Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Will Charlotte Osei's Position As EC Chairperson Become Untenable If It Turns Out The EC's New Logo Is Plagiarised?

No Ghanaian  who wants the new chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC),  Ms. Charlotte Osei, to succeed, can remain unconcerned, about the timing of the so-called rebranding of the EC.

And to be fair, it is also perfectly legitimate for those who question the idea, to ask whether "rebranding" the EC should be  a priority, at this stage in the electoral cycle, in Ghana - for an organisation that says it is cash-strapped.

The EC has missed a golden opportunity to engage with the younger generation in choosing its new logo. Could those in charge of the EC, not have taken their time, to organise a national competition, at some point, going forward, to select a design for a new logo to"rebrand" the organisation they run?

Perhaps it has not dawned on the EC's leadership yet, but there is no question that no independent and unbiased observer, anywhere in the world, who is shown the two logos, will fail to come to the conclusion that the EC's logo, is a direct copy of that of the Turkish educational institution, Yedi Sistem - if it so happens that Yedi Sistem's logo was in the public domain, long before that of the EC was unveiled, that is.

One's hope, is that Ms. Charlotte Osei will not come to regret asking Yedi Sistem to proceed to court, if it feels that its logo has been plagiarised. Her predecessor, Dr. Kwadwo Afari Djan, said more or less the same thing, when the NPP complained about the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. Alas, there is a sense of deja vu there.

She has made it plain that her husband did not design the new EC logo. That is fair enough. And she must be commended for clarifying that point.

She must now proceed to tell Ghanaians the identity of the person who designed the logo - and how much it cost the EC. That cannot be treated as a state secret. It is not. At this stage, it is regarded by many independent-minded and patriotic Ghanaians, as wasteful expenditure - regardless of where the EC got the money from to pay for the "rebranding."

If it hasn't struck them yet, perhaps she and her colleagues at the EC, might have to  avert their minds to the fact that someone is actually in court, for plagiarising a Serbian government youth policy document, in a paid consultancy, for a government organisation, then known as the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA).

We must all be conscious of the fact that it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Yedi Sistem might decide to hire a local law firm to file a suit on its behalf in Ghana's law courts against the EC for plagiarising its logo.

It is also possible that there is even a small army of Ghanaian lawyers, who are willing and happy, to do so for Yedi Sistems for free. And who knows if some of them might not even approach that Turkish educational institution directly themselves for that purpose?

This is a very serious matter indeed - and it will be a huge error of judgment on the part of the leadership of the EC to underestimate the magnitude of the potential disaster they face. Although it is a moot point they are actually on very shaky ground.

Being accused of stealing the intellectual property of others is a serious matter in  many parts of the world - and must not be treated as child's play by the EC's leadership. It might very well turn out that far from somehow empowering the EC, with a "rebranding," the logo's 'designer' has done them a huge disservice.

If Yedi Sistem were to take the matter to court in Ghana, and  it  turns out that what occured at GYEEDA,  has also occurred in the EC's "rebranding" exercise, it would be a huge scandal - which will lead to Charlotte Osei's resignation: as continuing to remain in  her position would then become untenable.

That would be a real tragedy for those of us  who wish her well in her position as the chairperson of the EC and want her to succeed - because we believe in gender parity, now, not tomorrow,  for Ghana's womenfolk, in all aspects of our national life.

Above all, the point needs to be made that Ghana is not a  banana republic, and that as far as patriotic citizens who love this country passionately are concerned,  should it be proven in court that the EC's logo is indeed a plagiarised copy of Turkey's Yedi System's logo, Ms. Charlotte Osei's position will then become untenable - and many will be forced by circumstances to demand her resignation for that reason.

(Let us hope it will not come to that  -  for the sake of our nation's fledgling #GenderParityNow movement.)

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