Ranking member on parliament’s constitutional and legal affairs committee, Bernard Ahiafor, has expressed disappointment in the chairperson for the Electoral Commission (EC), Jean Mensah, insisting that the EC boss is engaging in intellectual dishonesty by implicating parliament in its inability to conduct continuous registration.
According to hm, he disagrees with the EC Chair for pinning the blame on the committee and by extension parliament.
He explained that having been with the subsidiary legislation, a committee in parliament which interrogated the CI during the consideration stage, the only new thing that the proposed CI sought to introduce was to review the source document for registration to only Ghana Card, instead of identification, passport and Ghana Card.
Mr Ahiafor contended that the EC boss has the constitutional power to determine the period within which limited registration is supposed to be conducted.
Owing to this, he indicated that there’s no way the CI 91 as amended by CI 126 has limited the EC chairperson to a number of days, weeks and months for the limited registration to be conducted.
Justifying his stance, Mr Ahiafor questioned how amending the existing CI by limiting the source document to only Ghana Card reflects in Jean Mensah’s ability to conduct a limited registration for continuous period of six months.
“Everybody can look at that particular CI, it has not introduced any new thing apart from the proposed amendment to regulation 1 of CI 91 as amended by CI 126 – every other thing remains the same.
“So, if Madam Jean Mensah is saying that because the new CI has not been approved, that is why it’s not doing the continuous registration for a period of six months, I am inclined to state that Madam Jean Mensah is engaging in intellectual dishonesty. Everybody can put the respective CI down and analyze it… So, let us not engage in intellectual dishonesty.”Bernard Ahiafor
Commenting on whether parliament will pass the CI requested by the EC to law once into resumes sitting, Mr Ahiafor stated that as parliamentarians, they ask pertinent questions when matters regarding amendments to laws are put before them. To this end, he quizzed what the defect in the existing CI is which warrants the EC demanding an amendment.
Legitimizing CI to expedite EC’s work
Moreover, Mt Ahiafor maintained that parliament was not given any tangible answer on the defect in the existing CI that the “new one is coming to cure”.
“Law is an instrument of social engineering. Law is supposed to be an aid to development… So, if the use of only Ghana Card, having regard to the problem and the challenges being faced by the authority that issued the Ghana Card, if you limit the source document to only Ghana Card, you can imagine the number of eligible voters that will not be eligible to vote because they do not have Ghana Card.”Bernard Ahiafor
Furthermore, Mr Ahiafor expressed that genuinely, it is evident that there are people who went through the process of registering for a Ghana card but are yet to receive them.
To this effect, he expressed that the EC wants to simply amend the existing CI that talks about the three documents as the source documents for registration and limit it to only Ghana card.
The ranking member on parliament’s constitutional committee equally urged the EC to look at the new CI, relate it to the existing CI and point out the provision in the new CI that will enable them to undertake a continuous registration for a period of six months, and also a “provision in the existing CI that disallows them from conducting a limited registration for a period of six months”.
“What percentage of Ghanaians have Ghana Card, let alone talk about those who will turn 18 and those who have not been registered as voters? So, we realized that the new CI will be causing more harm than Ghanaians that good. There’s nothing useful in the new CI, the only thing being introduced by the new CI, I maintain, is the amendment of regulation 1 – to limit the source document which were three in line with the Supreme Court decision in the case of Abu Ramadan…”Bernard Ahiafor