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Opinions of Thursday, 3 July 2008

Columnist: Kusi, Duncan

National ID cards

Issuing of National ID cards should not be the work of the government. In order not to create political tensions and speculations among foreigners who may think of the second coming of aliens compliance order. It should be the work of our community leaders, town and village Chiefs, in collaboration with the district and municipal assemblies.

The only part the government can play in this process is to design and print common identification cards and distribute them to the district assemblies after the exercise has been completed.

Traditionally, we have been living in communities with our extended families and every family or household has a leader. He or she is the one who manages all affairs of the family. The leader represents the whole family during town or village meetings, funerals and serve as a steward to the family.

There are other people who are elected by the community to carry out some duties. These people are commonly called "the town or village committee". Through the help of this "committee" the chief of the town knows the head of every family.

The town and village committees have books which contain list of names of all those who come from that town or village. Only those who are eighteen years and above names are written in these books.

Even when one is no more living in that town that person's name must still be in the list. The names are arranged according to households or families beginning with house numbers, followed by the the leader of the family (Abusua Panyin) and the rest of his or her people.

Obviously, the committee depends on the list to collect funeral dues to support any family, that loses her beloved one, and paying of those dues is obligatory to citizens in that community.

The same list of names are use to organise and control communal works and it is an offence to anyone who refuses to participate without permission.

I hope, the system is practiced all over the country so if that is the case then,

The government has to urge the district amd municipal assemblies to collect copies of the lists from the village and town committees in their jurisdictions through their Chiefs.

Second step: The district and municipal assemblies have to create permanent data bases or offices to compile and file the lists according to their suburbs in alphabetical order then copies have to be submitted to the government. From there, the government has to submit copies of the lists to the local government, ministry of interior, immigration office, the police service and the BNI for security reasons.

Third step: The government has to print common National ID cards to cover the number of names submitted and give the cards to the district and municipal assemblies, they will also distribute the cards to the town and village committees.

Fourth step: The committees have to inform the communities about the availability of the ID cards so every family head must go along with the list of his or her people's names and their pictures.

Fifth step: The pictures must be stacked on the cards and return to the district assemblies for authentifications.

Sixth step: After authentifications, the town committee have to recollect the cards from the district assemblies and distribute them to the people.

Seventh step: Right from there, the committee has to create a permanent office or a meeting point in every town or village to keep the system running and when we are able to do that then we have got a solid foundation for issuing of National ID cards.

Initially, there would be some problems but with the aid of the permanent offices which will be created by the town committees, they would be able to solve the problems.

PROBLEMS THE TOWN COMMITTEES WOULD ENCOUNTER

1. Some people left the town when they were under eighteen years so their names were not written in the committee books. 2. Others were not born and bread in the town because their parents migrated to settle elsewhere. 3. There must be errors of omissions and spelling mistakes when they were compiling names. 4 It is also likely that there must be some change of names, and all those with new names would like their new names to appear on the cards.

Before any of the problems would be solved, one with such a problem has to appear before the town committee with the leader of his or her family for confirmation. The government must prosecute any false declaration in this process. This will caution and entangle the people not to falsify.

Throughout the whole process the committee should work along with the "Community Police" currently created by the NPP government. The Community Police has important role to play in this exercise.

The same process could be used to issue the foreigners ID cards but their own would be subjected to renewal in every two years. Renewal of these documents should attract some fees.

SHORT STAY VISITORS

Most at times, we hospitalise visitors. Some of them would be our relatives. Either the person is a relative or not so far as he is not living in that community we should notify the town committee.

If the person was there for a shorter or longer stay the committee have to be aware.

All landlords and hoteliers should comply with these laws and failure to do so must result in prosecution.

I have written this not to condemn the government plans towards the ID cards, but if the approach was a hard exercise for the authorities, they can also adopt this system to issue the ID cards.

God bless our homeland Ghana, Amen.

kusi811@yahoo.com