The Leaders of Ghana’s Parliament, including the Minority Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, the Speaker Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye and the Majority Leader Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, have expressed dismay and dissatisfaction on the unilateral decision by the Registrar of the Births and Deaths Registry to prohibit certain names, indicating that, the Registrar for Births and Deaths has no power to prohibit certain names, as he is alleged to have initiated same.
In his call to the House for the summoning of the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, as well as Management of the Births and Deaths Registry, the Minority Leader who is also the Member of Parliament for Tamale South, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu wanted to know where the Registrar for Births and Deaths is deriving his authority to initiate moves to prohibit the use of certain names, and the registration of same names under the Registry.
He indicated that, he has taken a careful look at the parent law giving the creation of the Birth and Death registry, the Registration of Births and Deaths Act of Ghana 1965, Act 301 and the clause relating to the registration of names in Ghana does not give indication of authority to the action being taken by the Registrar.
He said under the law, once it is established that there is a birth, and all processes have been followed, one can register the birth with the name he or she deem so fit.
Adding that, if the Registry wanted an amendment to the laws to cater for the prohibition of like names as Nana, Nii, Jnr, and the rest, they could have appropriately sought to do that in the House, which is the appropriate body to do same; but even in that case, the House would not give consideration to that option.
He said “the Minister and Management of the Births and Deaths Registry should appear before the House to give cause as to why they are proceeding on this illegality, and why they should not be stopped from same”.
It would be recalled that the media widely reported an alleged move by the Registrar of the Births and Deaths Ministry to prohibit the use of certain names such as Jnr, Nii, Nana, and the likes which he sees to be titles and not names.
The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of Government’s business of the House, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu on his part, agreed with the Minority Leader and drew the attention of the House to the fact that names sometimes have cultural essence, whilst others are for identification, memorial and the likes, and he does not think it merely lies in the power of any individual (not of the Registrar of the Births and Deaths) to determine the name one can use, especially when Ghana is of divers cultural groupings.
He cited the name of the President, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo and some Members of the House, who uses such names as significant to establish a particular peculiar reason for using such names.
According to him, apart from the name of the President which has Nana, a former first lady also bears the name Nana (Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings) and other names such as Tina Naa Ayele, Nana Ayew Afriyie, Nana Ekua Owusu Afriyie, Nana Hammond, Kofi Amoako, Nana Ekua Asiamah Adjei, Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, Papa Owusu Ankomah and the rest are some of the names in the House, and “confusion should not be introduced where there is actually none”, as alluded to by the Minority Leader earlier.
He also added his voice to the call of summoning the sector Minister and Management of the Registry to explain the reasons for his actions and where he is deriving his authority from.
On his part, the Chairman of the Legal Committee of the House, and Member for Offinso South, Hon. Ben Abdallah Banda added that, the power to amend someone’s name is not borne by the Office of the Registrar, adding that anybody can give any name to anyone he or she so wish, and that the name bearer is the only person who can amend the name after he or she has attained adulthood.
In that case, the one who seeks to amend his/her name would then do so through the swearing of a statutory declaration.
He also disclosed that, the actions of the Registrar implies that he would be forcing people to change their names against their will, and that amounts to a breach of the person’s right which is against the laws of Ghana.
Giving ruling to that effect, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye appreciated the Minority Leader for bringing the issue to the attention of the House, averting what would have been an act of illegality, which could be detrimental to the nation.
He therefore ordered; “the Hon. Minister of Local Government and Rural Development is hereby requested to appear before Parliament to explain matters relating to the limitations purportedly issued against Ghanaians on some names”.
According the Speaker, Parliament is taking keen interest in this matter because “it is an essential part of Constitutionalism, and also of Separation of Powers, and Parliament do not want to be surprised one day when we wake up to the result of such directives”.
A writ, He said, would have been issued against the officer involved in this under the English legal system
“Minister should therefore come to the House to justify their action, or let the House know steps being taken to reverse the anomaly”. He added.