Less than four months to go for the 2020 general elections, the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the biggest opposition party, National Democratic Congress (NDC), were yesterday caught up in ethnocentric arguments over Ewes and other non-Akan speaking voters as the Electoral Commission's (EC) registration exercise draws to a close.
The NPP National Chairman, Freddie Blay, has told journalists at a press conference that the NDC was "desperately trying to undermine the simple and peaceful exercise of voter registration" with "ethnocentrism, outright fabrications, needless exaggerations, and old-fashioned fear-mongering propaganda and inferior communist tactics".
Shortly after, the NDC replied through its National Communication Officer, Sammy Gyamfi, who played a number of video recordings of separate incidents that took place in Banda, AhafoAno North, SekyereAfram Plains in the Eastern Region, Ketu South in the Volta Region and Kpena in the Nkwanta South Constituency of the Oti Region, to journalists to support the NDC's allegations against the governing party.
At a counter press conference, the NDC, insisted the videos are evidence to demonstrate that the Akufo-Addo government is in cahoots with the security services, especially the military in preventing Voltarians and non-Akans from taking part in the voter registration exercise across the country.
MrBlay, had stated that the opposition party is making several allegations to "save face" after losing every suit they brought against the Electoral Commission (EC) prior to the exercise.
"Our brothers and sisters in the NDC are desperately trying to undermine the simple civil and peaceful exercise by using ethnocentrism to outright fabrications, needless exaggerations, and fear-mongering propaganda tactics."
This according to MrBlay, has forced the EC to prove itself on numerous occasions that they are working for the benefit of the country.
His comments come after former President John Mahama and the NDC, claimed that the military is being used to intimidate prospective registrants in some NDC strongholds, but MrBlay at the press briefing, said that such claims were "lies" adding that areas purporting to have had incidents of intimidation, have recorded high registration numbers.
"We are calling on all the people of this country and in the Volta Region where they have targeted not to allow themselves to be used as political pawns in a dangerous political game by Mahama and his followers."
The NPP National Chairman, expressed worry over the opposition party's deliberate attempts to disrupt the peaceful ongoing voters registration exercise with ethnocentrism and needless exaggeration, adding the NDC, has adopted new strategies dubbed "ethnic disenfranchisement" as their last card after they failed to disrupt the ongoing voters registration exercise.
"The NDC is desperately trying to undermine the simple and peaceful exercise of voters' registration into one of ethnocentrism, outright fabrications, needless exaggerations, and old fashioned fear-mongering propaganda and inferior communists tactics.
It has not been very smooth, I must say, but the Electoral Commission, the only institution with sole authority to determine elections has had to prove its mantle over and over again in these past few months " MrBlay said.
He appealed to Ghanaians, not to allow themselves to be used as political pawns to destroy the exercise which the EC, has so worked hard to roll out.
"We are calling all Ghanaians, especially the Volta Region, where they have particularly targeted, not to allow themselves to be used as political pawns in a dangerous political game by desperate John DramaniMahama," he added.
In a quick rebuttal, Sammy Gyamfi, insisted that the NPP,was promoting tribal discrimination, lawlessness and divisiveness at various polling stations amid the ongoing voters' registration exercise.
He stated that, "what is happening is shameful and totally reprehensible, and has the potential to plunge our beloved country into civil unrest if not halted."
Sammy Gyamfi on his part, highlighted some of the unrest. he named the Banda Constituency, the Central Region, Ketu South Constituency, AhafoAno Constituency and the Oti Region, as places whose residents are being intimidated by the military.
According to him, about 17 people in the Oti Region, by their checks, were not allowed to register ,because they could speak a bit of French., and stated that it is unfortunate the President insists there has been no unrest at these places, even with pictorial evidence making rounds on social media.
"We unreservedly condemn the misuse of the military, police service and other security services to intimidate and harass innocent citizens in the ongoing voter registration exercise."
"We wish to remind President Akufo-Addo that Ghana remains a unitary state, and that Ghanaians must continue to be united by a common destiny and not by tribal or ethnic cleavages."
MrGyamfi, claimed that numerous Ghanaians, have not been able to register, although the registration is in its final phase.
He charged traditional leaders, the media and all Ghanaians to speak out against the discrimination they claim is happening across the country.
"Ghana is a peaceful country. And we all have a duty to God and country to speak up against the shameful culture of tribalism, ethnocentrism, divisiveness and lawlessness that President Akufo-Addo is gradually normalizing and entrenching in our body politics."
The NDC called on President Akufo-Addo, to call his National Security apparatus and party hoodlums to order, following heightened tensions and brutalities at some registration centres across the country.
According to him, "the earlier President Akufo-Addo, halted the ongoing ethnocentric harassment of innocent Ghanaians in the area, the better it will be for the nation," adding the NPP has over the past weeks, disenfranchised thousands of Ghanaians particularly Ewes and Northerners on suspicion that they were not Ghanaians.
The NDC, has alleged ethnic discrimination and tribal bigotry against both the NPP and the Akufo-Addo government in the ongoing voters' registration exercise.
He stated that NPP thugs and National Security operatives at various registration centres, had harassed and brutalised people they suspected were not Ghanaians, instead of filling a challenge form as directed by the EC, prior to the exercise.
This comment follows a top official of the NPP, Andrew Egyapa Mercer, who is also the MP for Sekondi Constituency claiming that the filling of challenge forms though required by law, was too laborious thus justifying the use of force by hoodlums and security apparatus.
Sammy Gyamfi, said aside the NPP 'thugs' refusing to fill challenge forms, they were also preventing people from going to defend their eligibility to register at the adjudication committee meeting of the EC.
He said, "Only this morning, five (5) Voltarians whose eligibility were challenged upon registration and were on their way to attend the adjudication committee meeting of the EC, were attacked by some armed NPP hoodlums belonging to the "Delta Forces" around the Bui Lake close to Bongase.
"Three (3) of them who sustained injuries managed to escape, whiles two (2) of them were kidnapped by the NPP hoodlums, a situation that is currently generating a lot of tension in the area and has led to the suspension of the entire registration process at Akanyakrom by the EC citing heightened insecurity. "
He has therefore called on the President to enforce measures to halt the ongoing harassments and brutalities at registration centres to ensure peace and stability in the December 2020 polls.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the media, this is how serious the matter is and the earlier President Akufo-Addo halted the ongoing ethnocentric harassment of innocent Ghanaians in the area, the better it will be for the nation," he said.
"The NDC is deeply worried and totally aghast at what appears to be a deliberate agenda of tribal discrimination, hatched by President Akufo-Addo and the NPP, to frustrate and disenfranchise Ghanaians of certain tribes from acquiring Voter ID cards that will qualify them to exercise their democratic right to choose a President and Members of Parliament on 7th December 2020", he said.
MrGyamfi added: Indeed, we have long known about this diabolic and nation-wrecking agenda. You would recall that as part of our resistance against the compilation of a new voters' register, we argued forcefully that the EC's entrenched and unjustifiable decision to compile a new voters' register at all cost, was part of a grand scheme to help the NPP/Akufo-Addo government suppress votes and disenfranchise many in NDC strongholds. Yet some of you our friends in the media did not believe us. As a matter of fact, some of you have always challenged us to produce evidence to back our claim".