The Minority in Parliament has described as “needless, unfortunate and misplaced”, “attacks” hurled at the caucus by President Nana Akufo-Addo in connection with their boycott of the Ghana Card registration process and demand that voter IDs be added to the base documents required for the registration.
Last week, the president said claims by former President John Mahama and the Minority in parliament that using only birth certificates and passports as base documents for the registration will de-nationalise over 20 million Ghanaians, is unfortunate.
During its last Unity Walk in the Volta Region early June, Mr Mahama said there were attempts by the Akufo-Addo government to disenfranchise and de-nationalise millions of Ghanaians using “illogical” criteria for the registration and acquisition of the Ghana Card.
He then assured the public that the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) will fight on the side of Ghanaians to ensure they are identified and not de-nationalised by the National Identification Authority (NIA) in the process of acquiring the national identification card.
The NIA insists it will use only the two documents to establish citizenship of registrants for the Ghana Card.
However, Mr Mahama, who was addressing a gathering of supporters of the NDC on Saturday, 9 June 2018, said: “This is a deliberate attempt to de-nationalise some of our people and we shall not accept it. We will use every legitimate instrument that is possible under a democracy to ensure that every Ghanaian is able to register”.
According to him, “If you go to one of the villages in my constituency [Bole] and let me use an example, Hodiyiri, it’s a small community in Bole Bamboi, perhaps, nobody in Hodiyiri has a birth certificate or passport so for the 300 or 400 people in Hodiyiri with no birth certificate or passport to prove that they are Ghanaians, how are you going to register those people in Hodiyiri?”
“And, so, I don’t know, it is illogical and short-sighted and a very strong symbol of incompetence that you cannot think far and see that on the basis of what you have prescribed as a criteria for qualification of the national ID card, you are going to disenfranchise more than 20 million of our citizens and that is unacceptable, and, so, the NDC is going to do everything to fight for the best interest of the majority of the people to make sure they are going to be identified to be given cards so that they can be identified as bona fide Ghanaians”.
Also, the Minority, in a statement issued on 10 June, said it was boycotting the registration over unresolved questions concerning the $1.2 billion cost involved and the use of only passports and birth certificates.
“First, it was our understanding that the National Identification Authority, would engage Members of Parliament in a meeting to clarify a number of issues relating to the roll out of the exercise. This meeting was duly advertised in the Business Statement at least twice only to be postponed again this time indefinitely when the Business Statement was read by the Majority Chief Whip, Hon. Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh last Friday the 8th of June, 2018. We still have no indication when this crucial meeting will be held.
“Second, significant questions remain about the cost, scope and legality of the project as well as registration requirements.
“With regards to the cost of the project, the leadership of the NIA, has been less than candid with the people of Ghana. Whereas documents available to us show that the total project cost is $ 1.4 billion which can be broken down into $1,221,476,123 actual cost and tax exemption of $ 176 million, the Chief Executive Officer of the NIA, Prof Ken Attafuah, is on record as saying it will cost $ 293 million.
“We are also aware that despite the provision of Government support by the Akufo-Addo government in respect of revenue projections for the project, this has not been brought to Parliament for approval in accordance with Ghanaian Law.
“Furthermore, we remain opposed to the restriction of identification requirements for registration to Passports and Birth Certificates. Our analysis show that this will prevent about 23 million Ghanaians from obtaining the Ghana Card and deprive them of any benefit thereof.
“We also have grave concerns about potential breaches of Procurement laws and processes”, the Minority Caucus said in a statement, adding: “In view of the foregoing, we are unable to participate in the registration exercise slated for tomorrow at Parliament house. Subsequent to this statement, we will hold a comprehensive press conference on Tuesday, 12 June 2018 to shed more light on our position and matters arising out of the National Identification project”.
Delivering an address at the 2018 Ashesi University congregation, however, President Akufo-Addo said: “I do not think that there are more credible basic document 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.”
“What then are we to make of the outrage being orchestrated by some high-ranking leaders of the opposition and some members of the minority in parliament when all the evidence points to their enthusiastic support of the national identity register amendment bill when it came before them in the House. I pray that we abandon giving politics a bad name and support this exercise to proceed rapidly to a successful end,” he added. The president also spoke about threats by some executives of the NDC in Ashaiman to disrupt the registration process, describing it as “ill-conceived, destructive adventures.”
“The language of de-nationalisation or threats of civil war, are, to say the least, extremely unfortunate. I am confident that the good sense of the Ghanaian people, the vigilance of the law enforcement agencies, will, together be sufficient to defeat any ill-conceived, destructive adventure for achieving narrow parochial interest. The lust for power should not cloud one’s sense of judgement. To call yourself a Ghanaian means you must be responsible citizen,” he said.
In response to the president’s comment, the Minority has issued a statement signed by leader Haruna Iddrisu, saying among other things that: “May we remind the President that only seven (7) million out of thirty (30) million Ghanaians have the two documents he speaks of. Is the President suggesting that he cares less about the citizenship or nationality of the remaining twenty-three (23) million Ghanaians? May we remind the President that his pronouncements cannot supersede Chapter Three (3) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana which sets out in clear unambiguous terms who a citizen is”.
Read the full statement below:
RE: CLAIMS BY PRESIDENT NANA AKUFO-ADDO ON NATIONAL IDENTIFICATION CARDS
The Minority has noted with surprise the sad commentary engaged in by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo over the weekend at the 2018 Ashesi University congregation.
The unfortunate comments and needless attacks by the President on the Minority are misplaced.
As a Minority, we expected that even if the President was going to comment on the matter, he would have sought to give a credible explanation to the outrageous cost of $1.22 billion that his government is saddling the Ghanaian tax payer with for the Ghana card.
We expected the President to explain to Ghanaians why they are paying in excess of $40 per card when across the world, the average price is $5 per card. This exorbitant and outrageous drain on the public purse is of no concern to the President apparently.
Even more astounding is the President’s claim, in his unprovoked attack on the Minority, that there is no more credible basic document requirement for establishing nationality or citizenship than a birth certificate or a passport.
May we remind the President that only seven (7) million out of thirty (30) million Ghanaians have the two documents he speaks of. Is the President suggesting that he cares less about the citizenship or nationality of the remaining twenty-three (23) million Ghanaians? May we remind the President that his pronouncements cannot supersede Chapter Three (3) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana which sets out in clear unambiguous terms who a citizen is.
The President must remain minded of the dictates of Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution and how this provision and its related processes including the Supreme Court ruling in Abu Ramadan v EC that led to the use of the Voter’s ID cards in electing not just him as the 5th President of the 4th Republic on the 7th of December 2016 but all 275 Members of Parliament.
Mr. President, it is this same Voter’s ID card that was used to elect you. Are you by any means suggesting that your election was illegitimate? The President has a duty of care to the Ghanaian people and the Ghanaian voter to ensure fair and equitable coverage of all eligible citizens in any national exercise in a manner that does not seek to disenfranchise any citizen. Mr. President, your actions contravene the letter and spirit of Articles 35 (2)(3)(5) of the 1992 Constitution and this is deeply regrettable.
The Minority has taken note of the attempt by Mr. President to pitch us as not being patriotic and against a national project. Mr. President, may we remind you that this process commenced under our period in Government at a more prudent cost of $115 million and was more encompassing taking into consideration every Ghanaian citizen properly so called.
In your inauguration speech, you called for us to be citizens not spectators, in this vein, we would continue to hold leadership to account on behalf of the Ghanaian public even as we remind you, Mr. President of your unenviable history of boycotting National events not limited to the Senchi National Economic Dialogue, the Investiture of President John Dramani Mahama, the National Day of Prayer but to mention just a few.
It is also worth noting that your attempt to brand the Minority as anarchist would not stick as Ghanaians remember who gloated over the violent actions during the Atiwa by-elections and also the now infamous call to violence – “All die be die”.
The Minority would continue to hold your government accountable on behalf of Ghanaians and we urge you to show a little level of tolerance for constructive criticism as it is only then that we can truly serve the hopes and aspirations of the Ghanaian people. We urge you to do the right thing.
We urge you to put the National interest ahead of partisan considerations. We urge you to think of the twenty-three (23] million Ghanaians you are about to deny citizenship. We urge you Mr. President, to be a President for all Ghanaians and not a selected few.
Ghana and posterity awaits your action or inaction, Mr. President.
HARUNA IDDRISU, MP