The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) has lambasted the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) for what it described as a breach of faith on the part of the NDC with regard to the conduct of the December 2019 referendum on the MMDCEs election.
According to the NPP, even though a consensus had been reached by all the political parties including the NDC as well as Civil Society Organizations, faith-based organizations and other key stakeholders on the upcoming referendum, the opposition party has shockingly come out to oppose the YES Vote agenda.
NDC announced recently that it 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 freely contest in the local government elections and administration.
It is also to enable the voters 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, General Secretary of the NPP, John Boadu, observed that “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.
According to him, 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.
He said “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. “
He described the action of the NDC as “nothing else but an unpatriotic betrayal of the Ghanaian people.”
He added that “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, he said.
According to him, 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.”
He revealed that NDC was part of all the consultative engagements with Civil Society Organizations particularly IDEG and the CDD over the past year and half.
During the engagements, he said 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,”? he quizzed.
He disclosed 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.”
Mr 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.
He added 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.
Mr. Boadu quoted what some of NDC 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.
For instance, he quoted the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu as saying
“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..”.
Again, he quoted NDC MP for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga as saying “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.”
BY Melvin Tarlue