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Opinion | Jun 29, 2018

Who Is A Ghanaian

Who Is A Ghanaian

An enslaved mindset cannot create wealth for itself. This has been evident in the enslavement of the elites to self-ignorance. Just as castrated bulls, the elite have no creativity (African Culture In Governance And Development, Nana Kobina Nketsia V).

If the mindset of the political class on the African continent is to grasp political power and hold on to it till thy Kingdom comes irrespective of the state of the people they lord over, then our continent will continue to be deprived of the basic necessities of life as long as the mindset of our political class remains the same. Majority of our people are engulfed in poverty; hunger lives with us on a daily basis in spite of the vast arable land available to us. Our people die needlessly from diseases we create for ourselves through our own ways of life.

When at all will the political class of this beautiful country agree on very critical issues of national interest in and outside Parliament? Many of us in this country don't seem to know who our Ghanaian compatriots are. Sometimes you may not blame them. Our post-independence political posture on the African continent created the impression that Ghana was Africa and that we were capable of managing not only our affairs as a people but the problems confronting the whole continent.

Lots of our resources were directed towards many activities of some nations for varied reasons and causes. While some of the reasons were justifiable, others were senseless. The colonial masters could not have distinguished between a Ghanaian then and a non-Ghanaian African in the Gold Coast era and therefore tolerated all of us within the borders of this country.

Having gained our independence and nationhood subsequently, we did nothing to identify Ghanaians by way of identification from non-Ghanaians since our national life and development programmes had been dominated by non-Ghanaians. When I was growing up in Takoradi in the 1960s, the Takoradi Market, popularly known as Market Circle, was dominated by foreigners, especially Nigerians. All the shops within and outside of the market were owned by foreigners.

The commerce sector of the nation's economy at the time was not in the hands of Ghanaians just as the small scale extractive sector. Our government immediately after independence did not make any attempt to offer identification to Ghanaians for not only the purposes of national identity, but for other critical activities which our laws preserve for only Ghanaians. Our economy was dominated by foreigners, with both legal and illegal status, that we could not effectively control our resources. It took a bold decision by the Busia administration to streamline the presence of foreigners in this country through the Aliens Compliance Order which has become a political message by some politicians from the other side of the divide.

As a people, we don't know who is a Ghanaian and who is not. For political reasons, this nation was told by a former Attorney-General of the NDC administration under Flt Lt J.J. Rawlings that a Ghanaian is anyone who says he is a Ghanaian. So unpatriotic, but the NDC supported it and still supports it for the simple reason that since our Fourth Republican Democratic Dispensation, the NDC as a political party has almost always won the seats very close to our borders.

The situation became dire when the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was introduced by the Kufuor administration in the latter part of his tenure. Ironically, the NDC opposed the introduction of the scheme for the simple reason that the NPP was going to win the following elections should the scheme be allowed to succeed. The paradox of it is when the NDC came to power subsequently, the NHIS card became the main identification item for Ghanaians to register and obtain Voters' Identification Card for the purposes of voting in any national elections.

The neighbours of this country – Togo, Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso have health systems that are more expensive than ours. Nationals of the above countries in particular took advantage of the laxity in our system to register with the various health insurance schemes and accessed our health facilities free of charge. Apart from putting a lot of pressure on our health facilities, the regular use of our health facilities also increased the Health Bill for the government.

Again, President Kufuor formed a body to provide National Identification Cards for each and every citizen residing in this country, including foreigners for various developmental reasons. Indeed, that would have been the best identification to be used in future voter registration exercise as regards such activities. Alas, when the NDC assumed political power in 2016, they deliberately abandoned the project because it would have cut off foreigners' involvement in our national elections.

Why does the NDC not have any interest in ensuring that Ghanaians have a national identification which will distinguish them from non-Ghanaians? There is no nation without non-citizens resident in that society doing one activity or the other. However, the nationals are always distinguished from non-nationals. Why is the NDC scared about what happens everywhere? Some nations have gone through deadly civil wars on this matter of nationality. Is that what the NDC wants us to go through in future?

In fact, before the 2016 general elections, the NHIA itself went around many border communities to register and issue NHIA cards for free to people whose nationality was questionable for the purpose of using the NHIA cards to register and obtain Voter Identification Cards for the 2016 general elections.

The registration for the NHIA cards neither required the production of Birth Certificates nor Passports; hence quite an appreciable number of people who were otherwise not qualified to register with the Electoral Commission were able to have their names in the ECs register because they possessed NHIA Identification Cards which did not require any national identification to obtain.

It is also pertinent to find out from the NDC as to whether those holders of the Voters' Identification Cards, who were disqualified by the Supreme Court after the Abu Ramaddan and Evans Nimako petitions to the Supreme Court and the subsequent ruling by the Apex Court, still possess them.

If they possess them, are they not going to use them to obtain the Ghana Card should the process allow the use of the Voter ID Cards? I have read elsewhere that the only large territory that is not a state is Antarctica, and it is administered by a consortium of states. A household which does not know its members cannot cater for their needs, let alone take on board visitors or strangers.

Globally, international relations in operation require that states provide the five basic social values of security – freedom, order, justice and welfare to all citizens. No nation can better provide the much-needed security to its people than the people themselves. In the days of yore, when Ghana's economy was the envy of not only African nations but the world at large, we educated and trained many people from our neighbouring countries free of charge. When our economy went through the most challenging periods in the 1970s, they all left us to enjoy their countries and served them with the training and education we freely offered them. We were left to clean up our mess as sons and daughters of Ghana.

For partisan political considerations and crave for political power at any cost, the NDC thinks anybody who says he or she is a Ghanaian must be considered as such. Why does the NDC not trust Ghanaians to vote massively for them but have to depend on foreigners to bring them to power?

President Akufo-Addo says, “The lust for power should not cloud one's sense of judgement”. I say the lust for power should not destroy our patriotism to mother Ghana.

Daavi just offer me three tots for this bad weather.

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Kwesi Biney
Kwesi Biney, © 2018

This author has authored 73 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: KwesiBiney

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