MP for Builsa South constituency, Clement Abas Apaak has defended the Minority’s decision to boycott the registration of the Ghana Card and to petition the Supreme Court for an interpretation on the use of the voters’ ID card as proof of nationality and registration for the Ghana card.
Speaking on TV3’s New Day program Saturday, he said the action is undoubtedly important considering that all citizens have the right to access the new National Identification Cards which will provide primary access to services in the country. A change in mind on the part of the minority in parliament after their initial consent on the committee level he insists, is only rational and wise especially after they have realized the repercussions of the omission of the Voter’s ID as part of documents accepted for the registration process.
His comments come on the back of suggestions by co-panelist on the show and Member of Parliament for Secondi Takoradi, Andrew Kofi Egyapa Mercer, that Minority members in parliament are indecisive and operate based on ‘instructions and dictates’ of their party executives.
Mr. Mercer, in his submission on the show suggested that the decision of Minority members in parliament to boycott the registration process stems from directives given to them by top hierarchy and not based on their own accord.
Describing the move as a complete waste of time, he said “It’s unfortunate. This country hasn’t got time. We don’t, yet our elected officers think they can play politics with everything. They are going to court not to seek an interpretation of the constitution. They are going to court to seek an interpretation of the constitution, they are going to court to seek an interpretation of the ruling of the Supreme Court on the Abu Ramadan case under which jurisdiction? They are only being mischievous, consistent with their nature, when they take a decision in parliament and their party executives whisper into their heads like they did during the U.S military agreement, they agreed at the committee, unanimous. When the committee report came out and their party executives heard, they rushed to parliament, held a caucus meeting with them and insisted that they change their position. So they went out and said ‘no’, we’ve changed our position.”
In a rebuttal however, Dr. Apaak maintained that it was unreasonable for anyone to suggest that a decision taken cannot be backtracked especially when new conditions that warrant a change are realised.
“If we read act and the law, the card is going to become a primary means of accessing services and we shouldn’t take that for granted so why wouldn’t we want as many Ghanaians to be on the card? The idea is to reduce the obstacles, to allow for more people to be part of it and I don’t see why tantrums should be thrown about what we believe is commonsensical. We may have been blindsided by not thinking about this but if we have become aware that excluding the voters ID card is not going to allow for a more inclusive process, there is no reason why we shouldn’t raise that issue and we shouldn’t be shy about stating it. Only a fool does not change his or her mind if you become aware of new conditions that warrant a change in a course of action and that is exactly what we are doing”, he noted.
“We have decided to boycott the Ghana Card and we are doing that. We have also put in the public domain what we are going to do. That doesn’t mean we are restricted to those options. Of course leadership is still discussing the options. The important point must be made that we are only asking that because this is a national program of immense importance, we widen the window of opportunity and make it easier for more Ghanaians to be part of it that is why we feel that excluding the voters ID card and highlighting only the passport and the birth certificate, we don’t want to discourage people from being on the Ghana Card. It has consequences, we shouldn’t take it for granted”, he added.
The Minority caucus in Parliament is set to file processes at the Supreme Court for an interpretation on the use of the voters’ ID card as proof of nationality and registration for the Ghana card.
The leader of the Minority side, Haruna Iddrisu revealed this on Wednesday.
He said the Minority firmly believes that many Ghanaians will be denied the opportunity to register and be issued with the Ghana card since the National Identification Authority (NIA) has limited the proof of citizenship to passport and birth certificate.