The Western Regional Minister, Dr Kwaku Afriyie has expressed concern about the number of ghost names on the voters register saying that may affect the outcome of the referendum on the creation of six new regions.
Speaking to journalists whilst monitoring the ongoing referendum in the Western North area, which is to be carved out of the Western Region, Dr Afriyie said: “in some areas, I saw less than 30per cent turnout.”
This according to the Minister, was his observation by midday on the exercise which is expected to close at 5pm.
Dr Afriyie together with some proponents and supporters of the proposed regions are not happy with what they say are “dead people still on the register of the Electoral Commission (EC).”
“I was expecting a very massive turnout, it is still okay, I’m not pessimistic, I think things are going well so they are doing fine but, I am saying that the arithmetic in the calculations is a bit difficult for me to accept,” Dr Afriyie insisted.
Per the law, there should be at least a 50 per cent voter turn out and a more than 80 per cent YES vote to enable the proposed region to be created.
Sharing his thoughts on the exercise as of now, Dr Afriyie said: “I have already explained dead people being in it [register] and I am talking about real dead people whose names have not been removed from the register.”
“It will affect turnout, I believe the system is not fair because they [Electoral Commission] put the burden of removing people on relatives, communities, and people don’t really care and it is coming home in this referendum, where a threshold has been put on 50 per cent, it is becoming very significant.”
Dr Afriyie said the last universal voter registration exercise was done in the year 2012 and with a death rate in Ghana of about 1.2 to 1.5, and per the calculation of about 8 to 10 per cent of Ghanaians dead within the period, and “I know they exhibited the register to take off dead people but I’m telling you that they are still in there because I know some people personally.”
“But you know what, the burden has been put on people to come and remove the names of their relatives and there is a burden on them. Sometimes they ask them to go and bring death certificates and in the villages, a lot of people get buried without death certificates. Sometimes you are even entreated to go and sign an affidavit and that is a big problem.”
“This one has brought it to the fore and I will say that the Electoral Commission should come with a better way of cleaning the register.
“I will suggest that maybe wherever every village committee meets, they should exhibit when people say that these people are dead, they should take it on the face value and then put them in a bank, so that if the dead person should resurrect, that is, if inadvertently somebody is pronounced dead, and it is not so, they can go back to the bank and let the person vote, but for now I see it as a big problem with regard to the 50 per cent turnout,” the Regional Minister argued.
Dr Kwaku Afriyie commended the collaboration between the political parties in the area particular the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and described it as “excellent.”
He said the matter of the creation of the new Western North region was a generational thing and that they are not doing it for themselves but “those coming after us”.
Meanwhile, Graphic Online’s Western Regional correspondent, Koblah Dotsey Aklorbortu reports that the exercise is moving smoothly.
According to our reporter, the two main political parties the NDC and the NPP are working together to ensure a smooth exercise for the creation of the new Western North region.
A former Regional Minister, Mr Paul Evans Aidoo and the current Regional Minister, Dr Kweku Afriyie have been appearing on radio stations in the area and engaging in one on one interactions to educate people on the need for the creation of Western North.
A total of about 501,306 eligible voters are expected to cast their ballot in nine districts in 1001 polling stations.
The nine districts within the new region include, Aowin, Suaman, Bibiani, Sefwi-Wiawso, Sefwi-Akontonbra, Juaboso, Bodi, Bia East and Bia West.