the impeachment process has already divided the House. Deputy Majority Chief Whip Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak told an Accra radio station that the impeachment process would not see the light of day, stressing that the majority side would not condone what he called the treacherous act of removing the President by the back door.

Minority leader Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, who is pushing through the impeachment procedure, is not worried by the threat by the majority side in the House to kick the motion on the Presidential bribe allegation to touch. “Mubarak can say what he likes. But, as a nation, we need to expand the frontiers of our democratic experiment.  We intend to push through the motion,” the Minority Leader told The Chronicle.

Whatever happens to the motion, Ghanaians would be waiting with bathed breaths. One thing is certain, the bribery allegation is one more dent on the image of the occupant of Government House.

I shall return!

A leader understands the difference between the ideal and the real

An experienced person is someone who knows the difference between the ideal and the real. The “ideal” is like the stars of the sky. It tells us where we want to go. The “real” is what is “on the ground”. It tells us where we really are. Theoretical knowledge will tell you the ideal but experience will tell you what is real.

Defining campaign periods

We have been struggling with the situation where we see our Presidents as being too powerful and domineering but we seem not to know what to do to contain them when they decide to use the powers conferred on them by the Constitution.

The tough life and eventual success of Diego Forlán

Surely he couldn’t fluff his lines again, could he? Diego Forlán’s career at Manchester United was on the verge of frittering out as he stepped up to take a penalty against Maccabi Haifa in September 2002. He simply could not afford to add another miss to his already substantial collection.

Has Amissah Arthur done enough to lead the NDC after Mahama's era?

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) prides itself as the party from which persons from varied ethnic influence could rise to become presidential candidate. In making the claim party functionaries point out that rival New Patriotic Party (NPP) is myopic in that regard given that a non-Akan or should I say a non Ashanti or Akyem might never be given the chance to lead the party.

Ebo Quansah: Why I won't vote for Mahama

This country and its leadership do not cease to amaze!  On Sunday, in the midst of platform rhetoric of a one-touch victory for Mr. John Dramani Mahana and his National Democratic Congress at the campaign launch in Cape Coast, I was intrigued by the admission by Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, founder of the party, that he was prevailed upon to avoid a boom speech in the Central Regional capital.