The question of who a Ghanaian is, cropped up in Ghana for the first time in the Second Republic, during the tenure of Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia and his Progress Party government of the Danquah-Busia political tradition in 1969. That major upheaval in Ghana which affected hundreds of thousands of people living and working in Ghana peacefully, bordered on Ghanaian nationality or citizenship.
The vehicle for such a draconian government action was the now notorious Aliens Compliance Order, issued in November of 1969 by the Busia regime of some fifty-one (51) years ago. That inhumane policy led to the expulsion of fellow Africans especially Nigerians, Togolese and Burkinabe mostly and Ivorians to a much lesser extent from Ghana which they have considered their country.
Although, who a Ghanaian is, is a matter of law, both constitutionally and by parliamentary enactments, this fact was overlooked by the Busia and Akufo-Addo governments in favour of arbitrary actions by political actors and even policemen and women whose duty it is to uphold the law. The very first constitutional enactment defining who a Ghanaian is, was the 1957 independence constitution. Since then, all the four Republican constitutions of 1960, 1969, 1979 and 1992 have all defined who a Ghanaian is.
All those constitutional enactments have been consolidated into the current statutory enactment on Ghanaian citizenship which is Act 591 of the year 2000 under the National Democratic Congress government of Jerry John Rawlings, which came into effect in 2002 during the regime of John Agyekum Kufuor.
Act 591 consolidated all the constitutional provisions on Ghanaian citizenship into one law, the defining provisions for our purposes in this discussion are:
Persons born before 6th March, 1957-
3(1) A person born before 6th March, 1957 is a citizen of Ghana by birth if -
- he was born in Ghana and at least one of his parents or grandparents was born in Ghana
- he was born outside Ghana and one of his parents was born in Ghana
Persons born on or after 6th March, 1957:
4(1) A person born on or after 6th March 1957 and before 22nd August, 1969 is a Ghanaian by birth if -
- he was born in or outside Ghana and either of his parents and also one at least of his grandparents or
great grandparents was born in Ghana
- In the case of a person born in Ghana, neither of whose parents was born in Ghana, at least one of his grandparents was born in Ghana.
4(2) A person is not a citizen of Ghana for the purpose of subsection(1) of this section if at the date of his birth the parent, grandparent, or great grandparent through whom the citizenship is obtained has lost his citizenship of Ghana.
4(3) A person born on or after 6th March, 1957 and before 22nd August, 1969 is a citizen of Ghana by birth if --
- he was born in Ghana and at the date of his birth either of his parents was a citizen of Ghana by registration or naturalization
- he was born outside Ghana and at the date of his birth both parents were citizens of Ghana by registration or naturalization
Persons born on or after 22nd August, 1969
5--A person is a citizen of Ghana by birth if he was born in or outside Ghana on or after 22nd August, 1969 and before 24th September, 1979 and at the date of his birth either of his parents was a citizen of Ghana
Persons born on or after 24th September, 1979.
6-- A person born on or after 24th September, 1979, and before 7th January, 1993, is a Ghanaian citizen by birth if --
- He was born in Ghana and at the date of his birth either of his parents or grandparent was a citizen of Ghana.
- He was born outside Ghana and at the date of his birth either of his parents was a citizen of Ghana.
Persons born on or after 7th January, 1993 - Constitution of 1992
7-- A person is a citizen of Ghana by birth if he was born on 7th January, 1993 or born after that date in or outside Ghana and at the date of his birth either of his parents was a citizen of Ghana.
A child of not more than seven(7) years of age found in Ghana whose parents are not known shall be presumed to be a citizen of Ghana by birth.
Other means of becoming a Ghanaian citizen are:
- Through Adoption of a child under sixteen(16) years of age
- Through Registration
- Through Naturalization.
So we can see that as a multiparty democratic country, Ghana has crafted a comprehensive citizenship law that has taken care of all the possible means a person could become a Ghanaian.
Being a Ghanaian is not a matter of someone else looking at the face of another person and pronouncing him or her a Ghanaian or a non-Ghanaian. Neither is it a matter of language, race, sex, religion, creed, colour of skin or any other such consideration(s).
However, since the discriminatory "Aliens Compliance Order” of 18th of November, 1969, was introduced by Prime Minister Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia, leading to hundreds of thousands of people of mixed Ghanaian parentage and nationality being branded foreigners and deported from the country, in that heartless expulsion order,(One account held that not less than 200,000 people were deported from Ghana as a result of the 1969 Aliens Compliance Order) the issue of Ghanaian nationality has resurfaced again and again any time Ghanaians were called upon to exercise their citizenship in elections or to register to exercise their franchise as we are seeing in the present on-going voters' registration exercise.
There is no doubt, whatsoever, that who a Ghanaian is, is a matter of law and nothing else, and since our judicial system is prosecutorial, any one who alleges that a person is not a Ghanaian has the onerous responsibility to prove in a court of competent jurisdiction that the one he has accused could not claim a Ghanaian citizenship through any of the elaborate criteria set out in Act 591, as reproduced above.
The above ideal situation is not what we find ourselves in presently, during the current voters' registration exercise, resulting most unfortunately in violence, maiming and killing of fellow Ghanaian citizens.
It is most sad to note that this negative and wicked characterization of some sections of Ghanaians as non-citizens has always been accentuated only by one political tradition, the Danquah-Busia political tradition when they happen to have found themselves in power.
This is evidenced by the 1969 Busia Aliens Compliance Order and now currently under President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo through subtle administrative measures disguised as security measures to secure the county's border regions. We are not at war with the republics of Togo, Burkina Faso and La Côte d'Ivoire. What the whole world is at war with, Ghana included, is the world-wide coronavirus pandemic.
All over the world I have not heard that countries that have largely succeeded in containing the disease - Germany, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand or even our neighbours of Togo, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire have adopted military measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Ghana must indeed be "chopping" a first in adopting such a measure. The fact that the disease continues to get out of control here must tell Ghanaians that President Akufo-Addo has failed in his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as indeed he already has failed in handling the economy, education, healthcare, infrastructural development and the rest of the sectors of our national life.
If anything, it is our neighbouring countries which should be worried about the spillover of the coronavirus pandemic disease from Ghana into their countries, because, even though they all had incidences of the disease before Ghana did, President Akufo-Addo and his government have so poorly managed our situation such that the disease has reached catastrophic proportions with almost 27,000 infections and still spiralling badly out of control.
In the 1969 Second Republic Busia era expulsions, it must be noted that many West Africans, particularly Nigerians and Togolese, who heeded President Nkrumah's Pan-Africanist policies and had made Ghana their home, built businesses, married Ghanaians and made families here were most traumatized, as they were thrown out like common criminals and treated worse than dogs. They lost their assets which they had toiled to create for themselves and their loved ones as they were forced out of the country at a short notice of only two weeks, empty handed.
The most pathetic aspect of that inhumane policy was that the elderly, the sick, pregnant women and children were not spared. They had to leave Ghana because the Prime Minister Dr. Busia and his government had said so. No one was offered the opportunity to prove their Ghanaian nationality or citizenship in anyway.
In that case of the 1969 Aliens Compliance Order, the motivation was economic as it was argued that foreigners had taken over businesses, Trading, construction contracts, farming and other jobs and crowded Ghanaians out of those spaces of employment and livelihoods.
It was a ploy to cover up the failures of the Busia regime similar to what we are witnessing right now of the Akufo-Addo government of family, friends, cronies and former girl friends.
The Busia government then, like the Akufo-Addo regime now, had failed to create employment opportunities for a mere six to seven million Ghanaians, the population of the country at the time, and found a convenient excuse in the hard working foreigners in the country branding them undocumented aliens, thus the deportation.
So what is the motivation of the Akufo-Addo regime to do what it is doing currently, calling fellow Ghanaian citizens foreigners and encouraging their supporters, sympathisers and vigilante groups disguised with military uniforms to visit violence on fellow citizens resulting in the killing and maiming of innocent people?
President Akufo-Addo and his regime have not enacted a new law to denationalize fellow Ghanaians as their mentor Dr. Busia did in 1969.
Instead, they have hidden behind administrative measures to cruelly subject fellow citizens to mistreatment and harassment with the singular objective of preventing them from registering as voters and thus disenfranchising them in the forthcoming December 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections.
And they have found a convenient excuse in the current worldwide coronavirus pandemic to say they are securing our borders against infiltration by persons from our neighbouring countries coming into Ghana with the coronavirus. However the "white cat" was let out of the bag when Member of Parliament for Adansi Asokwa K. T. Hammond recently spoke the truth, stating that the real reason for the Akufo-Addo government in sending soldiers and other security services to the Volta, Oti, North East, Upper East and Upper West regions is to prevent citizens from Togo and Burkina Faso from infiltrating our ranks to register as Ghanaian voters.
If that was the case, then why did the government not secure the Ghana-Ivory Coast Border to the West of the country in similar fashion.
It is not difficult to recognize the sole reason for the government's decision to invade the regions to the Eastern and northern parts of the country is to intimidate and harass citizens of these regions from registering to vote.
The reason is simple. These are National Democratic Congress strongholds. The NDC is the only political entity in the country capable of inflicting defeat on Akufo-Addo and his henchmen in government. In the same vein it is also easy to see why the Western boundary with the Ivory Coast has been left ajar unsecured. Like the Eastern border areas, ethnic groups live across the border, have intermarried and can claim citizenship of both countries.
The New Patriotic Party and its government are comfortably encouraging Ivorians to register as Ghanaian voters in the constituencies they control in the Western border areas to beef up the numbers and their chances of winning election 2020.
The Akufo-Addo government's determination to limit the numbers of voters in NDC strongholds is further evidenced by the violence being perpetrated by vigilante groups and individuals affiliated to the government and the ruling NPP party against persons perceived to be NDC supporters or sympathisers even in constituencies far removed from border areas, with the connivance and abetment by the security services. Media reports attest to these sordid happenings during the ongoing registration exercise.
For example, in one of the Ahafo Ano constituencies, right in the interior of Ashanti Region, far off from any borders, it was reported that persons dressed in military uniform went to disperse peaceful registrants waiting in a queue to register. The center and the constituency in which this occurred is said to be one of three constituencies in the Ashanti region in which the NDC is strong enough to win a parliamentary seat, and indeed had won parliamentary seats there in the past.
On Saturday, 18th July, 2020 there were reports that the EC had setup 16 BVRs in Tepa SHS for registration of students and only two Agents of the National Democratic Congress(NDC) were allowed to monitor registrations at these sixteen registration points at the School. The other Agents were physically prevented by the "Military" or persons dressed in military uniforms purporting to be soldiers, from doing their duty. The "military" had taken over supervision of the registration exercise to the exclusion of the Bureau of National Investigations(BNI), and the divisional police whose Commander was also prevented from entering the school premises. The "military" were said to have facilitated the registration of students below the constitutionally stipulated age of 18years and above.
By now it must be clear to all peace loving and fair minded Ghanaians that the Akufo-Addo government is carrying out a well rehearsed plan to prevent as many of the perceived supporters and sympathisers of the National Democratic Congress from registering to vote in the December elections. While at the same time taking measures to beef up the numbers of registrants in the strongholds of the New Patriotic Party, to achieve a skewed outcome of the forthcoming 2020 elections in their favour.
Why would a government set out to disenfranchise its own citizens?
This is not difficult to discern in the face of the glaring failure of President Akufo-Addo and his government. They have not been able to redeem their numerous sweet sugar-coated manifesto promises of 2016, and now the 2020 elections are staring them right in the face.
Recently, their opponents of the NDC carried out a meticulous and comprehensive assessment of the delivery of the government's 2016 manifesto promises and scored them a disgraceful 14% on their performance, unprecedented in our governance.
The Akufo-Addo government has more than doubled the country's national debt from GHC120billion as at the end of December, 2016, the total debt incurred since independence in 1957-(59years since independence), when President John Dramani Mahama and his National Democratic Congress left power, to a whooping over GHC236billion currently, in a spate of less than four years with no development to show for it.
Corruption, the canker that has stalked the Akufo-Addo government from day one when he himself plagiarized the speeches of former US Presidents- George Bush Jnr and Bill Clinton at his inauguration, has eaten deep like a rampaging cancer into the fabric of the Akufo-Addo government. Numerous alleged incidents of corruption including the Boakye Agyarko parliamentary vetting bribery allegation and his US$1.25billion Ameri renegotiated novation agreement which President Akufo-Addo claimed he was misled to give his executive approval have occurred in the government.
He, President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo personally has been specifically mentioned by Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi, the sacked former Executive Council Member of the International Federation of Football Associations(FIFA) and Vice President of the Confederation of African Football(CAF) as a targeted beneficiary in an elaborate corruption scheme devised by Nyantakyi, who had no inhibitions whatsoever, in informing foreigners that he had President Akufo-Addo inside his POCKET and that a US$5,000,000 (Five Million United States Dollars) bribe to him would open the flood gates for them to "take over the country", in terms of government contracts being awarded to them.
The first time such a shameful incident happened in Ghana during the rule of the (NLC) National Liberation Council 1966-1969, General Joseph A. Ankrah, Chairman of the Council who was implicated, resigned honourably.
Unprecedented in the annals of our governance history, President Akufo-Addo has made it a personal project to defend his Ministers and appointees whenever they were alleged to have been involved in corruption issues, eventually earning for himself the accolade, "Corruption Clearing Agent". Such incidents involving Alfred Obeng Boateng whom he appointed as the Chief Executive of the Bulk Oil and Transport Company(BOST), involving the contamination and cheaply selling off of 5,000,000litres (Five Million litres) of fuel amounting to some GHC15,000,000 loss to the state; the disgraceful OSLOGATE scandal involving some US$12.5million involving the Ministry of Foreign Affairs readily come to mind with President Akufo-Addo vehemently defending and clearing his appointees of any wrong doing without any investigations as a basis.
These matters of corruption, the dismal performance of his government failing to redeem his many campaign promises, abject poverty and hardships being endured by Ghanaians, all these have combined to stare President Akufo-Addo and his government in the face as the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections draw nigh.
The only way President Akufo-Addo and his party's parliamentary candidates could assure themselves of victory in the coming elections is to rig the outcome well before hand. And for this they have laid out an elaborate plan beginning from the removal of Charlotte Osei the former Electoral Commission Chairperson and two other deputy commissioners from office, and the appointment of Jean Adukwei Mensa, a dyed in the wool NPP loyalist as EC Chairperson with Eric Bossman Asare in tow as her Deputy, to do his bidding.
The master stroke in the well laid out plan to rig the 2020 election is the re-registration of Ghanaian voters by which voters in the strongholds of National Democratic Congress(NDC) shall be disenfranchised.
The deployment of soldiers and other security services to those NDC strongholds has nothing to do with fighting coronavirus. It is to intimidate, harass and frighten off NDC supporters from registering in large enough numbers to vote on election day. Even in a region such as Ashanti region in which the NDC is weakest, Soldiers and NPP vigilante groups clothed in military uniforms and given commandeered security services vehicles have been deployed there, physically preventing innocent people in NDC perceived areas and communities from registering. One wonders what the situation would be on actual election day of 7th December, a mere five months from now.
In democracies, the legitimacy of a government to rule over the citizenry is earned at the polls through the mandate of the people in a free fair and transparent elections. Since 1992, Ghana has chosen such a path and we have had seven of such peaceful, transparent, free and fair elections with level playing fields for all political parties and actors to play on.
This attempt by President Akufo-Addo and the Electoral Commission to tilt the process in his favour spells ominous doom for our democracy and the peace, tranquility and development of our dear country. Let President Akufo-Addo and the New Patriotic Party not plunge us into the abyss as had been the lot of other countries on the African continent.
Let voices of reason rise to the occasion in defence of the motherland. "A Stich In Time Saves Nine"
I shall return.
JEAM Institute of Economics
And Social Research