General News of Sunday, 23 November 2008
Out of the eight presidential candidates invited, only the candidate of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), Thomas N. Ward Brew came in person at the forum for the presidential candidates in the forthcoming election on Thursday.The rest sent representatives, with the only independent candidate, Kwasi Amoaful Yeboah and Kwabena Adjei of the Reform Patriotic Democrat (RPD) not putting in an appearance at all.
The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), in collaboration with the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) on Thursday organized a forum intended to give the Christian community an opportunity to interact with and engage the candidates on specific issues such as corruption, transparency, accountability, narcotic drugs, inequality and peace, that have direct effect on the lives of the people.
The Reverend Dr. Fred Deegbe, General Secretary of the CCG, in his welcome address, said the forum was also to strengthen church/state relations towards national development and to solicit commitment from both the Church and political parties to ensure a peaceful, and credible election on December 7.Rev. Deegbe said the forum was to demonstrate the Church’s concern about socio-economic and political issues that affected the livelihoods of the people.
The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) was represented by the Member of Parliament for Dome/Kwabenya, Prof. Mike A. Ocquaye; the National Democratic Congress (NDC) by Dr. Kwabena Donkor; the Convention People’s Party (CPP) by Dr. Kweku Safo and the People’s National Convention (PNC) by Latif Mohammed, while John Ameka stood in for the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP).In their presentation, all the representatives reiterated the positions of their candidates as spelt out in their manifestos.
On corruption, the PNC, NPP and NDC acknowledged that it undermined the development of the country and created inequality and injustice in society and said through corruption, resources that should have been used for the benefit of the larger society, found their way into the pockets of a few people thereby widening the gap between the rich and the poor.They pledged to fight the canker through institutional reforms, and increased budgetary allocation to the anti-corruption agencies.
Prof. Oquaye, for instance, said it was in recognition of the damning effect of corruption on society that the NPP, when it assumed office passed the Internal Audit, Public Procurement, the Financial Administrative and Whistle Blowers Acts, all in a bid to strengthen the grip on corruption.Dr. Safo of the CPP reiterated the call for the election of district chief executives, and a cut in the number of government ministers as some of the ways in dealing with the problem of corruption.Dr. Donkor of the NDC, said “corruption has the tendency to bastardise our cultural practices,” adding, “the attitudes of the nouveau rich towards the church and the elderly were evident for all to see that the country was on the verge of decadence.”
“An NDC government would not make any excuse for any government appointee found to have indulged in corrupt acts.” He also pledged the party’s commitment to peace during and after the polls, adding, “The NDC has shown by deeds and words that we are committed to this”, and cited the 2000 and 2004 polls where the party handed over power and conceded defeat respectively.
Mr. Ward-Brew faulted the Church for keeping quiet when some of the presidential candidates were excluded from the IEA debates. He said there could never be progress when there was unfairness and injustice in the system, and not until all these were avoided, transparency, accountability and justice would elude the country.