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General News of Thursday, 25 June 2020


NPP Primaries: Delegates, aspirants to face law for breaking COVID-protocols?

A parliamentary aspirant, Sheila Bartels hugging without a nose mask after her victory A parliamentary aspirant, Sheila Bartels hugging without a nose mask after her victory

As of now, it is commonplace that there are existing graphic evidence which depicts the high level of impunity and absolute disregard for coronavirus safety protocols during the just-ended NPP primaries.

Prior to the conduct of the governing party’s internal polls, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had signed an Executive Instrument which criminalized noncompliance to wearing face mask in public places. Per the provisions of the law, persons who are found guilty will be liable to pay a fine of GHC1200 – GHC6,000 or between four to ten years imprisonment.

The E.I. was signed and gazetted the same day, June 18, 2020. The NPP primaries was held on June 20, 2020.

On the Election Day, however, it was quite refreshing to see in the early hours that safety protocols were strictly adhered to. There was adequate provision for hand washing and social distancing.

Security personnel also made sure persons without nose masks were forced to get one before casting their votes, in some constituencies if not all.

What changed then?

In a matter of minutes, what initially appeared to be a calm atmosphere degenerated into scenes of disarray where all forms of safety protocols were either blatantly eschewed or forgotten.

In some constituencies such as Bantama, Adentan, Dome Kwabenya, Effiduase-Asokore where various forms of discrepancies marred the process, the nose masks became an obstruction to speech and the one-meter social distancing rule, a figment of the imagination.

According to media reports and eyewitness accounts, most aspirants, delegates and supporters threw caution to the wind after declaration as they blatantly disregarded the directives.

The evitable question at this point is, what did security officials do? In the heat of the moment, all activities were carried out in the full glare of security officials, who appeared to have been overwhelmed by the turnout of events.

Agitation from Ghanaians

Days after the elections, some Ghanaians are still calling for punitive measures against some aspirants who were captured disobeying the provisions of the laws.

In fact, some pastors, the opposition NDC and media personalities have openly castigated leadership of the party for flouting the laws. Others have also asked the president to subject such aspirants, delegates and supporters to similar measures being brought against persons who have been arrested so far.

Reasons why such demands are rife are the increasing harassment of ordinary Ghanaians on the street by police for failing to comply with the nose mask directive, to the extent that some individuals driving alone in their vehicles were harassed.

Not only that, on June 23, 2020, but some 40 persons were also arrested at the Central Business District for not wearing face masks in public as prescribed by the new law.

Loud silence of government and police

Again, there seems to be a rather nonchalant posture taken by government and its agencies in addressing the issue. President Akufo-Addo in his 12th address to the nation barely spoke specifically to the issue. No punitive measures have so far been announced by the police or any security agency.

The fear of many concerned Ghanaians borders on how fair the E.I. would apply, given the fact that the worst culprits are being left off the hook. If apologies could work, everyone could apologise once they are apprehended for flouting the law. Has the president turned a blind eye because it’s his party on the offending side? These are some complaints raised so far.

Implication on EC’s voters compilation, National Identification Authority card distribution

With the current issue, several concerned stakeholders have begun questioning promises made by government, the Electoral Commission and the NIA in ensuring a safe pre-election process.

Is the NIA’s Ghana Card distribution going to see such calm atmosphere in the early hours or days and massive disarray in subsequent days?

Is the EC, in all its offices going to ensure safety protocols are adhered to?

Answers for these and several other mind-boggling questions are yet to be answered, but until then, in the words of President Akufo-Addo “…each one of us must be part of the fight to stop the spread of the virus…”

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