Low citizen interest in upcoming district level elections worrying- NCCE

The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) has expressed concerned over ' the lack of interest of Ghanaians ahead of this year's district assembly elections.' Ghanaians, by the end of this year, are expected to go to the polls to elect their district Assembly Members and Unit Committee Members who will deliberate, supervise and legislate at the local government level for the next four years. However, Mr Samuel Akuamoah Asare, a Deputy Chair in charge of Operations at the NCCE, said participation and interest in the elections, had so far been low, considering the fact that the elections were a couple of months away. He described the situation as worrying, indicating that, the district assemblies played a critical role in sustaining the country's democracy as they formed the basic unit on which the national structures rested. 'This year is an election year, there is low participation, people do not take active interest in it. 'Is it because of lack of political party participation because, the Constitution has proscribed them, it has banned them. The Constitution has barred them?' he quizzed. Mr Asare was speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the sidelines of an engagement with officers of the Ghana Immigration Service, in Accra, as part of activities to commemorate this year's Constitution Week. The annual Constitution Week was instituted in 2001 to commemorate the country's return to constitutional rule on January 1, 1993. The object of the celebration, among other things, is to create and sustain awareness of the principles and objectives of the 1992 Constitution to deepen and sustain Ghana's democracy. It is also to sensitise Ghanaians on the need for national unity and peaceful co-existence and inculcate into the citizens the spirit of patriotism. This year's celebration is marked on the theme: '30 Years of Consolidating Constitutional Democracy: Building National Cohesion through Civic Education and Participation in Local Governance.' In 2019, the Government begun processes to amend articles 243 (1) and 55 (3) of the Constitution to allow for the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and the opening up of local level elections to participation by political parties. This, the Government believed, would increase citizens participation in local governance. However, a proposed national referendum to decide on the matter was cancelled due to the absence of 'a durable national consensus.' Mr Asare urged Ghanaians to take keen interest in the elections despite the absence of political party participation to bring development to the local communities and strengthen the country's democracy. The Director of Operations also said while calls for review of the Constitution might be justified, Ghanaians must be careful not to undermine it until the needed reforms were made. 'We don't have to rush because the Constitution has served us well, it is the only Constitution which has served us thirty years, uninterrupted,' he added. He also emphasised the need for a strong cohesion among citizens especially considering that Ghana's neigbouring countries, including Burkina Faso, Mali and Togo, had been attacked by violent extremist groups, operating within the Sahel in recent times. He said: 'There is the need for national cohesion, this is not the time to be polarised around ethnic line, political party line but, we need to come together, safeguard our democracy.' Mr Kwame Asuah Takyi, Comptroller-General of Immigration, in a speech read on his behalf, said Ghanaians must use the Constitution Week to reflect on the significance of the constitution and renew their commitments to upholding its tenets. 'Let remember the struggles of our forefathers in fighting for our independence and the importance of preserving the democratic gains that have been gained since. ' He said as law enforcement agencies, it was imperative they actively participated in such celebrations to disabuse the notion that they (security agencies) did not cherish the country's constitution and its democracy. He added that as the country commemorated the Constitution Week, 'let us remember the importance of the constitution in shaping our nation and upholding our rights as citizens. 'Let us also work towards building a society guided by its principles and values, and where every Ghanaian has equal rights and opportunities.'

Source: Ghana News Agency