In supporting the Ghana Electoral Commissioners’ firm decision to reject the current voter card in possession of Ghanaians as one’s authentic proof of their Ghanaian identity for re-registration onto the intended new voter register for election 2020 and onwards, I shall refer to the Ghana 1992 Constitution with Amendments through 1996 to present my arguments.
In Chapter 3 of the Constitution, it defines Ghanaian Citizenship or its acquisition. Who is a Ghanaian then? In Article 6 Clauses 1 & 2, it states as following;
(1) Every person who, on the coming into force of this Constitution, is a citizen of Ghana by law shall continue to be a citizen of Ghana.
(2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, a person born in or outside Ghana after the coming into force of this Constitution, shall become a citizen of Ghana at the date of his birth if either of his parents or grandparents is or was a citizen of Ghana.
Under Article 7 Clause 1, it states “(1) A woman married to a man who is a citizen of Ghana or a man married to a woman who is a citizen of Ghana may, upon making an application in the manner prescribed by Parliament, be registered as a citizen of Ghana”.
In Article 9 Clause 1 it states, “(1) Parliamentary may make provision for the acquisition of citizenship of Ghana by persons who are not eligible to become citizens of Ghana under the provision of this Constitution.
Clause 4 says, “(4) There shall be published in the Gazette by the appropriate authority and within three months after the application or the registration, as the case may be, the name, particulars and other details of a person who, under this article applies to be registered as a citizen of Ghana or has been registered as a citizen of Ghana”.
In advancing my points for onward onslaught on those putting impediments in the way of the Electoral Commission with intent to causing the abolition of the avowed afresh registration of the Ghanaian electorate for election 2020, let me continue to quote the Ghana Constitution on the functions of the Electoral Commission.
In Chapter 7 Article 42 on the “Right to Vote” it states:
“Every citizen of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda”
Under Article 45 on the Electoral Commission it states:
The Electoral Commission shall have the following functions –
(a) to compile the register of voters and revise it at such periods as may be determined by law;
(b) to demarcate the electoral boundaries for both national and local government elections;
(c) to conduct and supervise all public elections and referenda;
(d) to educate the people on the electoral process and its purpose;
(e) to undertake programmes for the expansion of the registration of voters; and
(f) to perform such other functions as may be prescribed by law.
From the above citations or quotations from the Ghana 1992 Constitution which we depend on to rule the country until it becomes obsolete or amended, and when, we can’t tell, the stipulations as are enshrined in the Constitution are legal and binding. Am I right?
The Constitution has clearly stated who a Ghanaian citizen is and how to acquire a Ghanaian citizenship. Any interested Ghanaian who wants to present any sound argument on whether or not there is the need for a new voter register and whether or not the allegedly intransigent Chair of the Electoral Commission, Mrs Jean Mensah, is right to compile a new voter register for election 2020 should please read the entire mentioned Chapters of the Constitution.
It is vividly stated in Article 42 that only Ghanaian citizens can register to vote at general elections. This is an indisputable fact that only a fool will make onerous, but bound to fail, attempts, to prove otherwise.
Sensible Ghanaians will agree with me that Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan, who proved himself untruthful, corrupt and misfit in the end stage of his public career as Ghana’s Chairman of the Electoral Commission, as made evidently clear at the Supreme Court over Election 2012 petition, did allow for National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) card to be presented by their holders to be registered for acquisition of the current voter card, and onto the current voter register.
Why have I used certain harsh words on Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan? It is all because prior to election 2012, he had agreed with the Ghanaian electorate on the definitions of “No Verification No Vote” (NVNV) and “Over Vote”. He had agreed and informed the Ghanaian public that NVNV should be taken for whoever the biometric verification machine fails to recognise their identity on the Election Day shall not be allowed to cast their vote. However, at the Supreme Court and during his cross-examination on why some people whose fingerprints could not be recognised by the machines were allowed to vote, he said that if he were present at a polling station and saw the chief of his area who the machine could not recognise him when he has come to vote, he would allow him to vote because he knows him by face. Complete nonsense! What a negation of a scientific process of voting by resort to common sense approach but which had not been agreed!
Again, “Over Vote” had been agreed as “When the number of ballots found in the ballot box exceeds the number of votes cast, it is an over vote”. To better explain it to the layman, it means if 100 people went to a polling station to vote and at the close of voting and during the counting 110 ballot papers are found in the ballot box when emptied for counting, it amounts to over vote. However, at the Supreme Court, Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan backtracked on his own accepted definition to say that an “Over Vote” is when the number of the ballots in the ballot box exceeds the number of registered voters. He is telling us that if 120 people registered, and are on a voter register, to vote at a particular polling station, but only 100 registered voters presented themselves to vote on the Election Day but on emptying the ballot box for counting 110 ballot papers were found, it does not amount to an over voting. For him, the 110 ballots do not exceed the 120 people on the voter register although only 100 voters or people did physically go to the polling station to cast their vote. He must be sick in the mind!
The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) card was issued to anyone living in Ghana who desired to avail themselves of the affordable or free healthcare as envisaged and finally implemented by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government under then President John Agyekum Kufuor. This policy had come to replace the “Cash and Carry” healthcare delivery system where poor people were dying because they could not afford healthcare. Those registering for the acquisition of the NHIS card were not asked to provide proof of their Ghanaian citizenship because the card was to be issued to anyone in Ghana needing free public healthcare, whether the person is a Ghanaian, a foreigner, a legal or an illegal immigrant, but living in Ghana.
“Ultimately, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was established under Act 650 of 2003 by the Government of Ghana to provide a broad range of health care services to Ghanaians through district mutual and private health insurance schemes” – Ghana Med J. 2012 Jun; 46(2): 76–84. (Ghana Medical Journal).
Therefore, how can one genuinely use the NHIS card to sidestep the requisite constitutional demands for Ghanaian citizenship and their right to vote? Why should a foreigner, legal or illegal, who has come into possession of an NHIS card be allowed to vote as though he or she were a Ghanaian? Don’t we know that by permitting the possessors of NHIS card to register themselves onto the voter roll to be able to cast their votes at general elections in Ghana, we have automatically bestowed on them Ghanaian citizenship without the possessors of the cards following the constitutional or parliamentary requirements as stated above?
In the United Kingdom, National Health Service (NHS) card was until the end of 1990 or thereabout, issued to anyone living in the UK who registered with their local Medical Practitioner (GP). This means British citizens, European Union citizens, legal or illegal immigrants living in the UK, were able to acquire NHS card to attend public hospital free of charge. However, from somewhere in year 2000 upwards, the law was changed, not to register people onto the NHS by their GPs until they have provided a genuine passport allowing them to live in the UK if one was an immigrant, or a birth certificate if one was a British national.
NHS card is not accepted as a genuine proof of one’s identity in the UK. Why is this so, fellow Ghanaians? Is it not because it is not only issued to British citizens but also, immigrants for healthcare reasons? Are both British nationals and foreigners resident in a country not entitled to equal public healthcare? If yes they are, and they are all issued with NHS card, does it make such persons automatic British citizens? No, no and no!
In the UK, immigrants and citizens of the European Union who are not British and have not acquired British citizenship through their laid down legal processes are not allowed to vote at the British general elections but local government (mayoral or local assembly) elections.
I am not allowed to vote at the UK general elections although a legal immigrant and a holder of an NHS card for decades. This is because I am not a British citizen and do not qualify to vote.
Mrs Jean Mensah and your Deputy Commissioners and the entire staff at the Electoral Commission, please do not accept the current voter card obtained through presentation of NHIS card as a genuine proof of one’s Ghanaian citizenship to re-register eligible Ghanaians onto the intended new and credible voter register for election 2020.
I am ready to engage anyone who disagrees with you in intellectual debate/discourse.
I dedicate this publication to all discerning Ghanaians, especially Mr Owusu of UK Pentecost Church, Silvertown, and the memories of the late Opayin Ezekiel Basoah and Awo Serwaah of Kumawu.