16 November 2012

Ghana: NDC Needs to Do Soul Searching

Franklin Cudjoe , Executive Director of IMANI,a policy think tank says the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) needs to do a thorough soul searching, as it is fighting on too many fronts, in the run up to the December polls.

For a party seeking re-election, Mr. Cudjoe holds the opinion that the current feud between it and some Christian bodies is not good enough to help the party's re-election bid.

Of utmost concern to Mr. Cudjoe is the choice by the ruling National Democratic Congress to cling to pieces of sermons and messages of Dr. Mensah Otabil to advance their argument on free Senior High Education, when hard evidence and empirical research by IMANI advances their argument better on the subject.

IMANI has in the recent past cast doubts over the feasibility of proposed free secondary education policy by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), with facts and figures to back their argument, arousing varied arguments from the NPP on the subject.

Over the past few weeks, Pastor Mensa Otabil, general Overseer of International Central Gospel Church, had been drafted into the hot button issue of freeSHS education, which has been at the heart of the NPP campaign message by "surrogates" and "affiliates" of the ruling NDC, who have pieced some of his massages on education together, for political expediencies.

A group calling itself the Education Watch has been behind the running of a 'cut and paste' audio recording of pastor Otabil's messages, making it seem as though the clergyman had made current pronouncements on the raging political issue of free SHS education.

At a press conference on Monday, Pastor Otabil expressed strong sentiments about the pieced tapes in circulation and the way a manner his person and integrity has been impugned by them.

He also stated categorically that he had not made any recent comments in connection with the heated political debate on free SHS as those making political capital of the pieced tapes have sought to make it seem and described the activities of those involved as unethical and evil and thus called on the President to intervene.

The "evil " statement however attracted an even more stronger responses from the NDC with Dr. Tony Aidoo, the Director of Policy Monitoring and Evaluationat the presidency leading the pack by taking the integrity of the clergyman to the cleaners.

Franklin Cudjoe , who shared a thought on the raging saga with the Chronicle via a telephone conversation said he is indeed surprised at the level to which the issue has degenerated.

He was, however, of the view that the issue raises copy right concerns, especially when the group propagating the 'pieced' sermons of Pastor Otabil for the purpose for which it is currently being used for, without the explicit permission of the man who owns the messages.

Cudjoe made a reference to a similar situation in the US elections where the campaign team of Romney had impressed on the Obama team to withdraw a running advertisement.

On the eve of their presidential debate on foreign policy, President Barack Obama's campaign released an advert attacking Mitt Romney over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and praising Obama for his response to them.

This position was also advanced by former Lecturer at the Ghana Law School, Ace Ankomah, earlier on Citi FM's breakfast show, where he revealed that broadcasting of sermons and public pronouncements without express permission from the authors, is an infringement of the nation's copyright laws.

"We have a copyright Act, passed in 2005. In section (1) it mentions works eligible for copyright. It mentions literary works are eligible for copyright. If you go to section 76, it specifically mentions sermons," he pointed out.

The ruling NDC has been on a collision course with some major churches, whose views contravene with that of the party in power, with the latest being the International Central Gospel Church saga.

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