Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the Upper East Region have called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to suspend the compilation of the new voters’ register until all residents in the Region get the Ghana Card and other documents to enable them register.
The CSOs include the Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA), the Women and Orphans Movement (WOM), the Development Research and Advocacy Centre (DRAC), the Bolgatanga, Nabdam, Bongo, and Tongo (BONABOTO), the Witty Minds Foundation (WMF) and TEERE.
The CSOs made the call at a joint press conference on the compilation of a new voters’ register in Bolgatanga addressed by Mr Bismark Adongo Ayorogo, the Executive Director of NORPRA.
“Our position is very simple; the Electoral Commission (EC) must suspend the compilation of the Register till all citizens especially the good people of Upper East Region have, in our hands, the Ghana Cards and probably the Passports to enable us register for the new Voter Card without having the trouble and frustration of going round to find people to vouch for us in the registration process.”
They said, “Credible and verifiable source of data, facts and figures suggests that the development of the Upper East Region and Northern Ghana will be greatly compromised, disadvantaged and short-changed by the planned actions of the EC should the voter population of an area at any point in time become the basis, criteria and determining factor for national resource allocation, political appointments, creation of additional polling stations, constituencies, districts and regions by any government or policy maker.”
They said the total population of the Upper East Region aged 18 and above as at May 2020, according to estimated and projected figures from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) stood at 721,702.
Also, a source from the National Identification Authority (NIA) indicates that, in the Upper East Region, a total of 220,000 people were registered for the Ghana Card of which only 13,200 representing just six percent had their cards issued to them, they said.
The CSOs expressed worry that in spite of the “frustrations and stressful conditions” under which the 220,000 residents went through to register for the Ghana Card, just a small percentage of the people were issued with the cards.
“Equally important to note is that persons whose ages were between 15 and 17 also registered for the Ghana Card, this therefore points out clearly that those with the Ghana Card and are eligible to register and vote are currently less than the 13,200 holders of Ghana Card in the region.
“This, makes it abundantly clear that more than 695,291 people will have very serious challenges getting to register for the new Voter Card to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.”
The CSOs, therefore, called on the EC to suspend the compilation of the new voters’ register for all citizens in the Region to get the Ghana Cards from NIA for the registration.
They assured the EC that CSOs would not allow it to engage in actions detrimental to their political, social and economic well-being through actions of systemic exclusions and marginalization of the Region.
“We will not hesitate to embark on series of constitutionally guaranteed and democratically supported civil actions including public protest if the EC fails to listen to the voices of the ordinary citizens from the Upper East Region,” they said.