NDC Planning to use $43m National Coffers to fund Biometric Register
A political party that in less than one year ago damned biometric registration and verification by the Electoral Commission and campaigned against Ghanaians submitting to it for fear of cancer and other side effects has now decided to build a biometric database for its members to facilitate proper organization of the party. Even though the party has refused to openly cost the project, it remains a concern as to how a political party which is not a business concern able to raise the huge amount of money required for this nationwide exercise.
According to the party's General Secretary, this biometric technology the party is seeking to adopt "is an on-going exercise just that we have not made public…We are totally cancelling the Electoral College system and not reforming or expanding it. If we want to enhance democracy then we have to scrape it off entirely especially looking at previous experience. Every party member will now have the right to vote and not delegate".
According to information available to COGEF UK, the project is going to cost them $43m, according to the consultation they have made with Superlock Technologies Ltd. (STL) in Accra, a company versatile in Security services and biometric business activities. The quote which the NDC is holding close to its chest means they have to start shopping for this whopping sum within the 2016 cycle. It is known however that the Electoral Commission of Ghana is deeply perturbed about the consultation NDC is making with STL (Ghana) and have expressed their reservations about it even though they are open minded about the nature of the software to use.
The sudden decision by the NDC to adopt biometric process using a similar company and software as used by the Electoral Commission barely two years ago, raise a number of issues as to where the funds will be raised from and what advantage this will inure to the party in national elections.
Another concern we have is the relationship between STL and the NDC. STL was the controversial company that compiled that discredited national biometric voters’ register, which was exposed in the election petition trial to have double registration. The intelligence we are picking up is that the NDC plans to compare biometric data with STL and the Electoral Commission (their collaborators in the election petition) once the NDC completes its own biometric membership register. Whereas COGEF has no difficulties with NDC strategising on its internal party organisation, we are concerned about the number of unanswered questions about the party's ability to spend without offering any explanations about the sources of their funding. Already the jury is still out as to how the NDC managed to raise $20m to build its new party headquarters. They have not been able to account for the source of the money neither have they explained the sources of their finances.
If the NDC, which emptied the nation's coffers last year in its desperate attempt to hold on to power is today prepared to spend $43m on biometric registration of its members, then how much would it be prepared to spend in the 2016 general elections and where would that money come from?
Again it is no secret that the ruling party spent a whopping GHC8.7billion of our nation's coffers during election year 2012 and much of it to 'win' the national election at all cost. This has created such a black hole in our nation's coffers that it may take years to recover, leading to untold hardships for the people and the economy. The 2012 budget deficit of GHC 8.7 billion, equivalent to US $5 billion, translated into 12.1 % of Gross Domestic Product, the highest ever in Ghana's history.
Mr. Fiifi Kwetey, Minister of State in charge of Allied and Financial Institutions, was quoted to have said on Joy FM’s ‘News file’ that the controversial GHC 8.7 billion excess expenditure in 2012 incurred by the government under the leadership of President John Dramani Mahama was because government had to do whatever was necessary to clinch victory in an election year.
Now it beggars belief as to why the NDC that has run our nation into a 12% deficit will manage to raise another $43m for an internal party restructuring. Where will the money come from, other than the national coffers? The cunning mirroring of the NDCs biometric registration to the Electoral Commission's and relying on the same company and technology also raise the question as to what the party intends to do with the register. We have been told that it will primarily be used to elect the party's internal officers. What we are not being told is its ability to tip the register into the National Voters register. The NDCs biometric register will create undue discolouring of the Electoral Commission's Voters register and considering the teamwork they have recently hatched following the Supreme Court proceedings, COGEF smells a rat in this whole process.
NDC's undue spending spree must be questioned. Their ability as a political party, which is not a business concern but can raise huge sums of money with unexplained sources must give rise to questions being raised by all right thinking members and groups of society.
Corruption is a huge canker, not least when it has political colour to it. We can understand NDC’s desire to stay in power or modernise as a party, but this must not be done at the expense of the nation's coffers.
According to Transparency International, Ghana's corruption index score has worsened since 2012. Ghana dropped seven places on annual corruption list by watchdog, worsening its reputation to the level of Somalia which has not got a strong central government.
The Party of the government supervising this rot is now looking for $53m to restructure. This should be a matter of public concern. COGEF UK is therefore seeking to build a huge public consciousness against political corruption, which is the only way we can minimise, if not defeat corruption.
Mr. Isaac Vormawor
Ms. Leticia Adjavon
CONCERNED GHANAIANS AGAINST ELECTORAL FRAUD (COGEF) UK