Director of Outreach and External Relations at NEC, Albert Massaquoi confirmed that the biometric voter cards could not be provided in time for the elections due to lack of funds, owing to that NEC had engaged stakeholders in all the registered political parties and they had tentatively settled for basic identity cards.
“We have already engaged the Political Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC), the body that comprised stakeholders in all the registered political parties in the country. PPLC and NEC tentatively agreed for Sierra Leoneans to vote with basic identity cards (that will include all the required information necessary for a voting process). PPLC stakeholders were initially dismayed as a result of the saga; they were worried about the transparency and quality of the imminent elections, as an institution we explained to them the necessity and the need for the low cost identity cards, we reached at an agreement for one reason (NEC together with PPLC don’t want to shift the announced elections date)” Massaquoi affirmed in a telephone interview.
Massaquoi ascertained that his institution has been confronted with two major challenges; the availability of funds to finance the biometric cards and the forthcoming elections timeline, as he said NEC has no intention to budge the announced elections date.
The idea to produce a biometric card is in line with a requirement by the sub-regional grouping, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). It was designed to serve multiple purposes, including financial transaction and travelling within the sub region.
Albert Massaquoi, Director of Outreach and External Relations at NEC, submitted that a single ECOWAS compliance ID card will cost US$8 to produce. He explained that it will amount to over US$30 million for the estimated over 3 million registered Sierra Leoneans.