Joy FM – Forum on Voters’ Register: PPP steals the show; pushes for national identification system

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For a forum seen as a showdown between the NDC and NPP two major political parties, it was the PPP that stole the show after a brilliant presentation on the voters’ register reforms.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) maintained it is possible to replace the voters’ register while the National Democratic Congress (NDC)  maintained it was not necessary.

But the Progressive Peoples’ Party (PPP) suggested that it is not possible to have a credible voters’ register the NPP way neither is the NDC way of cleaning the register an effective way.

PPP General Secretary Kofi Asamoah Siaw focused the debate on the importance of having a National Identification System out of which a voters’ register can be created and updated automatically.

The voters’ register forum is a two-day debate that is expected to collate the views of political parties and pro-governance think-tanks.

The EC constitued a five-member panel chaired by His Lordship Professor V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe, Co-Chair of the Coalition for Domestic Election Observers, (CODEO).

Others are Chairman of the National Peace Council Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante. A former Government Statistician Dr. Grace Bediako, a renowned computer scientist, Chairman of the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) Dr. Nii Narku Quaynor and Ameer of the Ahmadiyya Mission of Ghana. Maulvi Bin Salih.

The NPP had raised concerns about the impartiality of the chairman who they say has publicly stated his position as being againsta new voters’ register. The party also fingered Dr. Quaynor as having strong links with the ruling party, NDC.

Nonetheless the NPP participated in the forum with former National Chairman Peter Mac Manu make its presentation.

The NPP defended its position insisting that the register is bloated.

He categorised that there are statistical, constitutional and technical defects to prove that the current voters register is “incurably flawed”.

Peter Mac Manu proposed that there is technology available to produce a new voters’ register capable of winning the confidence of Ghanaians and to bolster the legitimacy of the winner.

On the question of cost, Peter Mac Manu jabbed the Electoral Commission saying that if the EC could blow more than 91million cedis on a botched District Assembly Elections, then cost cannot stop the EC from collating a new register if it is so inclined.

NDC General Secretary was stern on insisting that the NPP proposals are not a guarantee for peace nor should the party blackmail the nation into thinking that chaos is imminent if EC does not produce a new voters’ register.

But vintage Asiedu Nketia also provided scenes of laughter as he tried to punch holes in the NPP’s submission.

He jestered that if Ghanaians are asked to help clear the names of ineligible voters like minors,foreigners or dead people, he will point out NPP General Secretary as a dead person who shouldn’t be on the register.

He says the NPP should bring evidence of persons it believes should not be on the register to IPAC where electoral concerns are often addressed.

He says it is not enough to just identify a problem, also identify how to solve the problems. He suggests that a new register could worsen the problem because if the claim was that minors registered in the last election,chances are that another group of minors will be registered again for the upcoming registration exercise and therefore worsen the problem.

It was the PPP that drew strong attention to the fact that a once lauded National Identification System is the most effective way to go. He aruged that to get a credible register, the person should be able to identify himself as a Ghanaian and also as a person who has attained the voting age of 18 years.

But the Electoral Commission cannot determine anybody’s nationality or age, PPP maintained. Kofi Siaw argued that only a National Identification System is the most effective means to determine who is a Ghanaian and how old the Ghanaian is.

In the absence of this, every compilation done will be replete with flaws.

He pointed out that a National I.D card will serve more purpose than a voters’ ID card which is primarily used for elections.

He argued that if a minor manages to falsify information on the National Identification System, the person will be doing harm to himself. This is because the NIS will be using that information not only for the voters register but for her employment information and eligiblity to join any age-restricted organsiation.

“It means that your daughter will retire early [than she really should] or may not join the Armed Forces”, he says.

It will also spare political parties recruiting several thousands of polling agents to police the ballot during elections. He says each party can save 6million cedis if the NIS is used to create a voters’ register.

All the EC has to do is to take information from the National Identification Authority which will supply data on eligible voters from a huge database.

The National I.D card will be used for employment purposes because employers can know the age of its workers and thus when they will retire.

He noted that it is unfortunate that the National Identification System has stalled. He predicts that if government is interested, it could complete the National Identification exercise in three months.

He says the solution using the NIS is a far-reaching solution because political parties will not have to agitate for a new voters’ register or a cleansing.

This is because once every new born baby’s identity is captured, the NIA systems will automatically be updating its details until the voting age is reached and the name updated on the electoral register.

Source: Joy FM



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