Are you a Ghanaian?

Mon, 8 Jul 2013 Source: Quaye, Stephen A.

By: Stephen A.Quaye.

Recent reports that certain institutions that were to accept the information of bearers on the National Identification Card [NID] are refusing to accept it reminds me of an incident which occurred at Kotoka International Airport a couple of years ago thereby the heading of this piece.

Though it’s a simple question that might sound meaningless to some people, I found it very sensible for all to deliberate on and find an appropriate answer to solve the numerous frustrations people claiming to be Ghanaians go through at the various port of entries of Ghana.

It was a Thursday evening of December 29, 2010 with cloudy sky’s when I landed at KIA to follow security checks to formalize my entry into the country for two weeks vacation from Toronto-Canada.

With my valid Ghanaian passport firm in my hand and pushing my two traveling bags and one hand bag, I joined the queue which was for persons holding Ghanaian passports.

The line moved faster than that of the one which was for foreign passport holders and I was happy I was going to get out quick and have some rest after that 21 hour journey from Pearson Airport in Toronto through a transit in Frankfurt-Germany before landing in Ghana.

Just as it was about to get to my turn for my passport to be processed for my entry to be approved, I heard a big shout by a woman in the queue for foreign nationals who screamed in Twi“MO NYE NUNTEM NA YEN KO OO” to wit please step up the process for us to go home.

Within some few seconds, an officer emerged who shouted at the woman in question querying whether she was a Ghanaian saying, “MOA WANO. WOYE GHANA NE?

My understanding was that the woman was born in Ghana way back who could not take the long delays anymore so decided to scream to let the immigration officer’s to speed up the process.

The point here is that the woman was born in Ghana way back but was residing in a foreign destination which by reason of consolidating her status to enable her live legally and keep her job to make a living took a decision to naturalize as a foreign citizen.

Yes she was no more a Ghanaian because she was identified as such with her foreign citizenship passport. But the question is how many people living in Ghana can be identified as citizens of the land through a Ghanaian passport?

Since the creation of Ghana in 1957 which independence was granted the country by the colonial master, Britain, the perception has always been that unless you are traveling to overseas, there is no need to have a passport.

Passport is an internationally accepted document that identifies a person or persons of a particular country that they are from. It is true without it one can not go through security checks and pass through ports of entry into a country.

In North America particularly U.S.A and Canada there is little difficulty in indentifying someone as a citizen of the country or an immigrant as every one has either immigrant passport or citizenship passport.

There is no hullabaloo as to who can be described as a citizen or has qualified to attain citizenship. Over here in Canada, once you are born in the country or to citizenship parents else where and attain the age of eighteen you are qualified to sit a citizenship test and be sworn in as a citizen, given a citizenship certificate and a passport to identify you as such.

After living in the country for three years without committing any serious crime, one can also qualify to sit citizenship test and when attain pass mark, sworn in as a citizen, given a certificate and passport to identify you as such.

But in Ghana what can be used as a tool to identify one as a citizen of the land? You are right to quickly mention birth certificate, voter ID card and a Ghana Passport. Even that how many people have certified birth certificates with them?

With the lost of confidence in the electoral processes, do you think all persons who are qualified to vote have their voters ID with them? As already stated, with the perception still strong that unless traveling, there is no need for a passport, only few people have it as a proof of evidence to show when the need arises.

Fifty-six years since independence and Ghana is still struggling to find a solution to identification problems. This is one area the NPP 2012 presidential running mate, Dr. Mohamadu Bawumiah, spoke excellently on when he met NPP party members in Toronto-Canada before the general elections last year.

He disclosed NPP’s policy which when elected will implement to ensure that Ghanaians are properly identified with an internationally accepted document that with a bar code feed necessary information into a central system for security and protection of persons and properties as is being done in the developed countries such as Canada and America.

In Canada for instance, apart from the citizenship certificate which one can not carry on himself every moment, Social Insurance Card [SIN], Health Insurance Card, drivers license are accepted documents for identification.

It is time the law making body in Ghana start debating seriously about this and finds a lasting solution to the problem of identification.

The unique style of accepting these aforementioned IDs as proof of evidence by countries such as America and Canada should be duplicated. After all that is the way it should be. “A STICTH IN TIME SAFES NINE”.



Columnist: Quaye, Stephen A.