The opposition National Democratic Congress parliamentary candidate for Ketu South Constituency in the Volta Region, Eric Edem Agbana has expressed disagreement with the calls by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission that social media should be regulated in the conduct of election.
Speaking in a media interview on Monday, October 23 2023, the former Deputy National Youth Organizer for the National Democratic Congress asserted that public commentary is very consequential in nation building particularly building strong and responsible institutions.
According to Edem Agbana, unless circumstances where people conduct themselves on social media impugn or undermine the work and the integrity of state institutions, people must be allowed to express their reservations about the work of state institutions.
“However, I want to look at who is making the call number one and the reason such a call is being made. For example I believe and have also said that social media platforms have issues such as advertising and the display of alcohol visual must have regulations and if possible use AI to determine who sees some of these things so that we don’t even expose everybody on social media especially the young people to every content. But if it is about election, democracy and getting people to voice out and the things that could lead to general improvement in how governance in our country then I think that we must be careful not to put too much restriction so that we allow people to speak out freely”.Eric Edem Agbana
Demand Transparency From State Institutions
Again, the National Democratic Congress parliamentary candidate for the Ketu South Constituency called on Ghanaians to make good use of social media platforms to demand accountability from state institutions that are established to act in the interest of the public.
According to him failure on the part of citizens to demand accountability from state institutions such as the Electoral Commission can go a long way to undermine the country’s democratic experiment.
“I think we should rather call on our institutions to be more transparent, more open and more accountable to the people. There are, for example, you have an electoral commission in place organizing elections and this electoral commission is the constitutionally mandated body backed and funded by the state and they are doing so with our taxes. They are expected to be accountable to us; they are expected to explain to us the rationale of some of the decisions that they make. I believe when the institutions are not fair in the performance of their role in the interest of the general public or the interest of the state, people have the right to ask questions”.Eric Edem Agbana
Moreover, Mr Edem Agbana charged the Electoral Commission to focus on discharging its mandate in fairness rather than calling for the regulation of social media in the conduct of election.
He noted that the Electoral Commission must be concerned about the general drop in public confidence in the Commission and the need for the Commission to undertake measures to regain the trust of the public particularly ahead of the 2024 general elections.
“I am particularly surprised that the call is coming from the Electoral Commissioner at this time because I do not see any commentary that undermines the performance of her role but I think people have become increasingly more concerned about issues of elections because elections have consequences and so when you have an electoral commission that failed to act in the interest of the public and tends to be biased and conduct itself in the way seen to be favouring a particular political party, people have the right to question the motive of the Electoral Commission on social media and any other platforms”.Eric Edem Agbana
Meanwhile, the opposition National Democratic Congress Parliamentary Candidate for Ketu Constituency emphasized that he is in support of calls that social media ought to be regulated to control the spread of harmful contents.