President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has taken a swipe at former President John Dramani Mahama and the Minority in Parliament for claiming that using only birth certificates and passports as base documents for the registration of Ghanaians for the Ghana Card will de-nationalise over 20 million Ghanaians.
He subsequently described the claim as “unfortunate”.
During its last Unity Walk in the Volta Region early June this year, Mr Mahama reportedly said, there were attempts by the Akufo-Addo government to disenfranchise and de-nationalise millions of Ghanaians using “illogical” criteria for the registration and acquisition of the Ghana Card.
He then assured the public that the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) would fight on the side of Ghanaians to ensure they were identified and not de-nationalised by the National Identification Authority (NIA) in the process of acquiring the national identification card.
But the NIA had insisted it will use only the two documents to establish the citizenship of registrants for the Ghana Card.
However, Mr Mahama said at the event that, it was a deliberate attempt to de-nationalise some of our people and we shall not accept it.
“We will use every legitimate instrument that is possible under a democracy to ensure that every Ghanaian is able to register,” he added.
According to him, “If you go to one of the villages in my constituency [Bole] and let me use an example, Hodiyiri, it’s a small community in Bole Bamboi, perhaps, nobody in Hodiyiri has a birth certificate or passport so for the 300 or 400 people in Hodiyiri with no birth certificate or passport to prove that they are Ghanaians, how are you going to register those people in Hodiyiri?”
“And, so, I don’t know, it is illogical and short-sighted and a very strong symbol of incompetence that you cannot think far and see that on the basis of what you have prescribed as a criteria for qualification of the national ID card, you are going to disenfranchise more than 20 million of our citizens and that is unacceptable, and, so, the NDC is going to do everything to fight for the best interest of the majority of the people to make sure they are going to be identified to be given cards so that they can be identified as bona fide Ghanaians”.
Also, the Minority, in a statement issued on June 10, 2018, said it was boycotting the registration over unresolved questions concerning the $1.2 billion cost involved and the use of only passports and birth certificates.
“First, it was our understanding that the National Identification Authority, would engage Members of Parliament (MPs) in a meeting to clarify a number of issues relating to the rollout of the exercise. This meeting was duly advertised in the Business Statement at least twice only to be postponed again this time indefinitely when the Business Statement was read by the Majority Chief Whip, Hon. Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh last Friday the 8th of June, 2018. We still have no indication when this crucial meeting will be held.
“Second, significant questions remain about the cost, scope and legality of the project as well as registration requirements.
“With regards to the cost of the project, the leadership of the NIA has been less than candid with the people of Ghana. Whereas documents available to us show that the total project cost is $ 1.4 billion which can be broken down into $1,221,476,123 actual cost and tax exemption of $ 176 million, the Chief Executive Officer of the NIA, Prof Ken Attafuah, is on record as saying it will cost $ 293 million.
“We are also aware that despite the provision of Government support by the Akufo-Addo government in respect of revenue projections for the project, this has not been brought to Parliament for approval in accordance with Ghanaian Law.
“Furthermore, we remain opposed to the restriction of identification requirements for registration to Passports and Birth Certificates. Our analysis shows that this will prevent about 23 million Ghanaians from obtaining the Ghana Card and deprive them of any benefit thereof.
“We also have grave concerns about potential breaches of Procurement laws and processes”, the Minority Caucus said in a statement, adding: “In view of the foregoing, we are unable to participate in the registration exercise slated for tomorrow at Parliament house. Subsequent to this statement, we will hold a comprehensive press conference on Tuesday, 12 June 2018 to shed more light on our position and matters arising out of the National Identification project”.
Delivering an address at the 2018 Ashesi University congregation, however, President Akufo-Addo said: “I do not think that there are more credible basic document requirements for establishing nationality or citizenship than a birth certificate or a passport. An appropriate acceptable mechanism has been provided in the law to verify the claims of those who have neither.”
“What then are we to make of the outrage being orchestrated by some high-ranking leaders of the opposition and some members of the minority in parliament when all the evidence points to their enthusiastic support of the national identity register amendment bill when it came before them in the House. I pray that we abandon giving politics a bad name and support this exercise to proceed rapidly to a successful end,” he added.
The president was also not happy with the alleged threats by some executives of the NDC in Ashaiman to disrupt the registration process, describing it as “ill-conceived, destructive adventures.”
“The language of de-nationalisation or threats of civil war, are, to say the least, extremely unfortunate. I am confident that the good sense of the Ghanaian people, the vigilance of the law enforcement agencies, will, together be sufficient to defeat any ill-conceived, destructive adventure for achieving narrow parochial interest. The lust for power should not cloud one’s sense of judgement. To call yourself a Ghanaian means you must be a responsible citizen,” he said.