The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has assured Ghanaians that it “will not sit aloof” for the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), “to collude with the Electoral Commission to rig the 2024 elections” through the decision by the election management body to use the Ghana card as the sole document for the registration of new voters ahead of the 2024 polls.
A statement issued by the NDC bearing the signature of its National Chairman Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, said: “We are, therefore, urging our agitated supporters to remain calm as we take all legitimate and appropriate steps to ensure that they are not disenfranchised”.
Read the party’s full statement below:
THE NDC HAS NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE DECISION BY THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION TO USE GHANA CARD AS THE SOLE IDENTIFICATION DOCUMENT FOR VOTER REGISTRATION.
The attention of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has been drawn to news attributed to officials of the Electoral Commission that the Commission has agreed with political parties and civil society organisations that the Ghana Card should be the sole document for the impending limited voter registration exercise.
For the avoidance of doubt, the NDC wishes to state, unequivocally, that it has not been a party to any such consultation or meeting in whatsoever form that resulted in any such decision.
The NDC will fully apprise the general public of the implications of the statements made by the Electoral Commission in the coming days on this absurd and unreasonable this decision of the EC.
In the meantime, the party wishes to use this opportunity to remind the Electoral Commission that under Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution, every Ghanaian of eighteen years and above and of sound mind is entitled to register as a voter for the purposes of elections. This right to register and exercise one’s franchise is an inalienable right that should not be denied citizens who qualify to exercise same.
Again, Article 45(e) of the Constitution enjoins the Electoral Commission to undertake programmes for the EXPANSION of the registration of voters. It is for this reason that the NDC cannot be a party to any decision that seeks to constrict access to the electoral roll or disenfranchise qualified citizens from joining the electoral roll.
The party agrees with the venerable former chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, Dr. Afari Gyan that any attempt by the EC to use Ghana Card as the sole document for voter registration will lead to the disenfranchisement of millions of Ghanaians. We are not oblivious of the challenges millions of Ghanaians are going through to obtain Ghana Cards. The recent pandemonium that characterised registration centres due to the unrealistic deadlines for SIM registration is a case in point.
It is worthy of note, that according to data from the National Identification Authority (NIA), only 16,654,072 million Ghanaians out of a national population of about 31 million had registered for the Ghana card as at July 2022. Of this number, only 13,316,612 million of them have been issued with their Ghana cards. It is obvious from this data, that there are many Ghanaians who have just turned 18 years or will turn 18 years by the next limited registration period who may not have a Ghana card. And therefore any decision that seeks to make the Ghana card the sole identification document for voter registration will disenfranchise many eligible voters.
As the general public may be aware, Ghana’s National Security Strategy issued by the National Security Ministry identifies as a major risk to Ghana’s peace and security, “mistrust in the electoral process”.
It noted that “the suspicion of collusion between the ruling party and the Electoral Commission to rig elections for the ruling party continues to drive the situation towards dispute and potential violence”. The strategy further urged the Electoral Commission to “identify the sources of public mistrust in its electioneering systems and processes and take necessary action or make recommendations for addressing them”.
It is for this reason that we wish to caution the Electoral Commission to be circumspect in its actions and inactions since they have far reaching implications for the peace and security of the country.
We wish to assure Ghanaians that the NDC will not sit aloof for the NPP government to collude with Electoral Commission to rig the 2024 elections and inflict more pain and hardships on them. We are therefore urging our agitated supporters to remain calm as we take all legitimate and appropriate steps to ensure that they are not disenfranchised.
Hon. Samuel Ofosu Ampofo
Earlier, Ghana’s longest-serving Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, had said, without having the Ghana card, “Ghanaian citizens don’t lose their citizenship if they are 18 years or older”, adding: “So, the moot question is: why make the Ghana card the only means of identification for purposes of establishing eligibility to register to vote”.
So far, 16,969,034 have registered for the Ghana card and 15.7 million have received it.
“So, what this means is that as soon as you acquire your Ghana card, with the continuous registration, you just go to our district office then you go and register then your name will be put on the roll of voters”, he said in an interview on Accra-based Joy News.
His comments came a few days after Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia hinted at the likelihood of using the card for voter registration for either the 2024 or 2028 general elections.
Dr Bawumia promised Ghanaians at the 2022 Civil Service Awards ceremony in Accra on 29 July 2022 that with the Ghana card and digitalisation drive, “very soon, you’d see that our problems with voter registration would disappear”.
“It’s only a matter of time. If not at the next election then the next election after that because we spend so much on voter registration but once unique identification is determined and you cannot have underage people coming to register to vote and all of that, I think the Ghana card would be a good identification document as we are already seeing so that we sanitise the voter registration system”, Dr Bawumia said.
He noted: “In many countries, once you are 18, you are essentially on the voter register and that is it”.
“There’s no complication to this and going to fight and break legs and so on, as we register to vote”, he noted.
“I mean the system is the system”, added Dr Bawumia, stressing: “If you are 18, you are on the register – simple!”
“And, I think this is where we are headed”, he hinted.
In his view, Ghana has been stuck in the brick-and-mortar model of development, which, in his estimation, has not generated the needed transformation.
Systems, as being put in place by the Akufo-Addo government through the digitalisation drive, are what will transform the country, Dr Bawumia argued, in support of his earlier assertion that he would prefer the Ghana card – which, he observed, is the fulcrum of the establishment of those systems – to 1,000 interchanges.
“A lot of the time, we have, as a country, really focused on brick and mortar for development: build this road, you build this and build that but we have not focused on systems for the longest time but systems and data and institutions are what develop countries, it’s not brick and mortar”, he explained.
“So, these systems that we are putting in place – digitalisation of the various public sector offices and all of that: national ID, mobile money and all of that – is what will transform Ghana; it’s really what will transform Ghana and that is why as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we have to pay attention to this”.
The Ghana card is a valid verification document issued by the National Identification Authority (NIA) to Ghanaians and resident foreign nationals living everywhere for the purpose of identification.
The card bears personal information about the individuals whose identity can be verified at all times. The NIA National Identity System utilises three types of biometric technology for identification purposes.
These are the fingerprints unique to each individual in the form of digitised templates, and facial templates in the form of a digitised colour photo of the cardholder and the iris.
The card contains basic identification information including a photograph of the cardholder, along with a name, date of birth, height, and a personal identification number that has been randomly generated and assigned to the holder and has an expiry date.
However, Dr Afari-Gyan, who served for 22 years between 1993 and 2015, as EC Chair, told Graphic Online in an interview that fact that the number of people with Ghana cards included those below the voting age of 18, and juxtaposing that with the Ghana Statistical Service’s projection that people aged 18 years and above would hit 19.5 million in 2023, the potential for many people to be disenfranchised as a result of the use of the Ghana card as the only source document for voter registration was high.
“The electorate are the kingmakers. So, a basic responsibility of any electoral commission is to facilitate the realisation of the people’s right to register as voters, and not to obstruct that right by demanding for registration purposes documents that are not easily accessible to the people,” he added.
Last month, the EC placed before Parliament a draft C.I titled: Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2021, which is expected to regulate continuous voter registration.
Per the new C.I, which would become law after 21 sitting days of Parliament, the EC is seeking to make the Ghana Card the sole form of identification for eligible voters who want to get unto the electoral roll.
The C.I has been referred to the Subsidiary Legislation Committee of Parliament. By convention, the committee is chaired by a member of the Minority group.
Orders, rules or regulations made pursuant to provisions of the Constitution or an Act of Parliament must be laid before Parliament for 21 sitting days before they come into force.
Any such subsidiary legislations so laid are referred to the committee to determine whether it is in accordance with the general objectives of the constitution or the Act pursuant to which it is being made.
It also determines whether the legislation contains any matter, which in the opinion of the committee should be dealt with in an Act of Parliament; directly or indirectly bars the jurisdiction of the courts; gives retrospective effect to any provision contrary to provisions of the Constitution or an existing Act; involves expenditure from the Consolidated Fund or has a form or structure which calls for further elucidation, among other things.
Even before the EC had laid the new C.I before Parliament, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) accused the EC of planning to compile a new voter register for the 2024 general election, with the Ghana Card as the only source document.
The Minority Leader in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu, said any move by the EC to compile a new voter register with the Ghana Card solely as the mode of identification would not bode well for the country, especially when the EC had already expended huge sums of money to compile a new register which was used for the 2020 general election.
The EC debunked the assertion by the NDC and said the new C.I was only meant to regulate continuous registration, with the Ghana Card as the source document.
“We are not compiling a new voter register. The one we compiled in 2020 is a credible one, a very good register so we are not dispensing it,” the Director of Electoral Services of the EC, Dr Serebour Quaicoe, told the media.
Meanwhile, in Parliament, the new C.I laid by the EC caused heated debates, with the Minority calling for the EC to come and explain the rationale for the use of the Ghana Card as the only source document.
At Parliament’s sitting on July 21, this year, the First Deputy Minority Chief Whip, Ibrahim Ahmed, said it was necessary for the EC to brief the House on the new C.I. to erase any “controversial issue of mistrust.”
For his part, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, rejected the call by the Minority, describing it as premature, adding that the next general election was not yet due.
Another concern raised by Dr Afari-Gyan on the new C.I bothered on the registration centres and registration supervisors for the voter registration exercise.
Per the new C.I, the E.C envisages conducting the exercise from its district offices, with the district registration supervisor and the registration centre supervisor reporting to the regional officer.
To Dr Afari-Gyan, with the proposed arrangement, it meant fewer registration centres as compared to the number of polling stations, a situation he fears could be problematic with regard to the polling centres that will be assigned to the registered voters, and how the voters will know their assigned polling stations.
“One way to dodge this problem is to use a voter register that is not polling station-specific on Election Day,” he said.
With regard to the supervisors, the political scientist and former lecturer advocated that for accountability purposes, the registration reports should not only be sent to the regional officer of the EC, but to the district officer as well, since “the district officers were closer to the registration proceedings in their various districts.”
The former EC boss, who succeeded Justice Josiah Ofori Boateng, who headed the Interim Electoral Commission which conducted the 1992 general election, also faulted the new C.I for proposing two new kinds of voters register, namely electoral area register and constituency register.
Such a move, Dr Afari-Gyan contended, could give rise to multiple voting and ballot stuffing, because the Biometric Verification Devices (BVDs) at the various polling stations were not interlinked to know a voter who had already voted.
“Until such time that the BVDs are configured to be interactive in this way, my concern about any of the two registers being used at the polling station on Election Day is that it opens the door more widely to two kinds of voting infractions, namely multiple voting and ballot stuffing,” he added.
Minorities applaud government’s retreat on import restrictions
Following the government’s decision to postpone the implementation of import restriction legislation, the minority in Parliament expressed relief.
The caucus was adamantly opposed to the measures, claiming fears of corruption and economic hardship.
The Minority, in a statement issued on December 8, 2023, criticised the laws for giving the Trade Minister undue authority over import licences and amounts without sufficient checks and balances. They were concerned that this authority would lead to corruption, misuse of power, and state control.
“Minority has always maintained that these regulations will breed corruption, because not only are they arbitrary and opaque but they are designed to encourage the arbitrary exercise of discretionary power in the hands of one person, particularly the Minister of Trade and Industry.”
“We have argued that by vesting too much unfettered and unchecked power in the Minister to determine who qualifies or not to be granted a permit to import into the country as many as twenty (24) commodities, the regulations lend themselves to abuse of power, state capture and rent-seeking conduct reminiscent of the days of ‘essential commodities’ and ‘price control’.”
The caucus stated that its principle was not against any legal regime or policy that sought to protect indigenous businesses by regulating imports, but rather against a law that gave the Minister of Trade unfettered discretionary power to issue import licences and limit the quantity of certain imports into the country, without any checks and balances.
“It defied sound logic for this Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government to seek to restrict imports contrary to what it had signed on to about Ghana’s current IMF programme. One of the quantitative performance criteria in Ghana’s current IMF bailout is a requirement to avoid imposing or intensifying restrictions on imports for balance of payment reasons.
At a time Ghanaians are facing extreme misery and reeling under countless taxes, including those contained in the 2024 Budget, we do not consider it right that the government would introduce import restrictions that will fuel inflation and hoarding,” it stated.
NDC MINORITY IN PARLIAMENT REACTS TO GOVERNMENT’S SUSPENSION OF LAYING OF IMPORT RESTRICTION REGULATIONS
The Minority Caucus has noted with relief the announcement by the government to suspend the laying of the proposed regulations on Restriction of imports of Selected Strategic Products, 2023.
The Minority has always maintained that these regulations will breed corruption, because not only are they arbitrary and opaque but they are designed to encourage arbitrary exercise of discretionary power in the hands of one person, particularly the Minister of Trade and Industry.
We have argued that by vesting too much unfettered and unchecked power in the Minister to determine who qualifies or not to be granted a permit to import into the country as many as twenty (24) commodities, the regulations lend themselves to abuse of power, state capture and rent-seeking conduct reminiscent of the days of ‘essential commodities’ and ‘price control’.
Indeed, various stakeholders including the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), the Food and Beverages Association of Ghana, Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Chamber of Automobile Dealership Ghana and the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have all joined us in all kicking against these proposed import restrictions.
The Minority in principle is not against any legal regime or policy that seeks to protect indigenous businesses by regulating imports. What we are vehemently against is a law that confers unfettered discretionary power on a single individual, in this case a Minister of Trade, to issue import licenses and to restrict the quantity of certain imports into the country, without any checks and balances.
It defied sound logic for this Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government to seek to restrict imports contrary to what it had signed on to with regard to Ghana’s current IMF programme. One of the quantitative performance criteria in Ghana’s current IMF bailout is a requirement to avoid imposing or intensifying restrictions on imports for balance of payment reasons.
At a time Ghanaians are facing extreme misery and reeling under countless taxes, including those contained in the 2024 Budget, we do not consider it right that government would introduce import restrictions that will fuel inflation and hoarding.
We are happy that the government has jettisoned these regulations after stiff resistance and opposition in Parliament by the Minority Caucus.
We wish to assure the Ghanaian people and the business community that the Minority will always be on their side and put their interests first. Ghana First!
We’ll identify and disgrace NPP MPs who are undermining the anti-gay bill – Sam George
The chief proponent of the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, popularly known as the Anti-Gay Bill, Sam George, has threatened to expose and disgrace members of the Majority Caucus who are allegedly obstructing the bill’s passing.
He claimed that several Majority MPs were swayed by those with a vested interest in the development of LGBT activities in the country, sabotaging the process.
Speaking to media in Parliament, Samuel Nartey George, the MP for Ningo-Prampram, said the bill’s supporters will not tolerate any attempts by the Majority caucus to sabotage it.
“Those who have been influenced by persons who have an interest in LGBTQ should return whatever influence they have collected because we will fight and the next time we address the media, I will mention names. I have been impressed by my co-sponsors not to mention names, and it is out of respect for them that I am not mentioning names, but if they continue this behaviour of frustrating the bill, I will mention names.”
“This bill was introduced in 2021 and this is the last time we will accept this kind of behaviour. Ghanaians should take note, the Christian community, the Muslim community, the African Traditional community, and the National House of Chiefs who have supported this bill should take note of the actions of persons on the Floor of the House who are seeking to slow down the move of this bill.”
Meanwhile, Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, has dismissed Sam George’s claims.
“Leadership has not drawn my attention that we should go ahead and do consideration on this bill and at any rate, this is not the only bill at the consideration stage. The Intestate Succession Bill has also been there and nobody thinks of prosecuting it, and then we have the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill on page 24 and when the Speaker called me. If we start today, there is no way we can finish these amendments before this meeting ends, so why should I start it?”
Sam George wants Parliament to sue Akufo-Addo for refusing to approve ‘Witchcraft’ bill
Samuel Nartey George, Member of Parliament for Ning-Prampram, has proposed that Parliament take President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to court for refusing to sign the contentious Criminal Offences Amendment Bill 2023 into law.
President Akufo-Addo refused to sign the Criminal Offences Amendment Bill 2023 and the Wildlife Resources Management Bill 2023 a few days ago.
This came after the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, chastised the President on November 27, 2023, for failing to explain his position on the Criminal Offences Amendment Bill 2023, which seeks to criminalise attacks on suspected witches.
However, the Presidency refused to receive the measures enacted by Parliament until November 27, 2023, in a message. The Presidency also denied reports that it had opted not to sign the Bills.
However, in a letter to Parliament on Monday, December 4, President Akufo-Addo informed the House that he would be unable to consent to the measures until the underlying constitutional issues were resolved.
A furious MP told Eyewitness News on Citi FM that the President is usurping the authority of the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, and that the President has ‘absolutely no powers’ to postpone the bill’s passage.
He slammed the President for violating the 1992 constitution, saying he should be hauled into court if he does not reverse his decision.
“Parliament must go to the Supreme Court to seek interpretations of Article 108. The president is not the ultimate in this country when it comes to the law. The speaker has served notice that the president’s actions are unconstitutional and are a breach of the Constitution.”
He added, “I hold the view that the actions of the President are unconstitutional and even constitute grounds for impeachment. Because the President is flouting the Constitution in such a blatant manner. How can a witchcraft bill be interpreted by the President to be financial matters? And for those reasons, the President arrogates to himself powers that he doesn’t have. He’s usurping the constitutional powers of the Speaker. We can’t sit down and allow that. I believe that if the President does not rescind his decisions, Parliament must take him to court. We should take him to the Supreme Court for the court to rule. The President has absolutely no powers under Article 108.”
You have no authority in court – Judge ‘fires’ OSP
Asante Kotoko to travel on a European training tour in Germany, Switzerland, and Italy ahead of the 2024/25 season
Chinese national and six others detained for mining in the Oda forest reserve
Heavy security in court as NAM1 pleads to new charges
Residents in Senya Bereku clashes with the military over disputed land
I slept with 300 people in a year – detractors call me ‘disgusting,’ but I feel powerful
With a victory over Essiam Socrates on match day six, Will Jonina Football Academy secure a comfortable spot on the League log?
I’ll make sure Matthew Nyindam gets the Kpandai seat – Nyamah
Some unusual qualities men want in a woman
Hearts of Oak to play home games in Kumasi following the closure of Accra Sports Stadium
Akufo-Addo pardons eight Chiana SHS students who insulted him
Audio: Richard Attah’s wife narrates how ‘Aki and Pawpaw’ plotted the sack of Samuel Boadu
Video: I will marry 20 wives and have 10 concubines – Osofo Ajagurajahon Gh One TV with Serwaa Amihere
Reggie Rockstone vs Bongo Ideas on Twitter… Davido sends a DM to notorious Bongo Ideas
Captain Smart declares Bawumia as next NPP flagbearer as he explains why he sacked Ras Mubarak on set
General News5 days ago
I’ll make sure Matthew Nyindam gets the Kpandai seat – Nyamah
General News3 days ago
Asantehene makes history as first black monarch to appear in a British Pirelli calendar
General News4 days ago
Aisha Huang sentenced to four years and six months in prison and fined GH¢48,000
Ghana Football4 days ago
Hearts of Oak Board explains why Martin Koopman was hired
Sports2 days ago
Santos relegated to second tier after a dismal season
Politics6 days ago
Bannerman loses Odododiodoo, Hadzide and Barbara Oteng Gyasi win big in NPP Parliamentary Primaries
Politics6 days ago
Nyamah loses Kpandai, Okoe Boye, Akosua Manu, and Eugene Arhin win NPP Parliamentary primaries
Politics6 days ago
NPP Primaries: Nana Ama Dokua wins Okaikwei North parliamentary elections