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On internal migrants, voter ID cards and an unaware president

Tue, 4 Aug 2020 Source: Isaac Ato Mensah

The viral videos of persons being prevented from entering voter registration centres is yet another classic manifestation of persistent and dangerous retrogression in ghana.

The President of the Republic of Ghana (POTROG) said in Kumasi over the weekend that he was “not aware”! Now that is certainly a stretch.

The Fulani have traversed Ghanaian soil for decades, yet there has been no effort by our Parliament to discuss their citizenship and enrol their children – who in many cases are born in Ghana – into our Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) programme.

Even when we have citizens of Fulani descent within the corridors of power, the Ghana Armed Forces have been driving them away from grazing lands in Ashanti Region and shooting their cattle.

And can we be certain that again POTROG is not aware?

The latest viral videos tend to highlight the plight of some ethnic groups in Banda, a town on the Ghanaian-Ivorian border, in the Bono Region of Ghana, being denied access to voter registration centres.

The social media backlash has led Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, the current administration’s chief apologist to respond with yet again disingenuous and tired whataboutery.

He reminded us in his Facebook post on Sunday that certain ethnic groups in Odododiodoo constituency in Accra were also prevented from getting voter ID cards in the past.

“Think about it,” Gabby concluded. And we are awed by his intellectual depth; what an asset to our glorious republic.

How did we get here?

Despite the urgent need to follow the science in addressing the coronavirus pandemic, our officials created this current PLANdemic of crowded voter registration centres with adults fighting, heckling and haranguing on a daily basis.

As my mentor has explained, “So far the only scientific means of containing the virus are 1. Masks 2. Social distancing 3. Lockdowns 4. Handwashing with soap and water/sanitizer. All these are anchored in the moral/spiritual code to be each other’s keeper. That is what gives the moral imperative to government laws or instructions mandating these things”.

But officialdom has long abandoned its responsibilities on the COVID-19 battlefield in order to pursue its own parochial interests through a new voters register.

They even dared to legally export migrant nurses to Barbados without due diligence. Yet another stark example of mediocrity for which to date no public official has and none will be held to account.

Our Minister for Education has been justifying the reopening of schools thus: “If someone gets cleared of the virus today, it does not mean they cannot get it the next day”.

That sounds like a solid intellectual line that will also be told the people of Barbados.

Will POTROG be aware or all that matters is that there is a new voters’ register?

We have yet to resolve the matter of the documentation of citizens, despite a fortune being spent on a national ID card project with repeated false starts by National Identification Authority.

What is manifestly clear is that there is a PLANdemic of postponing solutions to obvious problems even when all the warning signs are there.

We see that on a daily basis, POTROG is not aware of the: brownish galamsey rivers despite current viral videos; vigilante groups despite his setting up a commission of inquiry that recommended their disbandment; and choked smelly open gutters despite his promise of making Accra the cleanest city in Africa, to name but a few.

And yet when we write to make POTROG and his hirelings aware, then some persons at the helm of affairs take offence.

Why will anybody wish to not know, to not become aware?

A blissful ignorance is disastrous.

Internal migrants are everywhere in Ghana and Africa; 80% of Africa’s migration is within the continent.

In ghana, we must become aware of the socio-economic factors that drive their daily movement, and stop the occasional shameful but convenient denial of their bonafide citizenship.

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah