The world has been focused on the lunacy that has become the US presidential race circa 2016 that it may have overlooked that Ghana – the land of my birth – is also going through a period of election madness. You may not think so, but the West African nation of 27 million citizens provides vital services that make life so comfy in the west. Every time you bite into a Snickers bar or purchase a new piece of furniture, chances are you’re eating a bit of cocoa from Ghana’s plantations or resting your tush on timber from our forests.
We have not gathered here to talk about the raw materials and agricultural bounty that feeds voracious American and European factories and industry. You and I are going to have a seat at this table and sip some hot tea on this auspicious Day of the Girl to discuss woman, the legend, the maverick, Charlotte Osei.
If you’ve been repelled and appalled by Donald Trump’s utterances about women, you will find yourself in familiar territory where Ghana’s presidential race is concerned. It has been a cesspool of misogyny, underachievement, callousness, feeblemindedness, insolence and male chauvinism, all wrapped in an inflated sense of self-importance by many of those running with a sprinkling of patriarchy on top. NOTHING gets done in Ghana without a dash of good ol’ patriarchy. You would do well to remember that.
It is amid this backdrop that Charlotte Osei, Chairperson for the Electoral Commission, had the unenviable job of weeding out the unfit, incompetent and undesirable from the running for the very important job of leading Ghana and its citizenry in the function of the highest position of the land. In all, 16 political parties filed paperwork to participate in the general election. Of that number, only 4 (NDC, the incumbent; NPP, the main opposition; CPP, the party of Nkrumah and some dude running independently) qualified to participate in the general elections.
It’s like watching the always-dismal WEAC exam results being broadcast, only this time it’s our political leadership on critical display. Likening this ragtag bunch of political hacks to a secondary school, only 25% of the class took the time to read, study and properly fill in the answers correctly. Honestly: If you can’t even properly fill out the paperwork to contest for the election, why should you have a shot on the ballot at all?
Some of the errors boggle the mind. For instance, Akua Donkor is said to have listed 1998 as the year of birth on her submitted nomination form. Now I know Madam Donkor has famously rebuffed the use of English as her mode of communication, but 1998 is the same in Twi, English, French or Zulu, and it ain’t the year when her momma dropped that enormous head into this physical realm.
Other errors and inconsistencies in applications included fraudulent signatures from surrogates signing for more than one party (read fraud) and a whole host of things that will come to light in the coming days.
Over the past few months, Charlotte Osei has weathered wuthering personal attacks from petulant men who are unaccustomed to women in such firm control of their collective destinies. In June of this year, Ken Agyapong, MP and NPP financier alleged that she had risen to her position only as a result of providing sexual favors to influential men. He says he’ll never apologize for his outlandish words. Prophet Isaac Owusu Bempah prophesied doom for the Chairwoman, saying she would ‘die’ if she calluded to rig the election in favor of the NDC. Following his disqualification to contest for the presidency on December 7th, Hassan Ayariga, standard-bearer for All People’s Congress (APC) called the EC boss “stupid”, “foolish” and wondered aloud who the f— she thought she was. Akane Adams, PNC National Treasurer attempted to trash Ms. Osei’s competence in her job for failing to instruct her subordinates to point out the errors on the submitted forms and giving the contestants the opportunity fix them. Presidential hopeful Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings has threatened to “spill the beans” about Ms. Osei if she doesn’t reverse the disqualification decision.
These people are all jokers. Again, if you can’t fill out a simple form, how can we expect your team to negotiate and read complex documents, trade deals and documents that affect the lives and livelihood of millions of Ghanaians? The answer is, we can’t. As usual, a fairly large swathe of Ghanaians have expressed their displeasure at the EC’s decision to hold these people accountable for this failure to perform this basic task. There is something about Ghanaians that is allergic to excellence where the powerful are concerned. We expect students to get top marks. We expect waakye sellers to get their recipe right every day, day after day. But expecting political leaders to fill out a simple form or following simple instructions? (The instructions from the EC were to pay the filing fees by bank deposit, and one political party actually showed up with a vinyl bag full of money!) No, no. We must show leniency and give them a do over. There are no do overs at this level! You think this is a game?
But let’s talk about Charlotte Osei. She has emerged as the real heroine in all this. Who the f— does she think she is? I’m so glad Ayariga asked! She has a Master’s of Law from Queen’s University. She has an MBL from the University of South Africa. She has served as the Chairperson for National Commission for Civic Education and NOW she is the Chairperson for the Electoral Commission and DAT CHICK who told you that your submitted application is bumbaclot. In short, she has treated you with the contempt that you deserve. No one cares if Afari Gyan – Ms. Osei’s predecessor – expended the energy to accommodate your mediocrity. How do you think the Company of Nine would feel if Frodo had asked for a do destroy the Ring of Power? Are you mad? It’s a new day, and Miss Charlotte is having none of it. You hear? NONE! Come correct or you will be sent home!
There is a new sheriff in town, and her name is Charlotte Teflon Osei. She’s above your petty reproach. She’s Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes. She’s Morgan Freeman as God. She’s Jean Grey as Phoenix. Your tantrums are mere noise and foolishness!
All of this (and future) embarrassment could have been avoided if everyone would just take a page from Ama One-T Ata Aidoo’s page and hold themselves and others to a higher standard. It’s time political aspirants (and the ruling political elite, for that matter) to start paying attention to the details. Minutia is important. You are not butchering meat outchea. You’re supposed to be trying to run a country.
Charlotte Osei, ayekoo. You’ve done well.