Representatives of civil society organisations have called on religious leaders to play a leading role in reducing the use of offensive words by politicians ahead of this year’s December 7 presidential and parliamentary polls.
The role of religious leaders is seen to be crucial as campaigns heat up with the elections just a week and a half away, with tensions rising and ad hominem attacks taking centre stage in political discourse.
Groups loyal to the two frontrunners in the elections- John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP)- have raised issues over the CV's of the other parties’ presidential candidates.
Pro-NDC group Research and Advocacy Platform (RAP) has demanded an explanation from Akufo-Addo over why he failed to include his short tenure as a student at Oxford University on his CV.
The NPP’s Young Patriots responded in kind by also demanding that President Mahama explain why he excluded the Bishop Middle School in Tamale from his CV.
Both groups claim to possess information suggesting misconduct on the part of the other party’s flagbearer that led to their dismissal from their respective institutions. The groups maintain that it is because of these past embarrassments that the candidates omitted the schools from their CVs.
Speaking on Elections Platform on Joy FM Monday, Mrs. Nana Asantewaa Afadzinu of the West Africa Civil Society Institute, Rev. Samuel Antwi of the Ghana National Association of Charismatic Churches and Alhaji Mamah Gado of the Office of the Chief Imam unanimously called on leaders to intervene and prevent the situation from further degenerating.
Their specific topic of discussion was, "impunity in Ghana's politics and the threats it poses to credible and peaceful elections."
Rev. Antwi called the CV arguments worrying, adding that “Ghana has been very lucky” that similar antics have nearly led to more widespread violence during past presidential elections, including the 2008 contest.
He urged parents to advise their children against engaging in any form of violence ahead of this year’s elections.
Nana Asantewaa Afadzinu implored the media not to offer their platforms to representatives of political groups that rely on intemperate words.
She commended the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), whose initiative to name and shame media houses and politicians who use immoderate words has, according to her, helped reduce the prevalence of offensive comments.
According to Alhaji Mamah Gado, Ghana’s political system makes the presidential election a “winner takes all” contest whose loser is confined to opposition for four years.
He partly blames the high stakes of these elections for the tension that usually characterizes Ghanaian elections, adding that it is time that the nation take a “strong stand against impunity,” which he said creates fear among the people.