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Ghana's NIA and EC conundrum

Mon, 18 May 2020 Source: J.A Manso

Once upon a time (2yrs ago) the current National Identification Authority (NIA) said to Ghanaians it had acquired some huge sum of money to be used to continue the Card issuance the previous Government started. We were all excited.

The previous government was issuing cards to all Ghanaians of all ages. It was a National Card. In fact my children of 7years and 9 years were registered for the card.

For Ken Attafuah, cards are issued to Ghanaians 15years and above. Is it still a National Card? Why start from 15 years? Is there any tangible reason for that?

Again, we were told a Ghana Card will be issued to all Ghanaians. On the contrary ECOWAS Identity Card was issued instead. In fact, there is no inscription anywhere on the card showing the Ghana Card. Unless our Lawyers will want to confuse us as usual by attempting to convince us that ECOWAS Identity Card means Ghana Card.

I live in Adenta Constituency/ Municipality and the pilot of the Card issuance began with us. They used barely 6 weeks to register the several thousands of Ghanaians living in Adenta. How is that possible? Several residents in Adenta could not get the card. After venting our frustration on the last day of the registration, the NIA officials told us Adenta was only a pilot and that they will return to continue. We are still waiting for them. It's been 2 years.

Across the Country, the NIA's card issuance has been a total mess and that's why many people do not have it.

In Ghana, general elections are a serious business. Why didn't the NIA tell Ghanaians the new card will be the main I.D to be used for the acquisition of the New Voter’s I.D?

Before the introduction of the ECOWAS Identity Card, Ghanaians had and carried several other forms of I.D (Passport, Voter's I.D, Driver's license etc.) which they used for various transactions. If Ghanaians are NOT told from inception that without the ECOWAS Identity Card one cannot apply for a New Voter's I.D Card, there will be no immediate motivation to acquire one. And many people intend to acquire it at their convenience because they have other cards. For example, my mother-in -law always asked why people should rush to sleep at NIA centers when at the appropriate time one can just walk freely to an office to acquire one, just as when the health insurance began.

In fact I dare say that even for people in the Jubilee House, if the NIA had not gone there to issue them cards directly, most of them wouldn't have had cards. Because, they will not like to join long queues to acquire it.

My opinion is that the NIA has not proven to be credible and professional. As I write, even the Banks and other organisations DO NOT accept the much touted Ecowas Identity Card as authentic for their transactions.

Now, the Electoral Commission (EC) has served notice it will admit ONLY the ECOWAS Identity Card and the Ghanaian Passport for the issuance of the New Voter's ID Card. Does it make sense or not? To acquire a Ghanaian Passport, you have to produce your Birth Certificate. To renew your already acquired Passport you only need to produce the expired Passport and you are done.

To acquire the Voter's ID Card we currently possess, we produced our Birth Certificate or Passport.. To acquire a New Voter's ID, we are told we CANNOT produce the old one to get a New one in replacement. Again, does it make sense? NEVER. I think we are making a mockery of our institutions.

In my household, 3 of us have the ECOWAS Identity Card and 3 don't have. My business is located within Adenta. I have 19 employees. 9 of them have the Card and 10 do not have. One out of the 10 has a Passport. So EC says these workers have to struggle to acquire the New Voter's ID even though they have the current Voter's ID Card? How?

The most ridiculous and nonsensical argument I have heard is that you have to get some people to guarantee or introduce you if you don't have a Passport or the ECOWAS Identity Card. Meanwhile, you have the current Voter's ID Card. Hmmmm.... We say we are advancing but our behaviour and actions typify the stone age form of existence.

The EC CANNOT stop Ghanaians from using their current Voter's ID Card to acquire a New Voter's ID Card. It's a nonstarter and does not make sense.

I want to call on the following groups to caution the EC on this dangerous path they intend to take. It's obviously a recipe for chaos and confusion.

The Parliament of Ghana The Council of State The National House of Chiefs The Catholic Bishops Conference The Christian Council of Ghana The Ghana Pentecostal Council Our Former Presidents The TUC The General Legal Council The Civil Society Organisations And other Professional bodies.

This is an issue bothering on fundamental human rights and it's a situation the Supreme Court of Ghana should observe keenly.

Let's use common sense to save our Democracy, Peace, Oneness and the Country's reputation.

Thank you.

J.A Manso, a concerned citizen of the Republic of Ghana

Columnist: J.A Manso

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