A member of the Presidential Electoral Reform Committee of Nigeria, Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, has lauded Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) and electoral processes, pointing out that all the elements to facilitate free and elections anywhere are in place in Ghana.
He therefore advised the EC not to panic, but remain calm and watchful in the last lap to the election day, while charging citizens to be vigilant, since “citizens’ vigilance guarantees free and fair elections.”
Dr Ibrahim, who is the Executive Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in Abuja, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that in his work he had examined closely Ghana’s electoral system and found that there was no need for any major reviews of any kind.
This, he said, was because a lot of things that were being considered to be introduced in Nigeria were things already being done in Ghana.
He said fourteen months of reviewing Nigeria’s Electoral system and processes had brought to the fore some concerns of Nigerians.
Some of the concerns were the commission of massive electoral fraud, the fact that no one was punished for the fraud and the fact that those who perpetrated the fraud got into government.
Dr Ibrahim said the committee made propositions to address those concerns, some of which included having a system in which people would be sanctioned for electoral fraud and a system that would ensure that those who perpetrated electoral fraud did not get into government or otherwise benefit from their action.
Prior to the interview, Dr Ibrahim spoke at a Citizen’s Public Forum on “Disputed Elections and Their Consequences in Kenya and Nigeria: Lessons for Ghana,” organised by the Centre for Democratic Governance as part of its Election Issues Platform 2008 programme.
Other speakers were Dr Grace Wamue, a lecturer of the Kenyatta University in Kenya, and Dr Kwesi Aning, Head, Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC).
Dr Wamue, in her presentation, explained how the societal encouragement of gangs and armed groups in Kenya and the politicisation of security agencies prior to the election all contributed to the violence after the election in that country.
She asked politicians to see political power as service and not an opportunity to amass public wealth.
Dr Aning, for his part, said Ghanaians could have successful elections if they were bold enough to challenge lapses in the system.
The Chairman at the function, Mr Kofi Bentum Quantson, advised civil society organisations to remain active and vigilant.
He also called on members of the Council of State, traditional and religious authorities as well as the leadership of associations and groups like the Ghana Bar Association to consistently let their voices be heard on national issues that could threaten social cohesion.