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The much talked about forum organized by the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana to engage members of the various political parties in the country to attempt to find a solution to a call by opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) for a new voters’ register, was more or less, much ado about nothing.
This was because representatives of the various political parties, as usual, took entrenched positions insisting on the positions they had taken even before the forum.
Political watchers felt the exercise was a complete waste of time, as one was expecting to hear the representatives of the various political parties making positive submissions, which could lead to speeding up the process on how to resolve the voters’ register melee.

The NPP has for some time been calling for a new Voters Register for the 2016 general elections, stating among other things that the current data lacked credibility because it is fraught with ghost names and foreign nationals, who are resident in the country.

The party, led by its Vice Presidential candidate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, buttressed their argument by revealing that the current voters register is flooded with 76,286 Togolese nationals, whose identity were also found in the Togo Voters Register. The figure, he noted, forms part of the 10% work done in using facial biometric recognition technology to compare the Voters Register of Ghana to Togo.

Other neighbouring countries such as Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina are also in the pipeline. However, the NDC in a sharp rebuttal dismissed the claims put forth by the 2016 Vice Presidential candidate of the NPP.

General Secretary of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu  Nketia said the NPP’s call for a replacement of the alleged compromised voters register, is a ploy to find an excuse for its imminent defeat at the 2016 polls.

He described the NPP’s claims as baseless, adding that the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition has resorted to the strategy of finding fault, as a face-saving exercise as the party sees defeat glaringly staring at it in the face.

“They know they are about to lose the 2016 elections, and they shudder to think of such defeat. This will be three consecutive defeats for the NPP. They never do anything wrong but blame others. They did same in the 2012 elections blaming the EC, and also STL for intercepting election results when their allegations were verified by a team from the African Union, it proved false. Till date, there are still people who believe that innocent company really did what the NPP claimed”.

Presenting the NPP’s argument at the forum, Peter Mac Manu, a former National Chairman of the party said the NPP is calling for a new voters’ register because the IT system they are using is defective and any further reliance on it could worsen the problem.

“The IT system has failed and has to be changed entirely”, Mac Manu said, adding if the register is not changed, Ghana cannot boast of a credible and transparent election in 2016.  He said the EC has the duty to protect the process, but failed to do so that is why the country is now faced with the challenges in the current register.

According to him, when the register is cleaned as the NDC is arguing, the EC must have a proper verification system to differentiate citizens from non-citizens. Touching on minors on the register, he said the EC should use the same method they used to prevent those they identified in the past to ensure that the register is cleaned.

Commenting on the NDC’s argument that Ghana has no money to spend on the new voters’ register, Mr. Manu explained that he was optimistic that the EC could raise the money, because as per their calculations, “it shouldn’t cost more than $7 to register one voter.

“If they have been able to find millions of cedis to fund the district assembly elections, why not this one? They should find the money”. On his part, Johnson Asiedu  Nketia, the NDC General Secretary said we should respect the traditions and conventions of periodic review of the register.

He suggested that there should be an exhibition of the voters’ register to give people the opportunity to submit names of people they think have passed on. “The problem is not with the compilation of the register. You would be on a wild goose chase if you call for a new register. The minors who voted in the last election are now old”, he stated.

He explained that one should have enough proof to convince the EC to remove the names of minors and other foreign names from the register. “Can you say that the way the minors were able to vote in 2012 has been blocked and that this time current minors cannot vote?”

Thus, advising that political parties must take steps to ensure that minors don’t vote this time round.

Answering a question on what should be done to solve the problem of the dead names on the register, General Mosquito said the name of a dead person on the register should not be a worry because “if you die, you die with your thumb print and that no one can use the identity of another person to vote in an election”.

Families of dead persons on the register should be prepared to give enough evidence to the EC to enable it expunge the names of departed ones from the register to help get a clean and credible register for the 2016 elections.

Source: Richard Kofi Attenkah & Pascal Kafu Abotsi || The Chronicle

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