What was billed to be a showdown of ideas, vision and who has the wherewithal among the five parliamentary candidates seeking to lead the people of Ningo-Prampram, turned a one-man show Friday.
Candidates from five political parties were assembled by the Accra-based 3FM 92.7 at Prampram in the Greater Accra region to slug it out in a battle of ideas to aid the electorates there make an informed choice as to who will be their best bet in this year’s December 7 general elections.
The New Patriotic Party’s candidate, Sylvester Tetteh, who was tipped to give his main contender, Sam Nartey George of the National Democratic Congress a knife-edge competition, failed to show up for the debate.
Although Frederick Marmah Martey of the Convention People’s Party, Richard A. Nartey of the All People’s Party and Casmire Nii Okai of the Progressive People’s Party had an equal opportunity as Sam George, they failed to demonstrate their preparedness to lead the people in parliament.
Throughout the three-hour 3FM Constituency Debate, which was broadcasted live on 92.7FM, the three candidates could not live up to the expectation of, at least, the crowd that gathered at the Prampram lorry park to listen to their messages.
Apart from the NDC’s Sam George, the three other candidates were not adequately abreast of issues affecting their constituency, appeared not to have a well thought out plan for the people and could not properly addressed questions on education, health, housing among others.
Rather, what the three candidates were best at was blaming the New Patriotic Party and particularly the National Democratic Congress for what they say is the lack of development in the constituency that is made up of predominantly fishing communities.
Their answers to questions asked by the hosts of the show, Johnnie Hughes and Alfred Ocansey, were generally incoherent, especially that of the APC’s Nartey and CPP’s Martey who struggled to convince the audience.
Both listeners and the crowd were unequivocal in likening the debate among the four candidates to a fight between a hippopotamus and crocodiles.
Sam George [NDC]
The candidate who took the baton from the NDC’s E.T. Mensah after 20 years, described himself as the best choice for the people because he stand tall among the candidates in the election.
“We need someone who has the experience, the wherewithal. I’m the only one who has practical experience in governance. I have training experience. I have studied under a sitting member of parliament and have learned the ropes,” he boasted.
He assured the people that when he becomes an MP, he will use 80 per cent of his District Assembly Common Fund to improve formal and informal education, noting many school-going children are engaged in fishing because their parents don’t have the financial might.
He said teachers, pupils and infrastructure would be a focal point in his quest to improve education in the constituency.
Mr George promised to assist those in the informal sector that wish to learn a trade, something he said he has already been doing in the area, saying, “I’ve always made it a point to help those who are graduating from hairdressing and that’s from my pocket”.
“What we need is unity with purpose and not district because district in itself does not bring development. Districts are not created anyhow but based on a housing and population census,” he said.
He also spoke about how he would use his influence if elected as MP, to push for legislations that would bring social housing to the people of Ghana so that the majority of Ghanaians below the middle class can have a decent accommodation.
Frederick Martey [CPP]
The CPP candidate claimed the people in the constituency “are not living by themselves”, noting their lives are being dictated to by self-seeking politicians hence his decision to win power to reverse that situation.
“Our people are not living by themselves; their lives are being dictated by those who feel they know better,” he said, adding, “the biggest thing our people are lacking is the ability to reason for themselves”.
Mr Martey said if elected, he would help the people to “own their lives and develop their lives,” adding “We are bringing their lives back them so they do not fall unto the hands of politicians”.
On education, he said it is supposed to make people “bear fruit” but said unfortunately that is not the case in Ghana now due to the current education system which he said only produce graduates.
“Education is imparting knowledge into someone but if the knowledge does not bear fruit, that person will graduate without doing anything,” he said.
He said people who have not had formal education in China are producing gadgets and “great things” while those in Ghana who have graduated from tertiary institutions are unable to do the same here.
He said a CPP government will introduce a new system of education “where we will allow the people to understand what they’re studying. We will give people practical education” Touching on housing, Mr Martey was worried that most of the lands are in the area have been sold, a situation that he said does not augur well for the people as getting lands for future projects will be a problem.
He attributed the rapid sale of lands by the people to joblessness, saying “because most of the people don’t have jobs, they are selling the lands. Will preserve the lands for the future.”
Mr Martey added: “I will help create jobs because development is about creating new things in existence,” noting he intends to develop a business enclave like Abossey Okai in the constituency.
Richard Nartey [APC]
“I’m a welder. The reason why I want to be MP is because when we vote for them they don’t see us as human beings,” he said, noting that he is seeking to be elected so he could help the majority of constituents who are into artisanal businesses.
He observed the level of poverty in the constituency is high, something he said he hopes to reduce if given the opportunity, noting he has already started that drive through helping many of the people in the area to learn a trade.
“The government don’t think about us. No development under the NDC govt. Let me tell you, NPP and NDC, Ghana does not belong to them” he said and urged the electorates to vote for him.
He told the electorates not to allow any political party to buy their votes, saying, “if they give you 20 cedis it will not last you four years. I’m the best candidate to vote for so vote for me.”
Mr Nartey said when elected, he would seek assistance from the West in a form of partnership to help the people in his constituency.
Casmire Nii Okai [PPP]
“I’m the only one who can transform Ningo-Prampram. It is not about you being in government. What we want is job creation; you need to work to get money,” he told the people.
He said job creation, healthcare and education will be his primary focus when elected as a member of parliament.
He said noted he has over the years helped the clinic at Prampram with medical supplies and used his influence to get volunteers to help the medical staff there.
Mr Nii Okai said he would ensure that education is improved in the area, something he said the NPP and NDC have all failed to do.
He said he will introduce a quiz competition among schools in the area and also liaise with traditional and opinion leaders in the area to ban computer game centres, which he said, is encouraging truancy.
“I have the ability to transform Ningo-Prampram. I’m saying the NDC and NPP are the same. They can never give you a job. The only party that can give you a job is the PPP,” he told the electorates.
According to him, it is the traditional leaders who are at the forefront of development in the area due to the failure of the both NDC and NPP governments. I To ensure rapid development, he said will separate the Ningo from Prampram so that each of the two towns will have its own district.