"Concede, if you
lose," said Chief Annan
December 12, 2016
First, I must concede
my delight on noticing what I thought was a bite of
humor in the above pronouncement, in spite of the seriousness of
The statement was reported
to have been made by Mr. Kofi Annan, the former
Secretary General of the UN, by ClassFM
of Ghana on December 09, 2016.
It had been almost two days after the December 07 elections and the results
were yet to be stated or confirmed by the officials at
the Electoral Commission.
Some speculated that
invisible hands at the Electoral Commission were holding
It was at this moment that Chief Annan said, “Any presidential
candidate who loses in the December 7 elections must
accept defeat without delay in order to calm tensions.”
In a sense, he was also urging a quick issuance of the
final report on the elections.
What we are not assuming here is what Chief Annan knew
at the time before
he made the declaration.
But we can't help reading into his statement the humor:
It was plainly unavoidable.
In these days of fast computer technology and
computations, you couldn't have avoided noticing the
absurdity buried in the long delay - and the stalemate created by the silence
of officials who were positioned to know better.
Annan is known for his sense of humor. Also known is his
ability to be diplomatic when it is called for. He knows
the history of contested elections and their consequent affairs,
often of unsavory natures
The last troubled
elections in Ghana was in 2012. The potential strife was
defused by the courts.
Peace prevailed only as the result of court decision.
And the NDC, the
current administration, was able to continue in power, even though
evidences revealed by the opposition, of tampering and poll manipulations, were as obvious as festooned flags.
victory was accepted by all and in not too a congenial manner; more of a concession for peace rather than warfare in the streets.
This time around, there was to be something different.
The same opposition party, the NPP, that had
contested bitterly the 2012 results in court,
had glady no reason for going back to the courts in 2016.
And the NDC, the losing party this time, had also no
chance for protest. And none for appearance in
front of the justices of the court either.
The results were stark clear when
they were finally declared.
Something revelatory had happened leading to the
announcement of the result this time around: A political discernment
in the conduct of electoral affairs that so far had
been elusive to countries in Africa .
In effect, the continent had
gained a new reality: That it was possible to
police an electoral system successfully.
And this reality was stunning in the ease of
its discovery. How this happened was revealed in an article
published by Africa Report on December 12, 2016. (
opposition won the election's data duel).
The NPP, the opposition, had set up on its own a separate but
complimentary system for collecting electoral data on
in real time, as the numbers came out from
constituencies and regions in the country.
Thus the numbers that went to the Electoral Commission's
system, at a separate and different location, were
replicated legally at the NPP hub.
This made the numbers obvious and impossible for the parties
in opposition to attempt to fudge; thereby, a sort of a
Mexican standoff was produced.
advantage was on the side of the opposition alone and it
was in their new data collection hub.
Hitherto the NPP, or any other party, had no such means to counter
votes counted within the state Electoral Commissioner's
The new situation made it easy for the NPP opposition to
know with certainty that they had won, just about when some 93% of the
total votes had been
They were, therefore, to call the results early.
The Mexican standoff was on!
The NDC was caught off-guard.
The Electoral Commission went frozen. Even if they had any inclination
to fudge the numbers, they couldn't do so now. Their computer screens
were telling them the same story the NPP had just announced;
a new reality they probably hadn't anticipated at this stage.
So what did Chief Annan also know at this
point in time? It would be interesting to
speculate whether he knew of the Mexican standoff before
he made his statement.
But witness what was happening.
NDC, the ruling party, refuted immdiately the NPP claim
of victory while
the Electoral Commission dallied. Even though the
Commission was to call the results later, the
earlier numbers provided by the NPP would not change.
Meanwhile, the public, as usual, was caught in
tense partisan stances that could possibly have resulted in nasty
consquences in the streets.
But at the NPP
headquarters, party members were elated. Their own strategem for data collection
had worked. Victory was a certainty
as early as after the midnight on election day.
Presumably, the feelings were not the same at NDC
headquarters and at the offices of the
Electoral Commission. They were caught in the
So what to do next?
for the Commission was the change in approach. The
NPP attitude created a different scenario than what had
obtained in previous elections where the Commission had
total control of the process.
The Commission had for years maintained a monopoly and
control of the numbers, like Rome on the Bible before
what to do with the facts on the ground since they were
known; bid time to
fudge the numbers or declare victory for the opposition
it was at this stage when Chief Annan issued his
“Concede if you lose.” he said, perhaps with humor,
a quality which would not be strange to his nature.
The humor was not exactly stated because it was best
served in silence, sort of a mind game, so to speak.
Also implied in this humor was a tinge of the sarcasm that you could
heard in a heated
chess game: a slap with a piece on the board and the cry
Point for us ordinary folks being, official
Ghana must have known at this point, 72 hrs
after the ballots came in, that the game
was over. Either that or somebody was not playing
fair with the result or trying hard to make the whole
country look stupid again!
Soon after, and thankfully so, the results were
announced and gracefully accepted
by all parties in the contest.
So Ghana was in
the clear this time and her image
enhanced by the conduct of the 2016 elections.
She has also
provided a significant electoral supervision model, a machine for how to frame the
election results of a Third World country so that they could be seen by all interested
groups as honest and fair.
Perhaps, the model can be used to prevent corrupt
elections elsewhere in Africa and ought to be
replicated across the continent.
At the same time, some caution: Don't celebrate yet.
have seen enough at this stage of our history to compel us to be wary of seemingly congenial
in Africa. We have seen changes that we thought could
work. But there was always a slip in the
We saw the hopeful transition from President
Kufuor to President Atta Mills and then to President
But no need now to bother anyone with the regression
that followed after President Kufuor left office in
history is replete with few advances and many set backs. And
our ability to conjure up defeat in our moments
of victory has also become legendary.
But the real story can be told in how we celebrate our little and big
victories in the coming years. The trend would tell whether we had turned the corner for
the homestretch - to civilized and matured reception of election results..
We can only hope for the best now.
www.ghanadot.com, Washington, DC, December 12, 2016.
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