In preparation for the upcoming 2012 elections in Ghana, the High Commission of Canada, in partnership with the Institute of Professional Studies-Students’ Representative Council, organized a forum on the role of youth in elections at the Institute of Professional Studies in East Legon. Political Counsellor Diedrah Kelly represented the Government of Canada at this important event, and was joined by prominent panelists from all major political parties including Hon. Fritz Baffour, Hon. Dan Botwe, Nii Armah Akomfrah and Mr. Bernard Mornah, as well as Independent candidate Mr. Kofi Akpaloo.
Fred Offei-Addo, Desmond Binney and Patrick Eshun of the IPS Students Representative Council enthusiastically organized the forum, which attracted an audience of almost 200 participants from the student body and the general public.
Diedrah Kelly stated, “these men are an example of this country’s future; its young leaders. And, whether Ghana advances as a nation or steps back in time will depend on the actions of its youth.”
She added that we live in interesting times. In the last year, Ghana has become an oil-producing nation, and it is said that Ghana has reached “middle income status”. But, while the future looks bright, many challenges remain, and success is not guaranteed. While often said to be a model of democratic values and stability in Africa, Ghana’s people cannot afford to be complacent about peace and security. Events in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire come to mind, and will perhaps act as an incentive to Ghanaians to tread with care and reflection as its own elections approach.
The High Commission representative encouraged that Ghanaian youth must not be complacent in the upcoming election, but should be encouraged to adopt a strategy of responsible citizenship. Youth should realize their obligations to take actions that ensure their community is healthy, safe and secure. A responsible citizen participates in their community to promote personal and public good.
The majority of the political party representative s delivered a common message, advising that the youth should not allow themselves to be manipulated, or pushed into violent conflict, but rather to inform themselves about the electoral process, the key issues discussed during the upcoming campaign and their rights. Most importantly, all eligible youth were encouraged to vote. On a closing note, Ms. Kelly reminded the group of the words of George John Nathan, “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”
The event was a success and the High Commission of Canada looks forward to continued cooperation with youth during the upcoming election campaign in 2012.