Feature Article of Friday, 20 April 2012
Columnist: Peprah, Onuapa Francis Owusu
By: Onuapa Francis Owusu Peprah
(Part 1) My heart bleeds when I see how Ghana wastes her limited resources on programs which are not sustainable to effect a long term change in our system. Ghana is struggling in the implementation of many unsustainable programs due to the very fact that, Ghana has an appalling UNSTRUCTURED System. Since there is no structured system, processes of implementing programs has also been precarious rendering the subsequent failure of national programs.
Ghana has spent millions of U.S dollars on programs like National Identification program, Biometric Voters register and recently, Ghana had Population and housing census which results still remains in a Limbo .Apart from the millions of financial resources that have been spent on some of these programs without success, the magnitude of the various allegations that have been leveled against each other in the political dispensation in our country nowadays is not something to write home about. If a sustainable system is not implemented in the country, some few unscrupulous politicians and civil servants will take our dear country for ransom, thereby contributing to hopelessness of the future generation.
A lasting solution is needed to save Ghana from her unstructured system. It is only when Ghana gets a structured system, that all these confusion on voting, national Identification program, passports, census, taxes, and other programs and other social interventions can be solved to set the country in the right direction.
After considering a lot of options, the best solution for Ghana is to have a NATIONAL PUBLIC REGISTER. A national public register is a database in which the Biometric Data of every individual in the country both Ghanaians and Non-Ghanaians are recorded, for easier and quicker retrieval of information about a person. This will help to know where each and everyone in the country live. So it automatically records total number of houses in the country and the people living in each house in the country (population figure).
Though it is the difficulties that Ghana is having with the Biometric Voters Registration exercise that have prompted me to express my worries, the National Public Register will have multiple effects on almost every other sector of our economy thereby ensuring a Structured System within which, processes can be streamlined to help implement programs and policies in the country.
The basic specifications that are needed for a national public register to perform its functions successfully are date of births, gender, residence addresses in a form of Biometric data and date of death and this must be backed by our legal and judiciary system.
Let us look at the effects of National Public Register on some of the areas in our country:
Birth and Death Registry:
All people living in Ghana must be registered on the database with their residence addresses, and every new born child will also be recorded on the database depending on the address it will be living with its parents. So automatically, the national population will be updated (plus), and if someone dies, a death index will be allocated for the person to update the national population figure (minus).
Since every individual house and people will be recorded through birth or death, the national public register will automatically give us the total number of houses in towns, districts, regions and for that matter the grand total of houses in the country and total population. So Ghana Statistical Service will not need house-to-house way of collating census.
National Identification Cards
Through registration on the system, a National identity Card can be issued bearing the name, date of birth, picture and of course the residence address the person will be living. If one changes house or residence or moves to another locality, one must cancel the previous registration and register with the new residence which will update the residence records of the individual. So at any point in time, it is 100% sure to verify where one is staying.
Through the data with which a child or any body has been registered, it will not be a problem to check the age of every individual, so the problem of under-age registering for voting will be no-more. Even, no-one will need to do any registration for voting purposes. The system will be run to retrieve all those who are legible to vote at any polling station depending on the residence address with which one is registered. The EC will be saved from the headache it is going through now in the country with the voters registration exercise. Please note that with this, VERIFICATION will be done first in the background, before a card is posted out to legible voters of a polling station. So during voting, one just needs the card and the ID Cards to go to the polling station and the name will be checked against the name on the list. This will prevent accusations and the very problems we are encountering now in the country. Since Non-Ghanaians will be registered on the National Public Register (because they add up to the total population figure at any time), the register will indicate them as residents in the country with their Nationalities attached to them on the system. So the system will exclude them automatically from the list of legible voters at any polling station. The allegation of how foreigners flock into the country to register to vote will be a thing of the past.
Since passports are also another big blow when it comes to even Non-Ghanaians holding our passports, National Public Register will stop this completely. Because it is only Ghanaians who have been registered on our N.P.R. can apply for passports. And in this way, no one will need to go to the passport office, but passports will be applied at the home office which should be created to handle such National Public register, and be transmitted to the passport office for processing.
The availability of a National Public Register will promote the INTEGRATION of all the areas and sectors of the country. This will ensure confidence, stability, national orientation and its associated benefits to the country and de-centralization will be greatly enhanced. It should be noted that, the Integration functionality of the national public register is what Ghana needs. There are other areas like Transparency, corruption, taxes (national internal revenue), national expenditure etc, that can be explained to benefit from a National Public Register, but for the sake of time and effective reading for understand, permit me to touch just these few, for the rest to come in Part 2. Ghana needs a National Public Register else worse things will happen in future elections
Onuapa Francis Owusu Peprah
0049-176 2169 5638