The body responsible for the conduct of elections in the country, the Electoral Commission (EC), has advised prospective voters to obtain Ghana Card because it will be the only requirement for voter registration ahead of the 2024 elections.
The Commission has indicated in interviews and press conferences that one of the reasons for insisting on the use of the card is to solve the question of who is an eligible voter. The EC said the use of the card will help identify who is a Ghanaian and who is not and thus prevent foreigners from taking part in our national elections.
The Chronicle has heard of stories about how some foreigners manage to secure voter identification cards to take part in our elections. Some of them have been caught and dealt with by the law, whilst those who were not caught have participated freely in our elections when they are not supposed to. It is, therefore, refreshing to hear that the EC would want to address this illegality by making the Ghana Card the only form of identification for registering prospective voters.
The EC again said that the Ghana Card has had a significant impact on the over16 million citizens who have registered for it already.
Indeed, the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has spoken about how the card will impact positively on the country’s revenue generation. According to the Vice President, about 27,000 ghost pensioners were identified on the Social Security and National Insurance Trust while 14,000 were ghost names were identified on the National Service Scheme.
We cannot wrap our heads around the amount of monies that have been paid to these ghost names over the years as well as those that still exist in other state institutions.
Aside the identification of ghost names, we have also been told of how students who would need to access loans to enter the tertiary institution do not need a guarantor anymore but only present an admission letter and the Ghana card. This news is heartwarming as it will increase enrollment in tertiary institutions.
But with all these benefits that the Ghana Card possesses, the biggest opposition party in the country, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is raising some serious questions about the use of the Ghana Card for compiling names of new voters into the register. According to the NDC, the decision by the EC will disenfranchise some eligible voters because they may not be in possession of the Ghana Card.
Ghana embarked on the registration and issuance of Ghana Card in April 2019. As of July 2022, data from the National Identification Authority (NIA) indicates that only 15, 702,719 cards out of the 16,535,623 printed cards have been issued, leaving some 832,904 cards still in their possession.
The data also shows that the number people who have registered for the card as of July 2022 were 16,969,034 meanwhile Ghana’s population is approaching 31million. This indicates that a lot of people are yet to register for the card.
This means that the NDC’s claim that some people would be disenfranchised should the EC insist on using the Ghana Card as the only means of identification for new voters must not be swept under the carpet. If the NIA has only been able to issue cards to half of the population in three years, what is the guarantee that it can issue the cards to the reaming half in just one and half years.
A former Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, has also spelt out concerns he has with the move to use the Ghana Card as the sole identification card for the registration of voters onto the national voters register.
If the NIA can assure Ghanaians of employing some technology that will enable people acquire their cards in the shortest time, that will be a relief, but if not, then it must take a second look at its decision.
President Akufo-Addo once said that a voter’s register is the most crucial bedrock of a country’s democracy and as such no eligible voter should be prevented from performing their civic duties.
We hope that the EC, the NDC and all the stakeholders in our elections will look beyond the politics, consider the pros and cons of the card as well as the welfare of a prospective voter and make decisions that will inure to the benefit of all.Read Full Story