Feature Article of Saturday, 3 November 2012
Columnist: Seshie-Vanderpuije, Alex
In the first of the series of presidential discussions that took place at Tamale last Tuesday, the integrity of Nana Akufo Addo, the flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party suffered badly as the IEA discussions exposed his penchant for lies and fabrications of statistical data to suit his purpose.
Going beyond the usual post politics, the IEA project was interestingly emollient. However, Akufo Addo's inability to deal with substantive questions during the discussions stunned most of the invited audience who have thronged the Radach Hotel, Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana for the debate and listeners across the world.
Akufo Addo's strategy to pitch his presentation aggressively towards His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama left much to be desired of a presidential aspirant who is seeking the high office of Ghana. Instead of telling Ghanaians how he would deal with particular issues concerning health, agriculture and education when voted into power, Nana Akufo Addo was left huffing and puffing.
I was more strucked at how the NPP flag bearer's inability to take the opportunity to introduce himself at the opening session of the discussions and had to be saved by the bell. It shows a nervous Akufo Addo at the beginning of the event. At times, he was seen with a large white handkerchief wiping sweat streaming down across his face.
During the course of the discussions, Nana Akufo Addo consistently churned out information and figures which were not just factually inaccurate but inconsistent with available published data. In one instance, when he was pressed to provide the source of his information Akufo Addo claimed to have got his information from the internet. An answer that drew uncomfortable reactions from some leading members of the NPP in the audience.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of Nana Akufo Addo's intellectual bankruptcy was his lack of understanding of the functions of the Ghana health care system. When asked to tell Ghanaians three ways a future NPP government could help address the challenges in the health care system, Akufo Addo rather spent his allotted time to discuss the issues involving the NHIS which he claimed are leading the scheme to near collapse. The NPP presidential aspirant failed to recognise that the NHIS is only a component of the Ghana health care system. He failed to appreciate that other factors pertaining to the running of the health care system such as building of hospital infrastructure, staff emoluments and training and disease control measures were equally needed to be addressed in order to improve health care delivery in the country.
It has to take the generosity of the moderator, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah to steer the NPP aspirant to deal with the other two issues. Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah sarcastically stated "Nana I was looking for three answers, you have given me one; what about access to health care and hospital infrastructure" That was very dishourable of a person seeking to be elected to the high of our country. This episode shows Nana Addo as a party leader who is not on top of issues but also an unimpressive and not well informed presidential aspirant.
Nana Akufo Addo's manipulation of statistical data for propaganda did not end with the NHIS. He went on to tell the world a blatant lie about agricultural growth rate under ex President Kuffour regime. He claimed that agricultural output in 2008 was 8% whilst output under the current NDC government is mere 1%. Infact, available data shows that as at 2008, growth in agriculture was 4.9%. We are all aware of the fact that there was a major food crisis in Ghana during the year 2006/07. Kuffour government in 2008 had to remove tax burden on the importation of rice, maize and other food stuffs to cushion food shortages in the country. It therefore baggers belief that agriculture output would have suddenly hit an astronomical growth rate of 8% in the face of global recession in agriculture output.
In reality, statistical data available shows that in 2006 the agric sector grew by 4.5%; in 2007 by 3.1% and in 2008 by 4.9%.
Under the current NDC administration, growth in agricultural sector in 2009 was 6.25% against a target of 5.7%. In 2010 the agriculture sector grew by 4.8% against a target of 6%, which constituted about 32.4% of GDP. And in 2011, agricultural sector expanded by 2.8% against a targeted growth of 5.3%.
It is therefore misleading and unprofessional that the leader of the main opposition party in Ghana in the name of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo should mount a platform to manipulate statistical figures to "throw dust" into the eyes of unsuspecting Ghanaians. This shows the nature of a desperate individual who will do anything to court public sympathy.
While the IEA debates in itself cannot to be a determining factor to influence the outcome of the December presidential and general elections, they can in some way alter the direction or pause the momentum of the presidential contest as much energy is devoted to discussing matters arising out of such debates. The discussions that follow take much weight away from focusing on the real substantive issues affecting the lives of Ghanaians. Five weeks before elections and the public attention is becoming more focused. Opinions are gelling and some registered voters within certain constituencies have already made up their minds.
Nana Akufo Addo can go about throwing mud balls at the NDC and insulting the intelligence of Ghanaians but come December7, the good people of Ghana would wave the muddy shirts back at them, telling Nana Akufo Addo and the NPP how damn unreasonable and untruthful they have been. They should not be surprised when those discerning Ghanaians vote to retain President John Mahama and the NDC in power.
In this of the first series of write ups on the IEA presidential debate, we have analysed and exposed the intellectual bankruptcy and some aspects of dishonesty displayed by the leader of the main opposition party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo during the just ended presidential debates in Tamale.
Please stay tune for more analysis of the first presidential discussions, where His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama became the first sitting president to partake in such public discussions.
Public Relations officer
NDC UK & Ireland Chapter
1 November 2012