A dialogue on promoting peace ahead of Ghana’s general elections has been held in Kumasi with a call on stakeholders to do more to contribute to a peaceful election on December 7.
The event, which was put together by Confluent Media in Ghana and its United States partner, IoTeedom, brought together local and international experts in peace-building to have a dialogue on a project dubbed “Voices for Peace Campaign.”
The Campaign seeks to understand the sentiment of the Ghanaian electorates around the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal 16 which focuses on Peace, Justice and strong institutions to gauge the level of tolerance, security and safety before the election.
It is in line with this that a survey was conducted in Accra and Kumasi with a sample size of 1,100 respondents who called for more security, surveillance, public education and productive youth programs.
A forum has subsequently been held in Kumasi to share the findings with the public and was attended by representatives of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly, Regional Police Command, Regional Chapter of the Ghana Journalists Association and some identifiable youth groups.
Also joining the discussion via zoom were Briana Cook, CEO of IoTeedom, Irina Tsukerman, International Justice Organization and VEEP of Republic Underground, Frits Bussemaker, Board Chairman, Institute for Accountability in the Digital Age and Ola Olajide, Executive Director, Ojodu Grassroots Foundation.
The theme of the conversation was “Element of Peace Building – Making Your Voice Heard.”
Ms Cook said IoTeedom and Confluent Media initiated the Voices of Peace Campaign to create the path for Ghanaians to act freely to build peace through inclusion, community building and collaborative partnership.
The main objective, she said, was to promote peace in the West Africa Sub-Region and to secure a better future for the next generation.
“So the idea is to promote a peaceful environment ahead of the elections. We want to support efforts to spread peace in West Africa and beyond by providing a platform outside of Facebook and Twitter to engage for social good,” she emphasized.
Among some of the objectives the campaign seeks to achieve, according to her, is to include the youth in civil society, promote youth as agents of change instead of perpetrating violence, organize more public events where the youth would actively participate, create education around personal safety and provide social support services for the youth.
Touching on the next steps for the campaign, Ms Cook said there would be more media engagements in the region to promote positive sentiment for community pride and peace.
Ms Tsukerman explained how Republic Underground was established to respond to a lot of negative issues dominating the media space from the proliferation of fake news which is a result of a loss of contact between the media and the audience.
She said one of the issues that the traditional media had created in the past was the direct relationship with its readership and viewership which ensured a trusted source of information.
She said though there were limitations because no medium could be perfect, there was a sense of trust that carried generations of readers along especially during crisis thereby giving a sense of inclusion in a community.
“The media was not only a source of information but also created a bond between the media and the recipient of the information and this is something that we are looking to come back to”, she stated.
She observed that there have been a lot of changes in the last couple of decades because of the disruptive effects of digitization of the media and called for access to information in a more democratic atmosphere to allow excluded voices to engage more directly.
“Obstacles such as censorship and corruption over the years have prevented the marginalized from being heard but these obstacles have been broken down with greater access to the internet and social media”, Ms. Tsukerman asserted.
Mr Kwadwo Akuamoah Boateng, who represented the Kumasi Mayor, posited that Ghana was in a very volatile period because of tensions associated with elections in Africa.
He underlined the need for a constant reminder for all stakeholders to commit to peace and social cohesion before, during and after the December 7 elections.
He said violence and insecurity had a disruptive impact on the country’s development and stressed that sustainable development could not be achieved without peace, security, stability, human rights and effective governance based on the rule of law.