Jul 17, 2012 at 4:23pm
NDC Must Reconsider Boycott of IEA’s Debate
COMMENTARY CALLING ON THE NDC TO RECONSIDER THEIR DECISION TO BOYCOTT THIS YEAR’S IEA PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
A popular Akan proverb teaches us that satisfaction breeds forgetfulness.
This proverb, perhaps, explain why politicians never seem to learn from the past, because it is not easy to remember how it feels to be hungry when one is full.
This cannot however justify the behaviour of politicians when they are in power.
Recently, the ruling National Democratic Congress announced its intention to boycott the Institute of Economic Affairs Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates in the run up to the 2012 elections.
The reason for the boycott, according the NDC’s Propaganda Secretary, is that a precedence has been set in which the sitting president does not partake in the debates.
But Mr Richard Quashigah did not end there.
He said on an Accra-based radio station that the IEA Presidential Debate was not an effective platform to market President Mills and the NDC’s achievements ahead of the 2012 elections.
Irrespective the political binoculars through which one views the issue, it is important to note that the continuous boycott of such an important debate is a dent on our democracy and an affront to the intelligence of the electorate.
The current trend started twelve years ago when Professor John Evans Atta Mills, boycotted the 2000 Presidential Debate as the sitting vice-president seeking election.
Former President Kufuor also boycotted the 2004 edition.
The 2008 Presidential Debate had no sitting president or vice president contesting the election and we witnessed one of the most stimulating and intellectual political discourses in recent times.
President Mills has announced his intention to boycott the 2012 debate and the trend is likely to continue in the future.
This is unfortunate because one main bane of our democracy is the absence of mechanisms to hold our elected representatives accountable for their utterances and actions.
For this reason, our politicians can mount campaign platforms and promise to build bridges where there are no rivers.
They would later justify it as a political talk when pushed to the wall.
A platform, such as IEA’s Presidential Debate therefore presents a decent and worthy avenue to hold those seeking political office accountable for their actions.
So for the current trend of the incumbent presidential candidate boycotting this all important debate is both unfortunate and disrespectful to the electorate, to say the least.
The IEA is one of most credible and respected public policy think tanks and has contributed immensely to the development of our democracy.
No amount of smear campaign against this public policy think tank will stick.
The argument that the boycott is following precedence and that the debate is not an effective platform to market the presidential candidate are untenable.
In the first place, we follow precedents only when they are good and acceptable by society.
Besides, anybody seeking a political office owes it a duty to the electorate to tell them what he or she intends to do.
For incumbent candidates, it is becoming clear that a platform such as this is likely to remind them of their myriad of failed promises to the electorate.
To play it safe, the NDC and NPP have over the years adopted this insincere posture of dodging the electorate.
The electorate must not accept this.
Our politicians will continue to take us for a ride when we do not demand accountability from them.
The 1992 Constitution places the duty of holding public office holders accountable on the media.
But inadequate resources, capacity and polarisation along party lines have rendered the Ghanaian media impotent in this respect.
For instance, it took only one question by a BBC journalist to expose the gaping loopholes in Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo promise of free senior high school education.
Policy think tanks, such as the IEA, therefore fill the void that has been created by our overzealous praise singing, malicious and vilifying media.
Sometimes it is only through platforms such as the IEA Presidential Debate that we can hold our politicians accountable and the sitting presidential candidate should not choose to appear or boycott it.
The platform, which the NDC now describes as ineffective was the same platform that was used to market then candidate Mills when they were in the wilderness of opposition.
It was on this platform that President Mills spelt out his elaborate plans for the nation, such as the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority.
It was on this platform that candidate Mills promised to empower women by ensuring that at least forty per cent of all his appointments will be women.
And it is only mandatory for the president to tell us on that same platform why not up to ten percent of women have made it to his list.
Anything short of this is unacceptable.
BY: MANASSEH AZURE AWUNI, A JOURNALIST.