Polls hugely successful -Jean Mensa

BY: Emmanuel Bonney
Mrs Jean Mensa (middle), Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), announcing the presidential results at the EC headquarters in Accra. Those with her are Mr Samuel Tettey (left), Deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission, in charged of Operations, and Dr Eric Asare Bossman (right), a Deputy Commissioner of the Electoral Commission. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Jean Mensa, has described the 2020 general election as historic because it was the first time that the Election Day went by without major incidents and occurrences.

She said it was also the first time in the country’s history that an election was funded without donor assistance, saying “I can assure you that we put our resources to prudent use.”

In a speech that preceded the declaration of the 2020 presidential election, she said the elections were transparent, fair, orderly, timely and peaceful.

Thankfully, she said, the elections did not witness issues of missing names, misplacement of polling stations, among others.

Poised for reforms

Mrs Mensa said the EC started the year with hope and promise poised to reform and overhaul the core and critical aspects of its work, and the very system on which credible, transparent elections were hinged.

“Here, I am referring to our Biometric Voter Management System. We subjected this process to a robust and rigorous procurement process, even then as, from the very onset, we faced stiff opposition from within and without,” she said.

As if that was not enough, she said, the commission was hit by COVID-19 when it was least expected, but, nevertheless, the commission remained “resolute, determined to deliver credible, transparent and peaceful elections.

“We persevered throughout the lockdown to establish strong and efficient systems and processes that would stand the test of time,” Mrs Mensa stated.

With hindsight, she said, the commission used the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown to its benefit by reflecting on its policies, systems and structures, and implementing reforms within the institution, promoting competitive procurement processes, as well as efficient, transparent electoral processes.

“This strategy involved our entire staff, who all worked tirelessly behind the scenes, burning the midnight oil to achieve the results we witness today.

“Our mantra was that while the country may be on lockdown, as a commission, we had to keep moving forward to achieve the enormous tasks ahead of us,” the EC chairperson stated.

Major achievements

With all the arduous and tortuous journey, Mrs Mensa could not help, but declared: “The results are evident for all to see. Indeed, hard work, determination and focus, coupled with God’s grace, has paid off.”

She stated that the commission had succeeded in reforming the entire Biometric Voter Management System, procuring and deploying robust equipment and devices, including the Biometric Verification Devices, the biometric registration kits, a user-friendly software to govern the entire biometric voter registration and verification system, and a brand new data centre, among others - all of which went through an international competitive tendering process.

“Today, we can all be proud of a brand-new Biometric Voter Register that reflects unique individuals who are eligible to vote. With determination and focus, we were able to prepare a register that recorded 17,027,641 eligible voters in just 38 days in the rainy season of Ghana,” she stated.

The EC chairperson, therefore, commended the staff, district electoral officers, directors and commissioners for their collective efforts, adding “to all our team members, I salute you. We certainly could not have succeeded without you, and I commend you all highly.”

24-hour timeline

With regard to missing the 24-hour target of declaring the results, the EC chairperson quoted the popular saying “man proposes, but God disposes.”

She explained that the commission encountered a few challenges, including unexpected rains which halted voting at some polling stations, leading to a few delays coupled with the usual requests for recounting in some polling stations.

While expressing regret about the anxiety that characterised the waiting period, she added, “We hope that in subsequent elections we will be able to live up to our timeline.”