Civil society organisations (CSOs) in the Upper East Region, have expressed misgivings about the decision of the Electoral Commission (EC) to use Ghana card and passport as requirement for registration for the new voters’ identification card.
The CSOs, who registered their displeasure at a press conference in Bolgatanga, the regional capital, on Saturday, included Northern Patriotic in Research and Advocacy, BONABOTO, a civil society organisation, made up of citizens from Bolgatanga, Nabdam, Bongo and Tongo in the region, Development Research and Advocacy Centre (DRAC), Witty Minds Foundation and Widows and Orphans Movements (WOM).
The spokesperson for the group, Mr Bismark Adongo Ayorogo, said that a source from the National Identification Authority (NIA) indicated that, in the region, a total of 220,000 people were registered for the Ghana Card, of which only 13,200, representing just six per cent had their cards issued to them.
The group noted that the proposal by the EC for people who do not have the Ghana Card and passports to look for guarantor to enable them participate in the voters registration would be very frustrating and uncomfortable.
“Equally important to note is that persons whose ages were between 15 and 17 also registered for the Ghana Card. It is clear that those with the Ghana Card and are eligible to register and vote are currently less than the 13,200 holders of Ghana Card in the region. It is abundantly clear that more than 695,291 will have very serious challenges registering for the new voter’ card to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote,” the group stressed.
The group said its position was informed by credible and verifiable source of data, facts and figures that suggested that the development of the region and northern Ghana as a whole would be disadvantaged by the planned actions of the EC, should voter population of an area at any point in time becomes the basis for national resource allocation, political appointments, creation of additional polling stations, constituencies, districts and regions by any government or policy maker.
The CSOs, therefore, warned that they would not sit on the fence and allow the EC to engage in actions that were detrimental to the political, social and economic well-being of the people and systemic exclusion and marginalisation of the Upper East Region.
“We will not hesitate to embark on series of constitutionally guaranteed and democratically supported civil actions, including public protest if the EC fails to listen to the voices of the ordinary citizens from the Upper East Region.” the group stressed.
FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, BOLGATANGA