The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has described as “wanted but not necessary” moves by the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana to compile a new voters’ register for the conduct of the 2020 general elections.
According to the PPP, the compilation of a new voters’ register without the utilization of the National Identification System infrastructure is needless and a waste of precious and scarce resources of the Republic of Ghana.
A statement released by the PPP Wednesday and signed by its National Chairman, Nii Allotey Brew-Hammond, said a single national identification database to be shared by all state and private organizations is the best way to go, wondering why the ongoing national identification exercise by the National Identification Authority (NIA) could not be leveraged on by the EC for the conduct of the 2020 general polls.
According to the PPP, it beats their imagination to see state institutions like SSNIT, GRA, NHIS, EC, Birth & Death Registry, the Passport Office and all other state agencies go their separate ways in building a biometric database for their own use.
“Our reasons for not supporting this project are not political. It is situated in economics and development. Our position on the multiplicity of national identification systems should be well-known by all Ghanaians by now. The PPP has been an advocate for a single national identification database to be shared by state and private organizations. SSNIT, GRA, NHIS, EC, Birth and Death Registry, the Passport Office and all other State agencies have gone their separate ways. They spent taxpayer funds to build and maintain separate biometric systems.
The National Identification Authority has started and re-started their identification project to give one the impression that every political administration must put in their own system without regard to what had been done by the previous regimes. The taxpayer suffers and the economy takes a backward step every time that happens”, the statement in part read.
The party said it does not also understand why the EC will be in the rush to spend GH₵440million to compile a new voters’ register twelve months to go for the general polls when the money could be used to pay for projects that have been executed on behalf of the government by some contractors.
“Teachers are crying for arrears to be paid. Contractors are desperately waiting for certified projects to be paid. As a result, completed projects are not being certified. Some indigenous financial institutions have lost their licenses because of the “no money syndrome” and the unwillingness to clear so-called “legacy debts”. And yet, the NPP Administration can find GH₵440 million for a “wanted but not necessary” new voters’ register. We weep for our country Ghana! We must rise to the occasion and claim independence from our own elected colonialists to prove to the world that after all the Ghanaian is capable of rejecting wasteful regimes”, the statement in part further read.
It however, urged the EC to use the current biometric register for the conduct of the 2020 general elections, stressing that “If it becomes necessary for the EC to compile a new voters’ register in future, we strongly recommend that the register should be compiled from the National Identification System. That project has already started and it can be given the same presidential and parliamentary impetus to be completed within the same period that the EC would propose to use to compile a new voters’ register”.
On Saturday, December 21, 2019, Parliament by a majority voice vote approved a budget of GH₵440million for the electoral management body. The Minority Caucus (MPs from the National Democratic Congress) did not participate in the discussions and approval of the EC budget.
Some few hours after the approval of the EC budget, the National Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, at a political rally in Tamale in the Northern Region said the umbrella family will resist it.
He said the introduction of the new register forms part of a grand scheme by the EC and the government to dissipate scarce national resources.
“We will use legitimate democratic means to stop the Electoral Commission and the Akufo-Addo-Bawumia government from dissipating our scarce resources the manner they want to do,” he told his audience.
The EC insists its intentions are without malice.
The Deputy Chairperson of the EC, Mr. Samuel Tettey, at a press briefing reiterated the need for a new register saying “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 added “If you remember, during the exhibition some of you heard that some people were not captured because of the equipment we are using…”.