Despite Regional Demarcation & District Assemble Elections
The Electoral Commission (EC) has asked Parliament to approve GH¢444,846,663 for the compilation of a new Voters Register, despite using the current register for the regional demarcations and the yesterday’s district assembly elections without any major incident.
It appears, the new EC bosses led by Jean Mensah, intend to wipe out everything done by the Charlotte Osei administration, including the voters’ register.
She had transferred many of the workers from the EC headquarters, made new appointments and even changed the EC logo designed and paid for by the previous administration.
It is, however, unclear if the government is in the position to pay the colossal amount for the new register as part of the EC’s activities for the year 2020 general election.
Government has in recent time being having difficulty with paying salary arrears of nurses, teachers and other state workers forcing some to embark on a striking actions to demand payment.
Some statutory payment such the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), Capitation Grants, the District Assemblies Common Fund, the National Health Insurance Scheme reimbursement to both state and private hospitals have also suffered payment challenges as result competing demands on government.
However, Deputy Chairperson of the Commission, Samuel Tettey, had at a press briefing on Monday, reiterated the need for a new register.
“The current register is credible but it has been stretched to a point where you don’t want to take that same risk. We want to have something that is more credible,” he said.
“If you remember, during the exhibition some of you heard that some people were not captured because of the equipment we are using…” he added.
In its budget, the EC also allocated GH¢287,842,511 for the conduct of elections.
More than GH¢27 million has also been requested for voter and electoral education and GH¢1.2 million for demarcation of electoral boundaries.
The biggest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has meanwhile, kicked against the new register.
According to the party, there is no need for a new register.
“In my opinion, there is no such need for a new Voters Register. Why do we require a new register?…Our practice has been that we replace the new register every decade,” General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia said.
A member of the NDC’s legal team, Abraham Amaliba, has also claimed the Commission wants to disenfranchise some Ghanaians with the new register, Graphic online reported.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Newsnite yesterday, Deputy General Secretary of the NDC, Peter Otukunor, reiterated the party’s position that there is no need for a new register.
He said, it was better for the Commission to upgrade the old register.
Recently, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, a leading figure of the governing New Patriotic Party, has expressed worry over the readiness of the Electoral Commission to effectively organise the 2020 elections.
The NPP stalwart, said he is nervous that 12 months to the next polls, the Electoral Commission, is yet to begin the process of putting together an acceptable and credible voters’ biometric data which will be used to conduct the polls.
The legal practitioner, who described himself as a ”’veteran” campaigner for electoral reforms’, suggested that his concern stems from the fact that the Commission is yet to decide on whether or not to introduce a new biometric data system or maintain the old system.
“I do not know the details of the EC procurement processes and the current happenings at the Commission. But, as a “veteran” campaigner for electoral reforms over the years, I was worried to hear yesterday that with less than 12 months to the next general elections, the EC is yet to decide on a new entity and technology to introduce a new biometric data system for the next polls,” he noted.
The EC, in a meeting with the political parties at the InterParty Advisory Committee, put forth a proposed new technology to collate biometric data of eligible Ghanaians ahead of 2020 elections. Some political parties, led by the NDC have opposed the idea insisting that the EC has not sufficiently provided reasons why the move is necessary.
But Gabby Otchere-Darko, in his post on Facebook, intimated that education on the progress being made by the Commission is needed to assure stakeholders of the steps they are taking to conduct a transparent, free and fair election.
He disclosed that “It worries me and I hope they get it right. Some more education on where we are and how we get there will be very helpful. I’m nervous.”
According to the Director of Elections of the opposition NDC, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, the party has provided sufficient grounds for which reason they do not support a new biometric data system.
“Our IT people together with other political parties raised counterfactuals and proved to them that there was no need for a new biometric register and we stated cogent reasons.”
Even though the Electoral Commission has opened its doors for further dialogue, it is primed to go ahead with the intended procurement of new technology for the purpose of collecting and using biometric data of electorates.
“The Electoral Commission believes in dialogue. The EC believes that the acquisition of a new biometric system will enable the EC to deliver free, fair and transparent elections. Moreover, the Electoral Commission operates an open-door policy and that should any political party have issues on any of our projects, they will be able to come forward and dialogue with the Commission,” Sylvia Annor, EC’s PRO stated.