The Minority in Parliament is escalating what it believes are troubling and dangerous steps by the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) to rig the next general elections.
Speaking at press conference in Parliament, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) legislators said, they have become aware of exceedingly suspicious, unwarranted and unfair transfers of the two persons in charge of the Births and Deaths Registry.
The transfers in the Volta Region and a directive to John Yao Agbeko, the National Head, to vacate his post has made them suspicious.
According to the NDC, the NPP government is also bent on using the Ghana Card registration data as the foundation data to be used for an entirely new voters register.
“As can be observed, recent developments at the Electoral Commission with the removal of the Electoral Commissioner and her two deputies set the perfect stage for the NPP as part of their grand scheme to pursue their agenda of rigging the 2020 elections,” Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu said on Tuesday.
PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE MINORITY IN PARLIAMENT ON DISCRIMINATORY TRANSFERS AT THE BIRTHS AND DEATHS REGISTRY AND THE NPP’S RIGGING AGENDA FOR ELECTION 2020
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the press.
We are grateful to you for promptly honouring our invitation and the professional manner in which you continue to carry out your duties in our collective democratic interest.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Minority in Parliament has convened today’s Press Conference to address very troubling and dangerous developments at the Births and Deaths Registry.
We have become aware of exceedingly suspicious, unwarranted and unfair posting transfers of the two persons in charge of the Births and Deaths Registry in the Volta Region and a directive that same day to Mr. John Yao Agbeko the National Head to vacate his post.
The letters conveying the directive to the two officers in the Volta Region namely Mr. Richard Womega, Head of the Volta Region Births and Deaths Registry and Ms. Peace Agbenyo, Deputy Regional Head emanated from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development all dated 19th June, 2018.
The bizarre communication requested the two senior officers to cease with immediate effect the registration of all Ghanaians in the Volta Region and report themselves to the Ministry that same day being the 19th of June, 2018.
We must stress that our checks have revealed that these strange and unfair transfers are being carried out only in the Volta Region. In other words, it is not a national exercise. Clearly, this is a scheme ostensibly to purge the system and pave the way for their strategy to manipulate the process.
Members of the Press, as we all very well know, this is the period the Government of Ghana is rolling out the Ghana Card.
Despite the consistent and very loud rational calls on the Government by the Minority in Parliament, Civil Society Organizations, all political parties except the NPP, large sections of society including Former Presidents Rawlings, Kufuor and Mahama, the Government has remained intransigent and determined to issue the Ghana Card on the basis of just Birth Certificates and Passports. Needless to add that even with this limited scope of Passports and Birth Certificates, the Volta Region since June 19, 2018 has had the door shut in its face as there’s no ongoing registration unlike other regions.
We have long believed that the reckless intransigence on the part of the Government and the belligerent open defence of same by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is targeted primarily at the Volta Region. Sadly, our worse fears have now been confirmed.
The Volta Region is not the only border region in Ghana and yet the New Patriotic Party has consistently demonized the Volta Region with the sole objective of reducing voter turn out in the Volta Region and thereby advancing the NPP’s electoral chances.
We cannot forget how then running mate Alhaji Mahmoud Bawumia held that infamous press event in August 2015 at Alisa Hotel in Accra ahead of the December 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections where he claimed that 76,286 people on the register of voters in the Volta Region are Togolese. Indeed the now Vice President alleged then that he will be presenting further evidence when he is done analysing the remaining 90 percent of the Togolese register of voters with the aid of his so-called facial biometric recognition technology. We are still waiting on the Vice President to make good his promise almost three years on.
The insults and unwarranted attacks on the people of the Volta Region from leading members of the NPP/UP tradition have been consistent in our history from the “inward looking” statement by Victor Owusu to the infamous “there are no human beings in Hohoe” as claimed by Kwabena Agyapong. All this notwithstanding, as the Volta Region is noted for, we have always turned the other cheek, ignoring our attackers and living peacefully with all men as the Bible instructs us to do. It is for this reason, as we speak to you this morning, President Akufo-Addo has been receiving a warm welcome by our Chiefs and people on his three-day visit to the region which he began yesterday. We only hope that President Akufo-Addo and the NPP will not take the peaceful and sober demeanor of the people of the Volta Region for granted.
That said, it has become very obvious that the Akufo-Addo Government seeing that it has performed abysmally in power has hatched a grand scheme to prevent as many people as possible in the Volta Region where they lack support from obtaining base documents needed to register for the Ghana Card even as they continue to resist sound advice to include the Voter ID. This can be the only plausible reason for the unfair and callous transfer of Mr. Womega and Ms. Agbenyo and the removal of Mr. John Yao Agbeko as the National Head.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in the case of Ms. Agbenyo; she had been transferred from the Sekondi Municipality in the Western Region to the Volta Region with her little children in less than a year before her current cruel transfer. Ms. Agbenyo is not a happy woman as her tears continue to flow everyday. This abuse of administrative processes flies in the face of every public service regulation.
We are also aware that the National Head of the Births and Deaths Registry in Accra who hails from the Volta Region, Mr. John Yao Agbeko was handed out similar brutish treatment when he was instructed to hand over to a subordinate and report himself to the Head of the Public Service Commission for reposting to another institution.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is important to bear in mind that the NPP Government intends to use the Ghana Card registration data as the foundation data to be used for an entirely new voters register.
As can be observed, recent developments at the Electoral Commission with the removal of the Electoral Commissioner and her two deputies set the perfect stage for the NPP as part of their grand scheme to pursue their agenda of rigging the 2020 elections.
The NPP must be forewarned that no responsible Ghanaian who cares about our nascent democracy including those of us in the Minority will sit idle and allow them to continue on this reckless path to bastardize the democracy we have all toiled to build and for which they have become the biggest beneficiaries.
The Minority serves notice in the most unequivocal terms that we will not permit the flagrant violation of Article 45 (a) of the Constitution of Ghana which mandates only the Electoral Commission “to compile the register of voters and revise it at such periods as may be determined by law.”
We will therefore fiercely resist with every force we can marshal any attempt to hide under the National Identification Authority’s discredited Ghana Card to usurp the Electoral Commission’s constitutional mandate in compiling a register of voters.
The Minority hereby calls for the immediate reinstatement of Mr Richard Womega and Peace Agbenyo of the Volta Regional Births and Deaths Registry. We also demand that John Yao Agbeko of the National Births and Deaths Registry be recalled to post immediately.
May we remind Government that Article 23 of the Constitution of Ghana imposes an obligation on “administrative bodies and administrative officials to act fairly and reasonably and comply with the requirements imposed on them by law.”
We must emphasize that President Akufo-Addo has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of Ghana and therefore has a sacred duty to adhere to Chapter Five of our Constitution and particularly Article 17 (2) and (3) which frowns upon the kind of shameful discrimination being meted out to the people of the Volta Region.
The unfair targeting of the people of the Volta Region must seize forthwith.
We call on our Chief’s and Community leaders to take the opportunity of President Akufo-Addo’s current visit to the Volta Region and caution him in very clear terms to desist from the rather perilous, divisive and nation-wrecking mission his Government has so far embarked upon.
We thank you for the audience. We shall now take your questions.
Read in Parliament House on Tuesday 10th July, 2018