NEWS COMMENTARY REFLECTS ON GHANA’S DEMOCRACY VIS A VIS ITS PRACTICALITY AS INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DEMOCRACY IS OBSERVED TODAY.
UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 speaks of the need to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. The goal is indeed critical at this time that the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged many societies, causing havoc and destabilizing many economies. It has disrupted the socio-economic and very core livelihood of many people across the globe. In all these, the very existence, well-being and dignity of human beings have been affected.
As rightly stated by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Gutierrez, “as the world confronts COVID-19, democracy is crucial in ensuring the free flow of information, participation in decision-making and accountability. The crisis undoubtedly raises questions of how best to counter harmful speech while protecting freedom of expression in a democracy. How do we as a society ensure that the fundamental human rights of citizens, including freedom of expression are protected while eliminating misinformation and disinformation?
Some experts ascribe to an accurate, clear and evidence-based information from sources people trust as a remedy to the most effective response to today’s misinformation and disinformation.
On a more deliberate note, the International Day of Democracy should provide an opportunity for humanity to review the state of democracy in the world today. It can be alluded to that Democracy is as much a process as a goal, and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, that the ideal of democracy can be realized and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.
Furthermore, the values of freedom, respect for human rights and the principle of holding periodic and genuine elections are essential elements of a democracy. With less than three months for Ghana to go to the polls, it is prudent to ask, how have we as citizens played our roles in this democratic dispensation? Have we sought proper accountability from duty bearers? How have we been part of the decision-making processes in our communities? Have we contributed to the debates, discussions and commentaries that underpin the very core of our democracy? Or have we sat aloof just criticizing? without providing workable alternatives?
It is an undeniable fact that Ghana’s politics has become so heavily polarized that political colours underpin discussions instead of clear pure, solid and factual arguments to defend a position. A clear example is how politicians have handled education. People are simply divided on party lines to the point that a party in power or out of power is reluctant to continue with the educational infrastructure which was not completed by the previous government, so as not to give credit to its opponent. Who is the loser in the case? The children, our future. Ghana’s future will be jeopardized if this polarization is not shelved for the benefit of posterity.
Again one would ask, how have our elected officials of State, endeared themselves? citizens or spectators? Can they hit their chests to say for sure they have stood for the greater good of society, rather than parochial interests? Much is expected of government officials as gratitude to Ghanaians who lined up to vote them into office? As a people, if we agree democracy is the way to go, then it is cogent that all hands must be on deck to ensure that it is maintained as a choice for the people, by the people and of the people.
Remember, if Ghana should become a better place for all, there needs to be the visualization of a collective participatory agenda signifying a united front so that the democratic tenets and processes are NOT only perceived as a right but clearly a citizens’ responsibility!
BY REBECCA EKPE, A JOURNALIST.