1. The development in the Volta Region, bothering on the National Identification Authority (NIA) registration exercise currently underway in the Region for purposes of issuing indigenes the Ghana Card for reasons of identification requires immediate attention. We are all aware of the challenges that confronted the registration exercise in the Greater Accra Region. As we speak, there are thousands of citizens within the Greater Accra Region, whom, after weeks of registration, are yet to be issued with their ID Cards.
2. There were reports across the Greater Accra Region of long queues at several, if not all registration centres with complaints of our compatriots spending hours, and in some circumstances, days, to get registered for the purposes of obtaining the Ghana Card. Amidst these challenges, the National Identification Authority brought its registration exercise in the Region to a close, and moved to the Volta Region.
3. Indeed, in a publication on graphic.com, the online platform of Daily Graphic of 15 May, 2019, titled “12 NIA officials sacked for violating Ghana Card registration rules” it contains as part of the challenges in one of its paragraphs “The exercise has faced some challenges, including delays, network problems, extortion, registration of foreigners, the registration of persons outside the designated centres and outside the stipulated time, among others”,
4. With barely a week to end the registration exercise in the Greater Accra Region, the NIA Ghana Card registration exercise was reported to continue to battle with massive challenges. I reference once again a 1st July, 2019 publication on ghanaweb.com titled “Ghana Card: NIA still battling with challenges less than a week to end exercise”, the publication contains in its first paragraph as follows: “The National Identification Authority, NIA is still battling with challenges that riddled the beginning of the mass registration for the Ghana Card with less than a week to the end of the exercise in the Greater Accra region”, There were reports from our citizens who felt frustrated in this exercise, and have questioned why the NIA could not, for the period in question, resolve all issues confronting the registration exercise for them to easily obtain their Cards.
5. These problems, that characterised the Greater Accra Region, are far from over as the exercise runs in the Volta Region. Reports being received and publications thereof, are nothing different from what we heard and saw in Accra in the past month. In a publication on ghanaweb.com of Tuesday 23 July, 2019, sourced from the Ghana News Agency (GNA), titled “NIA starts mass Ghana card registration in Volta region amidst technical challenges” it was captured “At about 0950 hours when the Ghana News Agency visited some registration centres in the Ho municipality, it noted that, the Authority was yet to issue a card to anyone though the processes began at 0700 hours.” The publication contains also, “At all seven centres visited by the GNA in Ho, almost all applicants were stuck at stage one of the five stages in the registration processes due to network failure. At a few other centres, the GNA was told that devices for capturing the biometric data- photograph, iris, fingerprints and signature were not functioning, necessitating the processes to be put on hold”.
6. These are a litany of records that have revealed to the authorities, the difficulties we have subjected our fellow citizens to, in an exercise as important as this, which is expected to provide a relevant National Identification Card to our citizens. However, whereas we would have expected a problem-free exercise in the second month of the registration exercise which is underway in the Volta Region, the story remains the same. There are still stories of extortions which results in the efforts at registering those who are able to tip NIA registration officers, prevention through connivance with NIA officials, from registering some people, poor network resulting in a very slow process, long queues at registration centres which are agitating the people, inadequate registration kits and manpower and failure to ascertain the population density of residence in some of the communities prior to the deployment of NIA officials and registration equipment.
7. I believe strongly that this Ghana Card registration exercise is one very important exercise that must be taken serious. The exercise must be carried through with the fairness and tact it requires. Every citizen must have an unfettered and unimpeded right to register, and this exercise must and ought to have been conducted in that manner.
8. It is important to acknowledge that the NIA has become aware of the challenges that have characterized the registration exercise, and have severally promised to have them resolved consistently. Unfortunately, the challenges appear to remain and are more inherent. It is also important to emphasise that, the NIA had long released a time table for the purpose of undertaking a nationwide registration on rotational basis. But, it would be least expected that challenges that are encountered from one phase is carried through to the next. It is not far from expecting, and not far from expressing same, that one would expect that the NIA would cease the opportunity at the end of the registration exercise in the Greater Accra Region, to review and to resolve all challenges that have proven repetitive rather than transferring same into the Volta Region, the second of now 16 regions to be engaged in the Ghana Card registration exercise.
9. For purposes of emphasis, long queues are registered at the various registrations areas in the Volta Region including my very Constituency of South Dayi. The exercise is greeted with insufficient registration kits which have slowed down the processes, causing people to abandon their daily livelihood activities which include farming, to spend hours, if not days, at registration centres across the region. I, as a matter of urgency, admonish the NIA to build confidence in the exercise by deploying more staff, additional registration kits, work extra hard, to ensure that this exercise in the Volta Region is undertaken devoid of the same repeated challenges noted by the institution in its exercise undertaken in the Greater Accra Region, moreso when the intended use of this card is speculated severally, giving rise to citizens to apply to own one.
10. The staff of NIA stationed in the Region are rude and very insulting. The registration exercise is being undertaken as though it is a registration of members of a political party. I wish to remind them that it is not and should not be undertaken as such. The level of frustrations that the people in the Volta region are being subjected to is sheer mind boggling and must not be countenanced.
11. It is important for these challenges to be surmounted as soon as possible, or the exercise suspended to enable the NIA to have them addressed holistically before resuming registration in the Region. It would be unacceptable to see the NIA brush these aside, and proceed in this exercise and pretend to be registering our compatriots only to announce to have ended registration in the Region with many people left unregistered through no fault of theirs. Following from the experience that the exercise was not extended in the Greater Accra Region but was considered completed on the earlier determined date, I want to send a message to the NIA to ensure that they do not pretend in this registration exercise, and assume everything is well, and end up preventing people through acts of omission and commission, from partaking successfully in an exercise their taxes are being used for.
Rockson-Nelson E.K. Dafeamekpor Esq.
MP, South Dayi