National Identification Authority Building
National Identification Authority Building

Private and personal data of Ghanaians may be under threat of either being infiltrated or compromised by foreign interests, as the man heading Ghana?s National Identification Authority (NIA) has been revealed to be a bonafide citizen of the United States of America, reliable sources within the NIA have warned.National Identification Authority Building

A subsequent investigation by the Republic newspaper confirmed that the NIA boss (the Executive Secretary), Dr. Josiah Alfred Mills Cobbah, indeed possesses a valid US passport (passport number 48*****00) which was issued to him on September 23, 2011.

The Republic?s sources disclosed that Dr. Cobbah may have recently naturalized as a US citizen having stayed in the country for several years, consequently revoking his Ghanaian citizenship as indicated by his initial Ghanaian passport (passport number H2183***) issued to him on February 22, 2008.

Dr. Cobbah in an interview with The Republic, hesitantly confirmed holding a dual nationality of the United States of America and Ghana, but does not see any problem with holding such a sensitive position with his dual nationality.

Apart from threatening to ?go after? the paper?s Managing Editor, the NIA boss has declined to comment any further on issues about his nationality unless it is an official inquiry.

The National Identification Authority was established by an act of parliament to create, maintain, provide and promote the use of national identity cards in order to advance economic, political and social activities in the country.

The NIA is therefore entrusted with the responsibility to collect personal data on citizens resident in Ghana and abroad, on foreign nationals permanently resident in the country and even more importantly to ensure the accuracy, integrity, confidentiality and security of data collected by the authority.

It is unclear the basis for his appointment given the fact that it is morally prohibited for individuals with unconfirmed allegiance to the State to be appointed to top decision-making positions in sensitive national institutions such as the NIA.

According to sources who would want to remain anonymous, most scary is the possibilities open to an individual with no allegiance to the country heading the institution tasked to collate a database of identity and personal information of all residents and non-resident citizens.

This is particularly imperative given the recent global scandal about the aggressive global snooping of personal data by the US?s National Security Agency (NSA) as exposed by the controversial American-born whistleblower, Edward Snowden.

Dr. Cobbah had always maintained his Ghanaian citizenship until he unexpectedly acquired a US passport in 2011, barely two years before he was appointed as the helmsman at the NIA.

The NIA is mandated under the NIA Act of 2006 (Act 705), and the National Identity Act of 2008 (Act 750) to ?create, maintain, provide and promote the use of national identity cards for economic, political and social activities in Ghana.?

The authority headed by 61-year-old Dr. Cobbah, is tasked with collecting personal data on all residents and non-resident Ghanaians by assuring the integrity, confidentiality and security of all the data collected.

Data collected by the NIA are regarded as strategic national assets and access to this data is limited to a few legally authorized institutions because the data is set up to hold very important personal data of Ghanaians both home and abroad.

Since the setting up of the NIA in 2003, Dr. Cobbah and his predecessor have been blamed for overseeing regimes lacking commitment in implementing the mandate of the NIA within stipulated timelines.

This lack of commitment, according to sources within, resulted in a virtual halt in the collection of data needed for the national identification of Ghanaians.

Meanwhile, the NIA has notoriously failed to issue ID cards to millions of Ghanaians who have already been captured by the NIA database.

The NIA has been rocked by alleged ?dubious? contracts with private firms which is virtually rendering the NIA redundant.

The authority has been accused of perennially complaining of lacking resources to undertake its operations forcing it to be seeking a whopping US$ 115 million from the Chinese government to be able to carry out its mandate.

Staff of the authority, particularly the temporary workforce, have often complained about the NIA?s refusal to pay salaries and allowances.

The salary arrears and the slow pace of work at the NIA is usually attributed to an inherent poor management, causing resource constraints.

Dr. Cobbah, who has taught for many years in several US universities before relocating to Ghana, has incidentally served various US interests in Ghana since his return to Ghana, including being deeply involved in the start-up of Westel Ghana which involved the U.S. Company, Western Wireless. He served as the Deputy Managing Director of Westel for eight years.

Dr. Cobbah is closely related to Mrs. Esther Cobbah -the CEO of Stratcomm Africa-, succeeded Dr. William Ahadzi; the former Executive Secretary of the NIA.

Before his appointment to head the sensitive NIA, Dr. Josiah Cobbah was a Principal Lecturer in Governance, Leadership and Management at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA). He had amassed more than 30 years of experience in education both in Ghana and the United States.

He is also part of a 10-member oversight committee of the Comprehensive Assessment of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) as platforms to streamline vital demographic and statistical database of Ghana.

Source-The Republic

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