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Opinions of Friday, 23 November 2012

Columnist: Agbenyo, Fred

The Unacceptable Bias Of The IEA


Ladies and gentlemen, permit me to admonish our countrymen and women that the 2012 election is about peace and development of our country and as such nothing should be done to compromise that. We must all therefore endeavor to conduct ourselves according to the tenet and dictate of peaceful and fair elections. Today is another opportunity for the Ghanaian electorate to hear our presidential candidates debating each other on various policies and programs that they have for the development of our country. I wish them well in this endeavor.

However, I have very strong reservations from the last debate organized by the Institute for Economic Affairs.

Political debates are designed to influence listeners and viewers to accept a particular candidate through contact. But while radio debate do not give full impression of a candidate, a televised political debate have a way of presenting a close to holistic view of candidates to the electorate, televised political debate provide the means of assessing a candidate’s physical appearance, his demeanor, his persona and physical attributes.

There are three (3) distinct players in every televised debate. One is the organizer, usually the referee, the second being the viewer who is also the electorate and the third is the candidate and the actor for that matter. The first one cannot be partial in anyway, the second has a role to make an assessment based on the physical appearance of the candidate and how he present himself in close to his or her near natural self.

Be it as it is that the debate is between two or more people, it is to be presented in a way of competitive spirit among candidates. This is analogous to a game of football where you have spectators, players of opposing team and a referee as a mediator of the game.

Over the years, the IEA has organized televised presidential and vice presidential debates. This appears to be in line with standards established by more matured democratic countries except that in all the organized debate controversies has ended up been the end result because the IEA as a referee has not performed its role as the impartial referee.

In 2008, there were report of information and questions passed to a preferred candidate of a political party which appears favoured by the IEA. This is a violation of visual channel that televised debates are designed in elevating the perception of intimacy and expression and expressiveness in human communication in relation to human demeanor in communication.

In the last IEA debate, audiences were provided a partial view or, in other words, doctored view by the IEA. In its attempt to give advantage to the NPP presidential candidate, the IEA presented the wrong physical appearance of the NPP to the electorate by propping-up the NPP candidate to appear tall or to be equal in height with the other contesting presidential candidates. This is a fundamental deception presented to the viewers. The fact is that the IEA erected a one foot platform for the NPP presidential candidate to prop him up to be equal or close to equal to the other contesting presidential candidates. This unacceptable act gave a wrong impression to the viewers who should have been allowed to make independent judgement of the individual candidates. In other words, IEA assisted the NPP to present a wrong structure of their candidate. Universally, every society has established standards for the appearance of their leader. The Americans have exemplified this in 1986 debate between George Bush and Michael Dukakis. In our peculiar circumstance and particularly in this year’s election, the larger voting block of the youth and women are not only fascinated by the intellectual prowess, understanding of subject matter, experience in governance and the least of these qualities is affability and acceptable physical appearance are given a boost to our sitting president. I believe, ladies and gentlemen, by the IEA’s mere action of propping-up the NPP’s candidate to appear to lend additional height to be close to equal to the other candidates was therefore not only illegal but also deceptive to the electorate and viewers in favour of NPP candidate. A civil society should not accept such deceits. In our part of the world, a high percentage of our people of voting age have their independent mind backed by transparency and objectivity to select a candidate of their choice. A partial referee like the IEA is not only doing a disservice to our electorate but it is causing a criminal act of falsely presenting the wrong image of one candidate over all others.

Given this act of deception, one tends to wonder what other advantages were advanced to the NPP candidate in an attempt to influence the outcome and taint the view of viewers and electorate to favour the NPP candidate over others. I call on the IEA to apologize to all Ghanaians and to desist from any future fraudulent activities that can influence the future outcome of what could very well be peaceful election this year since when people feel deceived, they can react negatively.

I also call on the sponsors of the IEA to take a critical look at the activities of the IEA and adopt the proper solution to avoid future occurrence of activities of deception, false representation and other such immoral act which have the potential to influence outcome of the upcoming election.

While recognizing the roles that civil societies, particularly the IEA, have played a major role over the years in deepening our democracy, it is our humble suggestion that civil society groups should come together to team up with state institution such as the NCCE and GBC to organize such future events. It is firm believe that this can cure any potential bias as witnessed in previous debates. Thank you.

God bless our homeland Ghana.

Signed; FRED AGBENYO- 0277800449