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Feature Article of Friday, 2 November 2012

Columnist: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta

Ghanaian Electorate, Elections, the Elect and the Erect

By Kwesi Atta Sakyi 30th October 2012

The electorate in Ghana have the duty to exercise their franchise to empower a person of their choice to be elected and given the mandate to govern. On 7th December, 2012, Ghanaians will be called upon again to exercise this civic right. The electorate has a lot of expectations and concerns. There are those who are worried about the unparliamentary behaviour of some MPs and Ministers. These should be shown the red card or exit at the polls, because they are not fit to lead. As of 7th May, 2012, the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana announced that 12.5 million citizens had been registered in the biometric registration exercise carried out countrywide.

There are concerns about those leaders alleged to be embroiled in gargantuan corruption and fraud. Well, the electorate knows these people. However, they should be extremely cautions not to play it by the ear because it is not all the allegations on radio, TV or in the newspapers which are true. Politics is full of poly-tricks and propaganda. Our electorate must therefore be discerning to sift the wheat from the chaff. Our electorate must be vigilant against rigging, treating, gerrymandering and other electoral fraud. However, they must not take the law into their hands. Their duty is to observe and report or complain to the relevant authorities if they observe any underhand tactic. The electorate has concerns about inflation, unemployment, deterioration in the standards of education, poor sanitation, improper stewardship or husbandry of the national coffers, among others. However, they have to be pragmatic and realistic because it takes time and resources to address some of these herculean problems. Right now, our health care system in Ghana is in shambles despite the much vaunted NHIS. The electorate has to elect erect people who have the public interest at heart. They live with those wishing to be elected and they know them. It is important to elect a crop of leaders who are patriotic and God-Fearing. We need leaders with clean records, both in private and public. We need wise, pacific, hardworking and competent leaders. Leaders who will speak and work for the interest of the people. We need humble, honest and intelligent leaders. We might call a person with all these attributes as the Elect or God-chosen. For, it is said,‘Vox populi, vox deo’. The voice of the people is the voice of God. It may be sad to note that the biometric registration exercise may have disenfranchised some people. However, that notwithstanding, we can always rest assured that those who managed to register form a sizeable representative sample of the Ghanaian population. As on 5th May 2012, the EC confirmed that 12.5 million people have been registered countrywide. We hope that voter apathy will be minimized and that all registered voters will turn out en masse to make their choice known to the world. Government is said to be a social contract or compact between the governed and the governors. We surrender our mandate to the leaders in trust. We are the principal and the leaders are our agents who should obey our directives.

We give them right of attorney to make decisions on our behalf as our proxies. We have liberty to dismiss them if we are displeased by their performance. For, Abraham Lincoln said long ago, ‘Government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not depart from this earth’. That is the beauty of democracy. No one should feel intimidated to go out to vote because the government has put in place adequate security measures and our EC is up to the task. In December 2000, I was in Accra when I saw the euphoria which ushered in Kufuor and the NPP to power. The blue, white and red colours were all over town. It was a joyous celebration for NPP and a credit to the nation for the peaceful transition. We can surpass that in the coming December 2012 election. May the best political party win! At the end of the day, whether NDC or NPP, what is paramount is the overall progress of Ghana.

Ghana has been known as a beacon of peace in West Africa. Once again, we must show the way. I call upon our radio stations to exercise restraint and avoid unpeaceful statements or discussions. Freedom is not absolute as it must be exercised with utmost sense of civic responsibility. Our radio presenters and broadcasters should avoid driving their own nefarious agenda on air or that of their political paymasters. The aim of the media is to inform, educate, entertain and sensitize the public on national issues, but never to foment or agitate trouble. If a radio station becomes persistently troublesome, I suggest it is brought to book by closing it down or apprehending the miscreants. The duty of the Fourth Estate of the realm is crucial in this time of year and they should not be given free reign. Some of our radio broadcasters need professional training to bring them up to the knowledge of best practice and professional ethics, as well as the tenets of good governance. To get good content to our electorate, let us encourage more broadcasts in our local languages. That way, we promote our cultural heritage and at the same time make our electorate well informed. The moderators on air should not entertain misdemeanors and they should ban those who use the airwaves to peddle lies and insults, especially the notorious serial callers. They should exercise the power of the guillotine to truncate the altercation from such spineless nation wreckers. As the 12.5 million biometric voters approach Election Day, they must guard their votes from being bought or compromised. It is universal suffrage in a secret ballot. Your vote is your power.

Contact: kwesiattasakyi449@gmail.com

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