The National Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, is calling for the setting up of a Debate Commission to organise and supervise debates among all presidential hopefuls. To him, a presidential candidate who wants to lead this country should not be running away from being examined on national issues.
The United States of America, which has been practicing democracy for well over two hundred years, has a presidential debate commission, which always supervises debates between the Democrat and Republican presidential candidates. Since Ghana is also practicing democracy, it will not be bad, in our view, if we also decide to set up the presidential debate commission being espoused by Ofosu-Ampofo.
Unfortunately, The Chronicle does not support the idea based on a number of reasons. In Ghana today, almost everything, including our revered military, have been politicised. This is making it impossible for the independent bodies set by law to gain respect from the majority of Ghanaians. The Office of the Auditor General is creation of law, and unless the one occupying the office breaches the law, he cannot be removed from office by any government.
But, this protection notwithstanding, the current Board Chairman of the Audit Service, Mr Dua Agyeman, was removed from office by the Atta Mills government because they could not trust him, since he was appointed by the John Kufuor administration. As we put this piece together, the current Auditor General, John Domelevo, who was appointed by former President Mahama, has been asked to proceed on accumulated leave, because the Akufo-Addo government doesn’t apparently feel comfortable working with him.
Despite his neutrality, the opposition was not happy with Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan, former Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), because they thought he was biased towards the NDC since he was appointed by Mr Jerry John Rawlings. His successor – Charlotte Osei – also had a similar problem as the then opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) did not trust her to organise free and fair elections.
The current managers of our presidential and parliamentary elections, led by Madam Jean Mensah, are not having things easy. The opposition NDC, led by its flagbearer, John Dramani Mahama, is constantly attacking the EC, claiming the officials are leading Ghana to the gallows. Because the NDC did not appoint Jean Mensah and her team, they think she would be doing the bidding of Akufo-Addo.
Interestingly, Mr Mahama, who is today attacking the EC because he does not trust its officials, was the number one defendant of the same institution when the person he appointed – Charlotte Osei – was in office. The NPP, which did not give Charlotte Osei any breathing space, is today the number one defendant of the same EC. In our view, therefore, should the Presidential Debate Commission be set up, it is going to face the same issue of mistrust by the major political parties – NDC and NPP.
Since President Akufo-Addo is the one currently ruling the country, he is the person who will certainly appoint members of the Presidential Debate Commission. Trust the NDC to tell you that President Akufo-Addo has packed the commission with his surrogates, and that they would not collaborate with them.
The late Krobo Adusei, a minister in Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s government, once stated that a politician is capable of doing everything except changing a man into a woman. Yes, the Debate Commission would be backed by the law, but trust the politician to circumvent the laws when he is pushed to the wall. There is no way the NDC candidate, if the person is the one ruling the country, would appear before the commission for debates when the people in charge were appointed by his or her opponents.
They will probably appear before the commission after they had changed all the officials appointed by the previous government. The NPP will also do same when they get the chance to get back to government. In the end, we are not going to achieve anything, except lining the pockets of those who would be lucky to be appointed to serve on the commission.
This is the reason why The Chronicle thinks Ofosu-Ampofo’s suggestion must be shot down. It will certainly not help the country in any way.
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