I managed to perform my civic duty early this week by checking my name on the voters register to confirm if it was included and the particulars. I must report I was very pleased when the machine intoned ‘’verified’’ at the end of the process. It was the very first time I had taken advantage of the exhibition process since 1996 to do so, and I wondered why I did so at the end, that is, doubt if the Electoral Commission (EC) had failed somehow to capture and record accurately my particulars as it had always done.
Why did I break with a tested and so far successful personal tradition of not participating in the exhibition process of the register for the past 20 years? Or, as we would say in my secondary school days, what accounts for my change of mind this year after 20 unbroken years of disregarding the exhibition process, and trusting implicitly in the competence of the EC?
Two reasons. I was led to this by two reasons, one major and the other minor, but both capture the contrived state of crisis and confusion some of us have succeeded in describing our electoral commission and its processes. The major reason of course was the effect of the slew of cases brought to our Supreme Court by the former youth organiser of the Peoples’ National Convention, (PNC) Abu Ramadan on the constitutionality of the existing register on one hand and the inclusion of some unlawful names on the register on the other, both combining to advance the case for a new register to be ordered by the court.
Now Ramadan, though a PNC member, is brother to Mrs Bawumia, the wife of the running mate to the flag bearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party, (NPP) Dr Bawumia.
In legal terms, this fact is insignificant, unless specifically pleaded in relation to some part of the case, but it is very important in political and historical terms.
Ramadan lost the principal leg of his long-running case in the Supreme Court, that is, the court should order a new register compiled based on the defects he had with his co-plaintiff, Evans Nimako, discovered in the existing register. But in line with the argument I made last week that our courts have generally since the inception of the 4th Republic made rulings and judgements which have strengthened our electoral commission, the court rather directed that a discovered defect or to be more accurate, an argument they agreed with, that those who had used their health insurance cards as personal identification to register must have their names removed as that particular card was given out to both Ghanaian and non- Ghanaians. Voting in this country is lawful for only Ghanaians, therefore, the possibility existed for the presence on our register of foreigners.
It must be borne in mind that no one, up to the time I am writing, has provided the number of foreigners who have infected our register and who made the court so direct. Worse, not a single foreigner has been exposed as having his or her name on our register and who used the NHIS card to gain access to the right to vote in this country since that order was given by the court.
That duty to discover the source of the illegal infection of our register, in my opinion, rested principally on the plaintiffs, and their supporters. This duty excludes David Asante of Let My Vote Count, who I heard saying that he had many names of those who used NHIS cards to register far in excess of the 56, 000 plus submitted, but in defiance of the court order, he would not submit them to the EC! A clear case of contempt of court!
The claim that foreigners have infected our register to any extent requiring the intervention of the court belong to the same class of arguments that propelled the NPP to unsuccessfully contest the 2012 election in the same court. Readers will recall that part of the pleadings in that case was that some votes already counted and credited to President Mahama and the NDC should be cancelled to permit the court victory of the plaintiffs in that petition. There was similarly, a strong suggestion in this NHIS case that those who did so were not only suspected NDC members, but that they also voted for the ruling party, and their deletion from the register would enhance the chances of the political preferences of plaintiffs. Hence, the initial notice already taken of the blood relation of Abu Ramadan. Hence also, the disinterest of plaintiffs in the foundational reasons of the NHIS cardholders deletions from the register.
I have no problem with the decision of the court, as I have already suggested it will strengthen our EC, but the actions and inactions of Abu Ramadan since the decision, suggests strongly that the proffered argument was an afterthought, in the event the court did not agree to order a compilation of a new register and the cancellation of the existing biometric register. Readers must remember that the first person to offer some reasoned basis for a new register was the brother-in-law of Ramadan, Dr Bawumia. That basis, that he, Dr Bawumia, had discovered the names of 76,000 Togolese nationals on our register using a new-fangled Facial Recognition Technology, has since then been debunked and dismissed as fanciful and risible.
Dr Bawumia further went ahead to say that his initial work outdoored at a press conference complete with charts and graphs, constituted only 10 per cent of the work done on the Togolese register. Where is the remaining 90 per cent?
Furthermore, I find it very curious, from both the political and historical point of view, that the NHIS, a social policy highly praised by the NPP as a successful social and public policy, should be bastardised and devalued in this crass fashion. The logical upshot of the court order would have been for Ramadan to be going around exhibition centers to inspect the NHIS cards of voters who need that card when they are sick and helpless, and not to submit them to nationality tests at voting centres. I note that the same argument of Ghanaian documents used for voter registration being infested and accessed by foreigners such as drivers’ licenses, passports and birth certificates, apply as equally as those for NHIS cards. One wonders what the immediate future before this year’s polls holds for us all.
The minor reason why I went to verify my name and particulars during this exhibition period was after I heard the Ashanti regional secretary of the NPP complain that names of NPP members have been deleted by the EC! How this contorted reasoning and rationalisation is possible, I leave to Mr Sam Pyne to unravel. Again, I ask Abu Ramadan and Evans Gary Nimako, where are the foreigners who have infested our voters register?