CUTS Ghana, a research and advocacy policy think tank is calling on the Electoral Commission (EC) to re-consider its decision to compile a fresh register independently from the National Identification Authority (NIA) database.
Speaking before a cross section of the press, the country director for CUTS Ghana Mr. Appiah Kusi Adomako said “whilst the constitutional and statutory mandate for compiling electoral register in the country is the exclusive preserve of the EC, the Commission must be reasonable and practical in the light of what can be gleaned from the NIA database. Though the NIA work is still ongoing, it is estimated to be completed by March 2020. The good thing about that the Ghana Card is that it captures lots of information including digital addresses which the EC and its IT Department can extract every information needed and do an exhibition for people who want to change their polling station to do so.
“In 2012, it cost the nation an amount of GH¢148,942,378 for compiling the biometric voter registration. Fast forwarding to 2020, considering the rise in voter population and adjusting the 2012 cost to inflation and depreciation of the cedi, conservative estimate can put the proposed 2020 register at GHC 350 million Ghana cedis,” he added.
With the huge investment and the fun-fare surrounding the Ghana Card it comes as a worry why the EC is rushing to use compile its own register for the 2020 election ahead of the completion of the Ghana Card. Just this same week, the NIA took delivery of sixty-two (62) vehicles, sixty (60) motorbikes and Two (2) generator sets to facilitate the nationwide registration and issuance of the National Identification Cards.
He added that to “to solve the burden of having to carry multiple agencies and departments having to issue ID cards and to build a functional national identity database, the National Identification Authority (NIA) was established to give effect to this. In the past there were botched attempts to create the national database and issue ID cards which led to the hemorrhage of hundreds of millions of tax payers’ dollars. However, in September 2017, President Nana Addo launched the commencement and issuance of a National Identification Card popularly called the ‘Ghana Card’. Ghana Card Project is expected to cost tax payers about $1.2 billion in the long run.”
CUTS Ghana is worried why a nation with limited resources should not be seen to be dissipating tax payers’ money on needless ventures. The estimated cost for the new voter list if scrapped can do a lot for a post-IMF bailed out country. The money can build 15 turn-key district hospitals that would have an Out Patient Departments, theaters, adjunct clinical service, accidental and emergency unit, in-patient services, maternity, mortuary, stores, and staff housing units among others or it can build 1,500 CHPs compound. In the field of education, it can build 1,250 six-unit classroom blocks across the country.
It is instructive to note that the NIA has a Technical Committee comprising of a number of statutory public service institutions involved the issuance of identity cards or interested in data management. They include the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), Electoral Commission (EC), Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), Birth and Death Registry and among others. Again, why is the EC in a rush?