Minority accuses govt of discriminatory tactics in Ghana Card registration

BY: Musah Yahaya Jafarua
Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu
Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu

The Minority in Parliament has accused the government of discriminatory attempts to prevent the people of the Volta Region from registering for the national identification card (Ghana Card).

It said the government had ordered the suspension of birth and death registration in the region and selectively transferred the two directors of the Births and Deaths Registry in the region.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra on Wednesday, the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu and Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said the actions of the government were part of a grand attempt to ensure that only holders of the Ghana Card would be allowed to register as voters.

That, he said, was to ultimately disfranchise the majority of the people in the Volta Region, the 'World Bank' of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and rig the 2020 elections.

Read also: I have no interest in disenfranchising Voltarians – President Akufo-Addo

"We have become aware of exceedingly suspicious, unwarranted and unfair transfers of the two persons in charge of the Births and Deaths Registry in the Volta Region and a directive that same day to Mr John Yao Agbeko, the National Head, to vacate his post.

"The letters conveying the directive to the two officers in the Volta Region, namely Mr Richard Womega, the Head of the Volta Regional Births and Deaths Registry, and Ms Peace Agbenyo, the Deputy Regional Head, emanated from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, both dated June 19, 2018.


"The bizarre communication requested the two senior officers to cease, with immediate effect, the registration of all Ghanaians in the Volta Region and report themselves to the ministry that same day, June 19, 2018," he said.

'Discriminatory' transfers

Mr Ablakwa, who was flanked by the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Idrissu, and the Deputy Minority Leader, Mr James Avedzi, said checks by the Minority had revealed that the "strange and unfair transfers" were being carried out only in the Volta Region.

 "In other words, it is not a national exercise. Clearly, this is a scheme ostensibly to purge the system and pave the way for their strategy to manipulate the process," he said.

He said the Akufo-Addo government, seeing that it had performed abysmally in power, had hatched a grand scheme to prevent as many people as possible in the Volta Region, where they (the NPP) lacked support, from obtaining the base documents needed to register for the Ghana Card, even as they (government) continued to resist sound advice to include the voters ID.

"This can be the only plausible reason for the unfair and callous transfer of Mr Womega and Ms Agbenyo and the removal of Mr Agbeko as the National Head," he said.

Mr Ablakwa said in the case of Ms Agbenyo, she had been transferred from the Sekondi municipality in the Western Region to the Volta Region with her young children less than a year before her current cruel transfer.

He said the National Head of the Births and Deaths Registry in Accra, who hailed from the Volta Region, was handed similar treatment when he was instructed to hand over to a subordinate and report to the Head of the Public Services Commission for reposting to another institution.

Mr Ablakwa said the NPP government intended to use the Ghana Card registration data as the foundation data to be used for an entirely new voters register.

He said recent developments at the Electoral Commission (EC), with the removal of the Chairperson and her two deputies, set the perfect stage for the NPP, as part of its grand scheme, to pursue its agenda of rigging the 2020 elections.

"The NPP must be forewarned that no responsible Ghanaian who cares about our nascent democracy, including those of us in the Minority, will sit idle and allow them to continue on this path to harm the democracy we have all toiled to build.

"The Minority serves notice in the most unequivocal terms that we will not permit the flagrant violation of Article 45 (a) of the Constitution which mandates only the EC to ‘compile the register of voters and revise it at such periods as may be determined by law’.

"We will, therefore, fiercely resist, with every force we can marshal, any attempt to hide under the National Identification Authority's (NIA’s) discredited Ghana Card to usurp the EC's constitutional mandate in compiling a register of voters," he said.

Voters IDs

Mr Ablakwa accused the government of being intransigent on the refusal to accept the voters identification card as one of the primary requirements for the Ghana Card.

"Despite the consistent and very loud rational calls on the government by the Minority in Parliament, civil society organisations, all political parties except the NPP, large sections of society, including former Presidents J.J. Rawlings, J.A. Kufuor and John Mahama, the government has remained intransigent and is determined to issue the Ghana Card on the basis of just birth certificates and passports.

"Needless to add that even with this limited scope of passports and birth certificates, the Volta Region, since June 19, 2018, has had the door shut in its face, as there is no ongoing registration, unlike in other regions.

"We have long believed that the reckless intransigence on the part of the government and the belligerent open defence of same by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo are targeted primarily at the Volta Region. Sadly, our worse fears have now been confirmed," he said.