The National Peace Council with the mandate of seeing to a formidable and sustainable peaceful environment in Ghana, on Tuesday held the first leg of a two session dialogue with election stakeholders in the northern region, to champion a course for peace in the upcoming November elections.
The dialogues which are in two folds, are supposed to discuss and consider ideas from key stakeholders in elections such as the Electoral Commission, NCCE, Civil Society, Security Agencies, the electorate, Media and politicians, in ensuring peace before, during and after the general elections.
The first session brought together Civil Society, the Security and interest groups with engagement from the NCCE and the Electoral Commission to discuss realities on the ground with pre-election and election environment and to bring up ideas on what activities could be carried out to achieve them.
The Wuni Zaligu Development Association (WUZDA) as a member of the West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), presented a plan on voter education and strategies it will adopt to achieve that.
It is a fact that many of the Ghanaian citizenry have difficulties understanding the messages presented to them in campaign manifestos by political parties, making it difficult for them to make preferred choices which sometimes make some electorates choose not to vote.
WUZDA therefore considers providing platforms for communities to answer questions based on their understanding of mandates of electorates as well as the roles of the various leaders they give their mandate.
Another area the organization proposes to focus on is the understanding of the electorate in the entire voting process on the day of election.
In times past, some electorates because of lack of knowledge on the processes of voting, tend to spoil their ballots, instead of contributing to leadership decision making which starts from ballot casting.
WUZDA therefore will be active in getting electorates step by step information and education on the voting process.
Lack of observance and poor vigilance at the polling station has over the years created doubts in people’s minds regarding who actually won elections and who didn’t, and whether it resonates with who was declared winner.
As part of its strategies, WUZDA will also educate the electorate on the need to leave the polling station immediately after casting their ballot and observing from their home or work place, but come back at the end of voting day to vigilantly observe the counting process.
Northern Region NCCE Director, Alhaji Saani Abdul Razak Delivering a Presentation
Speaking at the dialogue session, the northern regional director of the NCCE, Alhaji Saani Abdul Razak said Ghana has grown over the past years in its bid to ensure democracy in the governance process.
He said election is a key component of democracy but it cannot be an end in itself but a means to achieving a successful democratic dispensation.
Alhaji Saani is however worried about the trend where every election year generates hue and cry for peace in the country, among stakeholders which takes a lot of their focus.
According to Alhaji Saani, the efforts about ensuring peace cannot be achieved without the talk and acceptance that tolerance is key in the process.
“If we can start this peace quest from tolerating each other, tolerating what our brothers and sisters do to us either willingly or unwillingly, even when we are not happy about them, I think elections will not be approaching and we will be afraid of chaos and continue talking about the need for peace.
National Peace Council Chairman, Father Thaddius Soree Admonishing Members on the Need for Peace Before, During and After Elections
Chairman of the National Peace Council for the northern region, also chairman of the session father Thaddius Sorre, urged the CSOs to caution their community members to be weary of politicians who might ask them to engage in nefarious activities just to secure power for them.
He added that politicians will always come and go and there is no need sacrificing oneself for what will be short lived.
According to father Thaddius, ensuring peace before, during and after elections, is the responsibility of all stakeholders however, the youth have the largest of it because they are mostly used to foment the troubles that thwart the efforts of peace.
He cautioned the youth to desist from being used as such, as politicians will not allow their sons and daughters to engage in such acts.
Speaking about the contribution of the media in a peaceful electioneering process, father Thaddius intimated that the media influences the decisions of the people therefore, their platforms must be used to inform and educate electorates on the need for peace in the process.
He however cautioned the media on biases and clearly taking sides with political parties in debates which may create chaos if not managed properly.
He charged media houses to accord equal opportunities to political parties in their programming.
The security was also reminded of its duty to check all forms of intimidation on individuals at the polling stations, keeping order and prosecuting people who break electoral laws.
The second session of the peace dialogue by the National Peace Council, will bring together the media, political parties and some electorates to discuss vividly their roles in ensuring peace before, during and after the November general elections.