The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) says some politicians and public officials who want to benefit from inflated contracts of Ghana Card project are preventing the system from being implemented.
Despite its benefits, the party says it was scandalized by the attempt of the NDC Members of Parliament to scuttle this national exercise for the second time.
“In as much as the NDC MPs have the right to oppose the restriction of the identification requirements for registration to Passports and Birth Certificates, we believe the law was unanimously passed by MPs from both sides of the house,” the party said.
At a press conference in Accra, the party’s Policy Advisor, Mr Kofi Asamoah Siaw, questioned if the NDC MPs were asleep when they accepted the current four ways of proving citizenship.
The current law passed by parliament allows the use of passports, birth certificates, or when an applicant is unable to submit any of the required documents, a “Ghanaian citizen” relative (or relation) of the applicant may identify the applicant under oath.
Alternatively, where the applicant has no known “Ghanaian citizen” relatives available, two persons determined by the NIA Board as “Ghanaians citizens” may identify the applicant under oath.
Mr. Asamoah Siaw said the NDC MPs should blame themselves and not the NIA, saying that Rather than boycotting the exercise, the NDC MPs still have an opportunity to amend the law by introducing a private members bill to seek to amend the law.
“The NDC MPs are entitled to pursue this path so that the voter’s ID card, which exclusion from the list of valid proofs of citizenship is the cause of the current cacophony, will be added,” he stressed.
According to him, the Hansard of Parliament which the party has laid hands on, at no point did the NDC MPs object to the proposed means of proofing citizenship.
“In the committee’s report under proof of citizenship, the chairman reported to the house that the bill seeks to do away with the use of voters’ identity card, drivers’ license and baptismal certificates.
“It maintained the use of birth certificates and passports only and introduced residence permit and other documents evidencing acquired citizenship,” he said.
The PPP Policy Advisor revealed that the NDC supported the report and “to quote Alhaji Inusah Abdulai B. Fuseini (MP, Tamale Central) “Mr. Speaker, there is no controversy in the amendments.”
It seeks to expand the field of information that would be required, and bring the information up to date with modern trends.
As I joked in the meeting, they are trying to make it impossible for anybody to hide in this country or outside the country.
Mr. Speaker, the second one was that in the parent bill, challenging somebody’s request to be put on the register was limited only to officers of the National Identification Authority. They now want to expand the remit.
An individual could walk to the station and challenge the registration officer for registering somebody who has come to present himself for registration.
We believe this is in accord with democratic tenancy; empowering the citizens to challenge the form.”
The NDC, he noted, cannot be allowed to continue their disservice to Ghana even in opposition when they blatantly refused to implement the Ghana Card policy for the eight years they were in power.
“We want our cards NOW and nothing should be allowed to derail such an important national exercise.
“We need to demonstrate competence in managing our own affairs by raising a credible national database; which objective cannot be sacrificed on the altar of political mischief and unbridled propaganda,” Mr. Asamoah Siaw maintained.
On the issue of cost of Ghana Card, the party commended the NIA for the work it did in collecting the data of over 21million people during the first exercise.
PPP policy Advisor expressed disappointed that the work the NIA did in the process can at best be described as another financial loss to the tax payer.
“The NDC MPs have argued that documents available to them show that the total cost of the project is $1.4billion. The breakdown is $1,221,476,123 as the actual cost and tax exemption of $176million. Meanwhile, they claim the CEO of the NIA, Prof Ken Attafuah, is on record as saying it will cost the nation $293 million and not $1.4billion.
“To promote good governance, accountability, transparency, and probity in our public financial management system, we wish to suggest that a Committee of Parliament can invite the NIA at any time to scrutinize the cost and report their findings to the people of Ghana,” he said.
He added that the Auditor-General will have an opportunity to audit the activities of the NIA and submit its report to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.
According to him, any detected wrong doing on the part of the NIA will land on the desk of the Special Prosecutor for prosecution for acts of corruption.
“The NDC must allow the process to continue and not attempt to bastardize the exercise by raising non-existent difficulties with the process in the pursuit of their suspicious and covert political agenda,” he said.
For the past week, social media has been awashed with fake Ghana cards of some NDC MPs.
This, he said, undermines and bastardizes the integrity and security of the process and threatens the peace of our country.
“Identity theft jeopardizes national security and this issue must not be swept under the carpet.
“What is worse is that criminals are using the same technology as governments and businesses to create advanced fake IDs to further their crimes,” Mr Asamoah Siaw stressed.
The party called on the BNI and CID to thoroughly investigate “this issue and bring the perpetuators to book, we also want Ghanaians to be vigilant in order to keep the problem at bay.”
Touching on the Ghana Card and Voters’ Register, Mr. Asamoah Siaw said “we are surprised that one of the requirements the NDC MPs are pushing to be used as means of identification is the voter ID cards when we all know that the voter’s ID card in its current state is not credible.”
“In any event, if anyone says that he or she is a Ghanaian, but cannot provide a passport or a birth certificate, or does not have a relative, how did they get a Voter’s ID card in the first place,” he asked.
The party is convinced that using the National Identification Card to compile the voters’ register is a permanent solution to the electoral problem of lack of a credible voter’s and will prevent cheating in the elections.
The party also said a reliable national database depends largely on timely reporting of births and deaths.
The PPP called on government to support the Birth and Death Registry now so that it will perform its mandate effectively.