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December 5, 2016 | Feature Article

National Mediocrity On Display

President John Dramani Mahama
President John Dramani Mahama

My first experience of presidential election debates was the Jimmy Carter-Gerald Ford debates of that Summer of 1976. Mr Carter, a Nuclear Physicist turned Naval Commander and later, peanut farmer, reeled off statistical figures without notes, for five or more minutes at a time, making the incumbent president sound so pedestrian.

Since then, I have watched all American presidential debates as well as other election debates around the world. Although the Hilary Clinton-Donald Trump debates were pretty ordinary in terms of political/economic substance, the worst election debate I have ever watched was the IEA-Ghana Broadcasting Corporation Election 2016 spectacle that was televised on the night of Wednesday, 30th November. My o my, who in the hierarchy of Ghana television selected the “moderators” and or sanctioned that dreadful show?

After the televised presentation of the Election 2013 Election petition, some American friends commented that it was so amateurish, it was worse than a university campus television presentation - from the behaviour of some of the lawyers, through the images to the comments by some of the judges -, they thought it was pretty awful. I defended it at the time, blaming it on the “power outages.” Little did I know that a more spectacular disaster was in the offing!

Who actually chose the moderators? That really did not require a degree in journalism? Questions at our Junior Common Room (JCR) election debates of the 1970s were a lot more searching and competitive than the question posed to the potential Ghanaian president of the last years of the second decade of the Millennium. And at the end of it the main anchor was congratulating himself and the participants for “their excellent responses to the questions?”

Here was John Mahama whose government turned our excellent polytechnics into Mickey Mouse universities shamelessly claiming on national television that a foreign company looking for seven hundred or so welders could only find three hundred? and was allowed to make that damnable claim without a follow-up question. Surely, he and his ministers should know that the kind of welders that the company in question was looking for (at least those who train the ones that perform welding tasks) on rigs, major building sites and factories, are not trained at Makola, as some others are.

Then there was the question on rice importation and by implication, agricultural production. His government has shrunk Ghana’s agricultural production to one of the lowest levels since independence. Yet the president mumbled something about reducing rice importation when his government has now given the Chinese the licence to import plastic-laced rice into the country without hindrance, and he still got away with that answer.

On the question of corruption, John Mahama complained about the hands of the courts being tied by lawyers. What did he really expect after appointing an Attorney-General with all the conflict of interest, in terms of her personal and party connections? How much has she got from Woyome so far?

How about the president moving those ministers and other officials tainted with corruption to safety at the presidency? How about Roland Agambire and his own brother being allowed to pay back by instalment without interest, what they fraudulently took form the people of Ghana? How about all those officials who facilitated the corrupt “judgement debt payments” that have now been installed in cosy offices and positions? How about someone paying $42,000 per months for accommodation in Accra? I guess that is nothing compared with the kinds of fees that people are offered to destroy political opponents!

Then Ivor Greenstreet waded in to say that the political parties had “agreed on modalities” for fighting corruption in the country. Just as well Nana Akufo-Addo was not there. I am old enough to know how political graft started in Ghana and was not in the least surprised that he spoke for the Convention People’s Party.

By far, the worst delivery of the night was when the President of the Republic looked the people of Ghana in the eye, through the cameras and lied that “one drop of the blood of any Ghanaian wherever he was born or whatever his estate was not worth a price to pay for the presidency.” Really, Mr president? Ghanaians have been murdered in the name of party politics at Akwatia, Agbogbloshie, and several places in the country, including some in your own constituency and others nearby. In most cases, the perpetrators have taken shelter under your shaky umbrella without so much as an invitation by the national police and you have the nerve to make such an outrageous claim? How about the lady who ploughed her tax payer-purchased 4X4 through a crowd and got rewarded with a national position?

Did the president make that claim because those who have been killed or maimed so far have not been his supporters? Nana Addo, it was good that you did honour that invitation to taint your person with this mediocrity. Ghanaians know better.

And Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (or was it IEA?), if you cannot find impartial, and competent interviewers who can ask sensible, searching and relevant questions, please spare us the blushes and do not expose our dear Motherland to such international ridicule. Do people still pay television licence in Ghana? For that kind of stuff?

Then the very next day, it was the turn of the Ghana Police. After the bombshell of an attempted bribery of unimaginable proportions, the police could not even invite one person for questioning? Do I hear that the Ghana Police Service now has PhD lawyers? And we still spend the taxpayer’s money on police travels outside Ghana? What do they go out to learn, shopping and sightseeing? How can we stand for such low standards of behaviour and practices as a nation?

Fellow Ghanaians, we have had enough of this mediocrity. When we go to the polling booths on Wednesday, let us resolve to end this national opprobrium by voting Mahama and his NDC party out of office. We will then serve noticed to the NPP to perform in four years or be thrown out!

I am not done yet...

Kobena A Eyiah
Kobena A Eyiah

The author has authored 16 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author's column: KobenaEyiah

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Kobena A Eyiah and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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