Members of Parliament (MPs) have expressed worry over wide rifts between the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs. Charlotte Osei, and her two Deputies, as well as other subordinates, as she appeared before the Committee of the Whole of Parliament yesterday.
According to the MPs, the EC Boss response to questions and utterance on the floor of parliament speaks volume and they are generally worried.
Mrs Osei was dragged before the Committee of the Whole to brief the august House on the amount the Commission realised from the controversial accreditation fees of GHS10.00 charged on Journalists who covered the 2016 general elections as well as replacement for lost or misplaced Voter’s Identity (ID) cards and how the amounts had been applied.
The question was filed by the MP for Subin, Mr Eugene Boakye Antwi, who wanted to know how much total the Commission collected from Journalist after issuing the accreditation cards.
In response, the EC Boss said, a total of 4,271 Journalist and 273 Election Observers were issued with Identification Cards to cover the 2016 general elections.
According to her, apart from the 273 observers, the rest of the 4,271 Journalists drawn from various Media houses including foreign media were charged GHS10.00 each to be issue with the accreditation cards.
She explained that, the Commission awarded the contract to a company to print the ID Cards at GHS8.00, but for other things including tax, the EC summed it to the GHS10.00.
The EC Boss also justified the Commission decision for charging Journalists for an Accreditation for the 2016 election coverage.
She told parliament that it was not unusual for the commission to ask the media to pay an amount of GHS10 for accreditation to enable them have access to polling stations.
“This is not the first time the Commission has charged journalists for accreditation. This had happened in the District Assembly elections and so it wasn’t the first time.
“Judging by the numbers; that’s 4,271 and the way that the media covered the elections very effectively, we don’t think it is a bad practice.” Osei told parliament Wednesday.
The EC’s decision to provide accreditation cards for the media at a fee was met with public outrage as critics argued this was unconventional to Ghana’s electoral process.
Many said the EC was provided a budget for the polls by government, hence the GHS10 fee for the Accreditation was an unjustifiable charge by the commission.
But Charlotte Osei argued that charging media practitioners[both local and international] for accreditation was not a bad practice.
In total, she said, the commission released GHS42,710 from the issuance of the ID cards to Journalists to cover the 2016 general elections, while over GHS5,000.00 also been proceeds from the replacement of the Voter ID cards.
Mrs Osei explained to the MPs that the money has since been forwarded to the Ministry of Finance to be added onto the consolidated funds, stressing that the voter ID Replacement is an ongoing process.
However, in answering a further question posed to her by the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, regarding funds accrued from the Media accrediting and the voter replacement, the EC Chairperson retorted that she was speaking for herself, because she was not full with the facts.
In that regards, some of the Parliamentarians said, the EC Boss response to the question indicated that there was indeed, deep crack within the Commission and it’s leaderships and the nation must be concern.
Hon. Kwesi Amenyaw-Cheremeh, Majority Chief Whip and MP for Sunyani East said, he was surprise with that response from the EC Chairperson and that really revealed what is already in the discussion in public.
He expressed the hope that the country would find amicable solution to the issues as it stand, stating, ” we must be alarm because, this is an indication that there are really issues between the Chairperson and her Deputies.”
Hon Inusah Fuseini, MP for Tamale Central and former Minister of Roads and Highway also shared similar views and said, the country is at a cross road with regards to enhancing our electoral system.
He said, the response to questions on the floor of parliament did indeed revealed that, all things are not well with the EC officials, especially the Chairperson and her two other Deputies.
The government, he added must treat the matter seriously but carefully in order not to plunge the country into total chaos.
Some other MPs also expressed the view that, charging Media for accreditation should not be repeated because, Journalists covering election are simply doing services to the nation.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba