With less than 12 days before Ghana's presidential election, some citizens are expressing their frustration with several opinion polls which they say are heightening tension in the country. They said members of the two leading parties are using the polls to cause deep divisions among ordinary Ghanaians, which they said could undermine the country's democracy. Three of the latest polls showed the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) leading the other political parties ahead of the election. Vladimir Antwi-Danso is a senior lecturer at the Legon Centre for International Affairs of the University of Ghana. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that he blames the media and some politicians for misinformation that he says is driving up tensions in the country.
"The point is that I do not think that it's only the polls that are creating tensions or, which you could regard as divisive. For quite a long time the country has been polarized on a kind of dichotomous line between NPP and NDC and I strongly blame the media because every innocuous situation is put into and NPP-NDC dichotomy. Meanwhile, every media house calls people who at times have no knowledge of the issues to be discussed and they begin to rant and rant, accusing each other of anything so no issues are discussed. So honestly the polarization of the Ghanaian society is not because of the polls," Antwi-Danso pointed out.
He said most of the polls are not scientifically substantiated.
"Secondly, most of the polls are not scientific. I have read a couple of them and only one, which has been conducted by a professor at the school of communication studies, which may be said to have some little bit of plausibility. Other than that the rest are all party agents and party propagandists, which is very unfortunate," he said.
Antwi-Danso said some of the politicians are to blame for the escalated tensions ahead of the election.
"The point is that most of us have spoken about peace and the need for peace. Unfortunately, the political leaders themselves are to blame for they are not talking to issues. Everybody is promising free things. There is nothing free in this world. Everybody is telling lies, people are cooking figures they don't know and they don't understand. People are feeding on the ignorance and the gullibility of Ghanaians to just be fed by anything. And that is why there is that polarization and that is why there is that tension," Antwi-Danso pointed out.
He said although some aggrieved parties would challenge the election results, violence would not be embraced to settle scores.
"When the results have been announced there would be some amount of challenges here and there because no elections have been perfect anywhere in the world. I don't believe Ghana will relapse into any kind of carnage the way we see some countries around us. But I should tell you that the tension and the polarization is so bad," he said.
Antwi-Danso said Ghana's Commission For Civic Education has not lived up to its mandate.
"With 13 days to go, there is very little that can be done. The National Commission for Civic Education has been quite ineffective. I've got to be very frank with that. You don't wait for an election year before you preach elections. I believe that if they are doing their work very well four years ago, they could have started to inform the people about the elections, what are the choices, what are the issues to be discussed and the essence of voting," Antwi-Danso noted.
He said Ghanaians seem to have lost confidence in their state institutions.
"If the belief in the institutions of governance the nuances of governance lie with the political parties and their manifesto. So for me, I don't care who rules. I wish my party would win, but I care for the institutional governance. That is if the electoral commission is quite independent, the court, the police, the military all the institutions of governance if they are independent, whoever rules doesn't matter. But what we are doing is that we are feeding the population with misinformation so they are withdrawing their confidence in the institutions of governance, and at this point in time there is nothing you can do about it. The population has been fed with misinformation to the extent that they are voting not on issues, but on passions," he said.