EC-NIA Collusion: When "Foreigners" in Voter's Register Means "You Are Not Akan"

Feature Article EC-NIA Collusion: When Foreigners in Voter's Register Means You Are Not Akan
MAR 18, 2023 LISTEN

Fellow Ghanaians, it has become rather disturbingly obvious that the Electoral Commission under Jean Mensah has no interest in conducting a fraud-free election in this country. And the 2020 general election was an eloquent testimony when she refused to testify against the charges brought against her by the National Democratic Congress, NDC, at the Supreme Court.

For Jean Mensa as the Electoral Commissioner, the provision of Article 17 (2) that stipulates that nobody shall be discriminated against on grounds of religion, race, gender, ethnic origin, color etc., maybe abided by, but citizens without Ghana Cards can be discriminated against and disenfranchised during general elections. This is despite Article 42 of the Constitution which gives voting rights to all citizens of Ghana. Thus the EC has an agenda that seems to be in the interest of a certain political party regardless of the danger it posts.

It was John F. Kennedy who said that "the ignorance of one voter impairs the security of all".

The question is, what danger do the organizers of elections post if they choose to throw their weight behind some group of individuals in an election? Especially if this group of people are certified criminals who are promoters of Kakistocracy (a system of government by unqualified office holders), enablers of Kleptocracy (a system of government by thieves), to occupy the helm of citizens' affairs?

For Joseph Stalin of Russia, those who vote never decide an election; those who count the votes decide everything." Unfortunately, this situation of electoral calamity Stalin lamented about has been unspeakably worst in developing countries where scarcity of resources are competed for by the intelligentsia and elites, in the management of public offices.

Historically, in ancient Greece where the concept of electoral system first emerged, it was never this criminal as we have it today. The ancient Greece practiced what they called "negative" election. This earlier form of election was the reverse of what we practice today where the candidates who pulled the most votes (6000) became the losers of the election and had to be ostracized and sent into exile for ten years. As a result, the electoral system was hard to be meddled in by the organizers themselves since mobilization of votes through disenfranchising or manipulation of figures was difficult.

However, since the mediaeval era in Venice, this earlier version of electoral system had been capsized such that, the candidate with the greater number of votes now becomes the winner. And this system has always been exploited and manipulated by the organizers themselves. Because when criminals infiltrate the seat of government of any nation, they appoint criminals to supervise election. Violence begets violence; criminals begets criminals. As such, the election has always been rigged by criminals appointed by criminals in favor of criminals.

In Ghana, the 1992 Constitution under Article 46 stipulates the independence of the electoral commission. But at its inception in 1968, the Commission appeared to have lost its core aim which was to organize free and fair election in order to prevent electoral heist and fraud. This can be pointed out in the absence of an explicit Clause amongst the functions of the EC that seeks to prevent fraud in an election. Instead, what seems not to concern the EC is what the Commission seeks to achieve.

For example, among the functions of the Electoral Commission of Ghana categorically stated and enshrined in Article 45 (a-f) of the 1992 Constitution, no where does it mention that the Commission shall be responsible in determining the citizenship of voters, and whether they are minors or not.

In her presentation to Parliament of Ghana, the Chairperson of the EC, Jean Mensa sought the support and approval of the august House to enforce the Constitutional Instrument (CI) that would limit identification of Ghanaian citizens by the EC to only one document for persons who seek to be part of the Voter's Register.

Among the flimsiest excuses she submitted to Parliament were that such a move would put an end to having foreigners and minors on the Voter's Register.

Perhaps, the strongest argument that took the EC Chairperson to Parliament to seek for the disenfranchisement of citizens who don't have Ghana Card, was that it would create the opportunity to depart from periodic Voter's registration exercise.

It was a pathetic scene to watch the EC seek to limit identification cards of citizens issued by National Identification Authority (NIA) such as the Birth Cert, Driving License etc. in order to have a year-round voter registration exercise.

What a waste of public resources and time?
Very interesting is the Commission's total ignorance of Article 8 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana that guarantees dual citizenship to citizens and foreigners alike in Ghana. While Clause 2 of the same Article makes exception in appointments in respect of certain public offices, the same Clause is silent on voting by persons with dual citizenship. This means that citizens as well as denizens who reside in Ghana permanently and can speak any Ghanaian language fluently, is qualified to vote since the leadership choice would affect them both. Denizens who may acquire citizenship status even though they are citizens elsewhere are however exempted from appointment into certain public offices some of which include Ambassador or High Commissioner, Inspector General of Police, any office specified by an act of Parliament etc.

In the case of ridding the Voters' Register of so-called minors, the EC, the last time I checked, has no mandate to decide the age of any citizen simply by looking at their faces. The EC's function is to ensure citizens are registered as voters. As to whether someone is a citizen or not, is not the mandate of the EC and has no business in trying to use one document of national identification to confirm the citizenship of citizens. That is the sole mandate of the National Identification Authority (NIA).

It's however flabbergasting and completely fishy that the EC in its recent demands intends to assume the responsibility of identifying and determining citizenship of Ghanaians by colluding with the NIA. What I find amazing in this whole Constitutional Instrument brouhaha is that, the NIA that has the mandate to seek Parliament's approval to use a single document (Ghana Card) as the sole identification documents of citizens has its duty usurped by the Electoral Commission.

Methinks the NIA should have rather gone to Parliament itself to seek approval from parliament for only Ghana Card to be used as the sole document for identification of citizens. Not the EC. But for the EC to have gone to parliament itself seeking to use one document in identifying citizens smacks of foul play. It means the EC has a target group of citizens it believes are not citizens and hence worthy of elimination from the Voter’s Register.

The problem is that, for Jean Mensa's Electoral Commission, the provision of Article 9 Clause 2 that says a person shall become citizen if he can speak and understand any native or indigenous language in Ghana means that language should be Akan. Hence, the EC's useless and fruitless demand to have only one document as a sole identification of citizens.

For the EC, it doesn’t matter whether one has a Ghanaian Birth cert, or previous Voter ID. Once your first name is Mensah, Owusu, Ansah, or Awura Abena, there’s no question about your citizenship. But if it sounds like Etse, Mawufemor, or Zilevu, you must have been an illegal migrant from Togo.

This explains why the EC is hell bent on usurping the mandate of the NIA to now be identifying citizens. A task that is outside the purview of the EC.

Fellow Ghanaians, this latest Constitutional Instrument proposed by the EC is nothing more than “Akanization” agenda – “Asantenization”, “Akyimization” – “The Elephant Agenda”. It’s the New Patriotic Party Agenda to protect and guard themselves from “Nsawam” having caused economic mess and financial loss to the State.