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Opinions Thu, 3 May 2012

President Mills Should Boycott The Presidential Debate

By Margaret Jackson

Just last week, the professed Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) out-doored an eleven-member Presidential Debate Committee to hold three presidential debates before the December 7 elections. But there have been some genuine hue and cry from some political parties notably the NDC, CPP and PNC concerning the composition of the committee, hence my decision to throw in my kobo.

In the first place there is no law in Ghana that mandates the IEA to conduct any presidential debates, therefore, every party is free to either attend the debate or boycott it. As a result, no party can be dragged or forced to attend the presidential debates if it does not want to. In fact, the IEA does not even have the power to do anything concerning presidential debates without the express consent and approval of the political parties involved.

That is why it is baffling and at the same time laughable that the IEA headed by its biased Executive Director, Jean Mensa, went ahead and single-handedly composed and out-doored the committee and threw dust into the eyes of right thinking Ghanaians by stating that the IEA was informed by the need for neutrality in composing the so-called team.

Elsewhere in the United States, the committee that organizes Presidential Debates holds series of meetings with all the major parties notable the Democrats and Republicans before deciding on who to moderate the debates. In fact, if Jean Mensa is unaware, I want to inform her that even the venue and time and how the debates would be conducted has to be agreed by the parties before anything can be done or any announcement concerning the debates is made. I read elsewhere that during the 2004 Presidential & Vice-Presidential debates in the United States, then vice-president Dick Cheney informed the Presidential Debate Committee that he would only debate Mr. John Edwards if they both sit down instead of standing. Through intense negotiations, Cheney eventually had his way that was why he and Edwards sat to debate each other. Jean Mensa can verify this information.

It is therefore, out of place for Jean Mensa to go and sit somewhere and conjure some names that favour his NPP party and insult the intelligence of Ghanaians by stating that they are neutral individuals, thinking that by making Pastor Mensa Otabil as the head of the so-called committee, Ghanaians would easily buy into that plot of so-called “neutrality”.

I know that President John Evans Atta Mills has what it takes to hold his own against any presidential candidate in any presidential debate conducted any day and any time. In fact, President Mills is capable of articulating his views and visions concerning the “Still Better Ghana Agenda” at any forum without the help of anybody. The man even performs better when you least expect. This is a professor who taught law students for well over two decades, therefore, he can floor any political opponent in any debate without any fear or being helped Nicodemously with advanced question prep ups.

But as a matter of principle, I am calling on President Mills to boycott the so-called Presidential Debate that is being blueprinted to tilt in favour of NPPs Presidential Candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo. The IEA has proven that it’s a prejudiced or jaundiced institute that can never be trusted by the NDC and to a large extent the CPP and the PNC parties.

President Mills does not need the IEA to trumpet his economic and social achievements since he assumed office. In fact he does not need the IEA presidential forum or debate to press home to Ghanaians on why they have to give him “Four More Years” to better the lot of Ghanaians through agricultural transformation, better economic management, better roads, more schools, improved electricity and water, other social intervention programs, additional hospitals and clinics among others.

I would like President Mills and his advisers to know that when an incumbent president is running for re-election, he/she has every bragging rights. In fact your bragging rights even balloons if you have a record of achievements to run on. Therefore, President Mills has to go on more campaign tours to speak to Ghanaians. Jean Mensa and her IEA can let wanna-be presidents like Akufo-Addo and others debate against each other. For instance Ghanaians would like Pastor Mensa Otabil and Kabral Blay-Amihere to ask Akufo-Addo to comment on many issues he has been accused of. We would like them in all fairness to find out from Akufo-Addo during the debate if he would accept defeat and not cause mayhem if the December 7 election is not called in his favour.

Ghanaians to a large extent still do not know much about Akufo-Addo since he has kept virtually quiet on so many things concerning him, thinking that by bamboozling people with unattainable promises, it will sell his sinking ship.

President Mills will be better off with his time and energy if he tours the markets and schools in Accra and other parts of the country than going to the tainted presidential debates. Most of the people on that committee including Pastor Mensa Otabil have questionable ties to the NPP.

Have you ever heard Pastor Otabil saying anything credible about the NDC? When Akufo-Addo and some of the NPP kingpins wanted to steal the 2008 elections, where was Pastor Mensa Otabil? He suddenly turned an AWOL (Absent Without Leave). It took Bishop Agyin-Asare (God forever bless this pastor) to call the NPP to order.

Pastor Mensa Otabil has the headquarters of his church in Accra. He has the Church’s university, Central University which he has taken by force from the church also sited in Accra. Pastor Otabil also lives very comfortably at one of the most expensive Trasacco Valley houses in Accra. And we have thousands of Gas and Ewes who are members of his church. Yet, did you hear Pastor Otabil call Kennedy Agyapong to order when this man illegally declared war and called for the annihilation of Ewes and Gas in the Ashanti Region. So can you in all fairness label Pastor Otabil as a neutral person?

Everybody knows that Kabral has his disdain for the NDC and he shows it every time he talks to his friends. And do you think somebody who served Kufour as ambassador to Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast will want the NDC to retain power when the NPP helped him to buy a plush $350,000 house?

It is a known fact that Maulvi Wahab Adam, Ameer in-charge of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission in Ghana has one of his daughters married to NPPs MP, KT Hammond. So where would the Ameer’s allegiance be concerning the tainted presidential debate? You be the judge. Prof. Stephen Adei is also a known NPP who is feverishly helping Akufo-Addo to put up a contaminated document on his so-called free Senior High School education to deceive Ghanaians.

Professor Kwame Karikari’s hatred for the NDC is obvious and dates back to the PNDC days. So if you bring his wife Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin on a presidential debate committee which party do you think she would favour? The same goes with Justice Emile Short, Mr. Kofi Asamoah and Mr. Tony Oteng Gyasi who are all cohorts of the NPP.

Ladies and gentlemen, add all that to the non-neutral posture of the IEA which could not stand by its own published report concerning the conduct of the 2008 elections. To refresh your memory, the IEA published on its website that the NPP abused its incumbency in the 2008 elections. But when the GNA saw the report and trumpeted it, Jean Mensa suddenly pulled the report from the IEA’s website and came out to deny their own report. The IEA was however caught pants down when the truth of the matter was established. Jean Mensa never apologized to Ghanaians for this reprehensible conduct. And this is the shameful organization headed by shameful Jean Mensa with no shame which is trying to organize a presidential debate.

President Mills does not need Jean Mensa and her disgraceful, biased, ill-filled, unprincipled, undemocratic and NPP leaning IEA to sell his vision to Ghanaians. Its rather the IEA which needs President Mills to attend the ostensible presidential debates to boost its sunk image. I would therefore, appeal to President Mills to boycott the presidential debate. President Mills has better things to do with his precious time. Many of us will not forgive President Mills if he goes to that debate.

http://majjacks80.blogspot.com magjackson80@yahoo.com

Columnist: Jackson, Margaret