A recent official announcement by Government that the set deadline for the nationwide SIM card registration exercise would not be extended and therefore in simple and direct language, all unregistered SIM cards would be deactivated by the end of this month, makes one wonder whether or not the decision makers are living in same country with the persons whom the decision would affect.
A legally issued Ghana Card from the National Identification Authority (NIA) is a prerequisite for the SIM card registration and it is common knowledge that several hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians, through no fault of theirs, are yet to be issued with Ghana Cards.
Yet, Government is threatening that such people who through no fault of theirs do not own a Ghana Card would be deprived of their rights to own a telecommunications SIM card in this day and age.
The New Publisher fully understands and supports the need for SIM card registration and its benefits. However, the paper is disappointed that Government is pretending to be unaware that there are still long queues at Ghana Card registration centers with the NIA unable to meet the daily demands for cards.
The Executive Secretary of the NIA, Prof. Kenneth Attafuah, barely a week ago had told Citi FM in Accra that whereas about 15,702,719 Ghana Cards have been printed and issued, there are some 808,493 cards that have been printed but not issued for varied reasons.
The said interview between Prof. Attafuah and Citi FM’s Bernard Avle was on Thursday July 21, just about a week to the deadline of the SIM registration.
There are many others who have duly registered but through no fault of theirs, the cards have not reached the respective registration centers for onward distribution to the appropriate owners.
There are also several hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians who are still in queues awaiting registration.
Therefore for Government to issue a blanket directive that at end of month, persons who have no Ghana Cards and therefore are unable to do the SIM registration would have their SIM cards deactivated, is a rather insensitive and near-vexatious directive.
Merely urging people to go and get their SIM cards registered before end of month means nothing when the people do not have their Ghana Cards. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands have registered yet are unable to get their cards through no fault of theirs. Hundreds of thousands are in queues waiting to be registered. Despite the frustration, Government is saying all such persons would have their SIM cards deactivated.
Same Government has turned deaf ears on genuine calls for yet another extension or for a more creative approach of addressing the challenge.
It seems it is the opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that rather has its leaders and key spokespersons speaking the language of the hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians pleading for an extension of the deadline.
Let us not be hypocritical: a party that speaks the hearts and minds of the people, wins the favour of the people.
This Government, as usual, would adopt an insensitive posture until the eleventh hour. Even if there is a last minute extension of the deadline, the NDC would rightfully claim credit for supposedly pushing Government to listen to the cries of Ghanaians for an extension. This is ample political currency for the opposition and an own goal for Government.
Politics aside, owning an active SIM card in not a luxury. It has become a crucial necessity. Therefore there should be a very compelling reason before an innocent person’s SIM card should get deactivated by Government.
For the hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians who through no fault of theirs do not own a Ghana Card to enable their SIM card registration, deactivating their SIM cards would be an overly insensitive and unforgivable act by this Government.