NDC itchy as NPP calls for new voters’ register
by Kwabena Opong
The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has mounted a spirited defense against a new voters’ register as demanded by opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and other opposition parties. On August 18, the NPP led by the party’s flag bearer Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo and his running mate Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia in the company of Chairman Afoko and General Secretary Kwabena Agyepong and other leading members at a press conference disparaged the current electoral register as flawed and called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new voters’ register for the next elections in 2016. The NPP’s call was further to the EC’s request for all political parties to submit their reservations on the register to enable it take a decision on it for the upcoming 2016 general elections.
Dr. Bawumia raised the issue of the increased use of the National Health Insurance Scheme card by foreigners and Ghanaians alike in the border regions of the country. He stunned the nation with the NPP’s findings that 80,000 Togolese voters were captured in Ghana’s register and produced a Togolese voters’ register and a Ghanaian voters’ register to prove his allegations. Dr. Bawumia revealed that with 10 percent work completed so far on ongoing investigations into the existing voters’ register, they have managed to identify not less than 76,286 persons whose faces are captured on the registers of both Ghana and Togo. The man known by his submissions at the Supreme Court hearings on the electoral petition by the NPP as Mr. Pink Sheet exposed what he termed as ‘unusual increases’ in the voters’ register between 2008 and 2012 citing several instances of such abnormally high increases as 25 percent in some instances. ‘In general, an increase in the voters’ register between two elections of a magnitude above 10-15% is high. An increase of the voters’ register by 25% between two elections is abnormally high and there are also several instances of this,’ he noted.
He therefore questioned the credibility of a voters’ register that exceeded 40 percent of the general population
The man known by his submissions at the Supreme Court hearings on the electoral petition by the NPP as Mr. Pink Sheet exposed what he termed as ‘unusual increases’ in the voters’ register between 2008 and 2012 citing several instances of such abnormally high increases as 25 percent in some instances. ‘In general, an increase in the voters’ register between two elections of a magnitude above 10-15% is high. An increase of the voters’ register by 25% between two elections is abnormally high and there are also several instances of this,’ he noted.
He therefore questioned the credibility of a voters’ register that exceeded 40 percent of the general population of the country. More interesting was the fact that quite a large number of the constituencies with unusual increases in the voters’ register are those that border neighboring countries. In the case of the Western Region for example, Dr Bawumia said ‘notwithstanding the oil find, Sekondi and Takoradi saw a 5% decrease in registered voters while Suaman and Nzema East saw increases in the voters’ register by 23% and 27.7% respectively.’
The NPP was not happy with the disparity in the total number of registered voters provided by the EC at different times during the 2012 elections. He said, ‘the total registered voters for the parliamentary election stood at 13,628,817’ while ‘the total number of registered voters that the EC gazetted for the presidential election was 14,158,890.’ The NPP concluded after producing evidence to support its several claims that the nation’s electoral register was too bloated to make any general election credible.
In response, the General Secretary of the NDC dismissed NPP’s findings and claims as frivolous and fraudulent. Addressing a press conference the day after Dr. Bawumia’s submissions of the NPP’s claims and investigations the NDC twisted the import of the NPP’s report as tribalistic simply because the findings are a “gratuitous attempt on the part on the NPP to attack some tribes”. He went on to attack the NPP as targeting the people in the Volta region. The pictures that appeared in both voters’ registers of Ghana and Togo, according to the NDC bear no resemblance and the claim of similarities in the names not true.
Mr. Asiedu Nketiah noted that it was double standards on the part of Dr. Bawumia to criticize the Statistical Service and yet rely on its 2010 population census figures to back up his claims.
Several political parties, including the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), Independent Peoples Party (IPP), the National Democratic Party (NDP), the Peoples National Convention (PNC) and the Convention Peoples Party, among others share the NPP’s opinion to roll out a new voters’ register. They also believe that the existing voters’ register is flawed and bloated.
The NDC’s aggressive defense of the existing register as credible is even more incredulous as at one time or the other its own leaders have remarked on the nation’s voters’ register as unrealistic largely because it is bloated. Furthermore playing the tribal card is as disingenuous as its noisy defense of the existing roster. In 2008, late President John Atta Mills and his party claimed that the register in some 13 constituencies in Ashanti region were bloated and needed to be redone. The NPP then did not misconstrue the allegation as alluding to tribalism as the NDC is now doing. The immediate past Electoral Commissioner Kwadwo Afari Gyan admitted during the hearings on the 2012 elections that the electoral register is bloated beyond the acceptable limits.
For a party that has persistently refused to amend the dual citizenship laws and as well as allow Ghanaians in the Diaspora to vote in spite of the ROPA law, it is unconscionable for the NDC to plead for foreigners across the nation’s borders to be allowed entrance to vote. A breakaway group in the NDC has revealed that it was among several such groups in the party that were sent to register voters across the borders. The party has not categorically denied but has naturally condemned their claim as a lie.
At the Supreme Court hearings on the petition against the results of the 2012 elections, NDC General Secretary Asiedu Nketiah defined extra ballot paper in the ballot box as foreign matter admitting impliedly that in some constituencies and ballot centers some boxes were stuffed. And quite poignantly, the then Electoral Commissioner Kwadwo Afari Gyan admitted that some people were allowed to cast their votes because they could be identified by some individuals by sight even thought their names were not captured in the voters’ register.
Ghanaians are hoping to cast their votes for the nation’s president and members of parliament in December 2016. Doubts cast on the 2012 elections by the Supreme Court hearings put a dent in the reputation of the Electoral Commission.
Instead of its defense of the current register as credible, the NDC should rather cooperate with the other political parties to ensure that the register is redone to bring sanity to the electoral process in Ghana. The NPP’s findings should not fetch invectives but must be considered necessary and important for the nation’s future. Prankish politicization of a matter of such importance is criminal and unnecessary.