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FLASH: You’re “incompetent”, and have no “integrity”; “repair your battered image” – Iddrisu to EC

Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu has urged the Electoral Commission of Ghana to focus its attention on repairing its “battered” image rather than throwing jabs at his over a press conference he held a few days ago concerning the election management body.

Last week, Mr Iddrisu, at a press conference, said, among other things that EC Chair Jean Mensa, “sometimes, comes to us as if she is running an NGO”, adding: “Let her be reminded that she is running the Electoral Commission of Ghana – a state institution expected to be independent”.

He also said: “The Constitution provides for a terminal end of the mandate of the President and Members of Parliament after every four years and presidential and parliamentary elections ought to be conducted and conducted by the availability and presence of a credible voter register, which is the responsibility of that Commission. No excuse will be accepted.”

“The fact that it is not ready means somebody is incompetent or somebody is not up to the particular task,” Mr Iddrisu added.

The Minority Leader also questioned the priorities of the government and the EC as the coronavirus festers.

“It is absolutely troubling and shocking that in the face of such a pandemic, our government chooses to supply PPE to officials of the Electoral Commission when doctors, nurses and other frontline healthcare workers are crying for PPE”, the Tamale South MP said.

“All these come at a time the EC’s plan to begin its infamous and life-threatening registration in June this year, has been exposed after a presentation the EC made to ECOWAS leaked. It is worth noting that the EC’s timetable, as presented to ECOWAS, remains unknown to Parliament and opposition political parties,” Mr Iddrisu added.

In its response to the Minority, however, the EC said contrary to the claims of the Minority Leader, “it has not stated anywhere that it has received personal protective equipment (PPE) from the government”, stressing: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Commission has not received any protective equipment from the government.”

The Commission, therefore, said it “finds it troubling that the leader of the Minority party in parliament will put out information of this nature without substantiating its authenticity.”

The EC also denied claims that it has been disregarding the COVID-19 safety protocols while carrying out its duties.

“The EC would like to state that since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has taken concrete steps in adhering to the rules and regulations regarding the protocols spelt out by the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health, and, therefore, has not violated any safety protocols in the discharge of its duties.

“The Commission takes collective decisions on all electoral processes in conformity with the country’s republican Constitution. It is, therefore, equally worrying that a statement would be made to suggest otherwise with the ultimate aim of tarnishing the image of key officials of the Commission”.

“As stated in Article 36 of the 1992 Constitution, the EC would like to reiterate that it shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority in the performance of its functions, except as provided for in the Constitution or any other law consistent with it.

“All stakeholders are hereby reminded that plans are far advanced for the compilation of new voters register with a new voter management system for the upcoming 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections. The Commission is, however, sensitive to the current state of affairs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will abide by the necessary precautions and safety protocols in the execution of its mandate when it deems it appropriate to begin the compilation of the register.”

“The general public is being cautioned to disregard any fictitious election timetable and other letters circulating on social media purporting to have emanated from the Commission. The Commission wishes to call on all well-meaning Ghanaians to cooperate with it for the success of the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections”.

In Mr Iddrisu’s response to the EC’s response, the Minority Leader, in a statement issued on Wednesday, 13 May 2020, said the Commission has muddied its image, which needs fixing.

“For instance, the integrity of the E.C. and its leadership was battered when it was forced to withdraw, on two separate occasions, the Constitutional Instrument for the conduct of the 2020 elections, due to elementary errors discovered by the Minority in the Instrument. (It is only the current leadership of the Commission that would seek to use Regulations to amend an Act)”.

He added: “This exhibition of incompetence and lack of diligence and consequently the integrity of the E.C. in the eyes of the public, is not and cannot be attributable to the press conference of the Minority.

“My counsel to the E.C. is to devote their effort to repair their battered image as an independent institution (not even subject to the control and direction of the Government) and to win public trust and confidence rather than the usual indecent haste in waiving empty words regarding its integrity.

“The E.C. should note that I have, over the years, been very circumspect in my political commentary, having occupied respectable portfolios at the political party level, the Executive and the Legislative and, therefore, do not just comment on any matter. As I said, I referenced the Director of Electoral Services, Dr. Serebuor Quaicoo and the said Director has not denied those assertions”, he noted.

Read Mr Haruna Iddrisu’s full statement below:

HON. HARUNA IDDRISU, MINORITY LEADER AND MP, TAMALE SOUTH, ON ELECTORAL COMMISSION’S RESPONSE TO THE PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE MINORITY CAUCUS

I have read and listened with utter shock and disappointment, a press statement issued by the Electoral Commission and signed by its Acting Director of Public Affairs in response to a press conference by the Minority Caucus in Parliament and addressed by the Minority Leader.

The E.C., in its statement, alleged that I sought to attack the integrity and mandate of the Commission as well as create an erroneous impression in the minds of the general public on the Commission’s attitude towards the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Commission further stated that it had not stated anywhere that it had received Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from Government as stated by the Minority Leader in the said Press Conference.

For the record, I did indicate at the said press conference that I was making reference to a statement made by Dr. Serebuor Quaicoo, Director of Electoral Services of the Electoral Commission.

Dr. Serebuor Quaicoo had indicated on Joy FM’s current affairs programme, Newsfile on Saturday, 18th April 2020 that the EC had received enough PPE from the government. Unfortunately, Dr. Serebuor had not come out to deny the assertion.

The E.C., in its statement, alleged that they did not receive any PPE from the government. The question that the EC must answer is how it came by the PPE it claimed were enough for the intended compilation of a new voter register, which has been wildly condemned by civil society and well-meaning Ghanaians.

The concern I expressed in the press conference was a simple advice to the E.C. not to be primarily concerned about the health and safety of only staff of the Commission but the general wellbeing of the Ghanaian populace.

The E.C. needed to be reminded that the Commission did not make any provision for the procurement of PPE in its 2020 budget as approved by Parliament in December 2020, since no one anticipated the pandemic at the time of the approval of the budget.

The Commission should tell the Ghanaian public the source of the funds used for the procurement of its PPE since they claim these were not provided by the government and these were also not provided for in their budget for 2020.

Questions on the integrity of the EC and its leadership are issues of public knowledge and cannot be attributable to the press statement by the Minority Caucus in Parliament.

For instance, the integrity of the E.C. and its leadership was battered when it was forced to withdraw, on two separate occasions, the Constitutional Instrument for the conduct of the 2020 elections, due to elementary errors discovered by the Minority in the Instrument. (It is only the current leadership of the Commission that would seek to use Regulations to amend an Act).

This exhibition of incompetence and lack of diligence and consequently, the integrity of the E.C. in the eyes of the public, is not and cannot be attributable to the press conference of the Minority.

My counsel to the E.C. is to devote their effort to repair their battered image as an independent Institution (not even subject to the control and direction of the Government) and to win public trust and confidence rather than the usual indecent haste in waiving empty words regarding its integrity.

The E.C. should note that I have, over the years, been very circumspect in my political commentary, having occupied respectable portfolios at the political party level, the Executive and the Legislative and, therefore, do not just comment on any matter. As I said, I referenced the Director of Electoral Services, Dr. Serebuor Quaicoo and the said Director has not denied those assertions.

SGN
HON. HARUNA IDDRISU

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