PThe Northern Sector Action on Awareness Centre (NORSAAC), a national advocacy organisation has held a post referendum engagement on the conduct of the election of the newly created regions in December, 2018, with stakeholders in Bolgatanga, in the Upper East Region
The forum, organised on Friday, afforded the NORSAAC the opportunity to make known their findings with regards to the referendum to stakeholders including civil society organisations, security services, political party functionaries and the media, among others
The Monitoring and Evaluation Manager of NORSAAC, Mr Issah Aminu Danaa, explained that the objective of the engagement was to influence discussions that would translate into the improvement of the country’s electoral system and deepen its democratic credentials.
He explained that before the referendum, NORSAAC sought for funding support from STAR-Ghana and conducted a survey to ascertain people’s interest, knowledge and awareness level about the elections and the processes leading to the elections.
The manager stated further that his outfit decided to share the observations of the referendum especially in the two newly created regions in the North to the stakeholders and to also solicit for their inputs to make the electoral system better in the country.
While acknowledging that the election was generally conducted peacefully and the electoral materials made available, Mr Danaa stated there were few instances that needed improvement in subsequent elections.
“A worrying trend that greeted the observation team was the handling of electoral materials prior to official start of polls. The electoral materials were handed to individual electoral officers to convey them to the various polling stations without security escorts,” he said.
“In about 90 per cent of the polling stations observed, the electoral officers were not only spotted campaigning openly for the ‘Yes’ but were openly commanding people to go and vote for the yellow, which represented yes.” Mr Danaa stated.
Continuing, he noted that at some polling stations the presiding officers were seen telling the voters in the queue why voting the yellow sign would bring development including jobs for their children.
The manager lamented that state officials including ministers of state, municipal and district chief executives who were members of the proposed regions were spotted in their campaign attires and it was also common to see three or four persons at the voting booth at a time trying to assist a voter.
The report therefore recommended that in future elections, there should be professional conduct from all stakeholders to ensure free, eligible, fair and peaceful processes.
“Partisan” behaviour by traditional leaders and overt bias of public officials, all in favour of the creation of the new regions meant that a level playing field was not achieved, which was a bit worrying for a solid democratic nation such as ours. This could affect the attitude of the citizens towards subsequent elections including the district assembly and the general elections,” he stressed.
FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, BOLGATANGA