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20.02.2012 Editorial

Haruna Iddrisu's point is valid

By Ghanaian Chronicle
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There is no doubt that the December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections will be keenly contested, especially, between the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Whilst the ruling party is bent on retaining power, the NPP also wants to set a record as the first political party to return to power, four years after losing elections as a ruling party.

What seems to have raised high the stakes is the discovery and commercial production of oil in the country. It is in the light of this that The Chronicle appeals to the Electoral Commission (EC) to listen attentively to the concerns being expressed by the Minister of Communications,                       Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, over the biometric verification that the election body is going to introduce.

As we have indicated on our front page today, Haruna is asking the EC and all stakeholders not to look at the positive aspect of the biometric verification, but its disadvantages as well, to ensure violence-free elections in December this year.

According to the Tamale South Member of Parliament, the EC has never piloted biometric verification in any of the elections it has organised to know its efficacy, therefore, rolling out the programme on a national scale, such as the general elections, could be dangerous, if it is not supported by the right infrastructure.

He noted that the banks, which have rolled out similar programmes, are sometimes hit with system failures, and that should the EC data base also suffer a similar problem on the day of the elections, it could result in violence. The Chronicle thinks this is a legitimate alarm raised by the Minister, and the earlier the stakeholders take note of it, the better it would be for the country.

As we noted earlier, the stakes for this year's elections are very high, therefore, there is the need for the EC to correct all anticipated mistakes, before the real battle begins. The Chronicle suggests that there must be a system back up for all the data at the EC headquarters, so that should one system fail, the rest would automatically step in to feed the system with the required information.

The Chronicle can imagine how the NPP and NDC would react, should there be reports on the day of the election that the data system has broken down in either the Ashanti or Volta regions. Depending on where the fault will occur, these two dominant parties would give different interpretations to it, and that is where the danger Haruna Iddrisu is talking about lies.

We should not forget about the fact that he is the Minister in charge of Communications, and, therefore, knows what he is talking about.

The EC and all the stakeholders must not wait for the problem to raise its ugly head before an antidote is found to it, which in our opinion will be too late. The Minister has pointed out the flaw, and it is the duty of all Ghanaians to put their shoulders to the wheel, and ensure that the necessary mechanisms are put in place to protect the data base, and make it safe for use.


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