Ghana News Agency (Accra) – The Electoral Commission (EC) must consider using data from the National Identification Authority (NIA) for a future voters’ register, Gloria Akuffo, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, has said.
She said the move would not only save the country money but also promote national unity.
She was speaking at a Ghana Bar Association (GBA) webinar, held at the law courts complex in Accra, on the theme “Enhancing National Cohesion: The Essence of a Free, Fair and Responsible Electoral Process”.
Ms Akuffo said that as of 8 September 2020 over 15 million people had been registered by the NIA. Thirteen million cards have been issued so far, she added.
Fall back on Authority’s database
The NIA is undertaking a mop-up in certain parts of the country. It finished its exercise in the Greater Accra Region last week Tuesday (8 September) and has moved on to Ahafo, Bono and Bono East.
She said: “It may be advisable for the EC to have recourse to the NIA database for the compilation of voters register and adopt and designate the Ghana Card as identity card to be used in future elections in the country.”
Ms Akuffo said the approach would be consistent with the EC’s mandate under Article 42 of the constitution.
“Moreover the constitution does not restrict the EC as to which document to be used in compiling or generating the register of voters, provided the document guarantees that only Ghanaians of 18 years and above and of sound mind are registered to vote in consonance with Article 42.
“No legal impediment prevents the EC from using the national identity register to compile the register of voters, or the National Identity Card for the purpose of public elections and referenda,” she said.
Power of citizenship
Ms Akuffo said there is a need to use the power of citizenship to keep and advance national cohesion, systematically.
She appealed to Ghanaians to remain committed to elevating the bar of civility and decency in the country’s public political discourse and voter mobilisation.
“We must deliberately nurture the enablers of cohesion in our nation,” she said.
Ms Akuffo said social cohesion in Ghana was dependent on the extent to which the nation strengthened and enabled elements of free, fair and responsible elections to manifest in its body politic.
“We must reduce the tempo of political rivalries and antagonism that are characterised by ethnocentrism and pre-modal prejudice,” she said, adding: “These have the tendency to threaten our national cohesion.”
Ghana risked weakening itself if it failed to deepen and widen the scale of public trust in its electoral systems.
Ms Akuffo said political parties ought to become greater platforms for mobilisation of ideas that propel the nation.
“We must work harder as a people to reduce the spate of election-related violence,” she said.
Work in progress
Professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh, executive director of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), said Ghana’s search for national cohesion date back to the colonial era.
He said that Ghana’s national cohesion, therefore, could be described as “a work in progress”.
Professor Prempeh observed that Ghana’s “winner takes all” regulations, protocol allocation of jobs and biased distribution of scholarships by governments did not augur well for national cohesion. He appealed to political parties to reject ethnicity in their campaigns.
He also entreated chiefs, civil society organisations and the clergy not to fail the nation.