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14.06.2018 Opinion

Workable Solutions Necessary For The Smooth Issuance Of The Ghana Card

By Dr. Kofi V. Anani
Workable Solutions Necessary For The Smooth Issuance Of The Ghana Card
LISTEN JUN 14, 2018

1. This article highlights the urgent need for workable solutions from all sides of the political spectrum to enable the smooth issuance of the Ghana card because the underlying points of dispute and contention have holes and could not pass the test of airtight reasonableness.

2. Today, Ghana would have been a “paradise on earth” if the major actors and leaders of the varied political shades and aisles since independence have worked together for the common good and interest. That it is not the case should remind everyone that no one party can lay claim to having monopoly of the ideas for transforming the country. The old adage is that wisdom is not in the head of one person. Not working together for the common good and transformation has been the bane of the country’s development trajectory ever since the birth of the nation. This spurious character trait continues to be displayed at its apogee presently by the two dominant parties at the political landscape.

A Classical case of working apart
3. The recent effort to register and issue national ID cards to all citizens is one classical display of this debilitating practice of not working together for common results. No one has disputed the essence and relevance of credible national ID cards to the developmental transformation of a country. What is in dispute is the qualifying requirement of who is registered to be issued with the card. (Some have also raised concerns about the announced cost associated with the exercise which is not the focus of this article).

Core requirement elements
4. On the one hand, the core elements of the requirement are: Birth Certificates and Passports; interview by registration officers in case of doubts regarding the authenticity of the documents; administering of affidavits by recruited commissioners of oath. On the other hand, a request is put forth to include Voters ID as part of the core required documents to avoid denationalization of several citizens. Arguably, both the core requirements and the concern-based request have points with holes in them and neither could pass the test of airtight reasonableness. Hence, workable solutions are necessary for the smooth issuance of the Ghana Card without delay. Intransigence and dogmatic posturing is not a solution. Neither boycotting the process nor going to court per se is not a solution. Also, trolling and brushing aside the concern as trivial is as well not a recipe for common solution.

Document obtaining processes fraught with falsehoods

5. Although the core requirement of Birth Certificates and Passports is backed by a legislative instrument (LI), a video expose is not needed to establish that the processes of obtaining these documents in the past and perhaps the present are fraught with falsehoods and deceit which render the authenticity and genuineness of these documents very doubtful. Several cases abound of people born in one part of the country but the official birth certificates indicate names of places elsewhere in the country.

6. In fact, obtaining birth certificates is considered by some as akin to buying “waakye” by the roadside. There is no known technical mechanism for separating the chaff from the grains. Birth certificates are available in the open market to whoever could afford them and these are used to acquire passports. Research encounters within and outside the country have revealed there are many holders of the Ghanaian passports who could not trace heritage and lineage to any location, town or village in the country, or could meet the description of a citizen specified in Article 6 to Article 10 of the 1992 constitution.

Acknowledgement of the defects in the core requirement

7. Implicitly the core requirement acknowledges such a prevalent scenario by the caveat that holding what are considered as the root identification cards does not guarantee an automatic right of citizenship to be issued the Ghana Card. Rather, the registration officers would interview applicants in cases of doubt. This provision is problematic as it gives credence to the discretion and arbitrariness of a registration officer in the critical process of determining the right and claim to citizenship. The provision opens windows for abuse, corruption and denationalization which should be corrected. It would be more appropriate to allow the registration officers concentrate on what they have been recruited and trained to do (which is registration). Given the potential applications and uses of the Ghana Card, a non-partisan or bi-partisan committees could be constituted at the constituency levels to determine the authenticity and genuineness of these anchor documents in cases of doubts, and perhaps even with a right of appeal upon rejection.

8. Similarly, the request to include Voters IDs as part of the core requirements is contentious. While proponents believe VID is more widespread and could eliminate the risk of denationalization, it is also the belief of many that it is not reliable and the process of acquisition is riddled with a more sanitized form of falsehoods. This is a view point expressed by many critical observers of the political landscape which should not be dismissed offhandedly in attempts to finding workable solutions for the smooth issuance of the Ghana Card. In fact, the Ghana Card when issued to every citizen of the land, is expected to cure the malaise of fraudulence supposedly associated with the VID.

Elitist trait and character of the core requirement

9. From a related perspective, the core requirements involving the root documents seem quite elitist in its one-size fits all approach regardless of the caveat of swearing an affidavit. This touches on another fundamental flaw and bureaucratic arrogance in the developmental trajectory of the country; that is, ignoring the traditional social fabric - structures, composition and arrangements of the rural communities in so-called modern policy discourse and formulation.

10. A typical place or location considered as a town in rural Ghana comprises of villages, and these villages are delineated on the basis of lineages, families, households and hearth-holds. Anyone who hails from this place and location could trace heritage to any of the lineages. Non-lineage residents are known who could also trace ancestral rights to wherever they hail from. Many of the people in these rural communities do not have the required root documents but have undeniable place-based proof of birth rights. Why should such a person be required to swear an affidavit before a commissioner of oath (modern bureaucratic designation) to be eligible for the Ghana Card? To an extent, this seems an insult on the whole social fabric and psyche of rural community dwellers which underscore the elusiveness of the transformation all Ghanaians are yearning for.

11. A blended approach is needed in this context and not the superimposition of a possibly intimidating and alienating bureaucratic arrangement before the rural community dwellers without the root documents are eligible for their entitlements. The Ghana Card will become an essential feature in the lives of every Ghanaian and therefore it is incumbent on both sides of the aisles to seek workable solutions for its smooth issuance without further delay.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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