Member of Parliament’s Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Mahama Ayariga, says the Electoral Commission’s (EC) guarantor system – which it is seeking to abort – has more accountability mechanisms than the National Identification Authority’s (NIA).
According to him, the EC Chairperson, Madam Jean Mensa, has woefully failed to justify her outfit’s move to abort the guarantor system when registering for a voters’ card.
The EC has been trying to lay before parliament a new constitutional instrument that will make the Ghana Card the only identification material for registering for a voters’ card.
According to the EC, this system will prevent non-nationals and minors from getting onto the voters’ roll.
However, the Minority insist the abandonment of the guarantor system will disenfranchise millions of Ghanaians who are yet to be issued a Ghana Card.
Speaking on PM Express, Mahama Ayariga pointed out that the Ghana Card which the EC has resolved to use for the voters’ registration also allows the use of a guarantor system.
“And so I asked her, but the people who are issuing the NIA cards themselves are also using a guarantor system as evidence of citizenship, so why are you abandoning your guarantor system as evidence of citizenship and you’re going to embrace the guarantor system of the NIA as evidence of citizenship? …So she couldn’t really answer it. She just answered by saying ‘o, the NIA has a more robust guarantor system’.
“So we said ‘o, ok. So if you’re not against guarantor system entirely but it is the robustness that is your concern why don’t you just adopt the guarantor system of the NIA if you say that it is okay and it is robust?’ and in any case, with all due respect to her, I don’t think she really appreciates the issue there.
“The NIA guarantor system requires that those who are guaranteeing should swear an oath before they do so. But if you take her own guarantor form, it also makes provision for an oath. So she said, ‘o because the NIA one makes provision for an oath, it is robust.’ And I’m like ‘but your own, also go and look at your own guarantor form you see that there is a provision there for the person guaranteeing to swear an oath that the person he’s swearing an oath for is indeed qualified and that if it turns out that it is not true, he’ll suffer a penalty for that,’” he said.
He further explained that while the EC’s guarantor system allows for various stakeholders to challenge the claims of guarantors, the NIA guarantor system does not provide same avenue.
This he said makes the EC’s guarantor system more foolproof than the NIA’s guarantor system.
“In addition, the Electoral Commission guarantor form has more accountability mechanisms because in the case of the Electoral Commission guarantor form, the political parties who have representation can challenge a guarantor.
“But in the case of the NIA, nobody really can challenge the guarantor apart from the NIA staff. So the issue is that there are more accountability mechanisms when it comes to the Electoral Commission guarantor form system than even the NIA one but she says that the NIA one is robust,” he said.
According to Mr. Ayariga, if the EC Chairperson still insists that the NIA’s guarantor system is more credible than the EC’s, it should simply adopt their system, rather than ultimately abandoning the guarantor system in voters’ registrations.
“So we said ok if it is robust and you think that yours is not strong enough, why don’t you instead of saying that everybody must get a Ghana cardbefore they can come to you to be registered as a voter, why don’t you just adopt the guarantor system of the NIA? So that was the first major question and I don’t think she was able to provide some effective response to that,” he said.