March 3, 2020
By Mohamed Sesay
Acting Chief Electoral Commissioner of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Edmond Alpha, has yesterday, 2nd March, told the press that the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) was not usurping the constitutional mandate of NEC.
He put up the above defense at a press conference organised by NCRA following series of controversies with regards the proposed registration of voters by NCRA.
Edmond Alpha said the mandates of NEC are clearly spelt out in the 1991 Constitution, to undertake registration across the country and conduct elections.
He stated that their activities at NEC are time bound and that at the end of 2020, NEC would be in readiness to extract data from the NCRA register.
He added that NEC would not want to find itself in a situation where they would need a particular data that would not be available at NCRA.
“Our mandates in the constitution are clearly defined specific to NEC. We have Section (33) that gives us the mandate to conduct and undertake voter registration. So, the issue around the usurpation of NEC powers for us is not an issue. This is not our press conference, but we are here to make things very clear to the general public and to our electorates, so that they would know that there is a boundary between us and NCRA,” he said.
On his part, Director General of NCRA, Mohamed M. Massaquoi, gave a historical background about the establishment of NCRA.
He said due to the duplication, multiplicity and waste of government resources on data collection and management, government and its partners assessed the registration landscape and subsequently developed civil registration reform policy.
He added that government and its partners in 2014 recommended for a centralised body responsible to collect and manage personal and civil events on the population of the country.
He added that the initial engagement which was done by government and its partners in 2014, informed the enactment of the National Civil Registration Act of 2016 and that the arrangements were done during the last dispensation.
The Director General highlighted the cost benefits of the proposed confirmation and registration process, which according to him, is a cost saving venture that would save billions of Leones that could be used on other development projects.
He continued that the government is grappling with payment for the last mass civil and voter registration exercises done in 2017, which cost the government a staggering 14 million US dollars -equivalent to one hundred and forty billion Leones for the biometric registration kits- and further sixty billion Leones for administrative operation.
He affirmed that the March 24th civil registration exercise would cost the government and the people of the country about forty-four billion Leones, instead of the previous one hundred and forty billion Leones.