Don't put religion at centre of 2024 elections - Religious leaders to citizens
The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) has cautioned the electorate and Ghanaians in general against putting religion at the centre of the 2024 general election by touching on the religious identities of the two flag bearers of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Such a situation, the council explained, if allowed to fester, would create tension and conflict and have dire consequences on the democratic credentials, peace and stability of the country.
“Matters of faith and belief are matters of identity.
The two flag bearers of the two main political parties do not represent religious identities and they are not presenting to us religious ideologies.
“They did not win their flagbearership based on their religious ideologies; they won based on their personalities and the message they carry.”
The Chairman of the CCG, Rt Rev. Dr Hilliard Dogbe, gave the warning while responding to questions and concerns from some participants at this year's conference on religion and peaceful co-existence in Accra yesterday.
Key among those who asked the questions during the panel discussion and audience engagement session was a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Kwesi Jonah.
Jointly organised by the National Peace Council (NPC), TUDEC, a non-governmental organisation, the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, CCG and the Office of the National Chief Imam, the conference was on the theme: “Faithful discourse: building a peaceful world together".
It attracted traditional and religious leaders, queenmothers, the clergy, African religion practitioners, politicians, Members of Parliament (MPs), and media practitioners, including the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Albert Kwabena Dwumfour, among others.
Rt Rev. Dr Dogbe said Ghanaians must go into the election to elect a Ghanaian who would have “the thinking ability to think for the nation's citizenry”.
“But when we treat the 2024 elections as a religious election, we are touching on the identities of the two flag bearers and once we do that we touch the core of our human lives and that is where people will start fighting,” he further cautioned.
He said the ethnic tension that had underlined the nation's elections some time back was already an issue, therefore, adding any religious tension and conflict to the next election would have dire consequences on the country’s peace.
The Omanhene of Essikado Traditional Area in the Western Region, Nana Kobina Nketsia V, for his part, challenged political parties to shun parochial interests and to avoid going into next year's election with the mindset of monetary gains and increasing power to the neglect of the welfare of the citizenry.
“What lessons have we learnt in the past elections such that we will avoid promises and attaining power by lies and not power by the truth; which of the parties can say this is my dream for Ghana?” Nana Nketsia V queried.
He stated that it was time the country had its own homegrown democratic values rather than importing Western or European democratic ideologies.
The National Chief Imam, Sheikh Usmanu Nuhu Sharubutu, who used the occasion to pray for peace, said God believed in diversity and stressed: “It is not for us to fight among ourselves, we must tolerate each other's views”.
The Chairman of the National Peace Council, Rev. Dr Ernest Adu-Gyamfi, stressed the need for all stakeholders to continue to work together regardless of their religious and political differences and serve as agents for building sustainable peace in Ghana and the West Africa sub-region.
“Peace is a priceless commodity but it can be very expensive if not nurtured with love, unity and tolerance towards each other's faith,” he added.