Mrs Charlotte Osei, NCCE boss
She wondered why the media would join the chorus for a peaceful and issue-based electioneering and at the same time offer their airwaves and front pages to politicians who use insulting language and exhibit despicable behaviour.
Mrs Osei was speaking to graphic.com.gh after a forum organised by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) for the NCCE to inform the public on its strategies and programmes towards a free and peaceful general election in December.
The forum was part of the GJA’s project of using the media to enhance the transparency and credibility of the 2012 elections.
It was sponsored by STAR-Ghana and facilitated by the KAB Governance Consult.
Mrs Osei said the media must know that politicians were always craving for attention to maximise their votes and explained that “if a politician insults somebody and you give him front page, what do you think he will say again tomorrow? If we say we are condemning insults, then we should walk the talk. If we say it is despicable behaviour, let us act that way. Let us stop publicising the inflammatory speeches politicians make”.
She expressed worry that Ghanaian media practitioners were behaving as if those politicians who spewed out the dirtiest remarks should be the most popular within the media space.
Mrs Osei reminded the media that the power to elect leaders for the country belonged to the ordinary Ghanaian and that was why the media should set an agenda that would compel politicians to address bread-and-butter issues.
She hinted that as its contribution towards ensuring an issue-based electioneering, the NCCE had undertaken a nationwide research to find out the issues that bothered the ordinary Ghanaian and very soon the findings would be made public.
She explained that those seeking the authority of the people to rule would be engaged in a debate to tell the public how they intended to address the issues the people had raised.
Addressing the forum earlier, Mrs Osei had noted that the commission, within the year, had put in place programmes to facilitate voter education and the need for Ghanaians to be tolerant of one another’s views, as well as jealously guide the democratic dispensation.
She explained that the commission had established inter-party dialogue committees in all districts and regions which included all political parties and interest groups such as the clergy, traditional authorities and the security agencies.
She also mentioned that the NCCE had been organising football matches as part of its strategy to engage the people to be tolerant and not consider their political opponents as enemies.
During the question-and-answer section, Mrs Osei said the commission had not received the full complement of its budgetary requirement but had about GH¢3.1 million, which was 18 per cent higher than that of last year.
She said irrespective of the shortfall, the commission was collaborating with other organisations to ensure the execution of its mandate.
On the concern over the perception that some NCCE staff were politically inclined, she cautioned that any member of staff who would be caught participating in political activity would be dealt with.
The President of the GJA, Mr Ransford Tetteh, explained that the forum was part of the association’s programme to offer its platform to governance institutions to explain their activities to the electorate.