The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) with support from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has launched its’ National Citizens Education and Awareness Campaign on the upcoming District Level Elections (DLEs) and Referendum. The launch serves as a prelude to series of lined up activities to whip up public interest in the 2019 DLEs and referendum earmarked to take place on 17th December 2019.
The NCCE in partnership with the Information Service Department (ISD) and the Electoral Commission (EC) is to sensitise Ghanaians on the amendment of Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution to introduce multipartisan local governance system in Ghana.
Chairperson of Star Ghana Foundation, Dr. Esther Ofei-Aboagye who chaired the launch stated that NCCE educating the citizens on the DLEs and Referendum is a step in the right direction. “The historically low turnout of the DLE makes this intervention
necessary to encourage the citizenry to exercise their democratic rights and inclusive responsible local government by determining the membership of assemblies and level of government nearest them. “She said.
The Chairman of the NCCE, Ms. Josephine Nkrumah in her welcome remarks, expressed gratitude to all stakeholders for the support shown towards the campaign. She took the opportunity to clarify misinformation in the media space on the Referendum. Ms. Nkrumah outlined a series of educational activities scheduled to be undertaken during the three-month national campaign. The activities include community durbars, stakeholder meetings, sensitization, and awareness-raising in educational institutions, dawn and dusk broadcast, focus group discussions, engagements with travelers in vehicles, visit identifiable groups and inter-personal engagements, film shows, social media campaigns, radio and television engagements, production of educational materials among others.
She urged the citizenry to be actively involved in the election exercise. The NCCE Chairman also called on the media to help propagate the true purpose of the Referendum to help Ghanaians understand the need for their participation. Ms. Nkrumah’s statement was based on the background that a 40% voter turnout is required of which 75% of votes cast must be in acceptance of the question of the Referendum.
Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (LGRD) expressed gratitude to the NCCE and other stakeholders in their commitment to reach out to all citizens to educate them on the importance of the amendment of Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution. She recalled that during past elections, some political parties mentioned in their manifestos that the amendment of Article 55(3) was paramount in their policies. Therefore it is not farfetched to see this become a reality. According to the Minister for LGRD, it is important to vote for local government leaders to make them more accountable to the people, because they are the first point of call wherever they find themselves. “I don’t think we are being honest if we vote for Assembly Members, Unit Committee Members then the President gets to appoint MMDCEs. The President is not directly linked to the people,” she said.
Hon. Elizabeth Sackey, the Deputy Greater Accra Regional Minister, on behalf of the Regional Minister Hon. Ishmael Ashitey expressed gratitude to the NCCE and other stakeholders for the commitment shown to educate citizens across the country and get them actively involved in Ghana’s democracy.
Acting Director of ISD, Mr. Charles Wereko, stated that the ISD and the Ministry of Information were poised and ready to be involved in educating citizens ahead of the Referendum. He said, “The Ministry is ready to use its social media platforms to disseminate information.”
The Director of Electoral Services at the EC, Dr. Serebour Quaicoe (Ph.D.) stated that it is the mandate of the EC to conduct and supervise the DLEs successfully. According to him, the main challenge the EC faces is the low turner of citizens in the DLEs elections. He, therefore, called on all citizens to get involved since a turnout of less than 40% will not get the desired goal.
Political party representatives from the NPP, NCD, and CPP and Civic Society Organizations (CSO) gave solidarity messages to show commitment to the campaign and promised to get all their supporters involved.
Present at the launch were public servants, students, traditional leaders among others.