'Train your agents well' - EC tells Political parties
Ms Georgina Opoku-Amankwaa, Deputy Electoral Commissioner, in charge of Finance and Administration has said the issue of political parties training their own people during elections has become a headache to the Electoral Commission (EC).
He said the way they train them does not usually fit well into the Commission’s system.
She noted that the political parties train their people to monitor the elections to benefit them without necessarily paying attentions to normal rules on elections as laid down by the EC.
Ms Opoku-Amankwaa said this over the weekend during the one-day European Union sponsored workshop organized by the EC for the Media, Civil Society Organisations, faith-based organizations, among others, to sensitise them on the district level elections in the country.
She expressed worry about reports of revered and eminent people, who are required to remain politically neutral, tainting themselves with political colours.
She noted that in Nigeria, during their last presidential elections, respectable people including lecturers offered themselves up to help their EC, which helped the work of the Commission.
“But in Ghana here, it is sad that people like pastors are perceived to have political links. Even lecturers are bold enough to form associations and declare their political stands”, she added.
She urged people in eminent positions in the country not to allow themselves to be bought by corrupt politicians, but should rather think of the common good of the country in all their endeavours.
She appealed to the media to only report on issues, which are truthful and could be substantiated, as falsehood could spark conflicts, which is not good for the country.
She cited the issue of donor fatigue as one of the major challenges of the EC, as it did not often get sponsorship for its programmes on electoral education.
“Also Ghana is classified as a Class A country, which means that the country has gone through a lot of electoral challenges and has surmounted them all by organizing successful elections. This sometimes makes it difficult for donors to give money for electoral purposes”, she added.
She expressed worry that politicians are able to infiltrate the EC and corrupt some of the people, who have been asked to work for the Commission.
“Ghanaians should know that when you take money from politicians, you corrupt the system and it is sad to note that people, who have been asked to work for the EC have allowed themselves to be corrupted by politicians”, she said.
The Deputy Commissioner intimated that elections if not well conducted, could lead to serious trouble, which could destabilize the peace and tranquility the country enjoys.
She noted that ensuring peaceful elections in Ghana was a shared responsibility and called on participants to endeavour to organize meetings and durbars for their members to educate them on the need to ensure peaceful and credible elections.
She noted that the recent afrobarometre indicated that the confidence Ghanaians had in the EC had dropped from 75 per cent to 45 per cent, which is a worry to the Commission.
She expressed worry about the trend whereby people who stay in urban areas contest for the district level elections in their villages where they do not reside.
She said such people might not have much insight into the challenges that those communities face and also might not be able to offer them all the needed assistance since they do not reside in those communities.
She commended the Media Foundation for West Africa for its electoral monitoring of politicians, who use foul language on the airwaves.
Mr Alexander Poku-Akubia, Greater Accra Regional Director, EC, called for a second look at the educational level of the electoral officers, who would be engaged by the EC during elections, in order to avoid some of the challenges the EC went through during the last elections.
He also called for preferential treatment for persons who are physically challenged during voting to prevent them from waiting in long queues and also to encourage them to always exercise their franchise.