Josephine Nkrumah, Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), has lamented bitterly about misinformation on the upcoming December 17 referendum being churned out, particularly in the media space.
According to her, some media organisations are churning out wrong information that the upcoming referendum was for the election of Metropolitan/Municipal/District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), which is not so.
To lift the cloud from people’s minds, she said: “We are not going to elect MMDCEs. That is not the purpose of the referendum,” adding that the question of the referendum, as given by the EC (Electoral Commission), was whether district level elections should be partisan.
The citizens were to answer yes or no by thumb printing on the colours (yellow for yes & brown for no) provided on the ballot paper on the day of the referendum, which also coincides with the election of assembly members.
Ms Nkrumah was speaking at the launch of the 2019 election support interventions and formal opening of a training workshop for civic educators in the Greater Accra Region, organised by the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) and supported by USAID.
The programme is a two-day workshop begun yesterday for the 2019 district level elections and referendum: ‘Electoral support project in Accra.’
She told the participants to beef-up their game, because if “the enlightened ones that we know are little confused, it is our duty to give them adequate information for informed decisions. If we do not that, we will have this confusion in the citizenry and it will be a backlash for us. So let’s be very mindful of that.”
The NCCE boss urged the participant to take full advantage of the workshop to sharpen their skills and enhance their knowledge for better and effective civic education.
She worriedly said local level elections, over the years, had seen low voter turnouts, despite the Commission engaging with the populace, although it is the most important election that every citizen should take advantage to participate in decision making.
Local governance gives us that access to a point where we can interact with unit committee members, assembly members, and MMDCEs to actually begin to chart developmental agenda at the district level.
“Districts level elections touches on everyday life. Whether you are going to see better roads, better CHPS compounds, whether you are going to see better schools, whether you are going to see better access to water, basic amenities and things that make your life more comfortable. How many of us can go to parliament and make suggestions on the floor?” she queried.
The NCCE boss charged the participants to ensure that the education gets down well with the people in order to secure the 40 percent voter turnout else the Commission would be blamed for failing to carry out its mandate.
She argued that democracy was not all about going to the polls every four years, but about participation and inclusion of everyday life.
Sheikh Armiyawo Shaibu, Acting Chairperson of CODEO, added that the launch marked the formal opening of a two-day workshop for CODEO Civic/Voter/Peace Educators from the Greater Accra Region.
He indicated that in six weeks time Ghanaians will be going to the polls to elect electoral area representatives – Unit Committee Members – who will be supporting the work of the various assembly members in their respective districts and localities.
“These elections are fundamental to the country’s efforts at decentralisation which seeks to give citizens more direct control over local governance and their local development processes,” he stressed.
The Acting Chairperson of CODEO stated that after almost 31 years of the local government system in the country, enhancing the outcome of the referendum will have implications on future local governance processes if the criticizes accept to vote and change the entrenched Article 55(3) clause in the Constitution.
“CODEO’s civic education activities will particularly seek to enhance citizens’ awareness, understanding and participation in the December 17, 2019 elections and referendum.
“In doing this, CODEO recognises the limited public awareness about these elections and hopes to contribute to enhance citizens’ understanding on the elections through a variety of mediums, including media campaigns and community-level civic/voter engagement,” he stated.
USAID Ghana Director of Democracy Rights and Governance Audra Lykos said her organisation was proud to be part of the programme, with the hope it will guarantee trust, inclusive and credible elections in the upcoming polls.