Monday, 13 April 2015

Kudos To The National Identification Authority's Leadersdhip

The National Identification Authority's (NIA) leadership deserve to be commended for the remarkable way they  have revived its operational capacity.

The NIA's executive secretary, Dr. Josiah Cobbah, has taken bold steps to put the NIA in a position, which makes it possible for national identity cards that are cutting-edge, to be issued  - and for virtually all the other state agencies to share and tap its database.

By utilising the public private partnership (PPP) model, a vital state institution, whose work is crucial for the success of the government agencies tasked to protect our nation, and all its citizens, is on the  cusp of being able to carry out its work across  Ghana.

The NIA is working to give entities in Ghana's public-sector the same capability that state agencies in wealthy developed nations have for sharing information - and that is to be welcomed: as it will benefit both the country and ordinary people in diverse ways.

For example, at a juncture in our history, when the threat of terrorism has become a serious security concern to governments across west Africa, it is imperative that every individual residing in Ghana can be quickly identified by the authorities, whenever necessary.

To avoid a situation similar to the one in which the National Lotteries Authority (NLA) was taken advantage of by Simnet in a PPP agreement, which went sour, and eventually ended up in court, it is necessary that the NIA collaborates  with reputable international organisations such as Adam Smith International of the UK - to help it build its in-house capacity to evaluate PPP proposals from potential private-sector businesses: and ensure that all the PPP agreements it enters into are win-win ones.

Adam Smith International's advice once saved Nigeria over £100 million - in a PPP deal to build a second bridge across the River Niger, which was originally to cost £500 million. Through cost-cutting resulting from Adam Smith International's intervention the cost of the project was eventually scaled down to £400 million.

Above all, Dr. Cobbah must ensure that all PPP proposals received by the NIA, are put into the public domain - so that concerned individuals and civil society organisations can evaluate them too.

That will ensure that at all material times, concerned Ghanaians will be in a position  to see whether or not those in charge of the NIA are being transparent in carrying out its mandate.

This being Ghana, there will always be suspicion in the minds of many, that public officials are receiving kickbacks from those who win government contracts.

Transparency in all the NIA's PPP agreements will ensure that those who manage it are not tarred with that same brush too. A reputation for good project governance will be good for the NIA - which needs to be seen as a credible state institution.

Dr. Cobbah has a well-deserved reputation for being a man of integrity.

He is a fair and decent gentleman - and one  wishes  him well at the NIA: which he has revamped in such a short space of time since his appointment, by utilising the PPP model.

It is exemplary work that other public-sector entities ought to learn from. Kudos to the NIA's leadership.

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