…As Ken Agyapong’s covetousness over the project’s contract dies a natural death
A National Identification project is in the offing as the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government gears up to do an official launch at the headquarters of the National Identification Authority (NIA) in Accra today.
As President Akufo-Addo steps up to the plate to wear the garlands over the project, it is not lost on observers that the project is the fruit of the sweat of the predecessor National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.
The NDC, which like in the case of the Free SHS policy, did the donkey work of building all the school infrastructures that had enabled Akufo-Addo to start his government’s flagship policy, did all the background work for the National ID project.
Amidst the ‘Monkey work, for Baboon to chop,’ scenario, the grand launch of the National ID by the NPP President also invokes memories about covetousness that the NPP’s Member of Parliament for Assin Central, Ken Agyapong, has shown over the project.
A total loose cannon, Mr. Agyapong had publicly chided his own government for not taking the contract for the project from the Agams Group, which has done a fantastic job after it was contracted during the NDC era, and giving it to him.
Mr. Agyapong’s covetousness over the contract has even seen him accuse his own government’s Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, of corruption and favoritism.
As President Akufo-Addo takes the limelight and rides the fanfare to officially launch the National ID project today, therefore, there is going to be a lot of gnashing of teeth from the NDC, while a green-eyed-monster called Ken Agyapong may be cursing softly.
At the end of the day, nobody expects President Nana Akufo-Addo, the same Akufo-Addo who has not minded to give credit to his predecessors over the Free SHS and the Ekumfi Pineapple Factory, among others, to give credit to the NDC government for the donkey work it did to set up the stage for him to launch the National ID project today.
Not even in the reality of the fact that the National ID project had been unsuccessfully initiated by the first NPP government, led by President Kufuor, in 2006 and the fact that this successful groundwork by the NDC is a redemption of the NPP’s failure in the past, will make Akufo-Addo give credit where it is due.
The NDC government in 2013 signed a Public Private Partnership agreement with the Margins Group of Companies to register foreigners in the country under a project called ‘Foreigners Identity Management System (FIMS). The PPP agreement was to be a pilot project that would later be extended into the registration of Ghanaians after two years.
Under the project, foreigners paid $120 as registration fee at various designated registration centres, where, within 10minutes, instant cards were issued.
Currently, the FIMS project is having about 11 centers across the country.
After successful two-year implementation, the NIA went into another agreement in 2015 with the Margins Group of Companies to graduate the successful pilot of the program to Ghanaians so that citizens are issued with instant smart cards.
The complete system arrived in the country in 2015 and preparation has since been ongoing, with moving parts of the clockwork, including porting or transferring of the old Data in the old system into the new system.
Another part is the design of the Smart Card and collaborating with other state institutions to harmonize the new system.
The porting or transferring of the old data into the new system became necessary because cards for Greater Accra applicants were given out and people were using it to transact business, making it imperative to move their PINS into the new system.
After all the initial preparations were done, A Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) was done at Intelligent Card Production Systems (ICPS), a subsidiary of Margins Group, from 13th to 15th December 2016 by a team from the National Identification Authority.
The team came up with an 11-point assessment, including observation that no portrait matching amputees (both hands) can be verified hence the need for the system to have portrait matching or iris matching system in place.
As the system only needed a minimum of five fingerprints for registration, it would be better for the system to allow for amputees’ registration. To do this, it was recommended that the system should be able to take full pictures of amputees as evidence.
The team had observed that during replacement, update or renewal, the system’s use of PIN, name or date of birth to pull records from database was loose and therefore recommended that the system use fingerprints in pulling applicants records during replacement, renewal and update.
According to the team the MRW operators should be registered biometrically and the MRW accessed with biometric information or token ID and controlled from a central site.
Other recommendations were the need to monitor interface for the NIS Services, the need for the system to be to pick location information using GPS and the usefulness for the MRW operators to be able to generate daily, weekly and monthly reports.
It was observed that with the migration of the SAGEM MORPHO DATA, the system should be able to keep the old PINs. SAGEM MORPHO CD, it was observed, could be loaded several times which can create duplicates.
The team had recommended that the system should prevent the multiple loading of same CD and that there should be a user friendly application available for the loading of the CD rather than the situation where the loading of the SAGEM MORHO CD is done using a command line.
It was also recommended that, during a SITE ACCEPTANCE TEST (SAT), a penetration test and system audit should be conducted.
The work to provide Ghana with an ID system is very technical and therefore required serious minds and cutting edge expertise that the previous government had found in the Agams Group, which is said to have impressed in an endeavor that the first attempt, led by Prof. Ernest Dumor, had failed.
Indeed, in a recent communiqué issued by the President, which encouraged the continuous engagement of Agams by the government over the project, the work of Agams was applauded.
It was therefore shocking when Ken Agyapong, a man whose expertise seems to be limited to sensational politics and third-rate media entrepreneurship, had publicly demanded that his government take the contract from AGAMS and give to him.
Fortunately, for the NPP, the Communications Minister is a lawyer, who, for all her faults, is not stupid. And so the company which had given a sterling performance on the contract was maintained.
Ken Agyapong has since made a typical sensational claim that Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu, is corrupt and had been bribed to maintain AGAMS on the contract even though the group had been contracted long before the NPP came into office.
Ursula Owusu’s demand for evidence has seen Mr. Agyapong run off, tail in between legs, even as he recanted that he had not accused Ursula of corruption.
The NDC government had played pedantic scrutineer before the company was contracted to ensure that the contract did not end up the way President Kufuor’s attempt had ended up.
However, what was supposed to be a colorful achievement for the NDC has become a garland for the NPP, as a well heeled President Akufo-Addo, who has a reputation for not acknowledging his predecessors, is set to launch the NIA National ID project today.