We'd have wanted to engage Mahama face-to-face if... - Jean Mensa
The Electoral Commission (EC) says it would have wished that the flag bearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), former President John Dramani Mahama would have personally presented his nomination forms on Wednesday.
According to the EC, it was hoping that Mr Mahama and/or his Running Mate, Professor Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang would have been at the Commission personally on Wednesday, October 7, 2020 to present the 2020 Election presidential candidate nomination forms.
This, the EC said would have allowed the opportunity for a face-to-face engagement with him [Mahama] on some of his concerns [in relation to the preparations towards the 2020 Elections] which it said, it had noted in the media.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Wednesday filed the presidential nomination forms of Mr Mahama, its flagbearer amid criticism of the EC.
The law allows an arrangement for the forms to be filed on behalf of an aspirant.
Therefore the General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia submitted the forms on behalf of Mr Mahama, who is currently campaigning in the Western North Region and launched what he terms a 'retail campaign', with a promise to 'restore truth and dignity' on Wednesday, October 7, 2020.
In 2016, Mr Mahama in a similar fashion as a sitting President nominated his Vice President and Running Mate, the late Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur to present the nomination forms on his behalf.
The New Patriotic Party's flag bearer, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who is a main contender to Mr Mahama personally filed his nomination forms on Tuesday followed by some government appointees and his Running Mate, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.
Mr Mahama himself, who is seeking re-election has already made some public statements expressing concerns about the EC's preparations for the elections.
Receiving the forms from Mr Asiedu Nketia, the Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Jean Mensa said:
"As a Commission, we would have wished that the Flagbearer of your [NDC] party, Former President John Dramani Mahama and/or the Vice Presidential Candidate Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang would have been here personally to present the Nomination Forms as it would have allowed us an opportunity to engage with the Former President personally on some of his concerns which we have noted in the media. However, we warmly welcome you to the Commission."
Asiedu Nketia's concerns
Mr Asiedu Nketia raised issues with the timing of the filing of nomination forms at a time the final voters register was not ready.
He was concerned that it is possible some of the voters endorsing the presidential nomination forms may not find their names in the final register by the time it was ready.
Mr Asiedu Nketia argued that even on Wednesday morning before the filing in the afternoon, the NDC was receiving phone calls from some of its members informing the national office that their details had changed and that the EC had issued them with new voter ID cards with new ID numbers.
This, he said was the NDC's argument and preference that the filing should have been done at a time the final register was ready.
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“The laws of the Commission indicated that an old register does not become extinct until a new one is finalised and certified. We have a situation when we are called upon to file nominations where there is a big doubt as to which register will be the base document for the filing of nominations.”
“It is unfortunate that a mature democracy like Ghana’s, we are having to go into elections as if we haven’t tasted democracy before,” he said.
The NDC followed the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) in filing the nomination forms on Wednesday.
The PPP flag bearer, Brigitte Dzogbenuku, submitted her forms in person and raised concern with the filing fee in her exchange with the EC Chairperson.
“I am requesting for a discount on the nomination fees because I am a woman. As it stands, we have filed [the nomination forms] but if you [EC Chair] finds in your heart to give us a discount, we will be happy... It will be a form of encouragement to other women to step up and not be deterred by money to the leadership position that women deserve in this country,” she said.
Below is a full copy of the address delivered by the EC chairperson on Wednesday
ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE
MRS JEAN MENSA
WEDNESDAY 7TH OCTOBER, 2020
ON THE RECEIPT OF NOMINATION FORMS OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES FOR THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL AND PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS
A good afternoon, General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress Mr Asiedu Nketia, Fellow Commissioners, Directors, Ladies and Gentlemen and our Friends from the Media.
This is the day the Lord has made, we rejoice and we are glad in it. We thank the good Lord for His mercies.
As a Commission, we would have wished that the Flagbearer of your party, Former President John Dramani Mahama and/or the Vice Presidential Candidate Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang would have been here personally to present the Nomination Forms as it would have allowed us an opportunity to engage with the Former President personally on some of his concerns which we have noted in the media. However, we warmly welcome you to the Commission.
This afternoon we are assembled here for one of the most important processes in our election calendar. Indeed without this activity, the Commission cannot run the Election.
Here, I’m referring to Filing of Nomination by Presidential Candidates who are seeking to contest the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Election.
Regulation 7 of the CI 127 enjoins a Presidential Candidate to complete and sign four (4) copies of the Nomination Form.
Additionally the Forms are to be signed by no less than two (2) persons who are registered voters in the area of authority of each District Assembly.
The Presidential Candidate is required to also designate a person to serve as his/her Vice Presidential Candidate.
Furthermore the Presidential Candidate is required to deliver the Forms to the Commission on the date prescribed by the Commission.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as part of the Commission’s efforts to ensure a transparent, credible, fair and yet accountable process, the Commission has developed a detailed Checklist that embodies the criteria to be satisfied by the Presidential Candidates as prescribed by law. The checklist/ template will guide the scoring and awarding of marks by Teams established by the Commission to scrutinise and review each of the Nomination Forms submitted.
This year, the Commission has set up two (2) Teams which have been tasked to review all the Forms submitted. The technical team has been tasked to scrutinise the Forms submitted to ensure that Presidential Candidates meet the qualifications as set out in the law namely; that the Presidential Candidate is at least forty (40) years of age, that he/she has satisfied all tax obligations, that he/she has nominated a Vice Presidential Candidate among others.
The second Team namely the IT Team, has been charged with the responsibility of scrutinising the Voter IDs of the Presidential Candidates and their supporters so as to verify whether the Candidates and their supporters are indeed registered Voters.
Both Teams have been provided adequate training and have been oriented to carry out their functions as prescribed by the law.
The guiding principle for both Teams is clear. They are to operate within the confines of the law. They are not to exercise discretion in the matter.
Above all, they have been tasked to be fair and yet firm in executing their duties.
We have no doubt that the process will be transparent, fair and peaceful.
Additionally, we are confident that the five (5)-day period provided for the filing process as opposed to the two (2) days provided in previous nomination processes, will allow enough time for Presidential Candidates to correct any errors identified in their Forms. We are confident that this will help eliminate the tension and rancour that characterised previous nomination processes.
I welcome you all warmly to the Electoral Commission of Ghana once again and thank you for coming personally to submit your Nomination Forms.
As Returning Officer of the 2020 Presidential Elections, I will now receive your Forms which will be subjected to vetting and scrutiny by our Teams.
I assure you that our Teams will go to the work on the Forms immediately. We will contact you in within the shortest possible time to inform you of the decisions arrived at.
Thank you very much.
May God bless our Homeland Ghana and make our Nation great and strong.