The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has refuted assertions made by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) that the country’s electoral roll contains 76,286 names of mostly Togolese.
It said the NPP’s assertions lacked merit and cannot constitute a basis for the compilation of a new voters’ register.
“A cursory assessment of the claims revealed a desperate attempt by a party (NPP) bedeviled by strife, deep division, violence and general lawlessness to prepare the grounds for a rejection of their (NPP) imminent defeat in the 2016 general elections.”
The General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, stated at a press conference in Accra, yesterday.
He further rubbished claims by the NPP that the voter population in the register, as per percentage, did not tally with the national population of 25 million, the validity of voter registration with National Health Insurance cards, minors and aliens in the voters’ register and loss of confidence by Ghanaians in the electoral system.
According to Mr Nketia, the assertions by the opposition party were “the latest installment in a series of efforts to shift blame onto others whenever their incompetent and mediocre campaigns bring defeat at elections”.
“These claims about the register are as fraudulent and frivolous as the Supreme Court petition case,” he added.
He cautioned that if the claims were designed by the NPP to prepare the grounds to hold the country to random after their pending defeat at the 2016 polls, then it has failed because the Ghanaian public was wide awake and in a position to distinguish between well-grounded and legitimate contributions geared towards further improvement in the country’s electoral system.
The NPP at a press conference on Tuesday alleged that it had discovered 76,286 voters whose names and pictures appeared in the voters registers of both Ghana and neighbouring Republic of Togo.
The NPP’s vice presidential candidate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia who made the claim said the “discovery” was a “damning revelation”, which should warrant a new electoral roll for next year’s general elections.
Dr Mahamudu said the revelation was made using the facial biometric recognition technology and that the figure arrived at after the exercise was just ten per cent of the country’s voters’ register.
The NPP’s presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo speaking at the same function, said a credible electoral outcome was crucial to preserving and deepening the country’s young democracy, adding that “compiling a new credible voters’ register should be seen as the first necessary step in ensuring that we have a free, fair, transparent and peaceful general elections in 2016.
The party claimed that the country’s voter population of 14 million indicated a bloated register, because the 2010 population and housing census conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSC) pegged the country’s population at 25 million out of which 50 per cent or 12.5 were 18 years and above.
However the NDC said this argument was flawed because the use of the 2010 population of 25 million as the basis by the NPP for determining what per cent of the population should be on the voter’s register ignored the population growth between 2010 and 2012.
This, he explained, was because the population growth rate per annum was estimated at 2.5 per cent and there was the need to adjust by the growth rate to arrive at the country’s population as at 2012.
“To compare the voter population of 2012 to the national population as at 2010 assumes that our population has been static, that there was no movement in ages and that no one was born or died in between the time of the 2010 census and the compilation of the register in 2012,” he said.
Mr Nketia wondered what logic informed the NPP’s decision to hold the GSC’s population figures as accurate and doubt the accuracy of the Electoral Commission’s (EC) figures given that the mode of capture of both sets of data differ considerably.
“Dr Bawumia’s sudden belief in and reliance on data by the GSC to back his claims shows clear duplicity given his well-documented attacks on the same institution whose figures he has constantly sought to bastardise.
The NDC General Secretary further condemned the singling out of constituencies in the Volta Region for accusations of extra ordinary increases in members of registered voters, saying “it was reminiscent of the disrespect and disdain with which the NPP has treated persons of certain tribal and ethnic extraction”
On the issue of minor in the current register, he said the NDC was of the view that any minor who was at least 14 years old in 2012 would have attained the age of 18 years by 2016 and qualified to vote even if a new register were to be compiled.
“A new register would therefore only serve to open the way for the registration of more minors since we do not have age-sensitive technology that will be used to capture new registrants,” he noted.
Commenting on the Togolese voters register that was used to identify multiple registration, Mr Nketia said the NDC doubted its authenticity, saying, “a close examination of the pictures shows a clear case of deceptive manipulation of photographs taken at different times”.
“The pictures the NPP purports to be samples of a Togolese register do not bear the names of the supposed voters, neither does it bear the ages or gender of the supposed voters,’ he said.
He added: “This accusation is reckless and has the potential to undermine relations between Ghana and its neighbours”.
According to the NDC General Secretary, if the NPP was desirous of finding an antidote to the string of poor showings at the polls, then it could be found in sober reflection on how to pull the party from the brink and halt its rapid descent into chaos and internecine feud.
By Ian Motey