By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK
Last Monday March 3, 2014 the Royal African Society (RAS) organised a seminar at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London on the topic, “Ghana 57 Years after 1957: Recalibrating the Course of Progress”. Among the Speakers were Ghana’s Foreign Minister, The Rt Hon Hannah Tetteh (MP) and Nana Akufo-Addo, the NPP Presidential candidate for the 2008 and 2012 Presidential Elections. I managed to secure a last minute ticket from RAS to attend the sell out event.
The sole aim for attending the event was to ask the Foreign Minister why despite a Supreme Court ruling on May 22, 2012 that the imposition of a requirement for Dual Citizenship application by the Executive arm of government was UNCONSTITUTIONAL (in the case of Prof Stephen Kwaku Asare v The Attorney General), Ghanaian Missions abroad are still advertising, accepting and processing Dual Citizenship applications for a fee and also to ask Nana Akufo-Addo what would be his main manifesto message for 2016 since his 2012 flagship policy (free SHS) will be implemented by President Mahama from September 2015.
Unfortunately, due to time constraint when I was given the opportunity to make a contribution, I was requested to ask only a question so I opted to for the question on Dual Citizenship. The Minister admitted in her answer that the requirement for Dual Citizenship application by Ghanaians who lost their citizenship (as a result of acquiring foreign nationalities) has been ruled unconstitutional by the SC. Her excuse as to why the judgement has not been implemented was, due lack of or coordination difficulties between her ministry and Ministry of Interior. She also clarified that what is now required is for eligible Ghanaians to prove their eligibility for Dual Citizenship and the two ministries were still working on the modalities for this.
The minister’s admission is also an admission that Ghana High Commission in London and Ghana Embassy in the US as well as the two ministries and probably all other missions abroad are acting unconstitutionally, in breach of a Supreme Court ruling and violating the rights of eligible Ghanaians. I mentioned the two missions because information on their websites indicates that they process Dual Citizenship applications for a fee (£130 processing fee and £325 renunciation fee in UK and $200 non refundable fee in the US).
After the event I had a brief chat with the minister and made it clear to her that by the SC ruling of May 22, 2012, Dual Citizenship is automatically conferred on those eligible and no process/es are required apart from proof of eligibility and suggested that whatever modalities they come out with must not go beyond proof of eligibility. I also expressed my concern that the delay in implementing the ruling could be deliberate for the missions to make easy money from innocent Ghanaians. She assured me that, that is not the case.
This total disregard for a SC ruling by two ministers is a very grave concern for democracy in Ghana (rule of law, good governance and accountability). The failure of Ghanaian leadership, institutions, agencies and the citizenry to enforce and comply with laws, rules and regulations is gradually turning Ghana into a lawless country. The inability or unwillingness of Ghanaians to enforce and comply with laws, rules and regulations are the main difficulties facing Ghana in national development. Often, most people wrongly believe that corruption is the main barrier to development in Ghana. On the contrary, corruption is only a symptom and not the root cause of slow development. Instead, it is the lawlessness in Ghana (which is the direct consequence of the failure to enforce and comply with laws, rules and regulations) is the main root cause of lack of or poor development. No nation can develop in the midst of chaos and in the absence of law and order. For those who often compare Ghana with Malaysia and Singapore, the difference is law and order in the two countries whilst Ghana’s development is stifled by lawless and impunity. Corruption will reduce drastically in Ghana if the remedy for its root cause, that is, laws, rules and regulations in are enforced and complied with to the letter in Ghana. When two ministers knowingly disregard SC ruling, what do you expect, development or under development?
Both Prof Stephen K Asare and I have written articles on this matter and advised Ghanaians who have acquired foreign citizenship not to apply for Dual Citizenship and pay fees because it’s needless. The certificate you receive from Ministry of Interior is useless and worthless. You do not need it. All you need is a Ghanaian passport and the passport of the other country and you are genuinely a Dual Citizen of Ghana. You can travel to and out of Ghana with the two passports without the need for a visa to Ghana.
Interestingly, I met Nana Akufo-Addo for the first time. Shortly after the event. I went to him, introduced myself, shook hands and wished him safe journey to Ghana. It was a very brief encounter as many others were waiting to chat to him and I was also in a hurry to catch the 8.44pm train from London Kings Cross station back to Cambridge. One thing I am certain of is that, I do not think it registered with Nana Akufo-Addo that I was the Kofi Ata who contributed to ending to the controversy over whether he went to Oxford or not.
It was a good event and I achieved my main objective for attending. Please stop wasting your money on Dual Citizenship applications. It’s unconstitutional and waste of your money.
Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK