In advanced countries, one of the benchmarks for determining a potential president is through Presidential debates. It has evolved over the years to become an integral part of their system. Aspirants use such platforms to put on the table their visions, plans, and most importantly, positions on reigning pertinent and controversial issues.
As we aspire to reach the heights attained by these advanced democracies, it behooves on us to conscientiously emulate some of these their tested traditions and trademarks. It is in this light that I welcome the challenge thrown by Hon. Yaw Osafo Maafo, one of the many aspirants for the NPP Flagbearership to this effect.
I however have some discomforts with the proposition. Inasmuch as we practice an Executive or Presidential system of governance, which means that the Presidency is supreme, occupants of the seat rise to such positions on the heels of political parties which have their manifestoes. Are the personal egos and thinking of the aspirants going to be allowed to supersede that of the broader party manifesto?
Another of my discomforts has to do with the seemingly large number of presidential aspirants or as one of them, Hon. Dan Botwe and also Hon. Asamoah Boateng would put it “water testers” (19 of them, and still counting). I wonder how the debate is going to be organised. Will it be on constituency, regional, or national level? Who debates who at what time and on what issues?
Should the Minister aspirants propose policies and policy directions other than what is been pursued now, what will be the implications? That the sitting President is not a listening one such that it does not entertain dissenting views even from within his own ranks? What then happens to the government's own much touted axiom of accountability and good governance? Might it also mean that they wanted till it was their turn to mount the high office before they brought out all their lofty ideas?
I am of the opinion that the proponents of the debate – Hon. Osafo Maafo, Mr. Boakye Agyarko, etc, might have good intentions behind the initiative, something I'm trying hard to figure out. I believe they will do themselves and some of us a lot of good if they come clear on their intentions before their motives are misconstrued.
In any case, as Mr. Kwabena Agyapong and Hon. Dan Botwe will put it, the debate is already on-going. At least as aspirants continue to tour the constituencies testing the waters, they interact with the executives, answer questions from them, and share their positions on certain policies and programmes with them.
I tend to concur with those who think that although Hon. Osafo Maafo's views are laudable, it will be more useful after nomination forms have been picked, by which time the boys would have been separated from the men.
Or perhaps, might it not be more opportune after a flagbearer had been elected for the party so that he pitches his strength against those from the other opposition parties. At such a time, the NDC, NPP, or any other party should not give us any begging excuses for distancing themselves from it, as was witnessed some times back. Until such a time, I believe that the on-going debates should stay at that level.
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