The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has indicated that neither he nor his government has any interest in preventing genuine citizens from being issued with identity cards, in the ongoing National Identification Authority (NIA) registration process.
According to President Akufo-Addo, it should not be in anybodyâ€™s interest that the identity of the Ghanaian is bastardized, adding that â€œit should not be in the long-term interest of anybody that we enlist as Ghanaians people whose loyalty to our nation is limited to access to our free healthcare system.â€
The President noted that his oath of office enshrines that he upholds the law and protects the institutions from being undermined.
â€œI 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,â€ he added.
President Akufo-Addo made this known on Saturday, 23rd June, 2018, when he delivered the commencement speech at the 2018 graduation ceremony of the Ashesi University.
Expressing his hope that the registration exercise to provide all citizens with a national identity card would have received the enthusiastic support of all Ghanaians, after years of wilful stagnation and neglect, the President noted that the project has become embroiled, once again, in another of those full-scale manufactured storms deliberately engineered to slow down progress in Government tries to do.
With many arguing that the possession of a voterâ€™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, the President posited that it is a well-known fact that many non-Ghanaians are in possession of voterâ€™s cards that they obtained by offering NHIS cards as proof of identity.
This is why, the President stated that, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that the NHIS card should not be used as a form of identification to register for a voterâ€™s ID card.
Recounting the contributions made by some members of the Minority in Parliament, when the National Identity Register (Amendment) Bill came before them in the House, the President was
The Ranking Member on the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Select Committee in Parliament, Hon. Inusah Fuseini, MP for Tamale Central, is quoted as having stated that â€œThere 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.â€
He was supported in this by the NDC MP for Banda, Hon. Ahmed Ibrahim, who said: â€œMr. Speaker, 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 isâ€¦ Mr. Speaker, if there is something as a country that Ghanaians should come together and support, I believe this Bill is one of them.â€
The NDC MP for Ellembelle, Hon. Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, the former Minister for Petroleum under the Mahama government, in his contribution, further stated â€œThe 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.â€
According to President Akufo-Addo, â€œthese are samples of the sentiments that allowed the House to accept, unanimously, i.e. without dissent, the Report of the Committeeâ€, which stated, amongst others: â€œThe Committee also noted that the Bill seeks to do away with the use of votersâ€™ identity cards, driversâ€™ license 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 Abu Ramadan v Attorney-General delivered in May, 2016.â€
The language of de-nationalisation made by former President Mahama, or threats of civil war made by NDC General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, the President stressed are extremely unfortunate, and can be fittingly described as base forms of self-serving demagoguery.
â€œI 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 oneâ€™s sense of judgement. To call yourself a Ghanaian means you must be a responsible citizen,â€ the President added.