General News of Friday, 21 July 2017
Former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Prof Joshua Alabi, has cautioned President Nana Akufo-Addo to “balance the sensitivity” of the petition sent to him by some staff of the Electoral Commission (EC) alleging fraud and financial malfeasance against Chair Charlotte Osei vis-à-vis “the current state of political tension and suspicions in this country to safe guard the peace Ghana has enjoyed and should continue to enjoy.”
The petition also requested the removal of Mrs Osei for allegedly terminating a contract with STL and unilaterally renegotiating a contract with a vendor of the EC for $21,999,592 without the knowledge of her deputies or other commissioners.
The petition, signed by the lawyer for the staff, Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, said Mrs Osei’s cancellation of a contract between the EC and Superlock Technologies Limited (STL) – a company contracted to supply and manage Biometric Voter Registration machines (BVRs) and the Biometric Voter Devices (BVDs) – coupled with her ordering of the payment of $76,000 to IT firm Dream Oval, were fraudulent.
“The Commission signed a contract with Super Tech (STL) Limited on the premise of that Voter Registration Exercise was going to be electoral area based. Upon assumption of office as Chairperson of the Commission, Mrs. Charlotte Osei unilaterally abrogated the said contract without recourse to the same Commission that approved the earlier version,” the petition said.
“She single-handedly renegotiated the contract with the vendor without the involvement of the members of the Commission, not even the deputies. She then awarded the contract to the tune of $21,999,592 without going through tender contrary to the Public Procurement Act. The Chairperson then re-awarded these contracts without approval from the Commission,” it added.
In a statement, however, Mrs Osei said: “The contents of the said ‘petition’ which has been widely circulated on social media and published by the mainstream media, are frivolous, baseless and are actuated by malice and ill will. These allegations are in my view, the product of an overactive evil imagination, and do not deserve any serious attention.
“I wish to state categorically that all the defamatory allegations are outright lies and without any merit whatsoever.
“I understand from the media that the Presidency has received the alleged petition. I have my full responses ready for each and every allegation made in the so-called petition. However, in deference to His Excellency the President of the Republic, for whom I have the highest levels of respect, I would respectfully wait to be formally informed by the Presidency before I make my responses public.
“I take the opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation to the staff of the Electoral Commission, political leaders from the various political parties, and members of the general public for the overwhelming support shown to my family and I so far. I am absolutely certain that once again, history and the truth will vindicate the just.
“The political motive hunting would not serve the greater purpose. The ‘motiveless malignity’ behind this Petition are self-seeking and faceless individuals with the sole motive of satisfying their purely personal vendetta against my person and protecting illegal financial interests.
“Finally, the Electoral Commission is an independent governance institution, non- partisan and with full protections for its officials under the 1992 constitution of Ghana. I would wish that the political actors would respect the constitutional framework provided for the Commission and support in upholding the supreme interest of the Commission for the wider interest of our democracy.”
Commenting on the impasse, Prof Alabi, who is speculated to have interest in running for president on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the 2020 elections, said: “Any attempt to undermine and disrupt the Commission will not serve any political party any good at this critical point in Ghana’s democracy. There will be no winner but Ghana as a country will be the looser.”
Below is Prof Joshua Alabi’s full statement”
SAFE GAURDING GHANA’S DEMOCRATIC CREDENTIALS
For some time now, there has been widespread rumour alleging administrative misconduct on the part of Ghana’s Electoral Commission. The rumours appear to be fuelled by an attempt to remove the chairperson of the Commission from office. Recent developments pointing to some underground maneuvering to remove the Electoral Commissioner give credence to the rumour.
It must be noted that our dear country Ghana has enjoyed peaceful elections since the inception of the 1992 Constitution. The various changes in government in the fourth republic have been presided over by the Electoral Commission of Ghana to the admiration of many, with the recent electoral success further deepening Ghana’s democratic credentials. The Country has built a very strong commission that has earned the respect of the international community and has in many instances become a case of reference in Africa. The Commission has built an enviable record not only in Africa but the world.
The petition to remove the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission is the first of its kind in our democratic history, and the scales must be balanced carefully to avoid the country tipping over towards the path of hate, suspicions, retaliations and recriminations.
Any attempt to undermine and disrupt the Commission will not serve any political party any good at this critical point in Ghana’s democracy. There will be no winner but Ghana as a country will be the looser.
I wish to call on the instigators and those in officialdom to exercise utmost caution in dealing with this sensitive matter in order not to endanger our fledgling democracy.
Without discussing the merits or demerits of the petition, I wish to call on the President and all those in positions of authority, to balance the sensitivity of the issue with the current state of political tension and suspicions in this country to safe guard the peace Ghana has enjoyed and should continue to enjoy.
Professor Joshua Alabi