8 November 2012

Ghana: The Battle of the Governors

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The moribund economy and particularly, the faltering national currency, the cedi, will be the focus of attention when four of the seven vice-presidential candidates for the 2012 elections clash at the Akromah Hotel in the oil city of Takoradi, in the Institute of Economic Affairs' Vice-Presidential Debate tonight.

Those taking the floor are Vice-President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, who is defending the corner of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Ms. Cherita Sarpong Kumankuma, also known as Nana Frimpongmaa II, who has abdicated as Queenmother of the Domaa Traditional Area to partner Dr. Abu Sakara Foster to try and bring the Convention People's Party (CPP) to power for the first time since the return of Constitutional rule 20 years ago.

Others include Ms. Helen Sanorita Dzatugbe Matrevi, running mate to Mr. Hassan Ayiriga of the People's National Convention (PNC), and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Political observers are enthused about the presence of two women on the vice-presidential debating floor for the first time in the political evolution of this country.

But for most Ghanaians, the main thrust of the debate would be the clash between Mr. Amissah-Arthur, the immediate past Governor of the Bank of Ghana, and Dr. Bawumia, who was the Deputy Governor when ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor sat at the Castle.

According to an official statement from the IEA, organisers of the debate, tonight's clash of the titans would feature the Economy, Good Governance, the Social Sector, Private Sector Development, and Natural Resources.

Under the Economy, the debate is expected to highlight the National Development Plan, Job Creation and Employment, and the National Debt. The four running mates, with representation in Parliament, would examine Peace and Security, Corruption and Bureaucracy, Rule of Law, Character and Leadership, and National Development Planning, under the broad theme of Good Governance.

The participants would share their ideas on Education, Health, Water and Sanitation, Food Security and Electricity and Power, under the broad topic of the Social Sector.

Under Private Sector, the four contestants will battle it out on Development and Industrialisation, before tackling questions on Oil and Gas, as well as mining, under the broad headline of Natural Resource Management.

The programme is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m., with an address by Mrs. Jean Mensa, Executive Director of the IEA. Like the debate in Tamale, a member of the Presidential Debate Committee will welcome the contestants, before the two moderators are introduced.

The moderators would brief contestants on the guidelines, before the introductions by the vice-presidential candidates at 7:15 p.m., before the first bell tolls for the first part of the debate to begin.

There would be a break of 10 minutes after the first session, followed by the second segment and a five minute break. After a few round of questions in the third segment, the participants would be expected to make their final submissions on why their political party is the best to lead the country on January 7, 2013.

According to an official statement, the IEA Secretariat, in conjunction with the Presidential Debate Committee, generated a list of 15 distinguished persons drawn from academia and journalism as possible moderators.

"These names were forwarded to the political parties taking part in the debate, with a ranking form to get their feedback."

Five names were subsequently approved. They are Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Mr. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah of Joy FM, Ms. Shamima Muslim of Citi FM, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Telecommunications, and Mrs. Esther Ofei-Aboagye of the Institute of Local Government Studies.

In Tamale, last week, Mrs. Naana Opoku Agyeman and Kojo Oppong Nkrumah moderated the Presidential Debate.

According to the IEA, questions were received from the Coalition of Concerned Floating Voters of Ghana, Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors of Ghana, Chartered Institute of Taxation, Ghana Integrity Initiative, Cocoa Marketing Company, and the Ghana Environmental Health Officers Association.

Others include the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport of Ghana, the Ghana Association of Teachers, Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation, Third World Network, Centre for Policy Analysis, Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, Abantu for Development, UNICEF-Ghana, Human Rights Advocacy Centre, African Centre for Energy Policy and the Ghana Medical Association.

The people of Tamale received the Presidential Debate with enthusiasm. Although most of the people were never invited to the debate floor, they lined up on the streets in their numbers to cheer on the debaters, as they made their way to the Radiach Memorial Centre, and when their cars zoomed out in the night after the job had been done.

Though tonight's debate would feature four candidates, the eyes and the ears of political pundits in the country would focus mainly on the contributions of Vice-President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, who was until the unfortunate death of President John Evans Atta Mills Governor of the Bank of Ghana, and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia of the NPP, who was Deputy Governor of the Central Bank when Kufuor was President of the Republic.

Ghanaians are particularly waiting with bated breath to examine in detail how the two candidates would deal with inflation, the rate of the cedi against the major currencies, and how the NDC has generally managed the economy.

As stated earlier, this is the first time women candidates are being featured in the debate.

The contributions of Helen Matrevi, an MBA candidate of the Wisconsin University College, and Nana Fimpongmaa, a product of the Montgomery Community College in the United States, would particularly interest those clamouring for more women in our national politics.

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