Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana, Charlotte Osei, on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, stormed Parliament and told the MPs that the Commission sold I. D. Cards to journalists who covered the 2016 elections to protect them.
According to her since the Commission was aware of the challenges journalists go through covering such an important event, it was imperative for her outfit to issue them with accreditation tags first to identify them as genuine representatives from the media house they were coming from and also to give access to collation centers and nearby police station in case they found themselves in trouble.
“It is so important for the media themselves because it enables them to have access to police stations and to collation centres to monitor what is going on there. And so you need a very visible for ID and so the suggestion was that we should not let the media houses present their own ID. It was like in the heat of the election someone will knock you down and kick you out of the road because you can’t even be sure that it is a genuine staff ID. So, we don’t think that it is so significant a price for the media to pay to GH?10.00 for them to get accreditation which protects the democratic process and also protects the journalists because it gives them access, it makes them very visible for them to be part of the elections,” she noted.
The EC chairperson was responding to a question posed to her by Dr. Ayew Afriyie, NPP MP for Efiduase as to what was the rationale behind charging journalists GH?10.00 and whether it is going to be a precedent.
She had appeared on the floor of Parliament to brief Members on the total amount collected from media representatives for covering the 2016 General Elections as well as replacement for lost/misplaced Voter’s ID Cards and how these amounts have been applied.
In the run up to the 2016 general elections, media houses both local and international that showed interest in covering it were asked to pay GH?10.00 for accreditation tags.
The printing of the cards was given to a private firm whose name is immediately not known.
In the view of Charlotte Osei, since the Commission could not tell from hindsight the number of journalists who would apply for accreditation cards bearing in mind that it also comes with a cost that must be covered, it was so important to let the media houses pay for the cost of the accreditation cards.
She said it was not the first time the EC allowed the media houses to bear the cost of the accreditation cards, noting that, it has been a practice for some years now.
Giving accounts as to how much the Commission made from the sale of the accreditation cards, Madam Charlotte Osei a total number of 2,271 applicants from journalists were received out of which the Commission made GH? 42,710.00
The Commission she added, in all issued 4,534 accreditations to media houses and individuals that covered the 2016 general elections.
The Commission also replaced 580,000 lost Voter’s ID Cards out of which it made a total amount of GH?2,590,080.47.
The said amount, according to Charlotte Osei, is in the GCB accounts of the EC.
When asked as to why the amount was not captured in the 2017 budget of the electoral management body, she said it was an oversight.
Charlotte Osei was accompanied by Deputy Chair of the EC, Operations, Amadu Sulley, an information member of the EC as well as three directors from the Election services, Human Resources and Communications directorates.