The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) and the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC) have called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to, as a matter of urgency, implement the Supreme Court ruling regarding the fate of persons who registered with National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards and thereby clean the register.
According to the two bodies, the divergent views on the interpretation of the ruling had the potential of throwing the entire election timetable into disarray.
In a communique signed by Apostle Dr Opoku Onyina, the Chairman of the GPCC, and Rev. Dr Ernest Adu Gyamfi, the Chairman of the CCG, at the end of a joint meeting between the two bodies in Accra, they said they had observed keenly issues relating to the EC and they were deeply worried about what seemed to be entrenched positions often taken by some political parties against some decisions of the EC.
The communique said while the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) was almost always in support of the decisions of the EC, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was almost always in disagreement with the commission.
It said the EC had the primary responsibility to conduct free, fair, transparent and credible elections in Ghana and the political parties must, therefore, work together with the commission to ensure that it executed its role in the interest of the state.
It called on religious leaders to become more courageous to advise and rebuke their members whose actions had the potential to disrupt the peace and stability of the country.
The communique equally condemned the activities of some self-acclaimed men of God who are preying on the gullibility of a large section of society with the exhibition of religious prowess.
“Exploitation is not and has never been part of Christianity; it is evil,” it stressed.
It called on all religious groups in the country to come together to agree on self-regulation as one of the means to address the challenge of religious exploitation.
It said the groups had realised the need to strengthen the prophetic voice of the church, since that would go a long way to address the many socio-cultural, economic, political, cultural, leadership and religious challenges confronting the nation and the church.
The two bodies had, therefore, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to partner each other in the work of Christ, since that partnership would afford the two councils, among others, the opportunity to work closely on church and state issues, the communique said.
Such partnership, it said, would also address ways and means of achieving close co-operation on issues such as education, health and religious and social matters.
“We shall facilitate joint programmes for pastors, generational and different age groups for members to build the capacity of Christians in a way beneficial to their lives and the development of the nation.
“We are worried about what we see as the urbanisation of Christianity, to the utmost neglect of missions in remote areas and hinterlands of the country.
“Numerous churches have sprung up in urban areas and almost all huge Christian activities take place in cities.
“Beautiful churches and temples are being built all over the cities, while those in rural areas are so dilapidated that they pass for death traps,” it said.
It said Christians should note the demographics of the country and the fact that majority of the people lived in the rural areas.
“It is imperative for us to reach out to these people, just as the early missionaries reached out to the remotest parts of society to spread the Gospel.
“There is the need for outreach programmes and events targeted at the rural folk as we seek to spread the Word of God and win more souls for Christ,” it said.
The communique strongly condemned attacks on religious leaders, most especially, by politicians who were quick to rain all manner of abusive language on them, simply because the politicians believed the message of the leaders was not in their interest.
“There seems to be a deliberate attempt to silence wisdom in the country. Religious and opinion leaders are vehemently attacked verbally and in some instances threats are made on their lives.
“ Knowledgeable and forward-thinking citizens are now afraid to speak for fear of being tagged as belonging to a political camp and their names dragged in the mud for simply speaking wisdom into the lives of Ghanaians. These do not augur well for the development of Ghana,” it said.
It, therefore, called on the police to act swiftly to deal with threats on the lives of religious leaders and any Ghanaian who faced threats of any kind.
Elections and national security
It observed that political impunity, violence, intimidation, outright intolerance and deep polarisation had characterised the current political landscape.
They said it was extremely distressing that some Ghanaians, spurred on by their political affiliations, were willing to maim and kill in the name of winning or retaining power.
“Hate speech, abusive language and calculated attempts to instigate party followers towards an unjust and violent cause dominate the mainstream media, social media and other forms of communication,” it said.
National identity card
The communique observed that the issue of a national identity card and a single national database platform for all forms of national identification was long overdue in Ghana and must be tackled and completed within the shortest possible time if the controversy surrounding a credible national electoral roll had to be addressed once and for all.
It, therefore, called on the government and all relevant stakeholders to show a commitment to resource the National Identification Authority (NIA) to revive and complete the data capture processes suspended a few years ago in the remaining regions and issue cards to all Ghanaians, as a matter of national priority.