Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media
The National Commission for Civic Education and the Ghana Medical Association represented by the Executive Committee led by its President, Dr. Frank Ankobea have called you here this morning to engage you on recent issues of national interest. The press briefing will be in two sessions. The first session will touch on COVID-19; the non-adherence of COVID-19 safety protocols by the public generally and particularly by political actors during this political campaign season. The Ghana Medical Association and the Commission after consultations on this general observation find it necessary to issue this joint statement on Covid-19 related matters.
The second session will speak to issues and concerns of the Commission in the under listed areas of national life:
- Recent secessionist attacks by the Western Togoland group in the Volta Region
- The perception of partisanship by some Chiefs
- Political prophesies by religious leaders
- Election 2020 activities
Non-adherence of COVID-19 safety protocols by political actors during their political campaigns
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) and the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) have observed the wide-scale lackadaisical public posture and a general disregard for the COVID-19 safety protocols. Despite stringent measures established to manage the virus including the executive instruments for the mandatory wearing of masks, limited numbers at social and public events, rigorous public education, many Ghanaians have reverted to a lifestyle prior to the global pandemic. Indeed many citizens are conducting themselves with total disregard for the safety protocols. Public transport has almost abandoned the mandatory wearing of masks. Gatherings are without appropriate physical distancing including some religious gatherings. Offices, shops, supermarkets, clinics, churches, mosques no longer maintain veronica buckets or sanitizers at their entrances.
Politicians and political activities are not spared in this observation. Many mini rallies are rife with reckless abandonment of every reasonable safety protocol. Observations by the NCCE and the GMA indicate that politicians and their followers have total disregard for the safety protocols and this has further emboldened citizens to give up on the country’s collective fight againstCOVID-19.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, election season is here with us. We reiterate our constant reminders to citizens especially our political leaders that COVID-19 is still real and the disease is still with us. We question the relevance of the legislation on the adherence of the COVID-19 safety protocols if we have no commitment to comply and enforce these laws. What has affected the political will to remain focused on the strict adherence of the protocols?
We must be minded of countries who are experiencing a second wave of infections. These include the best who almost eliminated infections in their countries. Countries like South Korea, Germany, and New Zealand even with the best systems are all witnessing a troubling second wave.
The current public or national complacency and indifference to the COVID-19 Safety protocols among Ghanaians is a danger that can derail the successes we have chalked in the fight against COVID-19. It negates the efforts of NCCE’s public education and the concerted efforts of government, the media, and all institutions. The NCCE and the GMA call on all political parties to be measured in their political activities to ensure that their activities do not become vectors of infection. We urge political parties to use their platforms to project the health of citizens as a foremost interest. Political parties and politicians should exhibit exemplary leadership by urging their supporters and constituents to adhere to the COVID-19 safety protocols. Until WHO endorses a vaccine for COVID-19, we remain at risk, and political actors, religious bodies, and indeed every citizen must be mindful of this fact.
Ghana’s case count as of this morning October 13, 2020, stands at of 47,097, with 46,452 recoveries and 308 deaths. We have 337 active cases. These records largely indicate that the country is winning the war against the disease. However, we are reliably informed that some regions that had not recorded any new cases in the last three weeks have in the last couple of days recorded new cases. Ghana cannot take chances and relax our resolve in the fight against COVID-19. We need to be mindful of how we act in order to avert a second wave of the disease, the consequences of which would be dire for our country, socially including its psychosocial dimensions as well as economically.
The NCCE and the GMA call on the Ghana Private Road Transport Union and other transport Unions to begin to enforce the mandatory wearing of masks in all public transport. Together the NCCE and the GMA implore the Ghana Police Service to enforce the rules contained in the Executive Instruments related to Covid-19 including EI 164 and other related legislations. We strongly urge the leadership of political parties in the country to encourage their supporters and constituents to adhere to the safety protocols as well as adopt innovative campaigning strategies that minimise the citizens’ exposure to the pandemic. We cannot afford to have gone through a successful and peaceful election only to emerge with a second wave which could have been avoided.
The NCCE and the GMA call on every citizen of Ghana to mask up properly, practice social distancing, hand etiquette, and an immune-boosting lifestyle. It is our collective fight!
Recent secessionist attacks by the Western Togoland group in the Volta Region
Ladies and Gentlemen, we now turn to a matter that touches the core of our nationhood and national cohesion. We refer to the vexed and complicated issue on the Western Togoland separatist movement. The NCCE is troubled about the recurrent reports of attacks allegedly by the Western Togoland separatists in the Volta and Eastern Regions of Ghana. These acts are considered a serious threat to our national security, sovereignty, cohesion, and democracy. The development is highly unacceptable and intolerable in our continuous quest for nation-building.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the NCCE has been cautious about issuing any public statement to date in order to gain further understanding of matters arising. However, the Commission wishes to register its deepest reservation and displeasure to the groups’ alleged actions, in contravention of Article 4 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, which states: “The sovereign State of Ghana is a unitary republic consisting of those territories comprised in the regions which, immediately before the coming into force of this Constitution, existed in Ghana, including the territorial sea and the air space”. As a unitary republic, with our unique historical antecedents, we must be mindful of the dire consequences of such actions on ourselves and our country as a whole.
While commending the response by the security services, the Commission supports the call for a multifaceted approach to resolve all outstanding issues once and for all with the objective of deepening national cohesion. A lasting resolution of the issue is needed to ensure that the situation does not degenerate into a national crisis. The media must be measured in discussing the issue and should refrain from fanning statements by politicians, individuals, or groups that seek to make political capital out of the secessionist attacks. On our part as a Commission, we would step up efforts to sensitise the public on nationhood. We must not politicise this development. We emphasise that Ghana is a cohesive nation and nothing and nobody must seek otherwise.
Election 2020 activities
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, 2020 General Election activities are peaking. The NCCE reiterates the fact that elections are about ideas and policies. The Commission, therefore, urges the various political parties to make this year’s election an issue-based one, which best serves the interest of Ghanaians. Again, the NCCE entreats all political parties to be decorous in their political activities and work together with stakeholders to ensure a disciplined and peaceful political climate during political party campaigns.
Registered voters must vote on issues, condemn electoral violence and shun any political party that preaches or supports violence either secretly or openly. The Commission notes that in every democratic dispensation, which preserves the sanctity and thrust of our democracy, we cannot entertain violence in our electoral processes. Citizens should pay attention to campaign messages by candidates, stay engaged, and ask all the relevant questions in order to make an informed choice on December 7, 2020.
The perceived partisanship of chiefs and traditional leaders in our body politic
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Commission is also disturbed about recent utterances and actions by some chiefs and traditional leaders in the run-up to the elections which lends support to perceived partisanship. We cannot be silent about this development.
We are aware of the growing phenomenon recently of some Chiefs banning some political actors from campaigning in their traditional jurisdiction. This is unconstitutional and must be condemned by all well-meaning Ghanaians. We refer specifically to Article 3 clause 2 of the 1992 Constitution which states ‘any activity of a person or group of persons which suppresses or seeks to suppress the lawful political activity of any other person or class of persons, or persons generally is unlawful’.
Though the NCCE acknowledges that by virtue of their office Chiefs are custodians of our traditions, we are mindful of the wisdom that guided the framers of the 1992 Constitution in cautioning our respected and revered traditional leaders in Article 76 of the 1992 Constitution which provides that: “A chief shall not take part in active party politics, and any chief wishing to do so and seeking election to Parliament shall abdicate his stool or skin.” With the caveat being their participation in ‘active party politics’, the NCCE prays our chiefs to act with tact and maturity in order not to sacrifice the sanctity of their offices, eroding their respect, role as agents of unity and as credible mediators in political impasse and conflict. As a country, one of the key institutions we can fall on in times of political crisis is the chieftaincy institution. If our chiefs are perceived as partisan, then ladies and gentlemen, we must be worried as a country.
The Commission also takes this opportunity to caution religious leaders and self-styled prophets to pray for a peaceful election and desist from making prophetic pronouncements that favour some individuals politically and has the potential to fan rancour. As a country, we must champion the promotion of national cohesion and unity and frown on activities that can possibly divide us.
The NCCE remains committed to continually reorienting the mind-set of citizens to be better stewards and patriotic citizens in our nation building efforts.
God Bless Our Homeland Ghana and Make Our Nation Great and Strong!