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13.11.2008 Elections

Presidentail aspirants outline environmental policies

By myjoyonline
Presidentail aspirants outline environmental policies

In what would be described as a political camaraderie, four presidential candidates once again converged in the Northern Regional capital, Tamale in part two of the presidential debates organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs and Joy FM.

They were treated to loaded but familiar problems, and yet were required to give spontaneous and well thought out solutions in a period of two minutes, maximum.

One of those problems was how to deal with the prospect of oil exploration and its attendant environmental problems, if any of them is favoured by the thumb of the Ghanaian electorate in the December polls.

As expected the solutions were varied, contradictory, yet each articulated quite well the course of action to take.

Presidential candidate of the Convention People's Party Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom said he, unlike the present government, would not be in a haste to dispose off the services of fishermen, having struck oil in commercial quantities.

He said the interest and concerns of the fishers must first be addressed before taking the larger issue of oil find on board.

He maintained the oil would rather remain untapped, if the revenue to be accrued from its exploration would not inure to the benefit of the indigenous people and the country at large, a point he vehemently made in the first debate in Accra

He said the Ministry of Science and Technology would be reinstated to see to the effective implementation of scientific issues.

He pledged to enforce environmental laws, spelt out under the Environmental Protection Agency.

His compatriot, Nana Akufo-Addo, presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party says a more comprehensive approach is needed.

Apart from strengthening the Environmental Protection Agency, an Akufo-Addo presidency would enter into contractual agreements with all oil exploration companies spelling out their duties in terms of environment protection.

This contractual cord would be struck with the mining, fishing and all other industries whose activities directly or indirectly affected the environment, he assured.

He insisted heavy sanctions would be imposed on companies whose activities degraded the environment.

Prof. Atta Mills, Presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress, said “politics is about the people, wealth and prosperity for all,” adding the oil exploration must inure to the benefit of the Ghanaian.

He chided the current phenomenon in the mining and fishing industries where foreign investors made excessive profits at the expense of the indigenes.

He proposed a community involvement in the fight against environmental pollution in the country and an oversight responsibility by government.

People's National Convention's candidate, Dr. Edward Mahama said the country would not reinvent the wheel in its aspiration to ensure a healthy environment in the midst of oil exploration.

He said the country would tap experiences from other countries who have been exploring oil in commercial quantities.

He pledged to deal ruthlessly with companies who would flout the country's environmental laws with impunity.

Perhaps, the only blight on Wednesday's debate was the absence of the interactions between the candidates, typical of what a debate has been associated with.

However the candidates appeared more composed, confident and on top of the issues, something that was absent in the presentation of some of the candidates in the first debate.

The candidates assured the people of Ghana of a peaceful elections which is 23 days away.

Story by Nathan Gadugah