The Political and Peace Building Affairs Department of the United Nations has thrown its weight behind the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to scale up its public education of citizens to ensure that religious and ethnicity sentiments do not disturb the country’s peace during and after the 2024 general election.
A Senior Political Affairs Officer of the Department, Ecoma Alaga, who made the call, said the country’s peaceful environment and democratic gains could be derailed if religious sentiments were allowed to permeate the electoral system.
Ms Alaga, who is in the country to engage key state and non-state institutions on peace and security, said it had emerged from discussions with various stakeholders that the creeping in of religion in the 2024 election was a major concern.
"We have heard it come out of our engagement with other stakeholders such as political parties and civil society organisations (CSOs).
There should be civic awareness around this area beyond the 2024 election because it is better to nip it in the bud early than leave it to gain traction," she said.
Ms Alaga made the call when she led a team from the UN Ghana office to pay a courtesy call on the Chairperson of the NCCE in Accra last Friday.
She explained that her presence at the NCCE was part of a routine familiarisation visit to countries in West Africa in relation to peace and security issues.
Ms Alaga said the UN Ghana office had already rolled out interventions aimed at promoting peace and security in the country, especially in the lead up to the 2024 election.
In response to the UN official's call to stamp religion out of the political space, the NCCE Chairperson, Kathleen Addy, said the commission would go all lengths to create awareness of the dangers of such a development.
She said while it was unhealthy for elections to be characterised by violence and tense moments, it was even dire to allow religion to wade into the already fragile political turf.
Ms Addy said the NCCE would leverage its presence across the 16 regions and 216 metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to educate citizens on the need to stay away from political figures who used religion as a campaign tool.
The Director of Programmes at the NCCE, Dr Imurama Mohammed, said the commission had put in place a civic education strategy heading into next year's election.
He said as part of the strategy, the commission had started holding consultative visits to political parties and other stakeholders.
Again, he said inter-party dialogue committees constituted across all districts would be reinvigorated to help promote peace during the election.