Opinion: We Can Use Census Data to Complement NIC Registration – By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

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Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.

The current voters’ ID Cards cannot be used for the issuance of the new multipurpose biometric National Identity Cards, as many of the leaders of Ghana’s main opposition National Democratic Congress are insisting, because in the leadup to the 2012 general election, the Electoral Commission inappropriately allowed the use of the National Health Insurance Cards (NHIC) to be used to register to vote. What this means is that many non-Ghanaian citizens in possession of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA)-issued NHICs are known to have used such cards to exercise a franchise they did not deserve or for which they were not qualified. It was for this reason that the Wood Supreme Court ordered the expurgation or removal of all voters who had registered to vote by the use of the NHIA-issued cards from the National Voters’ Register (NVR) in the leadup to the 2016 general election.

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Nonetheless, it makes perfect sense to me that the National Democratic Congress’ Parliamentary Minority would threaten to boycott the yeomanly efforts by the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to streamline the way that governance and business are done in the country and beyond, especially in the West African sub-region or the ECOWAS ZONE. It makes perfect sense because in the leadup to the 2016 general election, the National Democratic Congress’ operatives strenuously and mischievously attempted to rig the polls with the widely alleged complicity of some movers-and-shakers of the Electoral Commission (EC), as they had been known and alleged to have done in the 2012 general election, in which a remarkable percentage of non-Ghanaian nationals, both resident in the country and without, are alleged to have been allowed to vote.

In the main, these “fake” Ghanaian nationals are alleged to have been citizens of such neighboring countries as Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and beyond. I wrote extensively about this subject at the time and so do not intend to belabor the same this time around. But what is paradoxically fascinating about the controversy surrounding the decision by the current NIA administrators to require the production or presentation of a passport or a birth certificate as proof of citizenship and qualification for being issued a National ID Card, is the quite damning observation by Prof. Ernest Dumor that the Kufuor-led government of the New Patriotic Party effectively bungled the process because then-President John Agyekum-Kufuor had not demonstrated any serious interest, whatsoever, in the entire process.

And on the latter count must also be significantly noted that Prof. Dumor, the renowned sociologist and father of the late famous BBC-World Service reporter and news anchor Mr. Komla Dumor, was the founding Executive Director of the National Identification Authority. Prof. Dumor further observes that the goal of having a unified and single all-purpose National ID Card has a history that goes as far back as 2002 and had been in the works since 2001. He also says that it is ironic that then-President Kufuor may have deliberately sabotaged this otherwise progressive policy initiative by significantly and woefully underfunding the project. As well, there were administrative bottlenecks that ensured that the technical contractor, a company by the name of Sagem, would readily get away with the criminal installation of faulty machinery, including the installation of computers that consistently and chronically malfunctioned.

The NIA’s founding Executive Director also accused the technical managers of the project, I suppose the Ghanaian component of the management, of not adhering to some due diligence aspects of the contract with Sagem, such as the imperative need to getting actively involved in the testing phase of the project. If the preceding observations by Prof. Dumor have validity, then it clearly appears that it was the Kufuor-led government of the New Patriotic Party that sabotaged or put the proverbial monkey-wrench in the NIA’s registration process, and not the NDC’s Parliamentary Minority which has been trying equally hard to sabotage the integrity of the National Identification Card’s issuance process by gratuitously and scandalously insisting that the thoroughly compromised old voters’ ID Cards be accepted, in addition to a passport and a birth certificate, as an acceptable proof of citizenship for the issuance of a National ID Card.

The largely speculative arguments by NDC leaders like former President John Dramani Mahama and Alhaji A. B. A. Fuseini, that the exclusion of the widely discredited old voters’ cards would result in the wholesale disenfranchisement of at least 70 percent of eligible Ghanaian voters is arrant nonsense. The fact of the matter is that at least since the beginning of Ghana’s Fourth Republic, every Ghanaian human birth has been required to be registered with the Births and Deaths Registry. There is therefore absolutely no excuse for non-compliance with this basic civic and legal obligation or requirement.

Needless to say, those bona fide Ghanaian citizens who have either lost or misplaced, or never had their births recorded by the Births and Deaths Registry can either present their baptismal certificates to the Registrar of Births and Deaths for the reissuance of new birth certificates, or where no such documentation exists, a combination of the last census register and other credible means of citizenship verification devised by the administrators of the Births and Deaths Registry, with the approval of Parliament and/or the Supreme Court, could be established for the purpose. The days when the proprietary arrogance of the Mahama Posse ruled the roost are far behind us.

The views expressed by this author remain solely their own and are not to be taken as the view of the Editorial Board of www.africanewsanalysis.com,  www.zongonews.com and ZongoNews Radio & TV