Politics of Monday, 12 November 2012

Source: Daily Graphic

Four presidential candidates to test wits

Four presidential candidates who were left out in the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) Presidential Debates will have the opportunity to test their wits and intellect against each other, as they engage in a debate tonight to demonstrate their understanding of national issues.

Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Dr Henry Lartey of the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), Akwasi Addai of the United Front Party (UFP) and Jacob Osei Yeboah, the only independent presidential candidate, will address questions relating to the economy, agriculture, education and energy, as they endeavour to win the hearts and minds of Ghanaians in the debate under the auspices of Ghana Television (GTV).

The four presidential candidates had been left out of the IEA Presidential Debates on the grounds that their political parties did not have representation in Parliament.

However, GTV has given them a respite on its ‘Big Debate’ platform to be broadcast live on the national television network and all the radio networks of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC).

A second edition of the debates will be organised for the four presidential candidates on November 19, 2012.

Although the GTV ‘Big Debate’ has not generated high-pitch interest as compared to the IEA Presidential Debates, the former is, nevertheless, expected to be equally exciting and very keen, given the format of the programme which allows the presidential candidates more time to debate the issues among themselves.

Already, some of the presidential candidates are talking tough ahead of this evening’s two-hour debate, scheduled between 7p.m. and 9p.m. in the GTV studio.

“There are no small players in a big match”, Mr Addai, popular known as ‘Odike’, told the Daily Graphic today (Sunday) as he looks ahead at the debate with great expectation.

He said he would use the opportunity to articulate the vision of the UFP for Ghanaians.

Taking a different view of the debate, Dr Lartey said he did not consider the programme as a competition, but rather, as an opportunity for him to sell the vision of the party to Ghanaians.

Explaining the concept of the GTV Presidential Debates to the Daily Graphic, the Chairman of the GBC Political Broadcasting Programme, Johnny Ayittey, said the programme would be in a question-and-answer form to be moderated by two distinquished personalities.

He said unlike the IEA format, the presidential candidates participating in the GTV programme would have ample time to engage each other in a debate on specific issues relating to the four thematic areas of education, agriculture, energy and economy.

He said the choice of the four thematic areas was informed by the results of a research conducted by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) recently, which cited them as issues of greatest concern to the Ghanaians.

Mr Ayittey, who is also the Head of News of GTV, said as a public broadcaster, GBC was obliged by the 1992 Constitution to accord all the political parties equal platform to present their messages to the people.

He said considering the fact that the four presidential candidates were left out of the IEA Presidential Debates, it was imperative for the national broadcaster to provide them a corridor to also present their vision and programme to the electorate.

Mr Ayittey dismissed assertions that the GTV Presidential Debates had been on a low key, pointing out that the programme had been given wide publicity on GBC’s networks.

He said the only issue was about the fact that the presidential candidates on the IEA bill belonged to major political parties whose large following hyped the programme, unlike those on the GTV platform.

He expressed the hope that the four presidential candidates taking part in the GTV debates would use the occasion to sell their vision to the nation and help deepen the country’s democracy.