Nana Akufo-Addo, three-time flagbearer of Ghana’s biggest opposition party – New Patriotic Party (NPP) – has confessed that losing a presidential election is “painful.”
“There will always be winners and losers in an election; that is the system of governance we have chosen. It is painful enough to lose an election, I can testify to that; but the pain should not come with a suspicion of having been cheated.
“The winner should be warmly congratulated and support extended to enable our many problems to be tackled. The winner will then have the peace of mind for the serious business of governance,” Nana Akufo-Addo said when he addressed participants at the 6th Edition of the E-Lection Bridge Africa Conference, organised by The Konrad Adenauer Foundation, on Monday, May 16, 2016, in Accra.
The former Attorney General made reference to the pain associated with losing elections as he sought to make a point about the need for the Electoral Commission to ensure that it implements the various reforms ordered by the Supreme Court as far as the credibility of the register of voters is concerned, so as to ensure credible elections in November.
“While many non-nationals are known to have been registered by the use of that card, there may be several other persons who may also have innocently used the card to register. The Court, therefore, ordered the Commission to take steps to provide an opportunity for the persons whose names would be deleted to re-register, if they so chose, with lawful identification. The nation now awaits how the EC will give effect to this important ruling”, Mr Akufo-Addo said in reaction to the recent ruling by the Supreme Court, on May 5, which ordered the EC to clean the register of some 600,000 dead people and some estimated millions of people who found their names on the voters’ register by the use of the NHIS card, which, in 2014, was ruled to be unconstitutional by the Court.
According to him, the strength of any democracy is very much determined by the credibility of its electoral process, and, therefore, it is in everybody’s interest that all key stakeholders develop an instinctive respect for the rules and regulations set out for our elections.
Recounting the presidential election petition of 2013, in the aftermath of the disputed 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections borne out of electoral irregularities and malpractices, Nana Akufo-Addo stated that “even though we lost our case, the victory was in the fact that the televised proceedings in court exposed to the entire nation that all was not well with our much vaunted electoral system.”
The 5/4 Supreme Court split verdict at the time, according to the NPP leader, recommended reforms, adding that the recent May 5 ruling by the Supreme Court also stressed the need to deepen the reforms, specifically in the area of getting an accurate voters’ register.
“If the Electoral Commission is, indeed, sincere about giving the nation an accurate register, there are obvious steps that it has to take and we will continue to make the case. Nigerians did it by way of getting all registered voters to be biometrically verified and that validated register was what was used for the 2015 elections, which delivered the historic change in their country in conditions of peace and stability,” he said.
With Ghana often cited as a shining example of the country on the continent where the electoral process works, Nana Akufo-Addo stressed the importance of not overlooking the fact that instability has followed disputed elections in many other parts of the African continent.
“It is to help engender confidence in the electoral process that we, in the NPP, continue to call for an accurate voters’ register to spare our country any such fate. All stakeholders must work to ensure that there are no lingering questions about the legitimacy of an election and the winning candidate at the end of the process should receive the unalloyed support of all,” he said.