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General News of Thursday, 22 November 2012

Source: Daily Guide

Ayariga disrupts IEA debate with coughs and jokes

The flag bearer of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Hassan Ayariga, made a mess of himself at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) presidential debate as he was struck with uncontrollable bouts of coughs, which analysts believe were not genuine.

Mr. Ayariga’s cough during the second edition of the IEA debate held for the four presidential candidates with representation in Parliament yesterday evening at the Banquet Hall, State House were mostly disruptive and distracted by the flow of proceedings during the debate.

Curiously, Mr. Ayariga’s explosive coughs only got the better of him when the presidential candidate of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, took his turn to respond to questions from the moderators of the debate, raising questions about the genuineness of his alleged sickness.

This sent wild speculations about the curious coincidence of Mr. Ayariga’s malaise, particularly when it became apparent that whenever he had the chance, he took on the NPP flagbearer.

Instead of talking about what he would do when elected as President, Mr. Ayariga continuously sang the tune of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) as if the PNC did not have any policy to pursue.

The PNC candidate took issues with the NPP’s free SHS policy and had protested earlier that he was not going to participate in the debate because he was sick.

Eventually, the debate was rescheduled, after which Mr. Ayariga agreed to rescind his decision to boycott the debate. Woyome Pops Up

Despite the intermittent disruptions, the IEA debate took an interesting turn when the question of corruption was tabled.

The four debaters agreed that institutional strengthening would be needed in solving the corruption menace.

The NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo cited the infamous Alfred Agbesi Woyome’s GHC52million judgment debt scandal as a classic example of officially sanctioned corruption

President Mahama of the NDC was not amused by this reference, stating that anybody alleging corruption should be prepared to prove it. “We must not just rumour corruption,” he charged.

He said the issue was about who cancelled the contract leading to the debt and not who had made payment but Nana Akufo-Addo rebutted and said that Ghanaians should be interested in what he called “frivolous payments.”

This stance however contradicts what his party promised in 2008. His predecessor, the late John Evans Atta Mills, told the electorate that if the NDC was voted into power that year, a mere allegation of corruption would be immediately investigated.

John Mills was reacting the NPP’s stance that allegation of corruption should be properly proved before it was investigated as popularly stated by the then President John Agyekum Kufuor.

The first point of the usual face-off between the NPP and NDC was realized when this topic was being discussed: President Mahama would rather have the issue of the Woyome scandal tackled from the point when the contract was purportedly cancelled by the NPP government. “What causes judgment debt is what we should be tackling”.

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