Sometimes I get the impression that the guys at the National Security Council (or whatever they call themselves) – I mean Dr. Sam Amo and his people – think this nation is occupied by 22 million mindless creatures. I don’t understand why they think they can take any decision, use “national security” as an excuse and expect us not to ask questions. It really baffles me.
A few days before the first round of voting, we were told the Ghana-Togo border will remain open. But then on December 5, people on both sides of the border were dealt a serious “shock and awe” blow as they woke up to find that the passage through the eastern frontier had been shut. No one was coming in, no one was going out.
There are some people on the Ghana side, who have to cross the border to attend to the call of nature and then come back to start their day. There are others who cross over to Togo to fetch water. There are people on the Togo side who come to Ghana to school, socialise and work. All these people were seriously inconvenienced for the period the border was closed.
But those who are most unhappy about the closure of the border before the December 7 poll are Ghanaian voters who had been assured that they could wait and cross the border anytime to come home and cast their ballots. They were forced to stay on the other side and watch their compatriots voting on TV5.
It must have been a very depressing sight. You want to go and exercise your civic responsibility but thanks to the failure of people like Dr. Amo to make up their mind, get it right and on time, you are unable to do what you want (or need) to do. If they had been told the border would be closed on a certain date, I am sure even the most foolish amongst our compatriots on the other side of the border would have made alternative arrangements. Yet the border was closed – most annoyingly, without any warning and till date, we don’t know why that happened. That’s why I say Dr. Amo thinks he can do anything he wants and get away with it.
As things turned out Ghanaians are going to the polls again and our compatriots on the other side of the Aflao border do not want to be denied their right to vote for the second time in a month. They have complained to their chiefs, who have duly petitioned the government to keep the border open.
The National Security Council, meanwhile, has issued a terse statement which instead of assuring people, only succeeds in deepening the confusion and throws up more questions than answers.
According to the NSC, there is intelligence to suggest that some people who are not Ghanaians and not registered as voters are being brought in from neighbouring countries to vote in the presidential run-off.
Let’s give the NSC the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is dependable intelligence and it’s not one of their usual ‘Jack and Jill’ stories. But the question must be asked: is closing the border the right response to this intelligence? Maybe. In that case, if the NSC thinks that aliens should be prevented from coming in to vote, they should close down all the borders – in Aflao, Paga and Elubo. They could as well close down the airports and harbours. Any decision to close down only the Aflao border will most definitely be subject to different interpretations and misinterpretations.
If you consider that the Eastern border provides an entry (and exit) for people from a part of the country which is known to be a stronghold of the opposition, you can’t begrudge anyone for thinking that any decision to close the Aflao border is a calculated attempt to prevent some Ghanaians from coming in to vote – most probably for the opposition.
Nonetheless, how on earth does Dr. Amo and his so-called security operatives expect aliens who have not registered to vote? How on earth is that possible considering all the checks that have been built into our electoral system – photo ID cards, polling agents and all?
It will be very foolhardy for me – living in Accra – to move to my hometown, Essikado, and expect to be allowed to vote when I didn’t register there. It just won’t happen. I might end up with a bludgeoned head and a few broken limbs. How easy then will it be for a Nigerian – a typical alien – to move from Abeokuta, come in here and vote in Atimpoku? It doesn’t make sense. Simply put, someone should please sit Dr. Amo down and tell him that he’s blowing a lot of ‘jazz’ and at this time, if we want to listen jazz we’d rather settle for Dizzy Gillespie.
I agree, therefore, with the chiefs from the Volta Region that the Aflao border must remain open. All our borders must remain open. Economic and social activities along the borders must not come to halt because we are voting. If the security people claim to have intelligence, they should go right ahead and arrest the people who are supposedly intending to bring aliens in to vote. In any case, aliens can’t vote if they have not been registered to do so. But if – for any reason – they have been registered and issued with a voter’s ID card, labelling them as ‘aliens’ is not the right thing to do – not at this time when passions are so high. Just as a reminder, that’s how the war in Cote d’Ivoire started – people from a certain part of the country did not take kindly to being barred from the electoral process with the spurious justification that they were ‘aliens’. None of that nonsense here!