Feature Article of Friday, 14 September 2012
Columnist: Banchie, Ampomah
We have followed with keen interest the arguments put forward by the proponents and opponents on the creation of the 45 new constituencies by the Electoral Commission. We wish to say we have been fascinated by the arguments put forward by both groups. We believe the discourse has largely been smooth devoid of political insults and name calling. It is in this regard that the Youth Institute for Democratic Initiative (YIDI) wishes to make its stand on the growing matter known. We believe the message we put across today, as important as it is, would be viewed by some as being tinted with partisan political motives but we wish to deflate such assertions by stating emphatically that YIDI does not share in any political ideology and would never be an appendage of any political party.
YIDI as a platform of young, dynamic and patriotic Ghanaians whose political affiliations cut across the board and as a group founded on the solid conviction that on issues of national discourse, the national interest should be paramount, we do not seek to use this statement as a support of any other calls made by any political party but state what in our considered opinion are the issues that will arise with the creation of the said constituencies. We are guided by the principle that as citizens we have every right to state our opinions on public matters. It is also in this vein that we wish in the national interest, to add our voice to the numerous calls from Civil Society Groups, the Presbyterian Church and the TUC to appeal to the EC to desist from embarking on the adventure it intends to take the nation on by creating the 45 new constituencies with barely three months to elections and to do what is patently right by suspending the creation.
We at YIDI believe the obstinacy of the electoral commissioner in seeking to create the 45 constituencies against wise counsel and persuasion would serve as a recipe for chaos in this year's elections. It is an act not in the national interest. It offends the spirit of our constitution if not sections of it directly.
YIDI is not opposed to the creation of Districts and Constituencies by persons mandated by law to do so, but we are mindful of Article 296 which enjoins a person vested with discretionary powers to be fair and candid in the performance of its functions. We believe, and judging from the timing, that the CI 73/77/78 is a document which has a real potential of throwing the nation into a state of chaos.
The issue about timing is not just about whether or not the time is right or wrong for the EC to proceed on this adventure, but whether within the short time we can accommodate any unforeseen challenges which might arise.
As much as we believe the timing is wrong, we are certain in our minds that a relatively smaller country like Ghana should not be over burdened with additional financial challenges by the creation of new constituencies. We believe this is the right time for Ghana to decide on whether to go on creating constituencies every seven years or anytime there is a census or to have a ceiling to its number of constituencies. We at YIDI believe there is the need to have a ceiling on the number of constituencies we have as a country. The financial challenges that come with it are too much for a country like Ghana.
Again, it has been put forward that the EC is mandated by Law so to do. People make copious referral to the Constitution, in our search of the Constitution and indeed of the Local Government Act, we have not come across any law that states that on creation of districts, there should be necessarily a creation of constituencies. This argument to us is without any expressly legal backing and as such cannot be used as a justification of the creation.
Lastly, we are of the opiniun that there is already a big task ahead for the EC in this particular election. The introduction of the Biometric Voter register has not been without challanges. It is expected that there will even be more during the election and it will be better for the EC to concentrate on seeing to the smooth implementation of the BVR during the Dec 7 polls.
We appeal to the EC to immediately rescind its decision by withdrawing and suspending the creation of the new constituencies. We call on all Religious leaders who have the national interest at heart, the national peace council and all stake holders, to add their voice to the calls made by YIDI and other civil society groups in persuading the EC not to proceed with this adventure.
The lives of the over 25 Million Ghanaians should not be risked to suit the pleasures of a few people hard bent on adding to the parliamentary numbers.
Long live YIDI
Long live the Youth of Ghana
Long live Ghana.
May God bless us all.