Three harmless questions first:
1. How come President Akufo Addo was able to raise over GHC 800m for the EC to conduct a re-registration exercise, but couldn’t raise the first tranche of GHC 45m as budgeted in 2019 for the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) to conduct the 2020 Population and Housing Census?
2. Why was the EC and the NIA exempted from the imposed restrictions and protocols, but GSS was made to indefinitely postponed its decennial census exercise due to covid-19?
3. Is the EC not going to use the estimated eligible Ghanaian voters from the GSS data for its planning and projections any longer?
Fellow Ghanaians, as citizens march in the United States to protest against inequality, hate and racism, we in Ghana are just begging for our genuine voices to be heard from our compressed holes by our vindictive President, Nana Akufo-Addo. Our voices come with clear reasons; reasons that stand to change the face of our democracy; reasons that will build a solid ground for the future of our nation-Ghana.
The red alerts are showing and the anger is building up as a result of the adamance of Jean Mensah to come to the table for consensus building and compromises. Of course, Jeans Mensah’s arrogance is inarguably fueled and accentuated by President Nana Addo, his government and his party, the NPP. They are urging her (Lady MacBeth) on this slippery slope she’s trekking.
In March 2019, the Population and Housing Census Steering Committee was Inaugurated. Almost GHC 500m was estimated for the first ever digital census to be held in Ghana. The 6th census per the law and convention was to be conducted in March 2020 in tandem with the Statistical Service Act, (Act 1003). Section 33 of the Act states that, Ghana will have a national census in every 10 years. An Act President Akufo Addo accented to and swore to defend, protect and abide by.
The government of Ghana in 2019 budgeted GHC 45m but released only GHC 25m by February 2020 to the GSS. Due to the introduction of a new IT infrastructure to aid the e-census, the earlier date of 15th March, 2020 was postponed to the last week of June 2020 to make room for proper demarcation to fit the new software. Unfortunately, the ravages of Covid-19 has forced the GSS and government to finally postpone the exercise indefinitely.
With the electronic exercise, the GSS was to harness the use of geo-spatial data by integrating data from the NIA, National Digital Property & Addressing System and National Housing Project. This was to create a proper database that can be of use to any government institution for planning for the next 10 years from 2021.
In fact, this data was going to be useful to Ghana’s Electoral Commission than any other institution. It is worthy to note that, the Electoral Commission does its projections based on available data from the Population Census figures collected by the GSS which always contain the estimated eligible voters to be registered, especially with a mass registration exercise like the EC is anticipating and championing.
Question is: since the GSS postponed the exercise indefinitely due to the deadly coronavirus, where and how will the EC get its estimated figures for proper projections and planning? Or the EC doesn’t have to plan based on available information and data in respect of eligible voters from GSS database?
As we speak, Ghana has no standard data on the estimated eligible voters. The GSS doesn’t have current figures of eligible voters, because the 2010 figures have outlived its usefulness. Worthy to note is the fact that the GSS decennial census is more broader in scope in terms of data collection as compared to both the EC and the NIA. The very institution the EC wants to rely on for primary data (ie the NIA), is yet to finish its first phase of the poorly organized data collection exercise. A mop up is still expected since a good number of Ghanaians were not registered, and the system operationalization to make the database functional is yet to be done. So where is the EC getting its data for the projected number of people qualified under the universal adult suffrage rule?
Per the above narratives, between the Population Census and the re-registration of voters, which one should President Nana Addo endorse and/or fund? Mind you, the electronic data as was expected from the GSS in 2020 was equally to serve as a booster for the government’s drive for the formalization of the economy. So, any patriotic President who thinks about the next generation and not the next election will surely bid for the GSS Population and Housing Census over this EC’s needless but wasteful re-registration exercise.
So, how did Jean Mensah get the 16.5m estimated eligible voters to be registered? Obviously not from the “old-obsolete-useless register”, because that is supposed to be a non-starter as per Jean Mensah’s position and Nana Akufo Addo’s directives. If it is from the old register, then, the old Voter ID cards still matter in Ghana’s electoral conversations.
Can you find the missing link now? Laugh small at Jean Mensah and her driver, Nana Akufo Addo.
By Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese
(Loud Citizen From Laribanga)