NIA responds to NDC election rigging claims

The National Identification Authority (NIA) has refuted claims by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that it is conspiring with the Electoral Commission to rig the 2020 Elections.

In a statement issued by Mr Francis Palmdeti, Head of Corporate Affairs of the NIA, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, in Accra, in reaction to the NDC’s press conference held on Thursday, May 14, 2020, said the NIA is not part of the election management architecture in Ghana and voting and elections do not form part of its mandate.

Responding to the NDC claim that the NIA and EC are acting in concert to rig the 2020 elections in favour of the NPP, it said there is no conspiracy between NIA and EC to rig the 2020 elections.

It said election rigging is a serious criminal matter with dire political, economic, and social consequences for any nation, therefore any person, party, or institution alleging such a criminal conspiracy must report the same to the Police and provide the requisite evidence to support investigations and/or prosecution.

On the NDC claim of suppression of registration in the Party’s strongholds, NIA said there is no truth in the allegation because the NIA did not operate based on political strongholds.

However, the Authority’s operational planning is based on population statistics of each region obtained from the Ghana Statistical Service.

Also, the duration of mass registration in a particular region is based on the number of residents in the region as well as the applicants that can be completed in a day.

Moreover, the registration process is open to all residents except non-Ghanaians.

The statement said the governance architecture of NIA goes beyond the current Chief Executive Officer, Professor Ken Agyemang Attafuah, saying that the day-to-day administration and management of the affairs of NIA is led by the Executive Secretary, but policies governing the operations of the Authority are set and regulated by the NIA Governing Board.

It must be noted that the NIA Governing Board comprised the chief executives of various statutory agencies involved in identity management and required accurate, reliable, complete, and up-to-date data for efficient service delivery.

NIA noted that a decision to collaborate with any state institution such as the EC in any enterprise must be directed or approved by the Governing Board, which also directs or approves the commencement, discontinuation, or resumption of a mass registration exercise in any region.

It said by the National Identity Register Act, 2017 (Act 750) as amended, the EC as a User Agency, may access, use, retain and disclose personal information in the database of NIA for the performance of its mandate insofar as it complies with applicable provisions and guidelines of NIA.

For this reason, the EC and NIA are permitted by law to engage in discussions towards the performance of their respective mandates should such a request be made and nothing else beyond that.

Responding to the NDC claim of exclusion of the Voter ID for the Ghana Card registration requirement was both unlawful and illegitimate.

The NIA said such a claim is most astonishing because the amendment of section 8 of Act 750 to exclude the Voter ID Card, Driver’s License, and Baptismal Certificates as valid registration requirements was effected by Parliament in December 2017 without a whimper of opposition or protest from any member of Parliament.

It said the reliance on Birth Certificates, valid Passports, and Certificates of Acquired Citizenship was fully supported by the NDC’s members in Parliament.

“Indeed, the amendments received the unqualified endorsement of the Minority MPs and the MPs who spoke on the Bill were mainly from the Minority side, with each of them enthusiastically expressing support of the amendments.

 For instance Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, the NDC Member of Parliament for Tamale Central stated that the MPs were satisfied with the ample provision made in the Bill to cater to Ghanaians who neither have a Birth Certificate nor a Passport.

Therefore, by the National Identity Register Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2111) passed in 2012, the Ghana Card is the ONLY identity card to be used.

Responding to the NDC claim of NIA registering only 11 million Ghanaians and issued seven million Ghana Cards, it said the NIA had done remarkably well given the initial challenges it faced.

The Authority said it experienced limited technical capacity (1050 MRWs instead of 2500) and financial resource constraints.

It thus started with a daily average of approximately 30,000 registrations per day in late April 2019, NIA’s latest daily average registrations stand at a minimum of 105,000 due mainly to invigorated equipment capacity and the attainment of operational excellence by the technical staff.

With the significant boost in its daily throughput, a minimum of 100,000 applicants can be registered each day.

 Thus, NIA can register three million Ghanaians in approximately 30 working days, and the target of 12 million would have been met by 27th March 2020, when the nationwide mass registration exercise would have ended but for its suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national target of 16.7million people would have been achieved in the subsequent mop-up exercise that was planned to end in June 2020.

NIA has issued 7,091,769 Ghana Cards and a total of 127,723 are in various stages of adjudication.

It has also printed the majority of cards in backlog (3,683,955) and is ready to issue them to Ghanaians once it resumes.

The NDC alleges that, while NIA deployed an average of 2000 MRWs in all the NDC strongholds, it miraculously acquired and sent 5,092 MRWs, 800 Card Printers, 3,192 MRWs into the Ashanti Region, which is NPP’s stronghold.

Responding,  the NIA said it is not true saying that NIA deployed over 5000 MRWs into the Ashanti Region. The maximum number ever deployed was 3,600, as some of the old equipment had become faulty and some of the new ones were kept at the Head Office and used for hot-swapping when some of the equipment fails.

Indeed, a larger number of Mobile Registration Workstations and other ancillary equipment were deployed into the Ashanti Region relative to Greater Accra, Volta, Oti, Savanna, North East, Northern, Upper East, Upper West, Ahafo, Bono, and Bono East Regions. But the same number of equipment sent to the Ashanti Region was also sent to the Western, Western North, Central (clustered as one NIA Operational Region) and the Eastern Region.

As noted earlier, these decisions were influenced solely by population density and equipment availability. Based on operational realities on the ground, NIA requested additional equipment in July 2019 to scale-up its operations and received the same in October 2019. Some of the new equipment was deployed to the Upper East, Upper West, Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regions (clustered as one NIA Operational Region) as soon as they were assembled, loaded with software, tested and readied for use in late October and November.

By the start of the mass registration exercise in the Ashanti Region on 11th December 2019, most of the equipment was technically ready for use.

The equipment capacity of NIA at the commencement of the mass registration exercise was 1050 mobile registration workstations (MRWs), 350 printers, and 350 issuance stations. These numbers determined the number of registration days spent in any given region. The equipment capacity escalated as the registration exercise continued and the executive decision to augment the capacity was made in July 2019. The additional equipment made up of 3,192 MRWs, 810 printers, and 1,360 issuance stations were received, assembled, and deployed to parts of the Northern, North East, and Savannah regions upon their arrival in October 2019. They were subsequently deployed to the Ashanti, Western, Western North, Central, and Eastern Regions and not just the Ashanti Region.  

Days of registration in a particular region are calculated based on the population size of the region as well as the equipment capacity at the given time. As such no region was shortchanged irrespective of the number of equipment that was deployed.

The concept of “strongholds of NDC and strongholds of NPP” has never been in NIA’s contemplation or operational planning. The figures used by NIA for setting its registration target figures were obtained from the Statistical Service and not from the EC.

It must be emphasized that 50% of registration officials engaged by NIA were recruited from the regions where the registration exercise was being undertaken. It is hard to contemplate that such officials will condone an agenda to disenfranchise their compatriots as the NDC seeks to suggest.

The NDC claimed that the NIA jumped from Greater Accra straight to Northern Region for improper political reasons

The NDC queries why NIA did not go straight to the Eastern Region which is the most proximate region to the Greater Accra region but rather went straight to the Northern Region. The NDC claims that it is curious that Eastern Region was the last and Ashanti the last-but-two regions to be registered, and that, this was deliberately orchestrated to procure electoral advantage to NPP to the disadvantage of NDC.

In response, the NIA said the Volta Region is just as proximate to the Greater Accra Region as the Eastern Region is.

In 2008, NIA started the mass registration exercise in the Central Region in July 2008, proceeded to the Western Region, went next to the Eastern Region, and then the Volta Region in June/July 2009.

This was during the tenure of Prof. Ken Attafuah as Executive Secretary between July 2008 and July 2009.

Following a lull in operations, NIA resumed operations in Greater Accra, went to Ashanti, and, eventually, finished the exercise in the three northern regions in 2013.

This time around, in 2019, NIA elected to start the mass registration exercise in Greater  Accra and proceeded anti-clockwise to the Volta, Oti, Northern, Savannah, North East, Upper East, Upper West, Bono, Ahafo, Bono East, Ashanti, Western North, Western, Central and, finally, Eastern Region.

As in 2008, there was no political calculation in this operational design, just simple logical flow to ease deployment of registration equipment and officials, reduce cost, taking into account the nations topography, transportation network, population density, and such related appropriate considerations.

At the appropriate time, NIA will resume and complete the mass registration exercise in the Eastern Region, it said.

It will then undertake a mop-up mass registration exercise in the Greater Accra Region during which time it will also issue the cards to Ghanaians whose cards are ready.

Consequently, NIA will undertake a mop-up exercise in five regions which had the lowest registration results, namely; Upper East, Upper West, Bono, Bono East, and Ahafo regions, and issue all the printed cards to the applicants resident in those regions.

NIA will set up regional, municipal, and district offices across the country to ensure continuous registration and issuance of Ghana Card.