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Presidential debate must be holistic, says pundit

Legon political scientist says calls for a presidential debate between Akufo-Addo and Mahama must flow from more than a fixation on bricks and mortar

Isaac Owusu Mensah, a political scientist at the University of Ghana, has said that the call for a debate between the presidential candidates of the two main political parties should not focus solely on infrastructure, but adopt a holistic view.

“It is interesting to hear there is a call for debate at the end of the day, but the question is, when you are going to have a debate, it should be based on what you have done for the people of Ghana in the course of your tenure.”

Dr Owusu Mensah was speaking to Kojo Mensah about a wide range of political issues, including the call for a debate, on The Asaase Breakfast Show.

The people’s welfare

“The point is that you were voted [in] to improve the quality of life of the people. Infrastructure is just one of them, so if you want to call for a debate, it should also be based on social infrastructure such as the Free SHS, the One District One Factory, One District One Dam et cetera, which contributes to the welfare of the people,” he said.

The flagbearer for the opposition National Democratic Congress, John Mahama, is reported to have called for a presidential debate on infrastructural achievement by the two parties following Tuesday’s town hall meeting and results fair by the Akufo-Addo-led government.

One of the main highlights from the event was the accusation by Vice-President Bawumia that the NDC built the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Interchange at a cost of $260 million, against the $289 million being spent on four similar interchanges by the current government.

But Dr Owusu Mensah believes the call is misplaced because most Ghanaians vote not on the basis of debates, but policies which affect their lives.

Set out NDC’s store

“I think that it is an immediate reaction to this town hall and results fair that was held. So you don’t have debate because you want to have a debate: you have debate on purpose for Ghanaians to understand,” he said.

Dr Owusu Mensah proposes that the NDC devise strategies to hold a similar forum to outline its achievements to Ghanaians.

Such an exercise, he believes, could serve as the basis for a debate between the two leading presidential candidates to enable Ghanaians to assess them adequately.

Fred Dzakpata

* Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online.

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