… Stop Politicizing National Identification Exercise
By Frank Amponsah
President Nana Addo Dankwa on last Saturday admonished former President and the minority in Parliament to stop politicizing the national Identity registration process, and rather support the initiative in order to move the country forward on matters of development.
The President lamented that it was unfortunate leaders of the Minority in Parliament were deliberately sabotaging the process, which they had earlier gladly supported and sanctioned the provisions in National Identification Register Amendment Bill.
He said their sudden U-turn to thwart the progress of the exercise to improve the nation’s security and fast-track its development is unfortunate.
President Akufo Addo was speaking at the 14thGraduation ceremony of Ashesi University at Berekusu in the Eastern region, where he enumerated thathe had hoped that the exercise to provide all citizens with a national identity card would receive the enthusiastic support of all of Ghanaians as the project finally gets off the ground.
President Akufo-Addo stated that the assertion of the minority that the possession of a voter’s identity card qualified one to be issued with a national identity card was not a tenable argument, considering the known the fact that many non-Ghanaians were in possession of voter’s cards which they obtained by offering the NHIS cards as proof of identity.
He said: “I believe it is also generally accepted that the terms of our National Health Insurance Scheme make it attractive to our neighbours, and many have signed on to benefit from the free healthcare provided under the Scheme. This is why the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that the NHIS card should not be used as a form of identification to register for a voter’s ID card.”
He said it was unfortunately politics is ones again playing woefully in our developmental agenda when indeed we needed to move forward as a country, stressing that “We seem to have become embroiled, once again, in another of those full-scale manufactured storms deliberately engineered to slow down progress in everything we try to do”
Akufo-Addo added that the issue of national identification wouldn’t have been a big issue if we as a people, had been conducting our affairs properly throughout the years, “there should not be any argument in determining who is a Ghanaian. But we have not.”
The President stated that “it should not be in anybody’s interest that we bastardize the identity of a Ghanaian. It 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.”
“I certainly have no interest, and no intention to prevent genuine citizens from being issued with identity cards. But, my oath of office is unequivocal that I owe it to the nation to uphold the law and protect our institutions from being undermined.
He added, “I 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,” adding “I maintain that it should be the greatest honour to be able to say I am a Ghanaian, and we should have no difficulty in identifying a Ghanaian not only as a legal entity, but also through his or her behavior.”
“There is a legal definition of who is a Ghanaian, and I pray that we abandon giving politics a bad name, and support this exercise to proceed rapidly to a successful end. The language of de-nationalisation or threats of civil war are, to say the least, extremely unfortunate. They can be fittingly described as base forms of self-serving demagoguery. I 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.”
He called on all Ghanaians to support the registration exercise, and said the lust for power should not cloud one’s sense of judgment, adding that to call yourself a Ghanaian means you must be a responsible citizen.