In 2016, over 15 million people were issued with Voter ID cards. This potentially makes them Ghanaians.
This is because, according to the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, any possessor of the national voter ID card lawfully acquired is a Ghanaian who by extension has the sole right to vote in any national elections to elect national leaders.
The National Voter ID card is the singular most important document possessed by more than half the population of Ghana.
It has become the most preferred reference document in almost all major public and private institutions in Ghana to authenticate the claims of customers or clientele.
In the absence of a national ID card, the voter ID is accepted as a proof of one’s identity as a Ghanaian.
The Electoral Commission which is so mandated by law to issue the voter ID card does so through rigorous constitutional procedures.
Over the years our legal system, civil society and the Electoral Commission have done their best to protect the sanctity of the national voter ID card.
A case in point was the 2014/2015 Supreme Court ruling as a result of a suit by Abu Ramadan which sought to clean perceived non Ghanaians from the register. It was then upheld that holding National Health Insurance card could not be a proof of one’s identity.
Consequent to that ruling is the improvement in the virginity of the National Voter ID card .
This card was used to conduct one of the most peaceful and timely delivered elections by the Electoral Commission in 2016.
It is this trump card that gave power to the current executives and legislature.
Eighteen months down the line, the two persons elected through the use of the voter id card have ‘agreed’ either jointly or severally that the National voter ID card cannot be used to determine the National identity of a Ghanaian…..
Aaaaba, our elected elite, what is the logic, and where is it coming from?
How the Voter ID Card is procured
The current voter ID card is a biometric card which captures the biological features of the individual. Thus, it has more enhanced security features than the birth certificate and the Ghanaian passport.
Before one can acquire the voter ID card , major stakeholders preferably political party agents and people from the particular polling stations are present at the registration Centres to authenticate whoever is acquiring the card. It is deemed that anyone issued with the voter ID card is known within the polling station or the electoral area as a Ghanaian and this meets the basic requirements of the law electoral laws (Article 42, CI 75, etc)
The acquisition of the birth certificate and the Ghanaian passport do not follow this stringent measures enumerated above. Currently, for one to acquire the birth certificate, you need to present a voter ID card as one of the identitificatons requirements. So how come, a tool that was used to acquire a birth certificate cannot be used to acquire a Ghana card but the birth certificate can be used?
It is like the authorities saying they hate faeces but they accepts maggot.
Some have likened
the current posture of the NIA to a new Dance hall Artiste who wants people to attend his show but wants to determine at the gate which kind of fans are to pay for the show, thus, denying the real fans to the show.
It is such perceived larks by our leaders that annoys majority of silent voters.
Come to think of it, the two major tools that the current NIA law expressly say it shall be used to authenticate the identity of Ghanaians are already very compromised.
In one of the investigative pieces by Anas Aremeyaw Anas, our birth certificate and passports were in the possession of foreigners.
A notorious Nigerian armed robber arrested in Nigeria was found to possess our national passport.
These documents are what our authorities are defending and directing us to use for the ongoing Ghana card registration exercise.
Where is the honesty and integrity in these argument.
The other arrangements in bringing someone as a witness is also flawed and weak argument. It would be difficult if not impossible for the seven million holders of the birth certificate to guarantee the rest of the 23 million people.
The Way Forward
The current National identity Register Amendment Act, 2017(Act950) provides for requirements for registration and among the requirements is
(e)”any other information as may be required by the Authority ” ……
In the current law, whose portion quoted above, the NIA has been given some discretionary powers. It is the expectation of this writer that the privilege would be exercised within the context of Article 296 of the 1992 constitution which stipulates how discretionary powers can be exercised. This is because article 42 of the 1992 Constitution raises a presumption of citizenship for all Ghanaian Voter ID card holders as was held in the Abu Ramadan case.
This pronouncement of citizenship of the holders of National voters id cards by article 42 of the national constitution ought not be ignored by the NIA in applying step #e of the ACT 950 of 2017
The second option so to speak is for the Executive looking at the national uproar about the current arrangement which seeks to reject the voter ID is to go back to parliament through a certificate of urgency and amend the current law to admit the voter ID card for the Ghana card registration.
The later option will also perhaps turn away the anger of the people against the NIA.
Author: Fred Forson PR Practitioner Accra