8 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM NEWSFILE: Ghana can have brand new voter’s register with ‘a click of a button’- NIA boss destroys EC plans in 5 minutes
On the first edition of Ghana’s most influential political analysis show, Newsfile in 2020, there was the only topic for discussion – the controversy over the Electoral Commission plan to procure a new biometric register.
TheGhanaReport.com monitored the discussions and brings you EIGHT things we learned from the show.
- Embattled National Security Minister Albert Kan-Dapaah must be thanking Newsfile producers.
The viral video of the 66-year old minister’s embarrassing lapse of judgment missed the agenda this Saturday. With producers opting to have one single topic for the conversation, Kan-Dapaah has been spared any further analysis into a married man’s paralysis before a slay queen in a video call that included turning around in his pyjamas.
- The not-so-simple Bright Simons’ ‘goal’ to keep things simple
If the “frighteningly intelligent” Bright Simmons has a 2020 resolution to explain things simply, then it is not going to be a simple task. He is trying though. His body language and analysis may impress his listeners, but ultimately, he leaves you still trying to breakdown his explanations.
In fairness, the voter’s register controversy also includes heavy technical matters which the EC has not shied away from throwing some of it into the debate. May be to confuse, maybe to enlighten. But the heavy terminologies tame the average mind into submitting to the confusion and leaves you a spectator and the experts, the citizens.
- The horse appears to have already bolted on the 2020 voter’s register plan
The controversy over the register is quite too late. From Bright Simons’ analysis, the EC had already decided in December 2018, there will be a new register. The tender for the procurement was announced in April 2019 after months of preparations at the EC.
And so, although the EC has entered into a round of consultations with disgruntled political parties and naysayers, for Bright Simons, its “purely a PR exercise to legitimize a decision because this is not a consultation”. The EC is engaged in what Bright Simons described as a ‘PnP model – Public relations and Procurement.
- More than 7 million Ghanaians have been registered for the GhanaCard.
The National Identification Authority (NIA) says so far it has registered some 7.3million Ghanaians for the much-talked-about GhanaCard. That’s according to its Chief Executive Prof. Ken Attafuah.
He revealed some 7.3m Ghanaians have registered for the card in a population of at least 20million. Don’t forget, of this population, the voting population is estimated at 15.8million. So, the NIA is roughly halfway through an exercise which is yet to get underway at the Electoral Commission. The Nay-Sayers may be late to stop the EC’s plan to compile a new register. But it appears the EC is too late to do this work already being done by the NIA.
The NIA says of the 7.3million registered, some 4.26million Ghanaians have got their cards. There is a backlog of more than 565,000 cards to be issued and some 415,000 cards awaiting decision because the applicant’s citizenship may have been challenged or there are discrepancies on the data submitted.
- Where you can get a GhanaCard if you have not registered?
If you have not registered for a Ghana card, you can do so manually after March when the mass registration exercise would be over. The NIA is converting its registration centers into ‘permanent offices’ for continuous registration.
Photo: Prof.Kenneth Agyeman Attafuah
- NIA CEO Prof. Ken Attafuah brutally takes down EC plans
But perhaps the biggest revelation on the show is a brutal takedown of a state institution’s plan to compile a register by another state institution that is already compiling biometric details of citizens.
Brimming with uncommon candour, NIA boss, Prof. Attafuah was categorical in stating that, all that Ghana needs to get a new voter’s register is not $36m but “a click of a button” at the NIA. He explained the NIA has “all the biometric details the EC could ever want” from Ghanaians and it is more than prepared to hand over the data to the EC if it would just ask.
He explained the NIA has collected fingerprints, facial recognition and even the eye’s iris in issuing the GhanaCard. The EC has said the current system does not have facial recognition. Well, the NIA says it has this and even more. The NIA boss was clear and emphatic that the NIA can save Ghanaians “money and agony” of doing a new biometric register all over again.
- EC says, thanks but no thanks to the NIA’s offer to help in compiling a new voter’s register.
The EC has ruled out a ‘collaboration’, insisting to go solo. According to its Director of Electoral Services, Dr. Siriboe Kwaku, the EC officers would love to ‘go to sleep’ on this matter and leave everything into the hands of NIA. But that is ‘risky’, he said. So, no, the EC wants to walk alone. Come again in 2024, the EC effectively tells the NIA.
- Ghana has been wasting money on national ID cards.
According to Bright Simons, the government has spent more than $200million to get a functional national ID card since President John Agyekum began the exercise in 2006. That’s nearly the same amount spent on the government’s Free SHS policy which is 1.8billion cedis. Between 2010-2015, the NIA registered 15million citizens for a National ID card. But only three million were distributed. All of that work is gone waste with a fresh start to the exercise beginning in 2018.