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July 5, 2020
Front Page Ghana
News Politics

Opposition parties to hit the streets over new Voter Register

The largest opposition party National Democratic Congress (NDC) and other smaller parties under the umbrella, interparty resistance against new voters register say justification by the EC for new voters roll is unacceptable.

The parties have vowed to stage a series of demonstrations against EC’s decision to compile a new voters register.

The Electoral Commission (EC) last week stressed the need for the compilation of new voters register for the upcoming general election adding that the exercise is not a waste of resources.

The EC in its quest to compile a new voters’ register said it is committed to judiciously spending the about GH¢400 million it was granted by Parliament to be spent on the process.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra, Deputy Chairperson of the Commission in-charge of Operations, Samuel Tettey said the amount will be expended mainly on procuring electoral materials as well as recruitment of election officials for all polling stations across the country.

But in a press statement, the opposition parties stated they will do whatever within their power to resist the new voters’ register.

“We call on all to join the Y3NPINI DECLARATION across the country. The Inter-Party Resistance Against the New Voter Register shall be embarking on a series of public manifestations across the country, therefore wherever you are, whatever you do, you can’t miss this opportunity to be part of history.

“On Saturday 11th January 2020 we shall be in Tamale for a mega Tikusayi Korinfohili Demonstration. The converging point will be the Tamale – Jubilee Park at 6 am.
We shall follow this up with the Y3npini Demonstration in Kumasi on Tuesday 21st January 2020 and climax it with the Wokp3n33 Demonstration in Accra on Tuesday 28th January 2020.”

Below is the full statement by the opposition parties

PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED ON BEHALF OF THE ‘INTER-PARTY RESISTANCE AGAINST THE NEW VOTER REGISTER’ ON THE NEED TO RESIST THE REPLACEMENT OF THE CURRENT BIOMETRIC REGISTER  FOR THE 2020 ELECTIONS AT THE ACCRA INTERNATIONAL PRESS CENTRE ON MONDAY, 6TH JANUARY, 2020

Good Morning ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, on behalf of the Inter-Party Resistance against the New Voter Register (IPRAN), you are welcome to the Accra International Press Center. We are grateful for honouring our invitation.
Today marks the beginning of several engagements with you.

Happy New year to everyone!!!

The Inter-Party Resistance Against the New Voter Register (IPRAN) is a coalition of some political parties in Ghana, who are resolved to defend and protect the integrity of our electoral process.

We are here to share with you our position on the call by the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new voter register for the 2020 General Election. Our decision to engage you is motivated by our belief that the ultimate sovereignty of the nation lies in each and every one of us. The People’s interest must always reign supreme. Our engagement with you this morning is purposed to present to you the distinguished jury of the court of public opinion, our case for calling for mass resistance to the replacement of the current Biometric Voter Register.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, to begin with, let me underscore the fact that, a peaceful and successful election is the result of a collaboration between all stakeholders. As a guide, it is important to recount how the current Biometric Voter Register was procured in 2012.

Following the Akufo Addo led advocacy for a biometric voters register prior to the 2012 General Elections, the Electoral Commission through the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) set up a technical team with representation from various political parties, to among other things agree on the technical roadmap for the compilation of the biometric voter register. All parties were fully engaged and involved in the process from the beginning to the end.

Fast forward in 2020 we have exactly the opposite, President Akufo Addo is now using the back door to get the EC to throw away a seven-year (7yr) old register and compile a new one with same systems. The reasons given are bizarre. As if that is not enough, the process to procure and compile this needless register has been shrouded in secrecy and characterized by deception, lack of transparency and dis-ingenuity.

Fellow Citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
On March 27, 2019, the EC invited political parties to a meeting to discuss the following issues:
❖ District Level Elections and Referendum
❖ Inspection of offices of Political Parties
❖ Compliance with audit requirements

After that meeting, the EC issued a communiqué recounting decisions made after our deliberations. Interestingly, the first item they capture was the compilation of a new biometric voters’ register.

We did not take this matter lightly, our friends in the NDC immediately issued a public statement to refute and expose the EC for the blatant deception in smuggling in the thought of new voter register into discussions that never mention same. We subsequently, demanded an amendment of the minutes, which unfortunately had been written to corroborate the lies told in the communiqué and the corrections were effected.
On 25th November, 2019, political parties were invited to an emergency IPAC meeting to discuss the EC’s programme and the District Level Elections, only for the EC to once again smuggle in the idea of the new Biometric Register. After our resistance, they promised to call for a full-blown meeting to discuss the subject.

On 2nd December 2019 much to our dismay, we were invited for another EMERGENCY IPAC meeting. We were amazed by how any serious administrator will organize two consecutive emergency meetings, but we offered them the benefit of the doubt. The technical team of the EC presented an outline of reasons why they wanted a new register. It bothered on the following:
• The data centre is outdated
• the biometric equipment BVD is obsolete,
• data transmission system not effective (VMS),
• Need for facial recognition technology to eliminate manual verification (which was 0.6% of total registered voters in 2016).
The political parties’ representatives and their technical teams responded with some counter factuals on all the issues raised. The parties argued that all the issues raised could be resolved by upgrading the current Biometric Voters Register, without discarding the biometric data of voters.

The EC then argued that the cost of upgrading the current register was going to be expensive than the cost of the new system. This generated some argument which finally led to the consensus that political parties ought to be furnished with some critical documents including valuation reports and quotations for new biometric voter solution. At least the political parties here present are yet to receive their copies of the documents promised by the Commission.

Subsequently, we were invited to another meeting on 10th December 2019 at Coconut Groove Hotel, Accra, ostensibly to continue the discussion where we left off the previous week (at least according to our expectations). We got there only to be informed that, four (4) vendors had been shortlisted through a procurement process (which we did not know about) to present a demonstration of their systems and designs. We became heavily enraged and five political parties had to stage a walkout.

The EC in its bid to cover up and blur the decision-making process has resorted to calling only emergency meetings, upon emergency meeting, so as to escape the burden of having to revisit matters and decisions made in previous meetings.

Fellow Citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
We are concerned about the EC’s acts of bad faith and lack of transparency by proceeding with the procurement process of the new register, when discussions had barely began. We are concerned about the complete sidelining and disregard for IPAC. We are deeply concerned about the discarding of consensus building in electoral programme decision making.

That notwithstanding, the Electoral Commission has recently obtained approval from Parliament to spend close to GH¢ 833,000,000 to compile a new register for the 2020 General Elections. The budget comprises of GH¢ 443m (4.43 Trillion old Cedis) for the new Biometric Voter Management System and some whopping GH¢ 390,265,186 (3.9 Trillion old cedis) for the operational cost of the registration exercise. Not only are we unable to fathom why any citizen can go on this brazen expedition of wasting the tax payers money, but also outraged by the support of the clueless majority in parliament led by Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, MP for Suame.

It is the considered view of the Resistance, that the argument adduced so far by the EC and their assigns, do not convince a fly on the need to spend close to a billion Ghana Cedis on new voter register. Thus, I say to you verily, that the success of our resistance to the compilation of the register will yield savings of close to about half a billion Ghana Cedis of the tax payer’s money. This money can be used to build roads, schools, hospitals, factories and other social projects.

Fellow Citizens, the government is supporting the needless expenditure of this GHC 833 million, at a time when farmers are crying, fishermen are crying, cocoa farmers are crying, teachers are crying, nurses are crying, contractors are crying, drivers are crying, businesses are collapsing, and students are losing hope. The teachers, nurses and contractors are crying because they are owed huge arrears of emoluments and entitlements by the state. The drivers are crying because the perennial increases in fuel prices are driving them out of business. The farmers are crying because they cannot afford the increasing cost of agricultural inputs.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, Fellow Citizens
At this point let me proceed to deal with their main arguments so far. They have argued that there has been a high incidence of manual verification mostly due to worn-out fingerprints for a person engaged in manual labour (farmers), hence the need to change the register. The first question is, will the replacement of the register stop people from engaging in manual labour? Will their fingerprint change overnight because we are replacing the register? The answer is a big NO! May I repeat, fellow citizens, that this is by far what appears to be their main reason for the replacement of the register.

Interestingly, the EC has argued that the new register will allow them to use facial recognition technology for inclusive authentication for those who are unable to be authenticated using fingerprint. This according to them will cure the high incidence of manual verification.

First of all, we do not have a problem with that, even though the fingerprint, Iris and other modalities are far more superior to Facial Recognition as revealed by the British Broadcasting Corporation in a report, which suggested that the failure rates of facial recognition are even more pronounced when it is deployed on the black population.

(https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-50865437)

We, however have a problem with this unjustified fixation on the replacement of the register as a fit-for-all solution to all the problems of the EC.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press,
Despite the inherent challenges in use of facial recognition technology, our experts have indicated that it can be incorporated into the current register, especially as the current register already contains high-resolution photos of voters. This IT solution, therefore, renders the argument of the EC, to replace the current biometric voter register so as to allow for incorporation of the facial verification system mute, untenable and unacceptable.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
We hold the view that any attempt to spend an additional cedi of Ghana’s tax payer’s money on a new register will amount to complete wastage and needless spending of limited state resources.
We maintain our support for the upgrade of the current register and wish to demand that the EC considers saving the nation some resources for other social and economic development projects

Fellow Citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
Owing to the foregoing, we extend invitation to the general public, civil society, moral society, the diplomatic community and the media to join us in making our voices heard against the decision of the EC to compile a new voters register for the 2020 elections.

Join us in this mass movement to resist this surreptitious agenda to deny the peoples mandate at the expense of the tax payer.
The Jean Mensah led EC and the government must be reminded that the sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people. At least the history of this country has provided ample evidence to the fact that, the peoples’ power when tried or suppressed erupts stronger in rage like fire.

We call on all to join the Y3NPINI DECLARATION across the country. The Inter-Party Resistance Against the New Voter Register shall be embarking on a series of public manifestations across the country, therefore wherever you are, whatever you do, you can’t miss this opportunity to be part of history.

On Saturday 11th January 2020 we shall be in Tamale for a mega Tikusayi Korinfohili Demonstration. The converging point will be the Tamale – Jubilee Park at 6am.
We shall follow this up with the Y3npini Demonstration in Kumasi on Tuesday 21st January, 2020 and climax it with the Wokp3n33 Demonstration in Accra on Tuesday 28th January, 2020.

Whilst at it, we shall also be embarking on a series of mass picketing exercise across the country. Do not be left out in this historic movement. It is your responsibility, my responsibility, our collective responsibility to ensure that the sanctity and integrity of our democracy is protected and preserved.

We must make common cause to ensure that the EC does not take the entire nation on this wasteful and uncertain path that has the potential to plunge this country into crisis. A peaceful and successful election is non-negotiable.

Long live the Resistance!!
Long live our Democracy!!
Long live Mother Ghana!!

God bless our homeland Ghana and make our Nation Greater and Stronger

Thank you

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