“At one stage I said that if it becomes critical on the eve and also on the election day, we shall block all social media as other countries have done. We’re thinking about it,” these are the views of Ghana’s top cop, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) John Kudalor.
The reasons he gives include the abuse of social media platforms by political parties and ordinary Ghanaians to create unnecessary tension in the lead up to the polls, he further contends that it would be unwise to see social media as a possible flash point ahead of the November 7 polls.
But some Ghanaians are strongly opposed to the idea of limiting the use of social media, they insist that shutting down social media would rather than safeguard the elections, derail it.
At one stage I said that if it becomes critical on the eve and also on the election day, we shall block all social media as other countries have done.
Others say they are not bothered because for them, there are other means through which they can interact on social media even if the conventional means are blocked, in reference to the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
Local media network Citi fm reported views that they gathered on the streets in the capital, Accra. “I don’t think it’s a very good idea because what measure is the police service going to use to stop people from using social media on that particular day,” one person said.
“They should look at the security situation on the grounds, violent-prone polling station, that’s where they could get some of this unscrupulous persons and then control them,” he added.
Banning social media agreed is not best practice now let's work with Gh police to find ways to track & shut down potentially dangerous info— ethelcofie (@ethelcofie) May 27, 2016
The IGP could set up a social media team to address and monitor people's complaints on election day. I am against the ban #CitiCBS— ADOFO (@quekuadofo) May 27, 2016
Another person said “it is an election day and assertions that we will send certain things that will incite people just because of that we have to ban it is flawed. I know that even if we shut it down there could be other ways.”
Blocking social media is becoming a common practice in Africa during elections, Ugandan authorities blocked social media during recently held elections, same situation played out in Congo Brazaville, where MTN and Airtel announced to customers that they had been instructed to block internet service.
Uganda again blocked internet very recently when President Yoweri Museveni was being sworn-in as president. The excuse usually given has been to preserve ‘security.’
Citi Fm further reports that a seasoned broadcaster, Paul Adom Otchere in contributing to the debate has called for more dialogue on the issue given that even though people are truly abusing it, a ban could also affect the work of the media.
Ghana has successfully held seven elections since it adopted the fourth republican consitituion in 1992. This years election according to analysts is going to be a keen contest between the incumbent John Dramani Mahama and the opposition Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo.
Mahama won the last duel between the two four years ago, even though Akufo Addo contested the results of the polls in court for 8 months, the court eventually ruled that Mahama was validly elected but ordered massive reforms to the electoral system of the West African country.