By Frederick E. Aggrey
Some members of Ghana’s Parliament were yesterday issued with the Ghana Card by the National Identification Authority, as it continues its nationwide issuance.
This was on the back of a boycott of the exercise by the Minority.
After issuing the executive with the cards at Jubilee House, the next stop on the agenda was to issue members of the House with the card.
The members, especially those on the Majority side, were elated to have got the chance to have the card, since they were certain it would enhance effective governance.
In exclusive interviews of the members with this paper, the Member for Okaikoi Central, Patrick Boamah, indicated that it was good to have the card. He traced the history of the card to ex-President John Agyekum Kuffuor when he muted the idea upon realiding that Cote d’Ivoire , Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso and all surrounding countries had their national cards.
He further revealed that the registration is not only for Ghanaians, but also foreign citizens resident here, including refugees.
He added that the card would help know the people present in Ghana and their calibre. This, he said, would help reduce crimes such as armed robbery, fraud and the likes. He added that it would consequently help to formalise the economy.
Accusing the Minority of double standards, he said that almost all the members who matter on the side of the Minority, in a related issue, backed the exercise during the debate in the House.
He said Inusah Fuseini said there was no problem with the related amendment. Also, Armah Kofi Buah, also of the Minority, was happy with the introduction of the Ghana Card, adding that his constituency is near the border with Cote d’Ivoire, and the Ghana Card would be of immense help.
The Minister for Zongo Affairs and Member for Madina, Abubakar Sadique Boniface, on his part, indicated that the card is used in almost all advanced economies. He said he was elated about the exercise and ready to be registered.
Sampson Ahi, Member for Sefwi Bodi and Member of the Privileges Committee of Parliament, raised issues on the cost of the project. He said that whilst some government officials quote US$1.3 billion as cost of the project, others quote US$1.2 billion.
He said what is even more confusing is the National Identification Authority themselves quoting US$300 million. He said the Minority members were waiting for the actual cost of the project before they participate.
He further raised the issue of requirements for registration over which the Minority had decided to boycott the exercise. He indicated that most people do not have access to a birth certificate and may be unfairly excluded from the exercise.
He gave an example of himself, who would not have set eyes on a birth certificate had he not come to Accra.
Ebenezer Kojo Kum, Member for Ahanta West, on his part, said the law that requires the two forms of identification to be used as a requirement was agreed and passed in Parliament, so he did not understand why the Minority was using that to attempt to stall the process.
He further stated that the NIA was spending within the limits of funds approved to them by the House. Therefore, the attempt to raise issues with cost is baseless.
The members took turns to register and get their cards, and called on Ghanaians to support the exercise and come out in their numbers to register.