Former President John Kufuor has thrown his weight behind the pending biometric registration exercise but appealed to the Electoral Commission (EC) to make the outcome verifiable to �avoid untold problems�.
Without such verification the exercise would not be complete and its principal objective lost as some would abuse it. Already, the Electoral Commission is behind schedule in the exercise to introduce biometric registration as the EC is yet to name a contractor for the project.
The Legislative Instrument (LI) giving power to the use of the biometric has not been introduced in parliament, causing a further delay.
The EC is still not coming out with the issue of verification of the information provided by the purported registered voter, prompting former President Kufuor to express concern about the whole biometric exercise.
Speaking during a Metro TV �Good Evening Ghana� programme on Tuesday, the former president told Ghanaians that while the biometric exercise was a marked improvement in the electoral process, there was the need to shield it against impersonation.
�It is not difficult to do. It is not used by philosophers. It is like the e-zwich which our friends and market women use. We should have a system to determine that the thumb-print of the man in the polling booth is the man purporting to be,� he said, adding that human beings could use it as a trap for their ends.
He said there was no need to embark on such a venture if it would not be supported by verification.
On his role in next elections, he said he is a party man who would support the NPP�s presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to the hilt to win the polls.
He appealed to the people of Ghana to vote for the NPP given its track record in office.
He had earlier explained that he was the first full-blown civilian president to complete his constitutionally-mandated tenure, his predecessors having been pushed out of office through coups.
�My mentor, Dr. Busia, was pushed out, Limann was pushed out,� he said, and when he was reminded that JJ Rawlings also completed his tenure, he cut in, saying, �He was not a civilian.�
On the Vodafone issue, he said his government took a prudent decision, guided by the fact that the telecommunications company was not run economically.
The Vodafone deal, he said, was undertaken in the best interest of the nation, stating that it was one of the achievements of his government.
Ghana Telecom was over-indebted and with a staff of some 4000, the operations could not have been viable, hence the intervention.
Upon examination of the Malaysian-run company, he said it was detected that something had to be done.
�We decided not to renew the contract of the Malaysians. For the five years that they ran the company, not a single dividend was paid to government,� he said.
Considering the 5% equity for the Malaysians, he said, �We saw the whole thing unfairly lopsided in favour of the Malaysians. The management was not run effectively and efficiently�, pointing out that the Malaysians threatened to withdraw their 30% if there was not going to be a renewal of the contract.
Ghana turned to an international arbitration process, at an expensive cost to the country, former President Kufuor said, pointing out that for every hour that it lasted in London, Ghana paid �500.
�We paid between $90m and $100m to free Ghana Telecom. We opened an international tender and a Norwegian company won but at the end of a two-year tenure, we were not satisfied with their operations and so paid them off,� he said.
When the tender was opened again, a number of companies bid for the deal but at the end, Vodafone was considered, given its international stature and business pedigree.
This was against the backdrop of an impending international financial meltdown which, he pointed out, demanded immediate action.
Government asked that Vodafone include the fibre optic connection to link secondary schools.
As to whether he engaged on a one-on-one with the potential buyers of the company, he said he was not a technical person and could not have done that.
�If we had taken two or three months longer, Ghana would have been in a sorry situation.
Vodafone is one of the top two or three players in the world,� he stressed. Following the transaction, many giants, he said, began crumbling on the international scene.
Speaking on development partners, he said that they were necessary partners of change, pointing out that those institutions played a role in the independence struggle and subsequent freedom to India in 1947 and others.
He said there was no contradiction in extolling the role of the institutions and asking that we wean ourselves from them. According to him, after leaning on them to gain strength and the ability to operate independently, as in the case of Ghana during his tenure, there was every need to severe the link for the sake of dignity.
In the area of international politics, he said Ghana and La Cote d�Ivoire are twin countries as the two share a number of ethnic groups such as the Nzemas and others.
Both countries, he said, are rich in natural resources, explaining further that having gone through crisis, the country was now poised for development.
He preferred not to talk about Libya besides asking whether there was anything wrong with the people of that country changing their government which he likened to soldiers staging a coup.
�I see it as a right of the people to change their government,� he said.
Regarding his foundation, he said a public library would be opened in Kumasi at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and a Centre of Excellence at the University of Ghana, Legon.
Source: A.R. Gomda
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