The over 22 per cent floating (undecided) voters in Ghana were last night assisted to make their minds as to whom they would possibly vote for as President on Sunday, December 7.
Four flagbearers of political parties bidding to occupy the new Flagstaff House to lead this nation as head of state and leader of government business squared up in Accra, in a debate designed to give the ordinary voter a fair idea of which of them has the intellectual grasp of issues, the persuasive power to articulate them and the calm composure to think through national problems.
This was the much publicized Debate.
It was watched by a live audience at the Kofi Annan ICT Centre in Accra and millions of television viewers throughout the country.
As the debate wore on, it was evident that the question that was uppermost on the minds of the people was: who will win?
With Prof. Kwame Karikari, an associate professor of the School of Communications Studies and veteran journalist, Cyril Acolatse filing the salvos, all four contenders- Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo, of the New Patriotic Party, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, Convention People's Party, Prof. John Evans Atta-Mills, of the National Democratic Congress, and People's National Convention's Dr. Edward Mahama - were edgy in their seats from the onset before easing their way into the minefield.
This was the much publicized Debate watched by a live audience at the Kofi Annan ICT Centre in Accra and millions of television viewers throughout the country.
With the discovery of oil, it was natural that questions on the impact of the black gold and the economy generally formed the basis for questions for the contestants to warm their way into the early evening assignments.
Nana Akufo-Addo set the tone with the announcement that Government is planning to set up a Ghana National Petroleum Authority as a regulatory body to bring sanity into the oil exploratory industry while the Ghana National Petroleum Company would continue with its traditional role of spear-heading the drive to maximize income from the new find.
He said a Government headed by Akufo-Addo would employ education as a major tool to get people off the street while modernizing agriculture to make it attractive to all manner of people.
He spoke of equipping Kayayei and the boys on the street with skills through distance education and other innovative educational means to make them employable.
Nana Akufo-Addo said as a result of sound economic and agricultural policies of the New Patriotic Party Administration, Ghana has been able to withstand the global financial turmoil and insulated the nation against food crisis in Africa and other nations throughout the world.
Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom borrowed a leaf from the domestication drive of octogenarian Dan Lartey stating that under his administration, Ghana would feed itself from local inputs.
“We will use state purchasing power to purchase made in Ghana goods,” he said promising to bring back the jute factory in Kumasi to produce sacks for the cocoa industry.
He said oil wealth should inure to the benefit of Ghanaians. “If this oil is not going to benefit Ghanaians then it should remain in the ground.
I will have to make sure that what has happened in the Niger Delta does not happen here,” he told his interrogators.
He promised to set up petro-chemical industries in the areas where oil has been and would be found in future.
Prof. Atta-Mills said his administration would motivate local Ghanaian entrepreneurs to help industrialize the country.
“It is good to have foreign direct investment but it should complement the efforts of Ghanaians. Let us look at the private sector,” he said.
He promised to revive industry, the manufacturing sector, especially, and modernise agriculture.
“When you talk of jobs, you've to talk about how the workers would acquire skills. We have only 40 per cent of JSS graduates continuing their education,” he charged.
The National Democratic Congress Presidential Candidate said all aspects of agriculture, particularly poultry and fishing, were in distress.
Dr. Edward Mahama promised a transparent administration.
“Every contract must be scrutinized. It is important for Ghanaians to know what happens to oil generally and the revenue accruing from it. Like Dr Nduom the PNC leader also promised a petro-chemical industry in oil-endowed societies.
The programme was put together by the Institute of Economic Affairs which is also funding a second debate in Tamale next week.