The Vice President of IMANI Africa, has described the partnership between the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Identification Authority (NIA) to make the Ghana Card the sole identification document for continuous voter registration, as illogical and a scam.
According to Bright Simons, what is being discussed is “an enrichment scheme for a few elites” and asked that “the Opposition should continue to oppose it with every ounce of energy” as “the Electoral Commission won’t respect reason only stamina”.
He charged “the fact that one can get the Ghana Card using a guarantor but can’t get a voter card using a guarantor is a patent absurdity”, adding “IMS – the Margins subsidiary working with NIA that actually owns the system – is fleecing the country. The costs of every component of the platform are too high”.
“Let’s not mince words here, there is absolutely nothing logical about the attempt to impose the Ghana Card as the sole ID for voter registration! The Opposition should continue to oppose it with every ounce of energy! The Electoral Commission won’t respect reason only stamina”.
Mr Simons, justified his claim by lamenting on some social media platforms on Wednesday, on how over the years, the cost of the issuing the Ghana cards has been shifting higher and higher with no end in sight making it the world’s most expensive ID Card cards.
“The Ghana Card is an enrichment scheme for a few elites. These people have hoodwinked the Ruling Party into believing its political fortunes depend on it. The NIA said the state’s total contribution will be $124m. That the so-called PPP partner will fund the rest of the budget.
In 2020, a whopping 800 million GHS was budgeted for Ghana Card rollout. In 2022, more than GHS400m. More than $250m of state money has already been sunk. This is one of the world’s most expensive ID Card schemes, sorry scams. Yet, govt is expected to pay $117m in arrears.
“Mr Speaker, show your mettle. Show you are on the side of the vulnerable. Prevent that CI from being laid until a) Passports & other valid proofs of citizenship are allowed; b) any system acceptable for obtaining the Ghana Card is also made acceptable for voter registration”, Mr. Simons, stated.
OnTuesday, EC Chairperson, Jean Mensa together with the Chief Executive Officer of the NIA, Prof Ken Attafuah and the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, appeared before Parliament to defend the sole use of the Ghana Card as proof for registration of new voters.
The NIA, who are in charge of the issuance of the cards have raised financial constraints which the Finance Minister strangely, assured the House that an agreement has been reached with CalBank, for a GH¢100 million facility to ensure that the over 3.5 million Ghana Cards are released from the bonded warehouse to the NIA.
The EC boss, Jean Mensa, said that the commission will register between 450,000 to 550,000 Ghanaians annually if a new Constitutional Instrument (CI) proposed by her outfit to govern the 2024 elections is approved by Parliament.
“Mr Speaker, relying on the 2021 census report, and per our own estimate, we are likely to register between 450,000 and 550,000 Ghanaians every year. We believe that of the 17 million people that the National Identification Authority (NIA) has registered, it’s highly probable that the 450,000 to 550,000 persons we intend to register annually already have the cards as we speak,” she said.
Madam Jean, expressed confidence in the NIA of issuing cards to persons who don’t have Ghana cards urging persons who are yet to access the cards to go through the process at the various NIA centres.
“With the NIA assurance that it will commence issuance of the cards, in a matter of weeks, we encourage those who do not have the cards to begin the process of acquiring the cards to enable them to register as voters. The NIA has its registration centres across the districts and regional capitals and therefore accessing their facilities will not be a challenge,” she noted.
She said young persons who will turn 18 years in 2023 and 2024, and are interested in voting in the 2024 polls are eligible to also visit the NIA registration offices to acquire their cards.
“We encourage any Ghanaian who will turn18 years in 2023 and 2024 and is interested in voting in the country’s elections should visit the nearest NIA offices and registration centres to get the Ghana card to enable him or her to also register as a voter when he or she becomes eligible,” the EC chair further advised.
But Mr Simons, insisted that only a robust opposition by the Minority in Parliament and the Speaker of Parliament can thwart the move which will lead to disenfranchisement and a burden on the vulnerable.
The Minority, however, rejected the reasons advanced and vowed to resist the CI in and out of the House. The Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa had stressed that the minority will stand by its position to fight any attempt to make the Ghana Card the sole mandatory ID for voter registration.
In a Facebook post, Mr Ablakwa, questioned how the government will raise money to ensure the issuance of new Ghana Cards while the same government has failed to meet several of its financial commitments.
“A government unable to pay bondholders, unable to provide furniture for 2.3million pupils, unable to address SHS congestion, unable to clear NaBCo arrears & unable to fulfill promises to COVID frontliners is suddenly giving Ghana Card assurances worth a staggering GHS1.4billion.
“When will some politicians learn that delivering on the people’s needs & real expectations are the only saving grace & that unscrupulous mafia electoral manipulation doesn’t work?
“The NDC Caucus in Parliament means every word when we say: there shall be no new CI!” he added.
There are also reports that IMS – the Margins subsidiary working with NIA that actually owns the system – is fleecing the country. The costs of every component of the platform are too high.
“There are serious Intellectual Property issues that have created vendor lock-in. I.e. the country can never displace IMS from managing the system.
“The integration approach across multiple government services is flawed due to poor design around cyber security, privacy, data protection, anti-abuse safeguards, anti-surveillance etc. Virtually no practical, auditable, controls.
“Attempts to delegitimize other important ID documents like the passport and birth certificate, among others, are very dangerous. What if embassies and other governments begin to do the same?
“The fact that one can get the Ghana Card using a guarantor but can’t get a voter card using a guarantor is a patent absurdity.