The Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Honorable Samuel OKudjato Ablakwa has accused the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Madam Jean Mensa of demonstrating double standard over her decision to conduct its limited registration exercise only in the EC’s district offices.
He noted that the EC boss when she was the Executive Director for the Institute for Economic Affairs advocated for the decentralization of the Electoral Commission limited voter’s registration exercise in 2016 to allow more eligible Ghanaians to be registered.
Mr Ablakwa who is also the Ranking Member of the Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs indicated that Madam Jean Mensa when she was the Executive Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs also complained about the many inconveniences the proximity of the various registration centres created for citizens and even advised the Electoral Commission to create additional registration centres in 2016.
‘On 11th May 2016, Ghanaweb publication, the IEA asked for limited registration exercise to be extended where its Executive Director then, Madam Jean Mensa said to a large extent the limited registration exercise had gone well where number of people were registered, however, we followed the process very quiet carefully and we are also aware there are many other people who would wish to be registered but did not get the opportunity, and in order not disenfranchise others who are willing to vote or cast their vote for the first time, the EC should extend the days for the registration”.Okudzeto Ablakwa
According to the North Tongu Member of Parliament, this is the first time the EC is conducting its limited registration exercise in only one centre within the district.
He indicated that this is the right time, the Electoral Commission should have expanded its registration exercise to more centres across the country since the Electoral Commission has not conducted a limited registration exercise since 2021 as mandated by the 1992 Constitution.
Mr Ablakwa also emphasized that the Electoral Commission does not lack the resources to create more registration centres as it was given its entire budget allocation during the approval of the 2023 budget even though several government agencies and institutions got their budget allocation reduced.
EC Limited Registration Exercise Imposing Hardship on Ghanaians
The North Tongu legislator also indicated that the Electoral Commission’s limited voter registration exercise has imposed more hardship on citizens especially Members of Parliament as they are required to bear the cost of transporting their constituents to the district offices.
In his view it is more expensive to convey people from far locations to the EC district offices, a situation he found very untenable.
“Most people doesn’t know that my constituency, North Tongu is one of the biggest constituency in Ghana by way of land size; it is 1117SquareKilometers; it is bigger than Singapore and Accra, even though Accra is densely populated it is therefore a long distance to commute from one place to the other. In some instance, you have to cross the river and ask yourself who take care of the transport fares and the risks involved. There is not even any guarantee that when you get to the registration centres you would be registered”Okudjzeto Ablakwa
He expressed concerns that this could likely demotivate citizens to participate in the Electoral Commission’s limited voter registration exercise.
Mr Ablakwa also denounced the claims that the registration exercise is held at the district offices of the Electoral Commission to prevent foreigners from being registered and described it as illogical.
He believed the current arrangement would encourage foreign nationals to get registered as it would rather be difficult for party agents in the various district offices of the Electoral Commission to identify if someone is a foreigner.