President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says the government has no interest in preventing genuine Ghanaians from securing the Ghana Card but will block every avenue that will create the opportunity for non-Ghanaians to get access into the National Identification System.
“I certainly have no interest, and no intention to prevent genuine citizens from being issued with identity cards. But, my oath of office is unequivocal that I owe it to the nation to uphold the law and protect our institutions from being undermined.
“I do not think that there are more credible, basic, documentary 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,” he said.
Addressing the 2018 graduation ceremony of Ashesi University at Berekuso in the Eastern Region last Saturday, President Akufo-Addo said the use of the Voters’ Identity Card as proof of citizenship for registration for the Ghana Card would serve no other purpose than open the floodgate for non-Ghanaians to get access into the country’s identification system.
The President called on the public to support the government as it took steps to prevent non-Ghanaians from getting access into the system and gave the assurance that every genuine Ghanaian would get the opportunity to register for the Ghana Card.
He said it would not be in the country’s long-term interest to enlist as Ghanaians, people whose loyalty to the nation was limited to accessing the country’s free healthcare system and urged the public to reject the argument for the use of the Voters’ ID Cards as proof of citizenship.
“There is a point of view being argued vociferously that the possession of a voter’s ID card should qualify one to be issued a national identity card, even though that view was never canvassed during the parliamentary consideration of this matter.
“I do not think I said anything contentious if I state here that it is well-known that many non-Ghanaians are in possession of voter’s cards that they obtained by offering NHIS cards as proof of identity.
“I believe it is also generally accepted that the terms of our National Health Insurance Scheme make it attractive to our neighbours, and many have signed on to benefit from the free healthcare provided under the Scheme. This is why the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that the NHIS card should not be used as a form of identification to register for a voter’s ID card,” he said.
Political advocates for the use of the Voters’ ID card, according to President Akufo-Addo, were high ranking law makers from the minority in Parliament who demonstrated their enthusiastic support of the National Identity Register (Amendment) Bill when it came before them in the House of Parliament.
He quoted the submission on the floor of Parliament by the Minority Spokesperson on the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Select Committee in Parliament, InusahFuseini supported the bill saying, and “…there is no controversy in the amendments. It seeks to expand the field of information that would be required, and bring the information up to date with modern trends.”
The President said the submission of the Minority Spokesperson on the committee was supported by the NDC Member of Parliament for Banda, Ahmed Ibrahim, who said “…from the day of the birth of Jesus Christ, registration and census were done. Therefore, it is very pathetic that, as a country, we do not know who a Ghanaian is… Mr Speaker, if there is something as a country that Ghanaians should come together and support, I believe this Bill is one of them.”
The NDC MP for Ellembelle, Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, the former Minister for Petroleum under the Mahama government, in his contribution, further stated “the amendment Bill is long overdue, and very critical for our country. The issue of who a Ghanaian is is very critical in this country, especially because of the issues we face,” the President said.
President Akufo-Addo said the report of the Committee added, among other things, that “…the Bill seeks to do away with the use of voters’ identity cards, drivers’ licence and baptismal certificates as proof of citizenship”
“It, however maintains the use of birth certificates and passports. It further introduces residence permits and other documents evidencing acquired citizenship. Officials of the NIA informed the Committee that the changes are consistent with the decision of the Supreme Court in the Abu Ramadan v Attorney-General case delivered in May 2016,” he quoted.
President Akufo-Addo wondered why the same politicians who supported the Bill when it was before Parliament had suddenly turned against it, and added that there was a legal definition of who a Ghanaian was and urged the minority to stop giving politics a bad name, and support the exercise to proceed rapidly to a successful end.
“The language of de-nationalisation or threats of civil war are, to say the least, extremely unfortunate. They can be fittingly described as base forms of self-serving demagoguery. I am confident that the good sense of the Ghanaian people, and the vigilance of the law enforcement agencies will, together, be sufficient to defeat any ill-conceived, destructive adventure for achieving narrow, parochial, partisan ends.”
“The lust for power should not cloud one’s sense of judgment. To call yourself a Ghanaian means you must be a responsible citizen,” he said.