The Atiwa East District NCCE in collaboration with UNESCO organized a forum to educate the youth on Peace and Tolerance.
The forum brought together, representatives of political parties, Teacher Unions, Artisanal Groups, Muslims and Christian youth groups, the National Service Scheme, media among others.
Mr. Saviour Ametefe, the Atiwa East District Director of NCCE explained that the purpose of the forum was to educate the youth and equip them with skills on non-violence to enable them to participate both effectively and ethically in nation-building and peace processes.
According to him, studies have shown that the youth are often the perpetrators of election and other related violence with most of them acting out of ignorance of the various regulations such as the Public Order Act, 1994, (Act, 491), the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019 (Act, 999), as well as the Code of Conduct for Political Parties and the roadmap for ending the menace of political party vigilante groups which have been acceded to by the major political parties in the country.
Mr. Ametefe emphasized that Peace before, during, and after elections is very important for national cohesion and development. He further stated that the NCCE whose mandate is to educate the citizens on their rights and responsibilities has sensitized the public to appreciate the need for peace and conduct themselves within the electoral laws and other public order statutes during the 2020 general election.
However, there were some violent clashes in some constituencies, some of which resulted in deaths. “Once there was a disagreement with the results and the Supreme Court ruling by the petitioner, it is important that we continue to preach peace and tolerance and educate the youth on grievance handling procedures and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms,” he said.
The Atiwa East District Chief Executive, Hon. Kwabena Panin Nkansah in his keynote address narrated how wars and instability destroy the future of the youth. He highlighted how some countries like Rwanda faced severe problems because of violence related to political transitions.
He admonished the youth to protect the peace we enjoy in Ghana. Hon Nkansah advised the youth to desist from political violence as injuries and losses from engaging in those acts will be their responsibility.
He emphasized that the District Assembly is committed to fighting against violence in the District. He concluded by stating that peace is not the absence of war and referred to the scriptures with advice on loving a neighbor as oneself.
Madam Agnes A. Magisi, the NCCE Regional Director for Programmes moderated a film show on violence. The videos showed the results of political violence and how it devastates the country. Some videos portrayed violence that happened during the Ayawaaso West Wuogon Bye-Elections and demonstrations before and after the election.
She pointed out the effects such actions brought to the youth and expressed how most of the time direct beneficiaries of power do not go through any of such predicaments.
Madam Agnes stated that the crises in Rwanda started on a tribal basis. She took lessons from the Yen Ara Yen Asaase Ni, a patriotic song that inspires the need to protect the country as we have no other place to call home.
The Anyinam District Police Commander, DSP Daniel Wiafe explained the Public Order Act 1994 and how it guides organizing programs and special events.
He stated that there are laws to prevent the extent to which programs can be done, the time it will be held, and in worst cases stop an event from being held with a court order.
He cited instances where the Police have contributed to preventing mayhem from escalating in the District.
DSP Wiafe called on Political parties to respect the decision of the Police at all times and stop tagging them as bias when orders to enforce laws do not go in their favor.
The Eastern Regional Director for Peace Council Mr. Prince Albert Koomson gave a lecture on the road map to the code of conduct in Ghana. He explained that the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party have both signed the code and their followers should be aware and not do anything that compromises the law or they will be held responsible for their actions.
Mr. Prince Koomson defined Vigilantism and its scope. He stressed the fact that ACT 999 is a working law and it has a minimum jail term of 10 years if a culprit is found to have broken it. He indicated that political parties use the strength and power of the youth for their selfish benefit with promises they cannot fulfill.
He advised the youth not to fall to the cunning ways they devise to win power. He told the youth how united most politicians who act like fierce enemies are behind the camera and proposed to them not to be deceived to incite violence in any form.
Questions on the subject were answered and participants of the forum were divided into three groups to undergo a collaborative activity.
The Deputy Regional Director of NCCE, Mr. Augustine Bosroatsi presided over the discussion.
In the end, the youth were able to come up with factors that help in nation-building, Negative effects of political party vigilante activities, and Threats to national cohesion and peaceful elections.
Participants pledged to condemn all acts of vigilantism, promote peace and educate members of their political parties, various Associations, and friends on what they were educated on.