Come December 7th, 2016, Ghana shall head to the polls in Presidential and Parliamentary elections to elect a new president and 275 Members of Parliament. This is going to be the seventh time we are going to vote as a nation since the return to democratic rule in 1992.
The process of ensuring free, fair and transparent elections does not only rest with the Electoral Commission and the political parties but also with civil society organisations and well meaning Ghanaians.
Over these few years, I have become an active participant of our national electoral process be it the general elections or the unit committee and district assembly elections in my constituency.
I was introduced to politics and elections by my late father, Jonas E. K. Ackah when I was in the junior high school, Form 1. I was made to read current and old news coverage on elections to have my own analysis and research to predict who will win in which constituency. We stayed by the radio with our books and writing the results as and when they were announced either from Unique FM (Radio Ghana) or Joy FM.
I proudly cast my first vote in the 2004 in Form 2 while studying at Adisadel College in Cape Coast. As a government student then and a member of the Civic Education Club, I had long yearned for that moment to add my vote to decide who was ultimately ruled over the nation. My active involvement in elections came in the 2008 general elections as a national service person with the Information Service Department in the Damgbe West District. I covered my first election as a professional journalist. I reported the election from the Osu-doku constituency in Dodowa.
Since then I have covered all the elections in Ghana but in 2012 was the more enriching experience as a local governance worker. Prior to the elections in 2012, Ashaiman was identified as one of the hot spot constituencies in the country. This was due to violent incidents recorded in every elections held in the town with the 2008 the worst. I was a member of SYPPA, a civic group gathering in the Ashaiman Municipality with the task of empowering the people to participant in the local governance process and to demand for greater accountability from duty bearers.
To avoid such bad publicity associated with the town and ensure a More violent free elections, series of community engagement fora was held with key identifiable stakeholders. The police, chiefs, political parties and their youth wings, opinion leaders and youth associations were all brought on board on our education drive.
I joined the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) Civic Forum Initiative to observe the elections in Ashaiman. I had undertaken a number of research for IDEG in Ashaiman, all in shaping people’s opinion in committing themselves to a free polls and improved development in Ashaiman. I gave close to the elections and stand proud our work contributed to the peaceful atmosphere the 2012 election was conducted. For the first, there was no recorded incident of violent. Is election year once again and duty calls on me to volunteer myself to mother Ghana in fulfilling my civic responsibility as an election observer for IDEG.
So come 7th December, 2016, I will be gaining more experience in election coverage. May this responsibility lead me into further areas in our democratic process.