Voter responsibility programme is important - NCCE
By Deborah Apetorgbor/Mohammed Abdul Rashid, GNA
Accra, Sept. 28, GNA - The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) has outlined a broad public education calendar on voter responsibilities to ensure a peaceful 2016 election.
Mrs Joyce Affutu, NCCE Public Affairs Director, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), said the Commission has instituted Political Party Youth Activists' Engagement Platforms in 45 districts.
She said the project, which is being coordinated by the NCCE in collaboration with the Ghana News Agency, is being supported by development partners such as the European Union and UNESCO.
Mrs Affutu said the Political Party Youth Activists Engagement Platform seeks to inculcate in the youth and the electorates the need for political tolerance and how to deal with divergent views during political debates.
She said with their presence in all 216 districts of the country, public education on civic responsibilities of citizens 'are being run concurrently in all ten regions, in places such as churches, workplaces, markets, lorry parks, schools and various youth groups.
'We teach them how to thumbprint appropriately, demonstrating with miniature ballot papers'.
Mrs Affutu said they also educate citizens on the 'do's and don'ts of the electoral process' such as avoiding impersonation- using someone else's details to vote- which is an offence punishable by law'.
She said knowledge on how to vote correctly would reduce the occurrence of spoilt or 'rejected ballots' at the polling stations during this year's general elections.
She said part of their duty is to educate the public on how to conduct themselves on the voting day, particularly first-time voters who are neither familiar with electoral laws nor offences.
Mrs Affutu said the key principle of this year's educational campaign, which is tolerance of divergent views, is aimed at reducing incidents of violence and building a new political culture in the youth.
She said in order to decrease conflict situations during the December 7 polls, political parties are being advised to conduct political debates peacefully and avoid inflaming ethnic passions.
'We engage all political parties in our activities, and they all pledge to ensure peace before, during and after the elections,' she said.
She said the Commission in collaboration with partners have also set up Inter-Party Dialogue Committees (IPDCs) in every district.
She said the IPDC membership includes political party stakeholders, the police, clergy, media, Persons with Disabilities and others who dialogue on issues that arise in the various districts, so that members of those communities can 'co-exist peacefully in the district'.
She said since last year, the Commission together with the IPDCs has liaised with the National Peace Council and the National Commission on Small Arms to 'identify flashpoints'- areas that have conflicts with chieftaincy, boundary disputes, such as Nkonya, Tsito, Alavanyo, and Tafo where ethnic clashes remain.
NCCE have created a platform for dialogue with these communities and urged them 'not to allow politicians fan the existing conflicts'.
The Commission also said they are making use of all available media including television, radio, social media platforms such as twitter, Facebook and Instagram to reach that segment of the population.
Mrs Affutu said they have a website where they post all their public education activities.
This, she said, is to complement the work of the Commission's education officers in their interpersonal efforts with citizens.
She said the NCCE conducts a survey during every election year to gather the concerns of Ghanaians which they want contesting political parties to address.
Mrs Affutu said this year's survey is dubbed: 'Matters of concern to the Ghanaian voter' with support from the UNDP in data collection.
She said the Commission will be 'rolling out focus group discussions in 110 districts' with support from the European Union in the near future.