Today, I went looking for the EC- the Electoral Commission of Ghana. I asked taxi drivers, mechanics, shop owners, security men and they all didn’t know where the EC was. We looked into schools, walked on dusty roads, thirsty and tired until we were finally told by a couple of men sitting under a tree that the EC was in Pokuase. And that we could find them at the Methodist school or the Presbyterian school. They weren’t sure which. But they were certainly at the Pokuase township. Well, what a relief. But at that time, we were too despondent and hungry to continue on a quest which had now become a full blown mission. You see, I was looking for the EC’s registration centre in my community.
It’s Day 7 of the limited (very limited as I found out) voters’ registration being organized by the EC and I want to be patriotic. I hear people saying that it’s also a chance to get a form of valid ID that identifies you as living in Ghana so that if your uncle sends you money from abroad, you can present your ID at a bank and go home happy as a puppy. After going through a pile of personal documents I managed to fish out my old voter’s identification card. I have used it once and that was it. Since then, there’ve been black and white picture ID cards and now, there’s the biometric card. It says I was 19 when I got it. And honestly, I don’t even remember which way I voted then. Knowing me, I probably voted for the underdog or for an ideal, hoping for a miracle which didn’t come in NDC or NPP colours. But like I said, it’s time for me to be patriotic again. I just did not count on it being this stressful.
I hear it’s been long lines, and broken down equipment. Trouble with guarantors and students, where to register, what documents to present, and whether or not we like the new rebranded EC logo.
The trouble with the EC can be summed up neatly: as a country, we fail to plan for Ghana. So the easiest things become a tedious affair. My sister in-law has had her all her fingers biometrically registered so many times she wonders would she be able to sneeze without the government knowing about it? The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), National Identification Authority, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), driver’s License, voter’s identification, passport, and public servant identification all have biometric data. But she can be rest assured that she could rob a supermarket and no one would know how to find her. This is because none of these platforms are linked. They are stand-alone, ad hoc projects that we do to make us feel we are part of a modernizing world. The EC does its thing, the national Identification authority does its thing, the AMA also gets up and names streets not realizing that all three are intricately related and should be part of a bigger system that incorporates identity. So that Who is who, Where to find who and What is where can all be answered by a click of a button. Because if I say I am Grace Ecklu but you don’t know where to find me because my driver’s license is made up of meaningless codes, then what sort of system are we running? Yes, there are privacy and Big Brother issues when authorities seem to poke their noses into our affairs. But as a country, we are not even close to this scenario and there is a basic threshold of information that is lacking and needed for effective and efficient running and policing of the country to make us feel safe, sane and well, happily patriotic.
About the Author, Grace Ecklu
Grace Ecklu is an educator, writer and urban geographer. After a stint as a lecturer in the Department of Geography Education at the Catholic University of Daegu, she returned to Ghana to create her own green pastures. She employs her technical and creative skills in diverse ways – writing, coaching, training, research and gardening. A natural teacher and team leader, she is a classroom favourite who has transformed the educational experiences of children from diverse backgrounds. From her breadth of experiences gained through people and culture within their spatial contexts, she shares her perspective in writing and has contributed her articles on several platforms including UrbanAfrica.Net and Ghana Business and Finance.