I hear many a Ghanaian address IMANI Ghana as a think tank. Those at IMANI Ghana, thus Franklin Cudjoe, the founder and Chief Executive Officer and his assistant, Bright Simmons, do address themselves as policy think tanks. The group was formed in year 2004.
I am completely in a dilemma trying to situate the group as either a think tank or a pressure group but they tilt more towards being a pressure group than a think tank that they claim themselves to be. Prior to drawing any conclusive decision, let me define what a think tank and a pressure group are and then discuss why I see them as what they really are.
“A think tank, or policy institute, is a research institute that performs research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, technology, and culture”.
“A pressure group tries to influence public policy in the interest of a particular cause. Pressure groups are advocacy groups, also known as special interest groups. They use various forms of advocacy in order to influence public opinion and ultimately policy. Examples of pressure groups are trade unions; business and farming associations; churches; ethnic associations; pensioner groups”
For quite some time now, IMANI Ghana/Africa, are showing great interest in the intended afresh registration of the Ghanaian electorate for future general elections. The Ghana Electoral Commission (EC), based on some sound, factual information and observations, and well-informed source, have decided to compile a new credible voter roll for not only election 2020, but all future elections, using new machines.
However, following this intent by the Electoral Commission, IMANI Ghana/Africa have not ceased attacking them, basing their arguments on timelines and the financial expenditure involved. They claim it is a costly, but fruitless exercise of which the money involved could better be channelled into creating jobs for the youth. They are vehemently advocating that the old voter biometric verification machines used for all elections since year 2012 are still good and capable for use for election 2020. Are they not the same machines used to elect then presidential-candidate Nana Akufo-Addo to become the current president of Ghana, they query?
For IMANI Ghana, all the factual arguments backed by credible documental proofs are nothing to be convinced of. Being a think tank, their view must be adhered to without any ifs and buts. In spite of the machines being obsolete, thus old and out of production without the possibility to secure parts to repair the damaged ones and any that breaks down, IMANI Ghana are so adamant about having the Electoral Commission use the old machines. They keep citing costs, timelines and the possibility of such an endeavour by the EC causing chaos in the nation.
Let me try to educate Franklin Cudjoe and his staff members who are so intransigently deeply rooted in the Ghanaian mentality of doing things that they have probably become so narrow-minded instead of being broad-minded. I am going to draw on personal experience, but without revealing the details, for some security reasons, to prove to Franklin Cudjoe why his approach and meddling in the EC’s decision to conduct a new voter register amount to his group being a pressure group but not a think tank. Is it true they often support some policies advanced by certain interest groups based on what they (IMANI) will get in return in payment than the actual substance of the policy?
In a certain reputable international company, their headquarters had electrical biometric devices, thus readers, installed on the entrances to one of their most important rooms serving as the lifeline of the company. It did happen that although the devices were still functioning, installed barely three years back before the manufacturer of the devices stopped producing that type of the devices, they came to be declared obsolete.
When a new Security Manager was employed by the company, and he discovered that the devices were out of production, he decided to discuss it with the management of the company that the readers should be replaced. His argument was, they should not wait for the devices to break down before looking to replace them. When they do break down, the doors may not be able to remotely unlock or lock. Should the doors be forced open, then they will be obliged to hire people to man the doors to prevent any unauthorised entries by unauthorised persons into the room. However, the nature of what goes on in the room is such that the entries to, and exits from, the room, are precisely known and noted electronically, even with the backup of camera recordings. Have you seen how the white man is proactive? He doesn’t have to wait for the harm to be done before taking a reactive correctional action.
Going back to IMANI Ghana and the EC, the current biometric/verification machines are out of production lines without parts available to repair the already broken ones. Again, their lifespan has expired, making the machines technically incapable of performing their functions to expectation. The cost of repairing the broken ones, even if there were parts available, would be higher than purchasing new higher brands on the market yet, IMANI Ghana will have none of the sensible arguments but stuck to their parochial way of thinking in support of the baseless arguments and fears being expressed and advanced by the NDC.
Where then is the credibility of IMANI Ghana being a think tank if they cannot appreciate the common sense in the non-availability of parts for the obsolete biometric/verification machines for such an important national exercise of voting genuinely to elect the nation’s leaders?
I am myself in the electrical engineering field so I do understand what obsolete and non-availability of parts (in Ghana called spare parts) are, and the difficulty they pose to executing certain tasks at critical moments. Therefore, the ignorance of IMANI Ghana in these areas should not be allowed to prevail to dictate to the EC as to what to do. Is prevention not better than cure?
The EC from my search have made available to the public the letter from the until now managers of the biometric machines and the applicable software, Superlock Technologies Limited (STL), and the letter forwarded to them by STL as coming from the manufacturers of the machines as to their obsoleteness or non-further production and non-availability of parts to repair any broken machine, yet, the obstinate non-technical IMANI experts are advising otherwise. It is a shame on them to be exhibiting utter ignorance in a field to be left for technical experts.
For the information of the general Ghanaian public, Superlock Technologies Limited (STL), is an Israeli company handling the biometric data of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, solely with full access to the password to the database without any Ghanaian’s control over it. How sensible are we as a people and a nation to allow a foreign company to control the access to our national database remotely and to be the sole persons able to service the machines periodically? Are we fools not to understand Mrs Jean Mensah, the Head of the Electoral Commission, when she says that should never continue to be the case but to take control of our own affairs as a nation in that respect?
I have published many articles on why the current voter card in possession of many Ghanaians as was acquired through the presentation of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) card should not be accepted to register one onto the National (Ghana) Identification registration database to be issued with Ghana nationality identity card and also, to be registered to vote as a Ghanaian hence calling for a new voter register that will not accept that card.
Does IMANI Ghana/Africa know the cost to the nation by accepting all those illegal persons or foreigners who are although not genuine Ghanaians by any means, are however in possession of voter card acquired with NHIS card? He had better go and search through my previously published articles on the subject to read my reasons submitted for my stance.
I shall suggest to IMANI Ghana/Africa, to go and learn about real think tanks, one of whom is David Cumming, the British man who was able to get the British to vote for Boris Johnson to get Britain or the United Kingdom out of the European Union after they had voted out of the EU in a national referendum held in March 2016, but had for three years been struggling to get out. He, is a political strategist or a think tank, worthy of emulation but not the IMANI Ghana that is following the direction of the wind being blown by the NDC.
Finally, let Ghanaians be informed that IMANI Ghana/Africa is purely a pressure group but not any think tank as their argument here does not make sense one bit. From most of their arguments on other policies, one can only see them as following the wind, the bandwagon so to speak, without making any difference as deemed to be coming from real experts or think tanks.
Anyway, how did they come by the status think tank? I will not hesitate to come back to furnish them with more information and better particulars on why they are not think tank but a dangerous pressure group in this uncertain period in the life of Ghana faced with a deadly Covid-19 pandemic, baneful official corruption, harmful politicking orchestrated by hollow-minded but excessively greedy and selfish politicians, and the neo-colonisation of Ghana by the Chinese staring us in the face.