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14.11.2008 Politics

MIXED REACTIONS GREET SECOND IEA DEBATE

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KUMASI From Issah Alhassan, Kumasi RESIDENTS expressed mixed reactions to the general performances of the four presidential candidates who participated in the second edition of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) organised debate.

Even though many of the residents the paper interviewed, had their individual preferences, they were generally impressed with the conduct, organisation and output of all the candidates.

The Chief Executive Producer of Boss 93.7FM Breakfast Show, Mr. Francis Dodovi, who chose to sit on the fence over his choice of which of the candidates excelled on the night, said he was very impressed with the Convention People's Party (CPP) flagbearer's policy on the tackling of the perilous environmental sanitation in the country, by personally seeing to it that Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives were held responsible, for their inability to handle waste in their various areas.

According to him, the issue of environmental sanitation, which has become endemic in the country, needs very serious executive attention, and he believed Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom needs to be commended for his decision to hold the political authorities at the grassroots level responsible, should they fail to tackle the problem of environmental sanitation in the country.

He also commended Prof. John Evans Atta Mills on his vision on decentralisation, and the fact that he would make sure all districts, municipals and metropolitan assemblies made their developmental decisions, based on specific areas of priority.

“I believe every district, municipal and metropolis has its own peculiar problems, and I think if they are all made to identify and prioritise their programmes, it would go a long way to help in the effective implementation of the decentralisation system.”

Mr. Dodovi stated that he felt satisfied with the way all the four candidates answered the question concerning the selection of DCEs and M/MCEs, saying they had all shown their commitment towards ensuring that people in the grassroots are given the opportunity to elect their executives on partisan basis, so that they would be more accountable to the people.

“By this we can check the abuse of incumbency, and the conflict of interest, that often arise between MPs and their DCEs.”

He further commended the organisers of the debate, for staging the second edition in the Northern Region, saying it would help unite the nation, and give the people in the Northern part of the country a real sense of belonging.

An Administrator at Freko FD Limited, managers of the Kejetia Terminal, Mr. Asante Boahen, said he was impressed with the way the New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer, Nana Akufo Addo, approached his questions, particularly on the management of revenues that would be accrued from the exploration of the oil, which is a recent discovery

Mr. Boahen further noted that the continuous mentions by the flagbearer, to set up committees to oversee the implementation of policies, and his continuous references to the constitution, shows his indepth knowledge of the democratic system, and his readiness to work with the constitution and parliament.

According to him, Dr. Nduom concentrated too much of his attention on promises and practicalities, forgetting that most of his decisions would have to pass through parliament for approval.

He further recommended that an aspirant's knowledge, and adroitness in the nation's constitution, must also be a topic for discussion in subsequent editions of the debate.

A Revenue Supervisor of the company, Mr. Richard Harrison, said Nana Akufo Addo, unlike during the previous debate held in Accra, where he spent much time defending polices of the current government, had the opportunity this time around, to articulate his policies and programmes.

A newspaper vendor, Mr. Kofi Bonsu, said he was thrilled by the economic policies of Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, followed closely by Nana Akufo Addo, while another vendor, Wofa Yaw Manu, believed Nana Addo had a grasp and adequate knowledge of the issues he was talking about, unlike Dr. Nduom, whom according to him, was making promises as if funds were readily available for their implementation.

However, the general impression by residents in the capital city was that the debate was very smooth, and that the maturity demonstrated by the four candidates, showed that the country was truly the beacon of hope, and bastion of democracy in Africa.

KOFORIDUA From Isaac Akwetey, Koforidua

Unlike the first presidential debate, where Dr. Paa Kwasi Nduom was adjudged the best of the four presidential candidates, the pendulum has swung towards Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo for his level of intelligence displayed on issues of law.

The presidential debate has generated a lot of mixed feelings, as while some section of residents interviewed by The Chronicle, adjudged the NPP leader as the best of the four candidates, others accused him of championing the achievement of would-be ex-President J. A. Kufour.

According to them, instead of him preaching about what he would do when Ghanaians give him the mandate in the December 7 election, he continued to talk about what the Kufour-led administration had achieved.

According to residents of Koforidua, capital of Eastern Region, the NPP leader did not live up to expectations in the first debate, however, he was spectacular in last Wednesday's debate, which included the National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer Prof. John Evans Atta Mills and Dr. Edward Mahama, People's National Convention (PNC).

They lauded the efforts of the four candidates for their performances in the recent debate, describing it as above average, unlike the first one where their performances were below expectations.

Even though they were lauded for their performances, one candidate, who was unlucky this time round, was the CPP leader, Dr. Paa Kwasi Nduom, who the residents accused of being short of words during the contest.

According to them, the CPP leader was spotted, on many occasions, running after the shadows of Nana Addo's ideology, thus repeating the statements of the NPP flagbearer, and in some instances getting confuse over his own ideology.

CAPE COAST

Magdalene Sey also reports from Cape Coast that the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Prof John Evans Atta Mills has been adjudged the winner of Wednesday's Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) presidential debate, held in Tamale, by Cape Coasters who described his delivery as excellent.

According to most residents, who spoke to The Chronicle, the Professor stood tall among the three other presidential candidates, with his clear elaborations on the policies and strategies the NDC would put in place to improve the economy.

Ms. Naomi Smith, a civil servant, told the paper that Prof Mills was the only candidate who had realistic policies aimed at improving the economy, should he be given the mandate to rule the nation.

She said all of his policies clearly indicated that he truly cared for the ordinary Ghanaian.

Another resident, Abubakar Bala, a driver, also gave it to the learned professor, saying the way and manner he answered the questions, showed how much he understood the challenges facing the Ghanaian economy, indicating that he would be able to use his economics background to improve upon the soaring economic hardship in the country.

Mr. Abeiku Essien, a successful businessman in Cape Coast, added that the NDC flagbearer overshadowed Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom and Nana Akufo Addo, who performed brilliantly in the first debate.

He noted that the Prof would have won the elections, had it been held today, because according to him, he demonstrated that he was indeed the best of the candidates to rule the nation.

TAKORADI

Our correspondents in the Western Region, Alfred Adams & Zam Samin, report that the second round of the much-talked about presidential debate, organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) for the four presidential candidates, who want to steer the affairs of this country, came off peacefully, with the collective general assessment in Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis that the candidates performed creditably, as compared to the first one.

Speaking in separate interviews with some veteran journalists and lawyers, the two reporters came to the conclusion that the performances of the candidates were excellent, as compared to the previous debate.

First to speak on the subject was Mr. Joseph Ebo Quarshie, a former President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) and a legal luminary, who agreed that the performances of the candidates were far better than during the previous one.

Nonetheless, Mr. Ebo Quarshie believed that Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom and Nana Akufo-Addo, the presidential candidate of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) respectively, came up tops, for the practical manner the two tackled questions posed by the moderators.

Mr. Quarshie also praised the candidates for the friendliness and cordiality they showed by shaking hands, and embracing each other.

Mr. Richardson Baidoo, General Manager of the Ghana News Agency (GNA) and a journalist, also agreed that there was an improvement in the debate, as compared to the first one in terms of delivery and the friendliness exhibited by the candidates.

“And I was extremely happy with that.”

To the GNA General Manager, the cordiality and friendliness shown by the presidential candidates sent the signal that the candidates were one, and were only sharing ideas over how to govern the country, and that the elections was not about war, which their supporters should take a cue from.

Mr. Frank Mochiah, a veteran journalist, also agreed that the performances of the candidates were excellent, and was a step forward in the democratic governance of our country.

To him, the manner the candidates were relaxed and answered the questions posed by the moderators, was a clear indication that each candidate was capable of steering the affairs of our country, should they get the nod, come the December polls.

It has also calmed down the heightened political tension in the country, since there was a general assessment that the candidates all performed excellently, and it would be hard for one to be rated to have come tops or last.

On his part, Mr. Seth Awuku also agreed that the performances of the candidates were excellent.

He further agreed that the excellent performance of the candidates was as a result of the criticism some of them were subjected to by the public, with regard to their performances in the last debate.

“Criticism is good, and it always shapes you to do the right thing, and I believe the constructive criticism the public subjected some of the candidates to, has worked magically.”

He, however, thinks Nana Akufo Addo emerged as the one with inspirational and transformational leadership.

SUNYANI

Most people in Sunyani, unfortunately, could not watch the second IEA presidential debate held in Tamale live on television, but the few who watched it during a delayed broadcast by TV3, and listened from some affiliated radio stations, expressed confidence in the various candidates, reports Micheal Boateng from Sunyani.

They stressed that the second IEA presidential debate was an improvement over the first one organised in Accra, as the organisers took the complaints from the public, and rectified them to the expectation of Ghanaians.

Nana Kyei Adoma Samuel, a Morning Show Host at Space FM Sunyani, said unlike the first debate, where the majority of the public rated Dr. Paa Kwasi Nduom as the most impressive candidate, this time all the candidates performed extremely well.

According to him, Ghana was lucky to have such a crop of effective leaders, who are keen to serve the nation with laudable policies and programmes, with humility.

All the candidates, this time, were relaxed, and exhibited some kind of friendship, which was a demonstration to their various followers, not to engage in acts that would lead to violence in the electioneering period.

Nana Kyei Adoma Samuel indicated that the demonstration of the candidates had proven to the entire nation, that Ghana would, for a fifth consecutive time, witness a violence-free general election to confirm to the whole world that “our democracy is really growing.”

He commended the IEA for rectifying some of the mistakes encountered during the first debate, hoping that as time goes on, things would further improve.

Another media practitioner, Mr. Seth Opoku Agyemang, said the Tamale debate met his expectations, since the candidates were able to honor the invitation for the second time, indicating their preparedness to defend all their policies and programes at all times.

Mr. Opoku Agyemang stated that he was however not impressed with some of the submissions of Dr. Nduom, who he said was impressive during the first debate, explaining that Dr. Nduom sounded more like a humourist in his submissions.

He said Nana Akufo Addo, this time was relaxed, and seemed to have a field day, and was on top of the activities as he impressed him, unlike the first time.

“I was not also happy about how all the candidates, except Nana, wanted Ghanaians to believe that the country is second to none in the world on the list of corrupt countries,” he noted.

According to him, Prof. Mills intentionally wanted to paint the current government black in the face of the public, but Nana at his usual task, defended the government.

He was of the belief that the debate should have been a one-on-one show.

HO

From Ho, Samuel Agbewode reports that some Voltarians have lauded the debate among the four main political parties, describing it as a splendid performance.

According to them, Prof. John Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and Nana Akufo Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), distinguished themselves among the candidates, but were quick to say that between the two Prof. Mills was their favourite, because he effectively addressed the issues.

The people, who included teachers, priests, business men and women, and students, pointed out that based on the Tamale debate, all the candidates demonstrated to Ghanaians that they were capable of leading the country, but others concluded that if elections were to be held today, Prof. Mills would win, while others also maintained that Nana Akufo Addo would carry the day.

Those who made the various claims, in an interview with The Chronicle, however pleaded anonymity, saying they were not politicians, and with the type of work that they did, they could become targets if this reporter went ahead and disclosed their identities, but were sure that at the end of the election, Prof. Mills would become victorious.

Some students from the Ho Polytechnic and School of Hygiene, had maintained Nana Akufo Addo on top of all the candidates in the debate, and that there were all indications that he would emerge the winner in the forthcoming elections, because it seemed to them that Nana Akufo Addo was confident in expressing himself, a situation they said, could make him take bold decisions in the interest of the country.

Mr. Awudi Peter Doe, a businessman, was of a different opinion. To him, both Prof. Mills of the NDC and Nana Akufo Addo of the NPP did well, noting that while both candidates, and the other two, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom and Dr. Edward Mahama, agreed that issues of sports needed to be taken more seriously, Nana Akufo Addo went further into how he could collaborate with other countries, to fight against the drug trade in the country.

He noted that Nana Akufo Addo and Prof. Mills, who disagreed on the issue raised by Dr. Nduom, that DCEs be elected, was indicative of the fact that both Prof. Mills and Nana Akufo Addo had rich experiences, as they understood the consequences of electing DCEs, since the NDC candidate, a former Vice President and the NPP candidate being a member of the NPP government for the eight year period, would do what they deemed fit in the interest of the people.

Madam Ernestina Botchway, a businesswoman, said with the introduction of the debate into the Ghanaian politics, it would go a long way to improve on politics in the country, noting that apart from the competence displayed by the candidates, the debate also served as a platform to unify all the parties.

She noted that the candidates, who participated in the debate, taught Ghanaians that even though they stood on different political party tickets, with different ideologies, they all considered the interests of the country first, adding that the manner in which the candidates related with each other before the public, ought to be experienced within the supporters of the various parties, to promote peace in the country

Bolgatanga

William Jalulah reports from Bolga that the residents did not get the opportunity to watch the much-publicised debate live on television.

Like Brong Ahafo, there was no reception for Ghana Television (GTV) in the region. The few people, who managed to monitor it on radio, said all the candidates performed well.

TAMALE

In Tamale, correspondent Edmond Gyebi reports that some women activists in Tamale, have strongly criticized the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) for failing to offer the opportunity to the four presidential candidates, who stood for the debate in Tamale on Wednesday, to equally articulate issues that confronted Ghanaian women, especially those in the North.

According to the women, though they fully support the debate and the various questions posed, they were particularly disappointed by the gender imbalance that was exhibited.

Hajia Adishetu Issahaku, Gender Desk Officer at the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly, told The Chronicle in an interview, that much was expected of IEA and the presidential candidates, on their plans for women in the north, who are faced with several challenges emanating from poverty, unemployment and diseases.

Meanwhile, the second part of the presidential debate ended with the four candidates putting up splendid performances.

The contestants, Dr. Edward Mahama of the People's National Convention (PNC), Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom of Convention Peoples Party (CPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Prof John Evans Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), had equal time and opportunities to express themselves, and to sell their messages to the electorate.

Nana Akufo-Addo was first to arrive at the GILLBT Training Centre at 4:32 p.m.; Prof John Evans Atta Mills also arrived at 4:36 p.m., Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom 4: 40 p.m., and Dr. Edward Mahama at 4:52 p.m.

The presidential candidates began arriving in Tamale four days to the debate, with Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom arriving on Sunday around 4: 30pm. He was met on arrival by heavy crowd of jubilant CPP supporters at Datoyilli (11km from Tamale).

He was followed by Dr. Edward Mahama on Monday afternoon, and then by Prof Evans Atta Mills, who also arrived around midnight on the same Monday. Nana Akufo-Addo was last to arrive, on Tuesday around 10:50 p.m. at the GETFund Hotel.

However, preparations for the debate, organised by the IEA were exceptionally excellent, as stringent security measures were put in place to reduce the fear of a possible clash or tension between supporters of the four parties.

Three Military-Police barriers were introduced around the debate centre, to restrain intruders.

The debate, which started at exactly 5:30 p.m., saw the GILLBT Centre filled to capacity, as all invited guests were attentively following the proceedings from the moderators, Prof. Ivan Addai Mensah, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Legon, and Mr. Israel Laryea of Joy FM.

Questions posed to the four debaters centered on Good Governance, Social Services, Corruption, Assets Declaration, Security, Sanitation and Sports.

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