Presidential hopefuls in Ghana in first televised debate

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Four of Ghana’s eight presidential candidates held the first of their two debates Wednesday night with the campaign teams of each candidate claiming their candidate won.

The debate, organised by the governance think-tank, Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), was restricted to the four parties with representation in parliament – the New Patriotic Party (NPP), National Democratic Congress (NDC), People’s National Convention (PNC) and Convention People’s Party (CPP) – to the annoyance of the other candidates.

The candidates answered questions on job creation; the management of anticipated oil revenue; women and children’s rights; provision of adequate electricity and the fast tracking of the implementation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocols.

John Evans Atta Mills,

Professor John Evans Atta Mills, presidential candidate of the NDC, repeated his promise that he would equip the youth with employable skills to enable them to find jobs when elected President of Ghana.

He said many of the youth were finding it difficult to get jobs after school because they did not possess the requisite skills that would enable them to get employment.

Mills promised his administration would accelerate growth in the agriculture sector to generate employment for the people.

He said the fact that 60 per cent of the population was engaged in the sector ma de it imperative for any government to address the needs of the sector.

In this direction, an NDC Government would implement policies such as the provision of subsidies; reduction of post-harvest losses and the institution of a buffer stock management system as a means of providing ready market for produce and thereby encourage farmers to produce more and entice others to the sector.

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo,

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, of the ruling NPP, pledged to build upon the econom ic foundation laid by President John Agyekum Kufuor over the past eight years.

He said: “The Party inherited a battered economy in 2001, but through the prudent management of the economy by the NPP Government, Ghana’s economy is now on a solid foundation.”

He used the platform to defend the eight-year rule of the Party and spelt out his blueprint to move the nation forward as contained in the Party’s 2008 Manifesto; “Moving Ghana Forward: Building A Modern Ghana.”

He said President Kufour’s Government had brought back the dignity of the Presidency and made Ghana an internationally recognised good-governance State, which had enlarged the freedoms of the individual citizen and institutions.

On promoting gender equality, the NPP presidential candidate said his administration would drastically reduce maternal and infant mortality by improving the quality of and access to ante-and post-natal care; address the issue of child mortality, morbidity and malnutrition.

He would ensure that social security arrangements were set up in the formal and informal sectors in the rural and urban areas to cover all working women and men.

Nana Akufo-Addo said he would introduce micro-financing schemes to help to improve the economic position of women, continue with the free maternal health care, and create enabling environment for accelerated growth.

Edward Mahama

Dr. Edward Mahama, candidate of the PNC said he would ensure justice for all und er his presidency, blaming the lynching of suspects on the failure of the criminal justice system.

He pledged that under his presidency justice to all would be a cardinal principle.

He noted that the search for peace in Ghana could be an effort in futility if justice was not upheld.

“A CPP Chairman was killed sometime back and people were arrested and let go – till date justice has not been done and that could be a possible source of mob action,” he said.

He also noted that in northern Ghana, the interference of politicians in chieftaincy matters had been a major source of conflicts in parts of that area, saying that under PNC Government the politicians would keep off chieftaincy issues and allow chiefs to deal with such matters.

“Under my Government the Police will deal with crime and chiefs will deal with chieftaincy issues,” he said.

Dr. Mahama also promised to ensure judicial independence by improving the judicial system to enable it to provide justice without influence from politicians.

“The days when senior politicians protect junior politicians from the long arms of the law would be over under a PNC government,” he said.

Paa Kwesi Nduom

Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, candidate of the CPP, said his government would ensure that revenue generated from the oil industry benefitted Ghanaians, especially communities who will be affected by the oil exploitation in the Western Region.

Citing experiences in the solid mineral sector, where most communities in which the mines were allocated did not benefit from the gold, diamond and manganese deposits, Dr. Nduom said the oil resources must be used for the benefit of the people.

Dr. Nduom said for the country to be saved from the experiences of what was happening in the Niger Delta of Nigeria, communities around such resources would be rebuilt.

The CPP candidate said petrol chemical industries would be set up to provide the people in the community with employment and direct benefit from the resource.

He said a CPP-led Government through Parliament would enact a law to prevent the executive from taking decisions on how the oil revenue would be used.

On security and crime, he called for a proper identification system of properties and people to allow for easy tracking of criminals.

In addition, the Attorney General’s Office would be separated from the Ministry of Justice to ensure quick prosecution of criminal cases.

Dr. Nduom also pledged to use the State’s purchasing power to buy what was produced locally to boost demand and create market for people.

The second debate will be held in the northern city of Tamale 12 November.

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