Friday, 18 November 2016

Controversy Over Holding Of Presidential Debate


To Debate or not to debate is not a decision that must be left entirely to political elites seeking power. This power does not belong to Presidential Aspirants. The citizenry are the ultimate and sovereign repository of that power being sought after by Presidential Hopefuls. The citizenry have the RIGHT to know how their power will be used. They have the right to objectively know what they stand to gain when they repose their trust in Aspirants. This objective knowledge cannot be known at partisan rallies. It cannot be known when aspirants simply go plead for votes. It cannot be known when politicians go about spewing lies. Rather, it can be known when candidates engage in a healthy contest of ideas on credible debate platforms. Citizens have the right to know in detail, what all Aspirants stand for because it is their power, not that of any presidential aspirant, that is being sought. Election is only a necessary condition for democratic advancement.

It certainly cannot be the sufficient condition for any nation's drive towards democratic maturity. Consequently, it is absolutely unacceptable for Presidential Aspirants to be preoccupied only with the desire to win an election to the neglect of the need to institutionalise sound democratic culture. They know that we do not know. They know that we are docile. They know that we are overly divided on partisan lines. So for them, they could delay the release of their manifestos because we would not mind. Indeed, for the first time, some of them even thought we could hold elections without manifestos. That is impunity personified perpetrated by people who are supposed to know better. Thankfully, citizens are getting alive. Now some people are becoming aware and gradually, politicians will know that they cannot continue to take the citizenry for granted for all the time.

Let Civil Society Groups, Let the Church, Let Moslem Leaders, Let all Identifiable Groups within Ghana's body politic arise against this creeping culture of impunity that threatens to relapse our democratic advancement. Let all of us as citizens, irrespective of our partisan biases, arise to demand from those seeking our power to debate, so we can know who really deserves our mandate. It is only when they debate that we can promote politics of issues and not insults. It is only when they debate that we can promote politics of facts and not lies. It is only when they debate that we can be empowered to make a meaningful choice that would advance our interest during voting. It is only when they debate, that we can calm down political tension and ensure that there is no violence and conflict. Those seeking to govern us must be prepared to subject themselves to probing questions and scrutiny to ensure that they understand our concerns and have the capacity to address them. In this regard, merely campaigning for power is not enough. It is our rights as citizens to demand to know.

Therefore: Arise, People Of Ghana and assert your sovereign authority as the TRUE OWNERS AND SOVEREIGN REPOSITORY OF POWER.

BY PROF. RANSFORD GYAMPO, A SENIOR POLITICAL SCIENCE LECTURER AND HEAD OF THE LEGON CENTRE FOR EUROPEAN STUDIES.

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