The Director of Elections for the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, has defended comments he allegedly made in a leaked audio supposedly inciting a section of Ghanaians against the compilation of a new voters’ register.
In the audio recording which has gone viral, Mr. Afriyie Ankrah is heard telling the leadership of his party to oppose the new register by bringing Ghana to “a standstill”.
Afriyie Ankrah in the tape allegedly urged the NDC to spend about GHS1 million on a campaign to resist the new voters’ register.
He said the party could invest about “200,000, 500,000 and One million Ghana cedis and fight this register, bring Accra to a standstill for once, occupy the EC head office. And we can do it. We have done it before, these are things we’ve been doing even as ordinary students; we brought Ministry of Finance to a standstill…” he said in the tape.
Speaking to Citi News, the former Sports Minister said he does not regret the statements in the audio.
“You will recall that honourable Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu said the NDC could not win any election with the new voters’ register so I was speaking to my people and telling them they have to resist it. It was an open discussion on an open platform.”
“Whether it was intended or not, it was in the public domain. The important point is that there is nothing there which is wrong. I stand by every word that I said. In any case, we are going to come out publicly and activate all these things so what is the big deal? We will occupy the streets of Ghana to demonstrate,” he said.
The EC has asked Parliament to approve GH¢444,846,663 for the compilation of a new voters register which it believes will be more credible and efficient than the existing one.
The Commission also says there is the need to replace outmoded biometric machines.
The NDC has expressed its opposition against the new register.
Addressing a press conference in Accra last Thursday, the General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, said the new register “defies logic and must be fiercely resisted as we in the NDC intend to do.”
In addition, he highlighted the novelty of an opposition party backing an older voters’ register.
“We are not complaining. In fact, we are saying that, let us use the same register so that given the state of the shenanigans that were played by the NPP in 2016… we will see whether they can win again.”
The Director of Elections at the EC, Dr. Serebour Quaicoe has however justified the move, saying there was a need to tackle verification challenges that occur on election day.
“We have made it very clear that the current biometric system is not good enough for future activities. We are having a lot of challenges with it. In addition to that, a lot of people have found it difficult to have their fingerprints picked up by the machine so we intend to introduce the facial recognition [option] in addition so that if your fingerprint fails, your image will be used for verification.”
Dr. Serebour Quaicoe, also clarified that the said amount is not only for the procurement of equipment but to among other things cater for the full cost of undertaking a fresh registration exercise.
“The amount we are talking about is the total cost of registration, recruitment and what have you. So it’s not only for the equipment and software. So that amount shouldn’t be perceived only for the equipment. So whether we upgrade or not, we will still incur the cost of registration. So that is the cost of registration.”