ALLOWANCE FOR BIOMETRIC VOTER REGISTRATION OFFICIALS AND MATTERS ARISING: AFARI GYAN MUST ACT NOW!

By Modern Ghana

Graduate unemployment in Ghana is over 40% according to the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC). The biometric voter registration exercise was therefore welcomed news to the unemployed graduates as they hoped to get some temporary employments.

Unfortunately, the selection process of the registration officials was marred with several irregularities thereby rendering the process dirty as a piggery. This aside, the Commission also managed to cross the bridge of whether to use the Ghana Education Service's human resource or not.

For whatever reason, the registration officials started work without appointment letters or signing any form of agreement with their employer – the Electoral Commission. Then hay broke loose! “We are doing the actual work”. “Why should we be paid GH¢650.00 when the ROSD who does nothing is taking GH¢700.00 plus GH¢400.00 for transportation”. “What is the justification for paying the RO GH¢800.00 and the Assistant RO GH¢700.00 when we (data entry clerks) do more than they do?” “The Electoral Commission must be joking”!

Legitimate concerns by the Data Entry Clerks! Is Dr. Afari Gyan listening to these concerns? What is he doing about them? Will he wait till these aggrieved registration officials lay their tools?

The outcome of the December polls largely depends on this exercise and Ghanaians will not forgive the Commission for any omissions on their part that will jeopardize the relative peace they enjoy today.

What makes Dr. Afari Gyan think that the Government of Ghana and its sponsors are ready to “throw” millions of US Dollars “away” in compiling a new Voter Register had it not been the fact that they saw the need to go biometric? How then do you pay the persons who are doing the biometric aspect of the registration much less as compare to those doing the paper work? It will be in the interest of the Commission - if they want the success of this exercise to do a proper job evaluation and pay each registration official taking into account the relevance of their duties.

For the benefit of my readers, this is the structure of the Electoral Registration Team from the district level. The District Electoral Officer is in-charge of a district. Technicians are in-charge of all technical issues relating to the Biometric Registration Kit in the district. Supervisors – they do supervisory work in a defined geographical area in a district. There is the Registration Officer Special Duties (ROSD) who is the liaison between a Cluster (four polling stations considered as a registration centre) and the District Electoral Office. A registration centre is headed by a Registration Officer (RO) assisted by an Assistant Registration Officer; they are followed by a Data Entry Clerk and an Assistant Data Entry Clerk who perform the biometric aspect of the registration. The last person in the term is the Registration Assistant who is responsible for laminating ID Cards.

Beyond the main allowance, why is the Commission creating troubles for itself? I think it makes sense to assume that other benefits for registration officials are the same across the country. On the contrary, reliable information gathered revealed that registration officials in the Greater Accra Region were paid GH¢150.00 as Movement Allowance while those in the Eastern and Central Regions took GH¢40.00. In the Volta Region, some were paid GH¢28.00 and others GH¢20.00. Why the differences? Are registration officials in the Eastern, Central and Volta Regions not working for the same Commission as those in the Greater Accra Region?

What is this issue about Phone Call Allowance too? Information from some parts of the Volta Region revealed that, some ROs were paid GH¢20.00 as Phone Call Allowance while at other parts of the region, all registration officials were paid GH¢8.00 each as Phone Call Allowance. What is actually happening Dr. Afari Gyan? It is important you take control of affairs before this Biometric Registration exercise ruin your reputation.

How much is actually allocated for fuel for used in the generator accompanying the Biometric Voter Registration Kit? Who is this money supposed to be paid to; the ROSD or the RO? In the Volta Region, some centres were paid GH¢64.00 and others were paid GH¢60.00. Somebody must justify why the difference!

Astonishingly, the money was paid in most cases to the ROs whose job description has nothing to do with how power is generated to keep the Biometric Voter Registration Kit working. What is actually the work of the ROSDs?

It will do the Commission a lot of good if these irregularities are investigated. The Commission must also come clear and justify the differences in the figures or tell Ghanaians who is manipulating the system and on whose instructions. The Registration Officials, especially the Data Entry Clerks can throw this exercise off gear if their concerns are not properly handled.

The second phase is just about ending and Dr. Afari Gyan must act now!

Voluntary National Service Person and a Free Lance Journalist

edwinsarkoge@yahoo.com

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