“The Ayes have it,” the unmistakable voice of the Speaker, Aaron Mike Oquaye, announced the expected outcome of MPs vote on the Electoral Commission’s demand for almost half a billion Cedis for a new voters’ register.
With a 63 seat deficit in the House, the National Democratic Congress MPs probably accepted their fate before arguing against including the EC’s gargantuan demand in the Appropriations Act.
The New Patriotic Party has not hidden its demand for a new voters’ register; and although they are not campaigning for it now, they did so heavily in the lead up to the 2016 general elections.
It, therefore, does not come as a surprise that their MPs would rally behind the EC’s demand now that the Commission is ready to compile a new register.
The previous Charlotte Osei-led Commission had rejected the NPP’s demand in 2015 through to 2016 which the NDC backed, and still does.
NDC Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga, called on his side of the House to reject the inclusion of the over GH¢443million in the 2020 expenditure which was backed by the Minority’s spokesperson on finance, Cassiel Ato Forson.
Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, however, challenged the NDC legislators, arguing that they are entirely out of order.
He said Ayariga’s motion should have come as a substantive motion.
After a series of back and forth, the House, through a majority vote, approved the entire GH¢98billion for government and its agencies’ spending for 2020, including the monies for the new voters’ register, JoyNews’ Kwesi Parker-Wilson reported.
Why is the NDC against the new register?
The biggest opposition party has accused the EC of bias. The NDC believes the EC boss, Jean Mensa is conniving with the government to rig the elections.
The party says the EC would disenfranchise persons in their stronghold and bloat the register in NPP strongholds.
“There is no need for a new register,” General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, said at a press conference last week.
The party says all the EC needs to do is to update the register since the voter’s roll, according to them, is changed only after ten years which is not due since its last overhaul.
Meanwhile, the EC has justified the need for them to compile a new roll. Deputy Chairman of the Commission, Samuel Tettey explained at a presser that the register is overstretched.
The new biometric register, he explained, would be more advanced to check the lacunae in the current one.
A deliberation on the register by political parties and the EC was marred when the NDC walked out in protest.
The NPP, however, has backed the EC, “once the Commission can justify the need for a new roll.”