The National Chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Freddie Blay, says the opposition National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) consistent attacks on the Electoral Commission (EC) are needless and misguided.
“The attacks on the EC is absolutely needless and an attempt to subject the EC to the direction or control of any person or authority is unconstitutional and totally misguided,” he said in a statement issued today, Thursday, May 28, 2020.
The opposition NDC has taken on the EC in recent times over the electoral management body’s decision to compile a new voters’ register ahead of the December 7, 2020, general elections.
Although the EC insists that it wants to ensure that the register used for the 2020 polls is transparent and credible, the NDC believes such exercise is only a waste of resources.
The NDC have boycotted two separate IPAC meetings organised by the EC to have issues with the voters’ register ironed out.
The opposition NDC is also unhappy with the EC’s decision to restrict identification documents for capturing voters onto the yet to be compiled new register to Ghana card and passport and have vowed to use appropriate forums to have the issue addressed.
But Mr. Freddie Blay in his statement accused the NDC of shifting the goalpost.
“The opposition's attempt to keep shifting the opposing goalpost from the cost of procuring a new voter register to the cost of lives for going through a progressive electoral process, clearly demonstrates their inconsistencies and hypocrisy. Those vehemently opposing to the compilation of a new voters' register, weaving their arguments around the potential exponential COVID deaths and infections are in pursuit of their parochial and self-serving interests,” he stated.
Find Freddie Blay’s statement below
Ignore the provocation and empty threats of the NDC
Discussions on the Electoral Commission's planned compilation of a new voter register began since the last quarter of 2019. The NPP has clearly stated its position on this subject, hence our reluctance to dignify and engage in debate on the subject anymore.
The opposition NDC has embarked on a relay race with this unproductive debate, passing the baton from its Presidential Candidate, to its National Chairman, General Secretary, Deputy General Secretary, Director of Elections and numerous communicators on FM stations and social media.
We obviously cannot as a people continue wasting precious time on staged debates by the opposition about whether or not the Electoral Commission should go ahead with the compilation of an advanced biometric voters' register.
The EC in is its wisdom and justifiably so, has made its decision.
The attacks on the EC is absolutely needless and an attempt to subject the EC to the direction or control of any person or authority is unconstitutional and totally misguided.
The 1992 Constitution clearly states out the functions of the Electoral Commission which includes compiling the register of voters and revise same at such periods as may be determined by law; and to undertake programs for the expansion of the registration of voters.
Thankfully, our electoral system has since 1992 progressed steadily, despite the many different peculiar challenges faced. From the period when we used opaque ballot boxes through to the most recent 2016 biometric register, there has always been debates about our electoral system, sometimes resulting in boycotts and the activation of our judicial processes.
Notwithstanding, we have over time built a progressive, strong and enviable democracy on the African continent. I call on the good people of Ghana to continue cherishing and protecting what we have taken close to three decades to build, becoming a beacon of democracy in the African Region.
The opposition's attempt to keep shifting the opposing goalpost from the cost of procuring a new voter register to the cost of lives for going through a progressive electoral process, clearly demonstrates their inconsistencies and hypocrisy. Those vehemently opposing to the compilation of a new voters' register, weaving their arguments around the potential exponential COVID deaths and infections are in pursuit of their parochial and self-serving interests.
They seem to forget that the December 7 elections would not be any different, because Ghanaians would be expected to queue in lines to cast their votes and also witness the votes counted and recorded as prescribed in the 1992 constitution.
Therefore, the CSO Alliance and Inter-Party Resistance Against the New Voters’ Register should spare Ghanaians the provocative and empty threats of chaos, confusion, bloodshed, and death in the name of protecting the constitution.
In any case, all Ghanaians must strive to protect the constitution of Ghana, though I doubt the credentials of the NDC in doing so, especially when they tout themselves as owning the monopoly of violence. However, the plant of democracy is watered with the blood of martyrs, so if any of them so desire to be one of such as a result of our progressive democracy, so be it!
The NPP is confident that irrespective of the protocols and restrictions brought about by COVID 19, the nation would always rise to the occasion of protecting and exercising constitutional rights, including going through a new electoral process.
The challenges of COVID 19 offers us a great opportunity to work together on our attitudes towards collectively building a disciplined and prosperous nation.
If we all recognize as a people that in one way or the other there are potentials for an exponential spread of COVID 19 when we undertake our constitutional mandate of voting or registering for voter identification, then we must begin to prepare now for the containment of a potential explosion in 6 months.
The earlier we as Ghanaians think about developing a registration and voting system that should be better perfected by December 7 through the EC's advanced biometric voters' registration process, the better for our constitutional democratic development.
Political parties and civil society groups can begin to have discussions on what a safe voter registration center should look like with standardized hygienic conditions, self-protective gears, and queuing lines arrangements that conform to the social distancing protocols.
There are lessons we can learn from how the banking sector uses technology to allocate tally numbers and apply a similar improved mechanism that can inform our planning of ensuring human safety at polling stations.
A 90 days' continuous registration across the 16 regions of the country can be enough time to register 18 million eligible voters at a maximum of 60 persons registering each day per polling station.
The new biometric voters' registration process offers a unique opportunity to the EC to practically and quickly begin to mainstream the COVID 19 protocols into how they will conduct Ghana's electoral processes up until the December 2020 general election.
The efforts by Nay Sayers and warmongers just like Major Boakye-Djan, Asiedu Nketia and Elvis Ankrah to suppress the citizenry with fear are to say the least, wicked, opportunistic and unfortunate. They appear to have embarked on a very long sleep similar to that of Rip Van Winkle and have missed out on Ghana's progress since the revolutionary days.
There is absolutely no need to give value to the currency of their arguments that Ghana cannot compile a new register due to COVID 19, because it is as bad as an opinion that suggests we cannot hold an election this year, and for that matter it is sterile. Ghanaians can see how being in opposition for less than four years is already taking a frustrating toll on the psychological health of the opposition NDC leadership, triggering irresponsible utterances.
I call on the media to also be measured and circumspect in how they give oxygen and dignity to such fruitless debates. Any responsible political party leadership would at this point in time be cooperating with the institutions of state-mandated to supervise and manage general election in Ghana, making constructive criticisms that would keep such institutions focused on delivering a credible and safe election.
The Nana Addo NPP-led Government remains committed to protecting lives, providing the funding and necessary support including maintaining law and order that should enable the EC to prepare towards conducting fair and transparent elections come December 2020.
I, therefore, urge Ghanaians to continue rallying behind the President, H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and his government who have demonstrated courageous and decisive leadership over the period, particularly in these times of war against our common enemy — COVID 19.
Hon. Freddie Blay
National Chairman, NPP