Bennin Issifu Douri
As political parties and institutional comments and positions on the December 17 referendum generates debate among Ghanaians, the Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly in the Upper East Region has stepped in to sensitize the people in the municipality on the need to come out to participate in the exercise.
The sensitization brought together members and leaders of identifiable groups and institutions in the municipality with a sole massage; residents should consider the development of the area over partical party positions and sentiments, when they enter the booth to cast their votes on Tuesday December 17, 2019.
Unfortunately, this may not be the reason why many people in the Bolgatanga Municipality will vote YES/NO come December 17, rather the decision will be based on the fact that, their parties support YES or supports NO. If the discussions on the streets and bases at night in the municipality is anything to go by, then Bolgatanga Municipality may be one area that will record a high number of NO votes, considering the fact that majority of the people support the National Democratic Congress and will support whatever the party supports.
Even the participants, especially artisans and members of some informal groups are sharply divided and have taken entrenched positions over the merits and demerits of a YES vote and NO votes.
Some of the participants who were interviewed by the Daily Guide ahead of the sensitization programme, are of the view that the referendum is just a step to fulfilling one of the New Patriotic Party’s campaign promises, where others are also of the view that it aimed to enhance development at the local level and ensuring that, power does not reside only in one party after a general election.
Musah Osama, a Butcher explained that his little knowledge about the referendum will help him to make an informed decision, especially when a YES vote will empower the local people to select their Chief Executives and for the political parties to share power for development.
There are also concerns about poor and delayed public education about the December 17 Assembly Elections and the referendum, which he believes will affect the turn-out on that day and will also cause people to opposite their wish when they are alone in the booth.
“How can we understand, when the messages about the referendum and the assembly election are carried out in the English language? My old lady in the house who can not speak nor understand the English language will not know what the referendum is all about.”
The Bolgatanga Municipal Chief Executive, Joseph Amiyuure Atuura in an interview after the sensitization forum said the electorates have the right to choose YES or NO depending on their understanding of the reason for the December 17, referendum.
Earlier at the forum, the Bolgatanga Municipal Chief Executive explained to the participants that a Yes vote will trigger the amendment of Article 55 clause 3 of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution to enable political parties to openly support candidates to be elected as Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives. This way the parties can be held responsible and praised based on the performance of an MMDCE in office.
Mr. Amiyuure Atuura also added that the coming referendum is in fulfilment of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) campaign promise to relieve some of the powers of the president to the citizens.
The Upper East Regional Director of the Information Services Department, Bennin Issifu Douri who outlined the merits and demerits of political parties involvement at the local level elections, urged the participants to weigh the two so as to make an informed decision.
FROM: Ebo Bruce-Quansah, Bolgatanga