On August 18th 2016, I was at the Alisa Hotel in Accra to listen to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) on its continuous calls for a new voters’ register for Ghana as we prepare for election next year. It was the first time that the NPP addressed a News Conference to state its reasons for advocating for a new voters register for Ghana.
The Supreme Court earlier ruled that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) card could not be used as foolproof of identification as a Ghanaian to register as a voter. This is because even tourists in Ghana, in less than 48 hours on arrival, can easily acquire the NHIS card for the purposes of accessing health care in the country even though they may not necessarily be Ghanaians.
In the last registration of voters in the run up to election 2012, the outlawed NHIS card was used by a broad section of the voters to register. With the Supreme Court ruling, it is only prudent that a new voters’ register be compiled for next year’s elections using the identifications recognised by the laws of Ghana.
It was therefore reasonable for the NPP, which is the largest opposition party in Ghana, to be insistent on the urgent need for a new register.
However, the calls by the NPP for a new voters’ register became more compelling and necessary when it discovered that nearly 77,000 voters on the Ghanaian voters register were persons who were also on the voters’ register of Togo! The mystery of how Togolese registered voters could also be registered voters in Ghana is yet to be demystified!
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who addressed the News Conference, was extremely eloquent with the facts. The evidence was crystal clear. It was indeed watertight, to put it. It came out at the conference that the evidence was presented to the Electoral Commission beforehand.
The need for a clean, credible and undisputed voters register must be what the Electoral Commission of Ghana should be striving for. The Electoral Commission is not a political party and should not have any other reason aside promoting free, fair, transparent and credible elections in Ghana.
All political parties should be interested in a voters’ register that is not bloated. It instils discipline in the process and also helps in respecting decisions of elections.
It is however strange that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is vehemently against the compilation of a new voters register for next year’s election in the midst of the overwhelming evidences! What do they know about the voters’ register that the rest of the people of Ghana are unaware of? Why are they not worried that Ghanaians are co-sharing their voters register with Togolese Nationals? Why do they have problems with calls for a clean and credible voters register?
To me, calls by the NPP and the other political parties for a new voters register should even be pursued more vigorously with the mysterious disinterest of the NDC in a new voters’ register which will not be compiled from dues from NDC members anyway.
The Electoral Commission must show professionalism in its handling of the petition submitted to it by the NPP. They must also respect the Supreme Court ruling on the NHIS and give Ghanaians a register which will be a representation of the laws of Ghana.
The NDC must quickly move away from its embarrassing posture. The need for a new voters register is non-negotiable. Ghana is not for NDC members alone. The General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, must move away from his routine political comedies to serious discourses. He is seen to be an Akan Drama Star more than serious politician when it comes to serious national issues.