Ghana card should not cause unnecessary chaos in electoral process

Knowledge, experience, forthrightness, frankness, outspoken, straightforward and above all intelligence, are skills that are acquired through constant perseverance and, therefore are not commodities that can be bought in shops, supermarkets or from the open markets. 

They are acquired through patience, experience, fortitude and hard work among other good traits such as generosity, integrity, loyalty, devotion, kindness, sincerity and self- control.

IT PAYS TO LISTEN TO WISE COUNSELLING

This, therefore presupposes that, if persons who have over the years sacrificed their lives through toils, time, energy, experience, zealousness and intelligence to acquire these noble, enlightened and laudable skills, are not being selfish to themselves, but sharing, offering and giving pieces of practical advice and admonitions, aimed at unifying the citizens, ensuring absolute peace and moving this country forward in the right direction, all we need to do is to listen attentively with opened ears, weigh them, give them serious thoughts and apply them accordingly for the overall benefits and outcomes.

OPERATING WITHIN LAWS AND RULES

Ghana is a democratic country that operates strictly within a set of laws, rules, regulations, enshrined in our statute books and a Constitution crafted by eminent citizens in 1992 to direct and regulate our operations and our way of living. 

Therefore, the 1992 Constitution document, serves as a Bible from which the country takes inspiration from and is governed.  Our leaders are required to be guided by the provisions under the 1992 Constitution in all their undertakings for the overall benefit of our country.  Going contrary to these provisions means you have violated the laws and, therefore ready to suffer the consequences, thereof. 

There is this saying that, “Even in the animal kingdom, where stupidity is their main object, sense is applied.”  This, therefore implies that, even in the animal kingdom, there are set of rules and regulations within which they operate.

In order to avoid or prevent potential chaos and other nasty incidents in our beautiful, peaceful and dear country we all cherish most which will eventually create a volatile and insecurity situation for ourselves in the future, we have to strictly conform and abide by the tenets of the 1992 Constitution which is our Holy Bible.  Nothing should be done outside the laws we have set for ourselves, otherwise, posterity will never forgive us.

GHANA CARD AND RELATED CONTROVERSY

One particular issue that had for the past month been trending in the social media outlets and other traditional news sources in the country, is the ambition by the Electoral Commission (EC) to use the Ghana Card as the only source of document for the continuous voter registration in the country. 

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.  That C.I. has been referred to the Subsidiary Legislation Committee of Parliament of which by convention, it is chaired by a member of the Minority group. 

The law requires that orders, rules or regulations made pursuant to provisions of the Constitution or Act of Parliament, must be laid before Parliament for 21 days before they come into force.  Any such subsidiary legislation 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.

PROTESTS FROM THE NDC AGAINST GHANA CARD

Even before the EC had laid the new C.I. before Parliament, the largest opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party, had accused the EC of planning to compile a new voters register for the 2024 general election, with the Ghana Card as the only source of document. 

The Minority Leader in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu, said any move by the EC to compile a new voters register with Ghana Card solely as the mode of identification would not augur 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 voters 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.

MINORITY INVITES EC TO EXPLAIN

It appears that when the new C.I. was laid in parliament for the first time, there were heated debates, with the minority asking the EC to come and explain the rationale for the use of the Ghana Card as the only source of document.

In the midst of this heated controversy, the former Chairman of the Electoral Commission, DR Kwadwo Afari Gyan, a distinguished long serving EC boss with 22 years of service between 1992 and 2015, most experienced, knowledgeable, well vexed in electoral issues in the country and beyond, has waded into this sensitive and crucial issue, asking the EC and for that matter, the government to reconsider the use of the Ghana Card as the only source document for the continuous registration of new voters, otherwise it can disenfranchise millions of qualified electorate. 

According to him, with many Ghanaians finding it difficult to get their Ghana Cards, making it the only form of identification for voter registration, was against electoral inclusivity, fairness and justice.

AFARI GYAN SPEAKS OUT ON GHANA CARD USAGE

Hear this intelligent, outspoken, eloquent, straightforward and frankly speaking former E.C. Chairman of highest international repute; “Ghanaian citizens don’t lose their citizenship if they are 18 years or older, but do not have the Ghana Card.  So, the moot question is: why make the Ghana card the only means of identification for purposes of establishing eligibility to register to vote?” 

He alluded that the 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 age 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.

Dr. Afari Gyan advised the EC to take a careful look at its insistence on the Ghana Card because in spite of its crucial role in elections, the EC was not the decider of elections, but rather the electorate. 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 cautioned. 

So far, the National Identification Authority (NIA) had issued out 15.7 million Ghana Cards to applicants out of the 16,969,034 it has registered for the cards.

AVOIDANCE AND PREVENTION OF POTENTIAL CHAOS

Yes, the former EC Chairman, has hit the nail right on the head with profound pieces of advice to the Electoral Commission, the various political parties and the government on the way forward and they have to listen with clear conscience and opened ears. 

Let us face the truth and the fact that if we are interested in ensuring clean, peaceful, fair and credible election in the country, come 2024, then we must adhere to these wise counselling from no other person than our own accomplished electoral think tank who had seen it all and stands tall among his peers when it comes to organising elections in Ghana, Africa and beyond. 

His exemplary leadership in the past must be emulated and strictly followed by the current crops of those at the helms of electoral process in our dear country.  To be forewarned, is to be forearmed, says Francis Hooke in 1685. A word to the wise is enough!

By Charles Neequaye

Writer’s email:ataani2000@yahoo.com

Contact: 0277753946/0248933366

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