I am aware you are making a case for the National Identification Authority (NIA) to be allowed carry on with the Ghana Card registration in the Eastern Region. This is to challenge the current court injunction against the registration.
2. I am told it is your considered view that, the suspension or postponement of the NIA registration in the Eastern Region may disenfranchise voters in that region. Though you may have a legitimate concern, I am struggling to understand how a temporary suspension of NIA registration, in view of a global pandemic, could be equated to perpetual cancellation of same.
3. Sir, with respect, don’t you think the seeming inordinate quest to ensure that people register at all cost, in spite of the dangers posed by congestion, in the wake of the current pandemic, may rather undermine the process? In other words, don’t you think you are rather racing to disenfranchise voters, rather than enfranchising them?
4. It may be true and I agree with you that, although the president gave directives for the suspension of public gatherings, the NIA’s work falls under the category of businesses that could be permitted to continue to operate, but with adequate precautionary measures. Impliedly, civil servants, the manufacturing and industrial sectors, local markets, supermarkets, malls, restaurants, etc may still work, but, under the strict social distancing protocols.
5. The question that must however be posed is that, who is free from the fear of Coronavirus? Who in the world is that daring to subject himself or herself through conditions susceptible to infection?
6. It may be true that some Ghanaians are ignorant. It may be true that there may be indiscipline in the system. But it is also a palpable truth that a greater number of people are scared and hence are abstaining from going close to the areas that are allowed to operate even with the safest of precautions.
7. Yesterday, I was at a Shell Filling Station Supermarket around Legon-Madina, to buy a few items worth just 280 cedis. The attendants were so grateful and thanked me profusely to the point that, I could realize they were not just performing the etiquettes of good customer service. I asked why they sounded so grateful, and they told me that since the President’s directive, sales have reduced. They sit the whole day without customers visiting to buy. Yet right at the entrance of the Supermarket, were safety precautions. They had water in Veronica Buckets, Soaps and Tissue Papers. They also had Hand Sanitizers in the Supermarket, to be used before one exits. The attendants told me that they are experiencing same challenges with respect to limited customer visits and sales, in all their branches. This is in spite of all the safety precautions these shops have put in place.
8. Respected lawyer, you are well aware that, existence of safety precautions, doesn’t necessarily take away fear, particularly in the midst of a pandemic, that has affected even “superior mortals” “top world human beings” and world super-powers, who claim powers to even “manufacture human beings”.
9. Sir, is there any human being, whose fear becomes suddenly alleviated, when safety precautions are announced, when on board a flight? Do we become free from fear, once we are told were our live jackets are located in an airplane?
10. I knew you had the legal brains and competence to over-turn the NIA injunction in court to get the NIA to continue with its work in the Eastern Region. But this victory may latently lead to disenfranchising some voters in that region. This is because, the fear of contracting Coronavirus may not allow all the eligible people in the region to boldly step out to register, regardless of the safety precautions that may be put in place by the NIA. So, why the haste to register SOME of the people when there will be an opportunity to register ALL of them?
11. I think we must all learn from the humbling effect of the Coronavirus pandemic. We do not have full control over what will happen tomorrow and hence there is no full guarantee that we will be able to conduct the 2020 General Elections. Donald Trump and his political opponents are very much interested in their November 2020 elections. But, now that Americans are “the super-powers in terms of Coronavirus infection”, they are more preoccupied with how to fight the “Chinese Virus”, to quote Trump.
12. We cannot contemplate and extol the virtues of human rights to vote, in a near state of emergency, where a government is empowered to impose drastic measures only focused on addressing what has plagued a nation. It may not be too fruitful an exercise to let the NIA continue its registration, at a time when a national lockdown has been proposed by experts like the Ghana Medical Association, and is being seriously considered by the government.
13. Governance must go on and essential activities must run. However, in doing so, let us not create the impression in the minds of the populace that elections are more important than human life. For, it is human beings who elect, and without them, there can be no elections. Let us unite and eschew all tendencies that breeds division, even as we strive to confront and contain the global pandemic.
14. Finally, sir, if there is any “legal or political medicine” that can be administered, to cure the kind of genuine fear people exhibit, even in the face of safety precautions, please push for it to be administered. Else, the NIA may succeed in registering only SOME and not ALL the eligible people to be registered. This is because, safety precautions do not necessarily take away fear, and where there is fear, people may not fully participate in the registration process. Also, please follow-up, after your legal victory, to ensure that all social distancing and other prescribed anti-Coronavirus protocols, are thoroughly observed by those brave people who may dare to go and register, in order to help minimize the spread of the virus.
15. I thank you very much for your attention and God bless us all.
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Written By Yaw Gyampo