The Electoral Commission (EC) has begun a nationwide pilot Biometric Voter's Registration in the Northern Region of Ghana.
The exercise which is part of a nationwide project towards the 2012 general elections, is being conducted in the Tolon/Kumbungu District.
It is to enable the EC to fully prepare towards a nationwide registration exercise which begins on Saturday, March 24 to Saturday, April 5, this year.
The exercise is a very important one, and The True Statesman is urging caution in its implementation, knowing very well that some political parties, notably the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have raised issues with the biometric registration for the coming polls.
We are also appealing to the Electoral Commission to put in place measures that will allay the fears of all political parties in the forthcoming nationwide biometric registration exercise.
If need be, special arrangements should be made for the registration of people who did not have any data at all, but who can be proven to be Ghanaians.
Experts may vary on a lot of issues, but what will carry the day is what is generally accepted as minimally acceptable. The call by the New Patriotic Party (NPP), on the EC to get its act right is important and timely but should not be preceded by taking of entrenched positions.
Ghanaians have been told that the whole exercise – from registration of eligible voters to the actual vote and the declaration of the results – would cost the tax-payer a whopping GH¢243,528,305 and the government has, subsequently, released the funds to the EC.
The True Statesman is fully aware that the government has made commitment to ensuring free, fair and credible polls in December, and it has, therefore, come to us as no surprise the speed with which the government has released funds to the EC for the registration to start.
A free, fair and transparent election is what everybody believes would forestall any electoral disturbance after the elections, hence the quest to use a biometric register in the coming elections to prevent multiple registration and voting.
The True Statesman, therefore, urges the various institutions which have a role to play in the registration, education and the general conduct of the elections, to put in their maximum best to ensure incident- free registration for peaceful elections come December.
We also urge the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to embark on a nationwide campaign to intensify their education programmes on the biometric register to ensure that its successful implementation.
A thorough and effective outreach campaign on the biometric registration is needed to ensure eligible voters have their names on the biometric register and not disenfranchised.
Ghanaians are building a better Ghana with strong institutions, and the EC is more than credible to do its work. The Electoral Commission should prove its fairness by addressing the concerns of all stakeholders in a transparent manner to ensure zero grievances from parties and the credibility of the 2012 elections.
Whiles at it, the EC and Ghanaians, for that matter, must not pander to the whims and caprices of any political party, so as to protect the dignity of all institutions concerned in making election 2012 a success.
The True Statesman