While the governing National Democratic Congress is banking hopes on its achievements to secure a second term mandate for President John Dramani Mahama, the opposition New Patriotic Party is embroiled in needless battles with the Electoral Commission over the voter register.
Short of providing alternative policies to that of the ruling party months after inaugurating its campaign team, Nana Akufo-Addo and his men have resorted to hounding the EC, particularly, its Chairperson, over varying red herring demands as though the voter register will guarantee the NPP automatic victory in the December polls.
The NDC, on the other hand, remains unfazed in the midst of the NPP’s worthless allegations; perhaps due to the Mahama government’s unparalleled achievements. From all indications, it appears the ruling party believes its achievements will muffle all the ‘noise’ by the biggest opposition party on Election Day.
It would be recalled that even before Mrs Charlotte Osei could settle in office as Chairperson of the EC, NPP bigwigs led by Gabby Asare-Otchere Darko welcomed her with calls for a new voter register for this year’s election.
This call was consolidated by the party’s running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who in August last year told a widely publicized and well attended press conference that, “…we (NPP) will begin work on comparing the Ivorian register with Ghana’s shortly and follow that with the Burkina Faso register.
Even though our investigations are on-going, we are presenting our initial results because time is of the essence in this matter of a new electoral register.”
“In this regard, our investigative team obtained the Togo voters register which was publicly displayed prior to the 2015 Togolese elections. Using facial biometric recognition technology, the system has found 76,286 potential matches of the same people, with the same names and faces on the Ghanaian as well as Togolese voters registers; some 2000 of which we present in the power point presentation. I should note that so far, we have only completed less than 10% of the work on the Togolese register”, he added.
However, a year after Dr. Bawumia promised to provide evidence of more foreigners on Ghana’s voter register, the NPP 2016 running mate has gone mum on the matter.
Subsequent to this, the New Patriotic Party’s rainbow group, Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) picked on this, organizing violent demonstrations.
But a panel put together by the EC chaired by retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice VCRAC Crabbe shot down NPP’s demand for new register.
This compelled Dr Bawumia’s brother-in-law and former National Youth Organizer of Peoples’ National Congress, Abu Ramadan and one Evans Nimako to fall on NPP inclined lawyers to mount a fierce challenge to the register at the Supreme Court.
Messrs. Ramadan and Nimako prayed the apex court to declare the register unconstitutional because it had names of persons who registered with NHI cards and in the absence of this relief, the court should compel the EC to adopt their (plaintiffs) proposed validation process to cleanse the register.
But a five member panel of the Supreme Court chaired by Chief Justice, Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood declined to grant the two reliefs and instead ordered the EC to delete names of persons who registered with NHI cards and give affected persons opportunity to re-register by proving their nationality.
Surprisingly, the NPP functionaries and supporters who were jubilating following the court’s order to the EC to delete the over 56000 voters and other voters who utilized NHI cards are still not satisfied.
After the EC had announced that it has deleted the names and has published them ahead of the re-registration and exhibition, the NPP still accused the EC of deliberately removing names of some of its members from the electoral roll.
According to the party, a lot of its members have complained about the removal of their names from the roll although they did not register with NHI cards.
The Greater Accra Regional Secretary of the NPP, Adjei Sowah told Accra based Citi FM “If we verify the list, it looks more like an NDC prepared list to the EC to make sure that they take away our supports from the register.”
According to him, “a lot of people have complained to us that they did not register with the NHIS card and yet their names have been deleted from the register. We have also seen a lot of people who have come to us the indeed they registered with the NHIS card but their names have not been deleted.” Mr. Sowah further revealed that the party will soon present their evidence to the relevant agencies.
“We are in the process of compiling all these reports and we will submit it to the general public and the appropriate quarters at the appropriate time,” he added.
At the end of the 10-day re-registration exercise conducted by the EC, 34,000 out of the over 56,000 registered voters whose names were deleted from the register re-registered. This again has irked the NPP whose functionaries are running riot over failure of the EC re-register all affected persons.
The party’s MP for Effutu constituency, Alexander Afenyo Markins has also accused the EC of removing 5000 names of voters from the register under the guise of ridding the electoral roll of NHI registrants.
Leading the pact on this “double-standard” agenda is the LMVCA, whose convener; David Asante is accusing the EC of forging the NHI voter list.
This changing account by the NPP on the register has caused many to wonder if the NPP is indeed ready for this year’s election, especially when the NDC and other political parties are gearing up for the elections without raising qualms about the register.
The more NPP functionaries seek to discredit the EC, the more they get exposed. The EC was compelled this week to expose the party for lying that it (party) had no knowledge of the election management body’s decision to transmit election results electronically.
This was after the party’s 2016 campaign Manager; Mr Pater Mac Manu accused the EC of sidelining political parties in the exercise.
But the EC explained that suspended General Secretary of the NPP, Kwabena Agyepong, was part of a committee that decided to use the ERTS for this year’s the elections.
The NPP which has been clamoring for change and had wished President Mahama is chased out of power even before his first time in office expires was offered the opportunity to change the conventional December 7 voting date to November 7, but they failed to utilized it.
The party’s MPs voted against the constitutional amendment bill which would have allowed for the elections to be held on November 7. In the process, the bill could not get the mandatory two-third majority votes needed to get it passed into law.
According to the NPP MPs, they voted against the bill because the EC is ill-prepared for the elections and needed more time to prepare adequately.
Against the backdrop of this position by the NPP MPs was a tacit agreement by functionaries of the biggest opposition party to the proposed November 7 date at an Inter-Party Advisory Committee meeting.
The party, many say, is sensing another excruciating defeat, and as result has resorted to finding faults with processes leading to the elections.