The NPP has taken a swipe at the largest opposition party, the NDC, for what it described as a “breach of faith” on the part of the NDC leadership regarding the CONSENSUS that all the political parties as well as Civil Society Organizations, faith-based organizations and other key stakeholders reached on the upcoming referendum. This follows the NDC’s sudden decision announcing that they will be campaigning for a “No” vote on the upcoming referendum to amend Article 55(3) of the Constitution.
The amendment is to allow political parties to also freely contest in the local government elections and administration and for voters to be able to hold political parties directly accountable for their stewardship at the local and not just the national level.
At a Press Conference held on Monday, November 18, 2019 to state its official position on the referendum, and also respond to the issues that were recently raised by the NDC, the NPP, through its General Secretary, Mr. John Boadu, said, “until the announcement last Tuesday, November 12, 2019, the NDC had, all this while, been cooperating constructively with Government, in Parliament and elsewhere, with the NPP, the Electoral Commission, other political parties, faith-based organizations, traditional authorities, Civil Society Organizations and all other stakeholders for the success of the referendum in returning an emphatic YES verdict.
This, they have done throughout the many engagements, conferences and symposiums that have been held on the referendum involving all the major political parties in the country. That is why all the political parties, civil society groups, the media and the general public all appear surprised, confused and even hoodwinked by the NDC’s abrupt U-turn last Tuesday, barely five weeks to the referendum of December 17.
The NPP described what the NDC displayed last Tuesday as “nothing else but an unpatriotic betrayal of the Ghanaian people. Such a naked show of dishonesty, deceit, indecision, lack of candour and integrity from the biggest opposition party in the country projects a perception that the NDC would sacrifice the national interest at the alter rather where cheap political points are scored.
There is a strong school of thought that the only thing that can explain the NDC’s unexpected U-turn is that they are fully aware of the difficult task of getting the amendment through without a consensus; knew all thus along, but pretended they were in favour until this last minute when huge state resources have been committed. By urging their supporters to vote ‘No’, the NDC by this frivolous game hopes to register a curious propaganda “victory” as we enter election year in 2020.”
The party expressed shock and dismay at the conduct of the NDC and said, in all the consultative engagements with Civil Society Organizations particularly IDEG and the CDD over the past year and half, the NDC never gave any hint of being fundamentally against electing people at the local government level on partisan basis.
“We are curious to know why after making declarations at national and public fora and engagements, including at the Catholic Bishops Conference, several forums organised by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), particularly IDEG, the launch by Coalition of CSOs, the launch of Citizens’ Education And Awareness Campaign by the NCCE and the Information Service Department, among others, the NDC is now going back on their word and pledge.
It is noteworthy that in all these engagements, the NDC, just like the NPP and the other parties made their positions very clear to the effect that they were for the introduction of multiparty contest at the local government level and that they were willing and ready to get their supporters to campaign for a YES vote in the referendum.”
According to the John Boadu, the NDC had, beyond these meetings, also participated in all the 10 regional and national consultations conducted by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development on the referendum in 2018, during which meetings, the party maintained its position that it was in support of the amendment of Article 55(3), and so, it is curious that the party [NDC] is now reneging on its position to the detriment of the nation.
The NPP General Secretary also said that the NDC Minority in parliament including their leadership have till date been working in close collaboration with their Majority counterparts to amend the relevant constitutional provisions to make MMDCEs positions ELECTIVE ahead of the referendum in order to further strengthen the case for an overwhelming YES vote at the referendum. He proceeded to quote what some of their leading members said on the floor of Parliament during the second reading of the amendment bill on July 29, 2019 as captured by the Parliamentary Hansard on that day as follows:
HARUNA IDDRISU (NDC Minority Leader) said: “So Mr. Speaker, two principles; amend the constitution, allow for popular elections of DCEs, but do it on the principle of partisanship. .. the support of those of us on this side of the House is conditional to the fact that DCEs should be elected, but they should be elected on partisan lines. This is the principle we would support and walk with..”.
MAHAMA AYARIGA (NDC MP for Bawku Central) said: “If political parties are so important to be able to organize to determine who should be the number one person- the president, why should they not be involved in determining who should be the number one person in a district assembly? It is equally very important…. Mr. Speaker let me reiterate the position of the Minority that we support the amendment to the Constitution to allow MMDCEs to be elected by universal adult suffrage. We do support that, but we also request that this should be doable with the sponsorship and support of political parties, given their strategic role in organizing our country..”
ALHAJI MUBARAK MUNTAKA (The Minority Chief Whip and NDC MP for Asawasi) asked the question: “if the referendum on article 55(3) fails, then what happens?”. He answered himself by stating that: “It means that we would open ourselves to election without limit, just like the current arrangement, where we all pretend that the district assembly election is non-partisan, when in actual sense, all of us, in the sincerity of our minds know that people and parties are behind one candidate or the other.”
ALHAJI ABA FUSEINI (NDC MP for Sagnarigu) said: “Mr. Speaker, the importance of conducting this referendum before this Article is circumscribed in our constitution… Mr. Speaker, this Side of the House, as I said earlier, supports the amendment, except that, while supporting the amendment we have to draw attention to the fact that when elections are conducted on partisan basis, one would have to take care of how we will ensure inclusiveness”
The party concludes by calling on all patriotic citizens including followers of NDC and other parties to ignore the NO campaign by the small group of NDC leaders and work massively for a resounding turn out and endorsement of the Referendum question towards introducing multiparty democracy at the District level and further entrenching multi-party democracy in Ghana. The NPP said, the adoption of multi-party democracy at the local governance level has positive developmental implications for the whole nation and will strengthen the country’s political and governance system.