Politics of Monday, 10 September 2012
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), under the Ghana Political Parties Programme on Sunday concluded a three-day workshop for selected youth leaders of political parties and some identifiable youth groups.
The workshop under the theme: “Towards A Peaceful Election: The Role of the Ghanaian Youth,” was held at Akosombo in the Eastern Region.
Mr. Kofi Bentum Quantson, Former National Security Coordinator, said one unfortunate feature of Ghana growing political system was that elections, the cherished instrument for the free expression of the people choice of leaders, has recently been bedeviled with intolerance, indiscipline, lawlessness and violence in our country.
He said violence, which has poisoned Ghana’s politics, has invariably been associated with the youth who cannot think rationally enough to know that violence cannot under any circumstance be compatible with the civilized democratic practice of tolerance and soberness.
Dr. Vladimir Antwi-Danso, a lecturer at the Legon Center for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), said it was difficult to define “the youth” without falling into conceptual controversies but the definition conveys the impression that it represents a trans-historical and trans-cultural category. Dr. Antwi-Danso, who was speaking on the topic: “Overview of the Role of Youth in Ghana’s Electoral Politics since Independence,” said political security means a country’s ability to ensure cohesion and stability through a participatory platform for the mobilization of resources for the advancement of its citizens.
He said youth empowerment, especially in Africa concerns its relationship to development, saying “what is crucial is the talk about the role of the youth, youth empowerment and development in Africa, and whether the continent is underdeveloped because it is primarily without youth empowerment or because it is primarily underdeveloped.”
He said Ghana’s political history was filled with the heroic stories about the role of the youth in determining the political direction of the nation and that in the traditional context the state functioned basically on the strength of the ‘asafo’ companies.
Dr. Antwi-Danso said it was the youth factor in the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) that accounted for its success as a mass anti-colonial, anti-imperialist movement whose strikes, demonstrations and the boycotts ultimately led to independence.
He said the need for empowering the youth through political appointments has been the norm, rather than the exception in Ghanaian politics saying “from Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to late President John Evans Atta Mills, governments have sought to pivot their visibility and vibrancy on employing the youth.”
Mr. Emmanuel Dei-Tumi, Chief Executive Officer of Future Leaders Group, said Ghana’s youthful population were often incited to undertake election violence simply because they were unemployed and have been the hardest hit by the weight of the economic hardship than any other demographic group.
Speaking on the topic: “Guarding against Unguarded Utterances: The Role of Young Communicators,” Mr. Dei-Tumu said the key feature of the activities of all political parties was the attempt to shape public perceptions through the engagement of youthful spokespersons.
He said in the powerful role of the art of communication, young communicators using the media can cause societal changes as seen in the demonstrations and protest of the Arab Spring and North Africa.
Mr. Dei-Tumi said it was important that young communicators placed emphasis on developing expertise to add more credibility to their presentations, which in its absence is giving Ghanaians presentations and analysis which lacks substance and are often biased.
Brigadier General Francis A. Agyemfra (rtd), Senior Fellow of the IEA, said the sudden departure of the late President Atta Mills to eternity momentarily calmed down the political tension that typically engulfs the nation in the run-up to the general elections.
He said, however, shortly after the burial of the late President Mills, the relatively sober, peaceful and calm political atmosphere has already given way to a tense environment.
Brig. Agyemfra said one of the factors that recently accounted for the rise of the nation’s political tension is the creation of some 45 new constituencies by the nation’s electoral management body, “a move which some have described as a threat to the nation’s peace and security.”
He said the role of the youth in promoting a peaceful election was crucial as the nation risks being plunged into chaos if efforts are not made to channel the energies of the youth into more productive development activities.