Ever since the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) launched its 2012 Presidential Debate Committee, as part of its commitment to promote issue based elections in Ghana, there have been mixed reactions from a broad spectrum of the Ghanaian society.
In fact no one can challenge the fact that the preamble of the 1992 constitution of Ghana and its first Article reposes the sovereignty of Ghana in the will of the people of Ghana. The debate therefore is an expression of that sovereignty. The IEA is of the view that those who wish to govern must allow themselves to be subjected to scrutiny or be screened by the people to ensure that they understand their concerns and have the capacity to address them. The debate, furthermore, will be a way of ensuring that the electorate takes ownership of the electoral process and provides a platform for accountability from the candidates even before one of them takes up the Presidency for the 2013-2016 period.
However, since its composition and subsequent inauguration, the committee has been subjected to various criticisms basically about its composition, credibility and neutrality.
The questions people keep asking are – why only four (4) political parties with their representatives in parliament? What about the other parties contesting the 2012 elections with candidates vying for the presidency. Why not involve the independent presidential candidates and give them the chance to participate.
Then and only then can the debate and the whole process be termed neutral.
Others are also questioning the fact that there are some recognized names linked to certain political parties on the panel and are we being told that the composition of panel is neutral?
The issue of credibility has been at the IEA itself as an institution, which has never seen anything good about the current administration. It has always demonstrated a clear chronic bias against the NDC government, hence the inclusion on the committee some people believed to have leaning towards the opposition NPP. Still others are saying the institution is playing the tribal game by excluding Ewes, Gas and Adangbes.
Per the statement by Executive Director of the Institute, Jean Mensah, the IEA was informed by the need for neutrality in composing the team.
However, we on the True Statesman think otherwise. There is clear indication that most members of the panel have direct political leaning towards the opposition NPP. Professor Stephen Adei is not neutral; he is a known NPP member. Where is the neutrality with Kabral Blay Amihere of the National Media Commission and Mr. Kofi Asamoah, the General- Secretary of the Ghana Trades Union Congress and some other known NPP bootlickers among the team?
Couldn't the Institute have looked for more non-partisan members from the academia?
We still question the credibility of the institution that composed the committees and are asking what informed the choice of the panel members.
The purpose of the debate has even defeated itself before its beginning. Discerning Ghanaians who have been observing the political terrain have lost confidence in the exercise even before it takes off.
It is the view of this paper that some of the eleven committee members lack principles and cannot be guarded by the sense of neutrality to conduct the debate with the degree of fairness it deserves.
In spite of this perceived bias, we still have confidence in Professor Atta Mills to deliver if he should be engaged at any point in time, in future.
The True Statesman