The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has resolved to scrap the biometric registration undertaken for its members ahead of the 2016 general elections which it lost miserably to the then opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Leadership of the party has now decided to conduct what it has termed, ‘Re-registration’ for all the members before the commencement of the exercise to elect new party officers from polling station to national levels.
The NDC took the decision at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting last Thursday at its plush $20 million headquarters at Adabraka, Accra, where security was said to be very tight, with NEC members being screened before the meeting.
National executives of the party, through the Deputy General Secretary in-charge of Operations, Koku Anyidoho, issued a circular after the meeting, confirming the scrapping of the biometric which cost the party millions of dollars and said they would be meeting on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 11:00 am “to flush out the decisions arrived at by the NEC.”
The circular, entitled, ‘Press Engagement On NDC Re-registration, Branch Re-organization & Internal Elections Timetable,’ stated that between 18 and 24 October, 2017 there was going to be what they called, ‘National outrage programme,’ followed by the ‘fresh registration’ for party members of all branches between November and December, 2017.
The branch elections are expected to be held on 2nd, 27th and 28th January, 2018 followed by constituency elections on 3rd, 24th and 25th March, 2018.
Regional youth, women and Zongo caucus elections are expected to be held on 2nd and 3rd June, 2018 respectively and slated the regional conference for June 9, 2018.
National youth and women conferences have been scheduled for 13th and 14th July, 2018 while National Executive Conference is to come off on 27th and 28th July, 2018.
According to the 13-member committee that investigated the cause of the NDC’s massive defeat at the last general election, the biometric registration, which was fraught with widespread irregularities, made members of the NDC to believe that they had the numbers to retain power.
“The register gave a misleading impression of the party’s true strength in some branches and constituencies as some of the aspirants registered non-NDC members in their bid to win at all cost and by all means,” the Prof Kwesi Botchwey-led Committee report indicated.
Former President Rawlings, the NDC founder, had also alluded to the fact that some party members fraudulently registered NPP members in order to thwart the party’s structures.
Scrapping the ‘fraudulent’ biometric register, which is said to have caused the party’s problems, had been high on the agenda since the NDC lost the elections, and it did not come as a surprise to many when the decision was finally taken.
Even before the NEC meeting last Thursday, some of the advocates, particularly the Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the party, Ade Coker, had been saying that the plan to ditch the biometric system was to bring sanity into the party’s register.
Speaking at the party’s ‘unity walk’ in Accra recently, Mr Ade Coker accepted the Botchwey Committee report on the biometric registration, which was manipulated to make the NDC look big.
“We are now going to ensure that the biometric registration, which contributed to our downfall, is going to be scrapped and a better system put in place so that the true NDC people will be identified,” Ade Coker said.
From pages 15 to 19 of the 65-page Executive Summary of the 455-page Kwesi Botchwey report, it states how the party was inconsistent in deciding on the biometric exercise and manipulation of the system by some individuals.
The committee that supervised the unpopular biometric exercise was chaired by Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, NDC National Vice Chairman and Director of Elections.
According to the committee’s report, the NDC “implemented the biometric registration project without any safety nets.”
The report said the manipulation of the register was real and that had put the integrity of the whole exercise into question.
“The integrity of the biometric register was compromised and a number of the primaries flawed on account of widespread manipulation,” the report maintained.
It also says the biometric exercise brought “ethnicism in the constituencies of diverse ethnic groups” in the party, adding “constituencies that hitherto supported and promoted the party as one people became divided during the primaries and in some cases after the primaries.”
According to the report, the whole idea of the biometric registration was imposed on NDC members, saying, “There were no broad consultations with stakeholders, especially the MPs who were to be directly affected by the system.”
“Some membership cards were allegedly printed by unauthorized persons. The biometric register was not piloted before implementation,” it averred.
Prof Botchwey’s committee reports, “Some national, regional and constituency executives had preferred candidates and therefore skewed to favour them, leaving grassroots members bitter and frustrated and making reconciliation difficult before and even after elections.”
It claims, “Some members of the biometric registration committee itself were alleged to have resorted to working independently of the committee and dealing directly with aspirants and other interested parties in the parliamentary primaries in their respective constituencies.”