If there is any flagship promise by the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo government that may not be fulfilled before 2020, it is the pledge to digitally register every Ghanaian citizen and resident into a full-proof database.
While the president is hitting the ground running in order to keep the Free Senior High School (SHS) Policy, One District, One Factory; One Village, One Dam, the Special Prosecutor, development authorities and others moving, there is little or nothing to show that the National Identification project is on track.
As if placed under a curse, the policy seems to be reeling under the very credibility problems it had faced since its inception in 1973; and there seems to be no end in sight to its woes.
Ghana Card, as it is popularly called, is supposed to be a proof of the identity, citizenship and residence of the holder. First introduced in 1973, it was issued to citizens in the border regions of Ghana including Volta, Northern, Upper East and Upper West, Brong Ahafo, and parts of the Western Region, only to be discontinued three years later due to problems with logistics and finance.
Again, in 1987, the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) government revisited the project but could not pursue it due to economic difficulties. It came to the fore once again in 2001 for national discourse, and by 2003, the National Identification Secretariat was set up.
The Act establishing the Authority was finally passed in 2006, with Prof. Ernest Dumor appointed as the Executive Secretary. He was replaced by Dr. William Ahadzie in 2009.
Today, eighteen months into the Akufo-Addo administration, Ghanaians are not sure whether the fifth attempt by successive administrations to revive it is feasible.
Recently, the so-called challenges of NIA was deepened with a former Head of Technology and Executive Secretary, Mr Osei Kwame Griffiths, challenging the cost of the whole project.
In fact, at a point, so bad were things that, Professor Ken Agyeman Attafuah, suggested in the media that the Authority’s failure to meet its timelines for beginning registrations and issuance of the cards could be as a result of SABOTAGE.
After entangling itself with the controversial $1.22 billion budget, and having been reportedly provided with a 128 kilobyte capacity data, an office, logistics and staff, the presence of NIA can hardly be felt in any part of the county. All that Ghanaians have seen or heard in the past one year are series of embarrassingly disappointing promises and apologies.
The last time NIA was in the media was two months ago when the it reportedly registered the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, at the Manhyia Palace.
THE PUBLISHER is worried that, in this age and time, an all-important policy as the registration of the good people of Ghana would be so toyed with in the lackadaisical manner the current leadership of the NIA is going about it.
We know President Akufo-Addo as a man of his words and a problem-solver, who considers the implementation of this policy very dear to his heart. But the way it is being toyed with, one does not get the impression its implementation is high on the national agenda.
The paper wishes to call on the president to take another look at the operations of the Authority and ‘do something’, before things get out of hand.
This snail approach to such a crucial programme is unacceptable.