Many must have been surprised when Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia stated in a public lecture at Ashesi University this week, that the Ghana Card will be used as an electronic passport soon, and that, holders of the card will be able to board flights to 197 countries and 44,000 airports worldwide from next year.
Just as many must have been surprised by his revelation that with effect from 2022, all infants delivered in Ghana will be given national identification numbers at birth. Lucky the unborn.
A source of critical concern in the matter of the Ghana Card at the moment is that Ghana has a population of 31,732,129 and discounting age categorization, only 15. 5 million Ghanaians have been issued with the almighty Ghana Card.
Some citizens were unable to register for the Ghana Card during the previous registration because they were either ill and/or bedridden, had no easy access to registration centres or are too old to stand in those very long and meandering registration queues for hours. There are of course those who may have travelled outside the country.
Another reason was that the NIA officials conducted the exercise in one mighty rush and vanished as if stray ghosts from the zombie apocalypse were coming to registration centres to snatch them and their equipment away to another planet.
To set a limit of a few weeks at a time for the registration of citizens in the country’s administrative Regions and Districts, then pack equipment thereafter and march off on your merry way back to Accra, congratulating yourself for having pulled off a successful national registration exercise, is probably only funny from the lighter side.
With the resumption of registration for the card this week, there is reason for public concern: With less than four percent of the country’s population fully vaccinated, the discovery of new variants of the virus and the epidemiological uncertainties in the progression of epidemics, the risk of spread during the registration is a real and ever-present one.
The Vice-President has the authority to ask the NIA to ensure maximum protection of the public and special protection for those most at risk:
The VP may also prevail upon the NIA to take steps to avoid the nightmarish misery many people were put through during the previous round of registration.
The practice of setting tight deadlines and making citizens form long, winding queues for every mass registration exercise in Ghana typically breeds corruption among registration officials, causes undue anxiety among the national population, puts the health of older citizens at risk and leads to the bizarre practice of citizens sleeping rough overnight at registration centres to be able to join queues at dawn.
Queues are unavoidable in mass registration, but enough personnel and equipment should be made available to limit the inconvenience and suffering citizens are usually put through.
Sometimes you get the impression that those in charge get a feeling of authority from seeing people going through suffering. It is certainly during such national exercises that the claim by some leaders that they love their people and seek their welfare, is put to a severe test.
Many of the aged suffer from various neurodegenerative disorders and medical conditions, and it is dangerous to subject them to stress in queues. The VP may ask the NIA to ensure the safety of the vulnerable: The aged and those with limiting medical conditions.