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NCCE Urges Citizens to Protect Constitution in Election Year

Ghana's civic education body calls for peaceful and transparent polls in December

by Victor Adetimilehin

Ghana is preparing for its eighth consecutive general election since the return of multiparty democracy in 1992. The polls, scheduled for December 7, 2024, will see the incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo face off with former President John Mahama, who is seeking a comeback after losing in 2016.

The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), a state agency mandated to promote democracy and civic awareness, has urged the citizens to protect the 1992 Constitution by playing active roles in ensuring that elections are free, fair, transparent, and devoid of violence.

The NCCE Chairperson, Kathleen Addy, made the call at a press conference in Accra on Wednesday to commemorate the Constitution Day, which marks the adoption of the Fourth Republican Constitution in 1992.

The Constitution and the Elections

Addy stated that the 1992 Constitution, which is the longest-living in the country’s history, must not be sacrificed for political gains. She said the upcoming election was a test case for tribal, ethnic, and religious tolerance in the country, and politicians must learn to stay within the agenda of peace, tolerance, and patriotism.

“The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and it is our duty as citizens to uphold and defend it. The Constitution guarantees our rights and freedoms but also imposes responsibilities and obligations on us. We must exercise our franchise by the Constitution and the electoral laws,” she said.

She also urged the citizens to reject politicians and political parties who were desirous of resorting to violence to disrupt the peace of the country for political power.

She further entreated politicians to ensure that their campaign messages promoted national values rather than tribal and religious sentiments that could destabilize the nation.

Vote Buying and Media Ethics

Addy also expressed concern about the phenomenon of vote buying, which she described as one of the greatest threats to the sustainability of the Constitution and democracy. She said monetisation of elections in the country deprived the nation of quality leadership needed for development.

She stated that vote buying skewed elections in favour of the rich at the expense of people with the quality to lead, saying “we must collectively end this canker because if we do not end it, it will end us”.

Stakeholders’ Support

Representatives of various stakeholders, including religious bodies, civil society organizations, trade unions, student groups, and the National Peace Council attended the press conference.

They all pledged their support to the NCCE and its activities to promote civic education and peaceful elections.

Rev. Dr. Cyril Fayose, the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, stated that the Council was committed to working with the NCCE and other stakeholders to ensure that the elections were conducted peacefully and credibly. He said the Council had embarked on a nationwide campaign to sensitize its members and the public on the need to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.

The Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Very Rev. Fr Clement Kwasi Agyeman, said the Church was also involved in civic education and peacebuilding initiatives to complement the efforts of the NCCE. He said the Church had trained and deployed over 3,000 election observers across the country to monitor the polls and report any irregularities or violence.

The Spokesperson of the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Armiyawo Shaibu, said the Muslim community was also supportive of the NCCE and its mandate to foster national unity and cohesion. He said the Muslim community had been educating its members on the importance of participating in the elections and respecting the outcome.

A representative of the National Peace Council, George Amoh, said the Council was collaborating with the NCCE and other partners to facilitate dialogue and mediation among the political actors and stakeholders. He said the Council would continue to monitor the implementation of the code of conduct and the roadmap and intervene in any potential conflicts or disputes that may arise before, during, and after the elections.

Addy concluded the press conference by expressing optimism that the elections would be peaceful and successful, and that the citizens would uphold the Constitution and the democratic values that it enshrines.

She said the NCCE would continue to engage the public and the stakeholders on various platforms and channels to enhance civic awareness and participation.

She also thanked the government and the development partners for their support of the NCCE and its programs.

Source: Daily Graphic 

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