9th December, 2005.
We in Youth for Action Ghana wish to add our voice to the debate on the Peoples Representation Amendment bill. There has been some meaningful contribution to this debate. We have followed both the debate and the document that have caused the debate. While we agree that some submission have been helpful and indeed constructive from the opposite ends, we are also aware that some views have been ill-motivated by their nature. Some arguments have only been a deviation from the substance of the matter and dwelt on self created impressions. May I be quick to add that such views have come from both the 'yes' voters as well as the 'no' voters.
The Constitution of our republic is the supreme authority that pegs all of us under its domain. 'No one is above the law' is a popular phrase employed when some people attempt to take the law into their own hands. In this debate some people have sought to place the law under them. Ghana's supreme constitution has only one chapter for the Representation by way of election. It says that every Ghanaian shall have the right to exercise his/her franchise. Over the years, we have had elections which has not been representative enough – thus our elections have not covered 'every' Ghanaian as required of our laws. This is a point both sides of the debate consent to. While the 'no' people say that this flaw must be the basis for internal fixing, the 'yes' side say we must cover enough as the constitution demands at a go!
Our case is simple. Everyone seems to consent to the fact that chapter seven of our constitution needs amendment. Now, a proposal has come from the executive as to how in their view, it should be done. Though the motive is directly inside the bill, some people opposing the bill have sought to create the impression that the motive of the bill is ulterior – that the ruling party wants to use it to cheat on all others. I am yet to come to terms with that position and also come to understand how motives could be found outside the confines of the law. The bill as it is now will be representative enough to cover enough Ghanaians. As believers in constitutionalism, we embrace this execution of the all inclusiveness of our laws. The bill will not only be telling of our belief and exercise of democracy but most importantly, it is a basis to cover all the facets of our being as Ghanaians.
There have been calls that Ghanaians abroad do not contribute enough while others say the very opposite. That is neither here nor there. The fact is that Ghanaians are to perform this exercise (of voting) regardless how much one is paying or not paying. Out of the over 10million qualified voters, our tax records show that less than one million Ghanaians pay taxes. So what are we saying? That one can only vote if he or she possess a tax pass?
Again, our political parties have representatives in many countries overseas, how then can one party hijack the whole process and turn it to their advantage? Let's face it! This bill brings to bare some the most important things that must be undertaken as early as soon. We need a national identification! As part of the bill we can argue that our hospitals should start keeping a reliable database of all children from now on for example, or in the process of registration let us give permanent identities etc.
If we begin to make the needed additions we will be succeeding in been representative enough in all aspects of our life. This is Ghana for Ghanaians! I wish to add that the fact that our brothers and sisters are living abroad does not mean that they are not affected by events at home. What about our foreign policies (formulated here) which affect them most? What about the transport and communication area which deals with them too? What about private sector laws where some of them have investments? I await answers from all who have argued that they not directly affected by activities including elections in Ghana. We must begin to think up high as a nation than to grab the status quo and always take it as the best without changing. Ghana will never move on under such a circumstance.
Our embassies do not necessarily have to be in charge of the elections. At home, the EC recruits ordinary citizens to perform such duties as they deem fit. What stops us from doing so abroad? To all the reservations raised I am sure they have antidotes, let's apply them to the bill in order to enrich it and make a beauty for our country and our land. That is our responsibility!
God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong in the face of our differences and misunderstandings. And let all Ghanaians welcome the practice of bringing each and every one us on board. Ghana can only be for Ghanaians. God be with us all.
James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr Executive Director Youth for Action Ghana Tel: +233 24 453 54 72 Email: [email protected]