The executive secretary of the National Identification Authority (NIA), Professor Kenneth Agyemang Attafuah, has declared that there is no justifiable reason why the Ghana Card cannot be used for the presidential and parliamentary elections in December 2024. He also argues that it will be a tragedy if Ghana does not use the national identity card in this way.
According to the NIA boss, the Authority has done so much work on the Ghana Card and so many Ghanaians have been issued with the national ID that clearly the card can and ought to be used for the 2024 and other elections in the future.
The use of the Ghana Card in any way, shape or form in the 2024 elections has become contentious. Members of the Minority Caucus in Parliament have vowed to oppose any legislation brought to the House by the Electoral Commission authorizing use of the card as a voter ID.
Professor Attafuah made known his thoughts about the Ghana Card as he addressed journalists at a press soirée organized by the Authority at its offices in Accra on Friday 18 November 2022.
“Speaking for myself, I think it will be a tragedy if we do not [use the Ghana Card for Election 2024]. There is no reasonable basis, in my view, for that not to happen,” Attafuah said.
Ready for 2024
Emphasizing why he is persuaded that the Ghana Card can be used in Election 2024, Attafuah said: “The NIA has registered 17.3 million of a projected 19 million people – 17.3 million of the population 15 years and above, so that [of] those who are going to fall into the category of people eligible to register and vote by age 18, a lot of them have already been captured.
“We still have a certain margin of approximately two million. Those two million people who have not registered, if they desire to register, there is no reason why they cannot be registered within a maximum of six months.
“And we are talking 2024 – some two clear years to the day the Electoral Commission would say we are closing the registration,” he said.
Poised to deliver
The NIA leader further indicated that because the NIA’s registration process “is a continuous registration throughout our dear nation, with 292 registration centres available” across the country, there is no impediment that can constraint the Authority from fulfilling its mandate to the Ghanaian people in order to allow the Ghana Card to be used for the next and future general elections.
“NIA has shown the capacity to open additional registration points and if it becomes necessary and warranted, those are measures that NIA will reintroduce. But from our calculation and from the numbers that remain, such a move will be completely unnecessary.
“I want to assure you [the journalists present] and the entire nation that if the Electoral Commission decides, if Parliament grants the Electoral Commission’s wish and gives it the go-ahead to use the Ghana Card, NIA is poised to give cards to those whose cards are printed and are … in the backlog, and to register and issue cards to those who have not yet registered for the Ghana Card,” Professor Attafuah said.
“There is ample time, there is solid technical expertise or competence, and there is the leadership and the will. It is a matter of that those who have not gotten it will get [the Ghana Card] and they will get it way ahead of EC’s own timelines,” he said.
Ghanaians living abroad
Professor Attafuah said it is also expected that registration of Ghanaians living abroad will begin in 2023. Registration will be carried out by the staff of Ghana’s missions in the countries where Ghana has a diplomatic presence.
Using the staff of Ghana’s missions is a statutory requirement and the NIA is committed to observing it fully, the NIA boss said.
“The registration of Ghanaians abroad comes at a fee to them. Ghanaians in the West African sub-region will pay the equivalent of $30 while Ghanaians in the rest of Africa will pay a fee slightly lower than that to be paid by Ghanaians living in Euro-American countries.
“Ghanaians in the Euro-American countries are required to pay the equivalent of US$50 [in the currency] of the country where they live. It is part of the revenue model that underpins this whole public-private partnership arrangement with Identify Management Systems Ltd,” the NIA boss said.
“It is part of the reason why we are able to give the Ghana Card to every Ghanaian living in Ghana for free but every Ghanaian living outside Ghana has to pay for that,” Professor Attafuah added.
Registration of refugees
In his presentation, Professor Attafuah announced that the NIA would commence registration of all refugees in Ghana from Saturday 19 November 2022.
He said the pilot registration is targeting roughly a hundred refugees. The NIA is liaising with the Ghana Refugees Board to ensure that the exercise continues smoothly, Attafuah said, and that only eligible refugees living legally in Ghana ultimately get on to the NIA database.