Although the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court, has given a ruling to the effect that the registration of Ghanaian voters with National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) card is invalid, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is still not convinced about the need for the compilation of a new voters’ register, which the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is gravely proposing.
In the argument of the NPP at a press conference in Accra last Tuesday, since there were voters identified with NHIA cards, which is incongruous with the Supreme Court’s verdict, they were certain about the possibility of a large segment of voters registered with the NHIA cards in the last elections. And this is one of the reasons they believe such names should be expunged from the register.
But at a counter press conference in Accra yesterday, the NDC disagreed with the facts, as presented by the NPP. In their view: This argument is flawed because what they are calling for is retroactive legislation which is not permitted by the 1992 constitution or for that matter any proper-functioning democracy.
While describing the demand by the NPP as ‘speculative’, they posited that the NPP would find it extremely difficult to furnish the Electoral Commission with a list of such persons as no such list exists, adding that even if they were in the position to prove it, expunging the names of people who registered with the NHIA cards was not the solution to the issue at hand.
Arguing further, the National Democratic Congress claimed that should the wish of the NPP to expunge the names of the affected persons from the register be granted, it would mean giving them the chance to use the remaining valid forms of identification to register, as failure to do so would amount to disenfranchising them.
Still remaining steadfast to their stance, the NDC pointed out that, One of the forms of identification for registration under Regulation 1(3) of CI 72 is an existing voter identification card, maintaining that this means that if the registration of a person by means of an NHIA card were to be declared invalid for which reason a new register is to be drawn up for the 2016 elections, such a person would be entitled by law to be registered if he produced a 2012 voter identification card which he obtained by means of an invalid NHIA card. The perceived invalidity of his registration would therefore not be have been cured.
Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia, Vice Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party presented five key areas he believed should be the basis of their long-standing tantrum for the compilation of a new voters’ register.
He mentioned voter population as a percentage of the national population, the validity of voter registration with NHIS cards and the identification of minors as part of the party’s call for the register to be cleaned. The rest are the registration of aliens and the loss of confidence in the electoral system.
Not satisfied with Dr. Bawumia’s presentation, the NDC was forced to describe the NPP as a party that was afraid of losing the 2016 elections, for which reason they had to come out with all manner of excuses. According to them, a cursory assessment of the claims reveal a desperate attempt by a party bedevilled by strife, deep division, violence and general lawlessness to prepare the grounds for a rejection of their imminent defeat in the 2016 elections.
As part of the NDC’s accusation, they said their action is the latest instalment in a series of efforts to shift blame onto others whenever their incompetent and mediocre campaigns bring them defeat at elections.
Again, they said the press conference addressed by Mahamadu Bawumia was no different from the one they organised prior to the filing of the petition at the supreme court to challenge the validity of election of John Dramani Mahama as President of the republic in the 2012 elections.
Touching on the voter population as a percentage of the national population, which the NPP said was pegged at 14 million, giving them the impression that the voters’ register had been bloated because the 2010 population and housing census conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service showed that the country’s population was 25 million out of which 50% or 12.5 million were 18years and above, the NPP described the argument as deeply flawed because the use of the 2010 population of 25 million as basis for determining what percentage of that population should be on the register ignores population growth between 2010 and 2012.
For them, the estimation of the country’s population as of 2012 tied to the determination of a 14 million voter population was accurate, as there was the need for an adjustment of the 2010 figure by 2.5% to know the population for 2011 and continue to adjust that by 2.5% to arrive at the population of Ghana as of 2012.
It is after this that one can make a valid and sensible comparison between the voter population as of 2012 and the national population in that same year, stressing that to compare the voter population of 2012 to the national population of 2010 created the impression as though the country’s population was static.
This was grounded on their postulate that since the last census was conducted and that there has been no movement in the ages of those captured. It also assumes that no one has been born or died in between the time of the census and the time of compilation of the register.
The NDC also touched on the registration of minors, which they traced to accusations and counter-accusations among the political parties before the last general elections in 2012. According to them, they had to discard those blame games as the names with their respective photographs presented to them lacked credibility.
Though the pictures suggested that the individuals were minors, the existing legal framework does not permit the expunging of the names of such persons in the absence of documentary evidence, the party said.
They also indicated that the suggestion by the NPP to compile a new register to overcome the registration of minors ahead of the 2016 elections flies in the face of reason.
We are of the view that any minor who was at least 14 years old in 2012 would have attained the age of 18 years by 2016 and would be qualified anyway if a new register were to be compiled. A new register would only serve to open the way for the registration of more minors since we do not have age-sensitive technology that will be used to capture new registrants.
The NDC also described as not only fraudulent gratuitous attack on the people of Volta region and Brong Ahafo, the claim by the NPP that persons from Togo and Cote d’Ivoire are on the Ghanaian electoral register, suggesting that A close examination of the pictures presented as evidence of registration by Togolese and Ivorians shows a clear case of deceptive manipulation of photographs taken at different times.
And this was what they blamed the NPP for, as engaging in tribal politics as the regions they mentioned were not their strongholds.
According to them, As far as we are concerned, this claim is a continuation of the NPP’s long-standing affinity for tribal politics through which they associate people from certain ethnic and tribal extraction with wrong doing and heap unsavoury commentary on them.