Politics of Saturday, 31 March 2012
The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) at the weekend called for total support and cooperation from all stakeholders to enable the Electoral Commission (EC) fix operational hiccups in the on-going biometric voter registration exercise.
“The antagonism, character assassination and media warfare against EC and NCCE are uncalled for, as the EC has demonstrated its capacity and capability to deal with the operational challenges. It must therefore be given the opportunity to resolve the problems identified. In any case the exercise is only seven-days old...we have about 30-days to go....we must re-channel our energies against NCCE and EC to public education on the exercise,” Mr Harrison Kofi Belley, a Director at NCCE, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview.
Mr Belley said judging the output of the commission over the past few days for a forty-day event is unfortunate, “constructive criticism is what we need for the development of our democratic structures...democratic institutions need support”.
He said the two commissions have separate mandates but do collaborate as NCCE’s mandate among others involves, creating awareness and educating Ghanaians on the significance of the constitution, strengthening the constitutional democracy and the awareness of civic rights and responsibilities in the country.
He said the EC’s public affairs’ mandate involves public relations and public education through building confidence and trust in the electoral system; making the electorate knowledgeable about their rights and responsibilities as voters and disseminating information to the public and media houses.
Mr Belley said “the NCCE is not a public affairs department of the EC, and should not be jointly or individually liable for any operational challenges in the performance of the EC’s functions. We cooperate and complement each other”.
He said, the NCCE in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, trained about 170 field staffs mainly from the district levels who are engaged directly with the people at the local and community levels on the Biometric voter registration exercise.
He said, the NCCE also engaged identifiable groups including religious leaders, media, community leaders and youth groups on the exercise adding that “we should stop judging events only from the media perspectives”.
Mr Belley, who is a member of NCCE's Communications and Corporate Affairs Department team, said Government in its effort at helping to resource the Commission, has donated 360 public address systems which will be distributed to all the districts to intensify its public education mechanism adding that “just last Friday, March 30th, the NCCE received Biometric Voter Education materials from the EC.”
He said public education is a shared responsibility, among the stakeholders political parties, media, religious leaders, opinion leaders, assemblymen and women, governmental agencies; “we must all support the system to work.
In any case what about the numerous centres that have experienced incident free biometric voter registration...we are only trumpeting on the micro-infractions and painting a chaotic picture. What in effect we are doing is undermining the pillars of democracy, compilation of electoral roll is critical for credible elections. We must build the foundation and not to create condition for electoral disputes,” he said.
Mr Belley assured the public of their commitment in upholding the deepening the democratic systems and appealed for public cooperation and support.**