The campaign for the 2016 Election has reached its peak with about a month to go. There is no doubt that the two major political parties who are in the hot race are doing everything within their powers to win the elections.  Notwithstanding the gifts and monies being doled out to the electorate for their votes, the giant bill boards of the ruling party, the abuse of incumbency (especially the use of Government vehicles, fuel and helicopters), it is becoming increasingly clear that NDC has met their match and there are clear indications that the NPP is making headway in almost all the Regions.

The foundation of the dreaded “world bank” has been badly shaken which compelled the President to employ all the arsenals at his disposal to ensure that Voltarians do not abandon him.  The Region of the First Lady – Brong Ahafo is in turmoil mainly due to the collapse of DKM and other micro financial institutions in the Region and the belated attempt by the Government to save its face with some bizarre payments has rather angered the people whose deposits were involved rather than appeasing them.  In the three Northern Regions and the Zongos, damage is being done by Dr. Bawumia, the Vice Presidential Candidate of the NPP who has caused a nasty shudder through the spine of the NDC compelling them to zoom all ballistic missiles they have on the NPP “Northern Bright Star” to destroy him but unfortunately it has rather inflamed passions and Bawumia is gradually being made a hero by the NDC.  The Western and Central Regions cannot be described as safe for the NDC if the wind of change blowing across the regions is anything to go by.  In Greater Accra and Ashanti – the regions with the highest registered voters, the computations are very interesting and varied and only people with mental delusions will day dream about one and a half million votes in Ashanti for the NDC.

In my last piece I wrote that the NDC has brought all these upon themselves because the lies, deceit, propaganda and all are just too much for Ghanaians to stomach.  When the loans were being piled up, the Government refused to heed advice and teased Ghanaians with Daddy Lumba's lyric of “yen tie obiaa” with impudence.  Ghanaians are now being told that the loans were not acquired for “khebabs”.  The strikes in the country today are as a result of outstanding payments due to Government workers which clearly establishes the fact that the Government is broke but the NDC has refused to accept the reality and Ghanaians are rather being accused of being blind. There are indications that if the NDC is voted into power more workers will be sacked as part of some of the IMF's conditions for assisting Ghana which was postponed to 2017 for implementation. “DUMSOR” the almighty killer of most economic activities will be intensified because the Government's indebtedness to our sister country Nigeria for the supply of gas has reached a melting point.

To the NPP, please take note that notwithstanding these observations, the NDC will not hand over power to the NPP on a silver platter.  They will fight on all fours using stolen monies, the Security and Intelligent Services, the “machomen,” some quasi security police and military men and all the foul means they have already mastered.  Politically, Kwasi Pratt's return to the CPP is an indication that he is going to create an enabling environment for the CPP to support NDC should there be a run off. The recent attacks on NPP by Greenstreet confirmed this assertion and the belief that the NDC funded Greenstreet's campaign.

Most Governments in an election year and for that matter a campaign period as we find ourselves today would act with caution but not the NDC, they are full of confidence of winning this election “one touch”.  The courage to increase fuel prices in the midst of their unpopularity demonstrates arrogance, impunity, insensitivity and foolhardiness. The NDC has always teased Ghanaians and now the President has abandoned the NDC's twisted lips insignia of “edey be keke” for Usain Bolts victory sign without truly applying its principles.  The gesture comes from a Jamaican dancehall move that was popular in 2008.  Dancehall is a popular music style in Jamaica and also known as the “Lightning Bolt” or just plain “Bolting.”  What is significant about Usain Bolt's signature of victory is that his victories have never been tainted with bribes and spectators have cheered him on to victory because of their passion for sports.  He has never bribed other competitors to let him win neither has he abused any official position to cheat on his fellow competitors but has always won his competitions on MERIT.

With all the obvious signs of defeat, if the NDC says they are going to win the elections hands down, then they are either bluffing or have something up their sleeves.  Knowing the NDC, they will surely do what they know best and that is, the use of intimidation, harassment and stealing of the ballot.  In 2012, they stole the ballot with the connivance of the Electoral Commission (EC) and his staff and I am not sure whether this time round the same thing is not going to happen.  Elections are won or lost at the polling stations and if NPP wants to avoid what happened in 2012, it must protect the ballot at the polling stations especially on “D” day. The concept of adopting polling stations by our supporters is one of the means to help achieve that objective. Many people whom I have spoken to, do not understand what it means to “protect the vote'' and I am taking this opportunity to throw more light on the subject.

Protecting the vote means a lot in elections and covers many areas. To be precise, it starts from the award of contract and printing of the ballot papers and ends when a party successfully collates its results and transmit them to the Constituency Collation Centre. The printing of the ballot must be monitored and the distribution of the ballot and journeys to the Regions, Districts, Constituencies and lastly to the polling stations must all be monitored. At the polling stations the number of ballot booklets allocated to the polling stations must be checked and the serial numbers of the booklets in 100, 50, 25 and 10 must be checked and recorded before polling starts. At the close of the poll the same exercise has to be conducted but the most important is to record the number of ballot papers used, rejected or spoilt.

The other aspect of protecting the vote involves the voting process and the work of Presiding Officers and Polling Agents must not only be vigilant but must be conversant with the rule and regulations of voting all spelt out in CI 94. There is also the need to create a peaceful environment for them to work. This means the provision of physical security to prevent harassment, intimidation and snatching of ballot boxes. In the past, enough security has never been provided for all polling stations and this election will not be an exception. This situation offers opportunities to miscreants to take the law into their own hands to misbehave and create unnecessary tension and panic. The public is always advised to leave the polling station after voting but this has always been misconstrued because there is a difference between a polling station and a polling area. The polling station is always marked and taped and this is the area where the Presiding Officers and Polling Agents work.  The polling area covers the general area where the electorates reside and therefore after casting your vote, approximately fifty meters away from the taped area, is public land and there is no law forbidding its use.

Protecting the vote is not the sole responsibility of NPP and its supporters but the electorate especially the youth who want a change of the current economic situation and should not sit down and allow their votes to be usurped.  If anybody dares to take the law into his/her hands, there could be the possibility of a “mob reaction” and this could degenerate into civil unrest.  With the NDC they will be too happy and as a routine blame the NPP.  This is the time for the peace seekers to campaign against injustice, harassment, intimidation and abuse of office; preaching for peace alone is not enough.

The NPP has the option to ensure meaningful security by organising its supporters to prevent malpractices, harassment and intimidation.  Yes, there may be shortage of security personnel at some polling stations but there will never be shortage of young and enthusiastic men in the polling areas to prevent nefarious activities.

“The world suffers a lot not because of the VIOLENCE of bad people but because of the SILENCE of good people” (Napoleon).

By Brig. (Rtd) J. Odei