Asare-Bediako Writes: Gov’t Should Halt Referendum To Avoid Political Suicide

The Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party in opposition made a number of pledges to be fulfilled if given the mantle of leadership in the 2016 general elections.

One of them was the promise to make Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executive’s position an elective one.

In his quest to fulfill this pledge upon the assumption of office, President Akufo-Addo, through the Local Government Ministry and in partnership with other stakeholders have been working tirelessly to make the election of MMDCEs a reality.

It is a legacy, it does appear, that His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo wants to leave behind and rightly so.

I’ve learnt that the idea of electing MMDCES and Assembly Members was proposed by the NDC Minority in Parliament and the government bought into it.

It appears the Parliamentary Hanzard of 29th July 2019, supports what I learnt that it was a proposal by the NDC. You may get a copy and focus on what Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak and Mahama Ayariga said. 

The Bill to effect this lifelong dream has since been sent to the august house of Parliament. Article 243 (1) is what will allow the President to cede his power to nominate potential candidates for MMDCE positions, and it is waiting, patiently to be amended to allow for the election of MMDCEs. 

Notwithstanding this straight jacket of a law, the President of the Republic has advocated that these elections must be held on partisan basis. I’ve learnt it was actually the Minority in Parliament that suggested that the election should be on partisan lines. And the NPP bought into that idea. It seems the Hanzard of 

This can only be achieved if Article 53 (3), an entrenched clause is subjected to a referendum in which majority of the voters are expected to vote YES for it.

Civil society organizations, opposition political parties and other stakeholders have been involved in these processes. The Progressive People’s Party, the CPP and hitherto, the NDC, were all in support of the YES vote. 

Mention, however, must be made of the fact that many an NPP member on various social media platforms have expressed vehement opposition to the idea of having MMDCEs elected stating amongst other reasons, the fact that we are still a young democracy and cannot afford to embark on such a suicidal mission of having opposition parties’ members sabotaging the ruling administration for the simple reason that they do not share in the same ideologies.

These party members have vowed to vote NO on December 17 when the referendum is held. Though not scientifically conducted, there appear to be more NPP members who are opposed to the election of MMDCEs than those who support same.

The President, in a recent engagement with some MMDCEs charged them to go out there to campaign for YES on the day. What is obvious is that most of these MMDCEs are mutely in disagreement with what the President admonished them to do and are not actually adhering to the directives of the President.

The opposition NDC, through their National Chairman, Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, on Tuesday, 12th November 2019, at a press conference completely made a U-turn as far as their support for the YES campaign is concerned. Short of repeating the reasons they adduced as to why their sudden change of mind, this new turn of events worsens the matter further.

Unlike the referendum for the creation of the regions which had the support of all political groupings including the NDC, the YES campaign is in jeopardy since the NDC has urged all its members to vote NO on the day. 

The NDC is being disingenuous. The Minority in Parliament was always in support of the election of MMDCEs on partisan basis. The parliamentary Hansard captures the various contributions made by the Minority members on the floor of Parliament in favour of the elections of MMDCEs based on partisan considerations. 

The National House of Chiefs in a communiqué on 15th November 2019 and signed by Togbe Afede VIX and Daasebre Nana Kweku Ewusi VII, the President and Vice President respectively, urged Ghanaians to vote NO on the day of the referendum. 

Assuming 30% of NDC members turn up to vote NO in addition to more than half of the members of the NPP who may turn up, there is no way YES can survive the onslaught. 

The President is on record to have declared for a YES vote and that makes this whole referendum and the possibility of NO winning something not worth pursuing.

The implications of the Government not succeeding with the YES campaign cannot be underemphasized. It would dent the huge image of the President and the government in general. 

It would also be a great psychological tool to the NDC and use same heavily against the NPP as the 2020 elections loom ahead. 

President Akufo-Addo truly means well as he seeks to fulfill this promise, but he must consider pulling the breaks on this since the forces arrayed against it are bent on ensuring that it never gets materialized. Mr. President should not be perturbed at all since deep down in his heart and mind, he wanted our democracy to be taken to another level.

NO is likely to carry the day because YES can’t garner the required 75% and that would have disastrous consequences on the NPP going into elections 2020.

To stop this looming danger, the referendum should be put on ice.

Alternatively, government must jettison the referendum and focus on securing the required 2/3 in Parliament to see through the amendment.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) in its 2016 manifesto promised to oversee the direct election of MMDCEs to coincide with the next District Assembly elections in 2019.

The NPP Manifesto didn’t promise multi-party participation in electing MMDCES and Assembly Members so they should not worry about forgetting the referendum.

If the Amendment in Parliament goes through, NPP would have achieved its campaign promise. There’s no need being democratically superfluous.

For now, jettison the referendum like you would do to rotten fish on the high seas.



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