The decision by the operatives of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) to organize a separate presidential debate for the candidates of the two major parties in the country, namely, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), does not breach any constitutional mandate enjoining fairness and non-discrimination in the treatment of all the 25, or so, registered political parties (See “IEA’s Two-Party Debate Discriminatory and Unconstitutional – Haruna Iddrisu” Modernghana.com 5/15/16).
The IEA has sharply and promptly responded to this patently mischievous accusation by the Minister of Employment and Labor Relations, by noting the fact that the decision is adequately informed by a scientific survey conducted by the Institute to ascertain the preference of a cross-section of Ghanaian society at large. In other words, the IEA’s decision was democratically informed and not arbitrarily arrived at. At any rate, Mr. Iddrisu would do himself and the rest of the Ghanaian electorate great good by explaining to us precisely how he would go about organizing a debating forum for the flagbearers of at least some 10 or more political parties in the country.
Needless to say, one does not need a plagiarized master’s degree thesis to arrive at the all-too-logical answer that this is a practical impossibility, or at least a recipe for chaos. In most advanced democracies, to qualify to be included in a debating forum, even at the primary level, a candidate ought to have clinched a stipulated percentage of the votes, which could range between a minimum of 5 to 15 percent of the total number of votes cast in the presidential primaries. Other than the two major political parties in the country, no other party can boast of having clinched at least 5-percent of the total number of votes cast during the last presidential election.
Thus, it is nothing short of the inexcusably absurd for the Employment and Labor Relations Minister to assert that each and every one of the more than 10 presidential candidates competing in the 2016 general election has equal heft with her or his co-competitors in the degree of their ability to influence political opinion in the country. In every functional constitutional democracy, the size and strength of the competing individual political parties matter, otherwise there would absolutely be no need for parliamentary representation on the basis of the number of votes cast in favor of either a presidential candidate or the parliamentary candidates of any political party.
But, of course, any studious observer of National Democratic Congress’ apparatchiks like Mr. Iddrisu knows full well that the point of the Labor Minister’s argument has absolutely nothing to do with either constitutional democracy or social justice. It has everything to do with cynically manipulating the flagbearers of the small political parties into thwarting the active and vibrant participation of the NDC flagbearer’s most formidable political opponent, to wit, Candidate Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the main opposition New Patriotic Party. During the 2012 presidential debates, for example, Ghanaians were crudely subjected to what became known as “Ayarigus,” when the barely articulate then-Candidate of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Mr. Hassan Ayariga, coughed his way throughout the second, or so, presidential debate whenever it got to the turn of Nana Akufo-Addo to lay out the agenda and policies of the New Patriotic Party.
It goes without saying that there was a “mega-tribal” edge to this theatrical scam-artistry which time does not permit yours truly to extensively delve into. Suffice it to say that back then this writer sternly and solemnly counseled the three-time New Patriotic Party’s flagbearer never to allow himself to be drawn into such a veritably primitive circus act again. To be certain, left to me alone, the only debates in which Akufo-Addo will participate, regardless of how many times, will be those in which only the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress, and none else, will be involved.
At the end of the day, Akufo-Addo, like all the other candidates, has an inalienable right to flatly refuse to be harassed and deliberately and strategically neutralized the way he had been by the NDC-sponsored Mr. Hassan Ayariga, whose younger brother, by the way, is a cardinal cabinet appointee of the ruling government.
Source: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York