The Progressive People’s Party has become aware of a publication in today’s edition of the Daily Graphic regarding our position on the ongoing debate on the compilation of a new voters’ register. We would like to take this opportunity to state our official position on the matter of the compilation of a new voters’ register. We believe that the compilation of any 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.
It is in this respect that we were gravely concerned and disappointed at the news that the Parliament of Ghana approved the budget for the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new voters’ register for the 2020 elections. We were disappointed not least by the excessive partisanship that characterised the approval by the NPP majority in parliament but more so when we, the government and people of Ghana, have launched and begun the implementation of the GhanaCard under the auspices of the National Identification Authority (NIA).
The late President John Evans Atta-Mills, famously said often in Fante, “woye adze a ohia ansaana woaye adze a ofata” meaning “you do what is necessary before you do what maybe wanted”. On the eve of Christmas, the NPP caucus in Parliament pushed through a GHC440 million approval to fund a new voters’ register. A few days before that, the Electoral Commission (EC) conducted the district assembly elections using the same register that was used in 2016 to elect the MPs and President Nana Akufo-Addo. With one year to the general elections in 2020, we do not think that the compilation of the new voters’ register is a necessary project to pursue.
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.
Why the rush with only 12 months to go for another national election?
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 GHC440 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 Electoral Commission must use the current Biometric Register for the 2020 general elections. 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.
We remain wide awake and rely on Ghanaians to save this dear land from wasteful and unpatriotic regimes.
Nii Allotey Brew-Hammond