The National Democratic Congress (NDC) appears to be in a state of confusion after repeated lies told about the new Constitutional Instruments (CI) laid before Parliament by the Electoral Commission (EC).
NDC has threatened to oppose the attempt by the EC to use only the Ghana Card to register prospective voters going forward.
The party insists such a move will disenfranchise many Ghanaians, describing the decision as “absurd”.
Shockingly, details have started emerging on how the main opposition political party is fighting the legislation that they had sponsored to be passed into law whilst in power.
The NDC during the administration of the late Prof. John Evans Atta Mills and John Mahama passed a law to use Ghana Card as only means of registering to vote.
In April 2006, the National Identification Authority Act, 2006 (Act 707) was laid before Parliament and passed by the House.
The Act was to among others establish an Authority responsible for the issueance of national identity cards.
Two years down the lane, in January 2008, Parliament again passed the National Identity Register Act, 2008 (Act 750) which was aimed at, among others, ‘provide for the capture of personal information of individuals by the Authority for the issue of national identity cards’.
Section 18(1) of Act 707 empowers the Minister to make Legislative Instruments to, among others, ‘(i) provide for the uses to which identity cards shall be put.’
Also, Section 73(1) of Act 750 empowered the Minister to make Legislative Instruments to, among others, ‘(f) provide that every public office should demand the presentation of an identity card as a condition precedent to the provision of its service.’
Subsequently in February 2012, Alhassan Azong, the then Member of Parliament (MP) for the Builsa South and former Minister of state for Public Sector in the Mills government between 2009 and 2013
laid before Parliament, which passed the National Identity Register Regulations, 2012 (LI 2111).
The Regulation 7 of LI 2111 is titled ‘Mandatory use of national identity card, indicating in Regulation 7(1) of the LI that “A national identity card issued to an individual shall be used for the following transactions where identification is required… (j) registration of voters.. *(l) registration of SIM cards.”
It is surprising to observe that NDC which sponsored the law and passed it whilst in power has turned to be fighting the Electoral Commission over the same law.
A statement released recently by the NDC, signed by the National Chairman, Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, which made this known, emphasised that the party will resist the use of the Ghana card for voting.
According to him, “The party wishes to use this opportunity to remind the Electoral Commission that under Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution, every Ghanaian of eighteen years and above and of sound mind is entitled to register as a voter for the purposes of elections. This right to register and exercise one’s franchise is an inalienable right that should not be denied citizens who qualify to exercise same.
“We wish to assure Ghanaians that the NDC will not sit aloof for the NPP government to collude with Electoral Commission to rig the 2024 elections and inflict more pain and hardships on them. We are therefore urging our agitated supporters to remain calm as we take all legitimate and appropriate steps to ensure that they are not disenfranchised.”
It said “The attention of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has been drawn to news attributed to officials of the Electoral Commission that the Commission has agreed with political parties and civil society organisations that the Ghana Card should be the sole document for the impending limited voter registration exercise.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the NDC wishes to state, unequivocally, that it has not been a party to any such consultation or meeting in whatsoever form that resulted in any such decision.
“The NDC will fully apprise the general public of the implications of the statement made by the Electoral Commission in the coming days on this absurd and unreasonable decision of the EC,” it added.
In July, 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., the EC is seeking to make the Ghana Card the sole form of identification for eligible voters who want to get onto the electoral roll.
The C.I. has been referred to the Subsidiary Legislation Committee of Parliament. By convention, the committee is chaired by a member of the Minority group.
The NDC also said it will not sit aloof and watch the ruling NPP to undermine the 2024 polls with the Electoral Commission, while calling on the EC to shelve the idea of using the Ghana Card as the sole identification document.
“The party agrees with the venerable former chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, Dr. Afari Gyan that any attempt by the EC to use Ghana Card as the sole document for voter registration will lead to the disenfranchisement of millions of Ghanaians. We are not oblivious of the challenges millions of Ghanaians are going through to obtain Ghana Cards. The recent pandemonium that characterised registration centres due to the unrealistic deadlines for SIM registration is a case in point,” it pointed out.
By Vincent Kubi