By Adu Koranteng
A survey conducted by the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) has revealed that 75% of electorate will vote ‘Yes’ in the upcoming referendum.
Director of ILGS, Dr Nicholas Awortwi, in the presentation of the results, noted this was encouraging since the referendum requires not less than 75% Yes votes in order for government to proceed with the amendment process.
“The results show a lot of hope for the Yes campaigners with about four weeks to go,” he emphasized.
He added, “Ghanaians want to elect their own Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), however, they are in split if they want to elect based on party colours.”
A nationwide referendum will be conducted on December 17, 2019, to enable citizens to decide if an entrenched clause in the 1992 Constitution Article 55(3) needs to be amended to permit political parties in Ghana to participate in local government election.
A voter turnout of at least 40% and 75% Yes votes is required to affirm the government’s desire to amend the Article 55(3) in the Constitution.
The poll focused on whether registered voters are aware of the referendum, understand the reason for the referendum, will participate and will vote Yes or No.
The Director of ILGS further indicated, the results could change since it was conducted before the opposition, National Democratic Congress (NDC) and House of Chiefs declared their position for a No vote.
“The ILGS will conduct another survey to know the influence of NDC and the House of Chiefs’ declaration on voters,” he assured.
Dr Awotwi announced that although 66% of voters were aware of the referendum, only 54% understood the purpose of it.
He therefore suggested “there should be more campaign on the rationale for the upcoming referendum since only 54% out of the 66% could explain it.”
The Director of ILGS expressed shock with the level of voter participation in the referendum in the Greater Accra region since it had the least percentage of 50% with Savanna region leading with 96% in the 16 regions and advised more focus on the national capital.
According to him, the referendum plays a key role in Article 55(3) amendment process to allow political participation and power decentralization in local governance.
He also commended the ILGS staff and sponsors for their unerring support.
The survey was conducted from November 6 to 11, 2019, among 6,550 out of the 16,845,364 electorate in the six metropolises, 18 municipalities and 20 districts (summing 44 MMDAs) across the 16 regions in Ghana.
Principal Policy Analyst, Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee on Decentralization (IMCC), Gameli Hoedoafia, noted the level of awareness amongst women was not encouraging and media campaign must focus on that area.
“We need to do a lot more in terms of sensitization because as you know, women are a key bloc in the country’s body politics. So it is very important that from this point forward, we are able to engage them better,” he stated.
He further noted that a Yes vote will be good for the country and will break the ‘winner-takes-all’ system in the country and promote local governance, independence and accountability to people.
Citing an example that, “imagine CPP rules at the local government and NPP at the central government, that means there has to be a give-and-take between the central and local government. One has to give power to the local government, so there will be better, stronger and forceful demands from the local level to the national level.”
He, however, advised electorate to weigh the merits and demerits of the initiative to take their decision and not to vote.