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…and the republic gets a bunch of freed gangsters and a brand new commissioner as a result

As I have invited you before to note, Jomo, in Ghana, every idea, every town or village, every individual and indeed virtually everything that has a name and moves, has a political label stuck on it. If you walk into a Ghanaian household, you can easily discern that the house dog or the family cat is either NDC or NPP, without looking at the collar of the pet!

Football clubs, musicians, boxers, football players, contractors, journalists, newspapers, pastors, bishops all carry NDC and NPP labels. So quite predictably, the president’s newly appointed Electoral Commissioner Mrs Charlotte Osei gets an NDC label, whether she likes one or not.

Some of the comments made in direct and or indirect criticism of the president’s appointment of Mrs Osei as Electoral Commissioner were so petty that they are best totally ignored if the intellectual maturity and integrity of the debate on her appointment is not to be diluted.

She is a woman {that is obvious isn’t it?} She is a pretty woman. She will manipulated by the long-serving deputy commissioners still at post. She has NDC sympathies. So now, where in the name of Kawku Ananse’s mother-in-law are we going to get an electoral commissioner, Jomo?

One  way around the problem would have been to allow the opposition parties to appoint an electoral commissioner for the president, but that would be as practicable as the NDC and NPP swapping party colours.

Conjuring the perfect successor to Dr Afari-Gyan from the outer heavens by the wave of a handkerchief, one who would be a hundred per cent acceptable to all in the partisan political sphere, was for the president totally out of question. The nearest he could come to doing that was to scan the list of potential successors and settle on the one who best fits into the departing Electoral Commissioner’s shoes. That as you can discern for yourself has been far easier said than done considering that we are talking about a colossus of the continent’s electoral history.

God dispenses to men talents and competencies according to his wisdom and divine pleasure, so that some people, no matter what shortcomings they may have, are able to raise the bar of excellence in their fields so high, that getting a successor to fit into their boots is easier said than done.

Yet somehow, men come and go as a matter of course and replacements must be found: Mrs Charlotte Osei who has been asked to step into the giant shoes of Dr Afari-Gyan this week has pledged to approach her task with diligence and honesty, be guided by her conscience and depend on God’s grace. What greater pledge of commitment to neutrality could any red-eyed political activist or politician want from the nation’s first female electoral commissioner?

Most people think she is very sincere. That apart, there is pro-feminist approval of her appointment that cuts across NDC-NPP politics, something that should make critics of the appointment wary about offending gender-oriented sensibilities.

One of the most dangerous things that can happen in electoral politics in Africa today is to have the integrity of electoral commissioners and by extension, a national election, called to question. To question the neutrality and by the same extension, the integrity of a newly appointed Electoral Commissioner even before she has taken a seat is to put to question the integrity of an election that is yet to be held.

It prepares the minds of party sympathisers to expect that an election will not be fair. As Dr Afari-Gyan has repeatedly said, no Electoral Commissioner can stop cheating in an election.

I keep saying, Jomo, that rather than play with fire as far as national peace and security are concerned, the opposition, the incumbent and the Electoral Commission will do well to review what was done right and what was done wrong in the 2008 and 2012 elections, and make appropriate amends that will deliver a peaceful poll whose tally should be acceptable to the majority of the people.

There is something else bugging folks in town, Jomo: Since Jesus’s experience with Pilate and a notorious armed robber called Barabbas and  probably long before then, rulers have sometimes granted amnesty to convicted criminals to mark national celebrations.

Society has since evolved through multiple stages of complex advancement and changes, and releasing 900 convicts at ago into society without any post-amnesty monitoring of the convicts could be a mistake. More than 3, 000 convicts have been released under amnesty in the past three years.

Amnesties for prisoners have become annual presidential rituals performed without any known scientific evaluation of their likely impact on public safety and the ultimate reformation of the beneficiaries themselves.

Presidential amnesties for prisoners may indeed be desirable from the point of view of compassion for the sick and the aged, but in the case of other beneficiaries, it is an issue that require further investigation and research, don’t you think?

One of the hundreds of prisoners granted amnesty by former president Kufuor made news headlines when he simply run off and established a school to train more armed robbers!

The argument that the majority are first time prisoners is a subjective one even in law, because in reality, the crime for which they were convicted may have been their umpteenth in a long career of crime, but the only one in which they happened to get caught.

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