The flag bearer of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) who is also the President of the Republic, John Mahama has disagreed with the flag bearer of the ?New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on his assertion that Ghana?s oil and gas resources were discovered by the previous government.
Beginning his remarks on natural resources, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, commended the previous Kufuor-led government which worked tireless for the discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantities.
He sated the next NPP government would use the oil wealth to transform the country from lower middle-income to a higher one.
But, the President Mr Mahama disagreed with Nana Addo?s assertion at tonight?s Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA?s) President Debate that it was through the efforts of the previous Kufuor government which led to the discovery of the ?black gold? (oil).
According to him, the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) also contributed greatly to the discovery of the oil and gas resources.
Mr Mahama told the well-attended forum that since the inception of the Mills/Mahama-led government 16 new oil wells had been discovered.
He noted that a number of legislations including the Exploration and Petroleum Management bill had been passed by the current Parliament to regulate the activities of the oil and gas industry.
Mr Mahama was quick to add that the much-trumpeted Local Content Bill is currently undergoing stakeholders? consultation before it?s sent to Parliament for passage.
Also the President indicated: ?We have put in place a blueprint for the up and down streams of the oil and gas industry?.
The four contestants were of the view that the discovery of the country?s new found wealth (oil and gas) could propel Ghana?s socio-economic development faster.
The flagbearer of the People?s National Convention (PNC), Hassan Ayariga stated when voted into office the PNC-led government will put the management of oil and gas resources into the hands of Ghanaians.
He decried the current practice of allowing foreign multinationals to take charge of the country?s nascent oil and gas industry.
On science and technology, Mr Ayariga said both NDC and NPP governments had failed Ghanaians for not investing in science and technology.
However Nana Addo and Mr Mahama have disagreed with the PNC?s flagbearer assertion, according to Nana Addo the previous Kufuor government in which he (Nana Addo) served did enough to empower the Ghanaian youth technologically.
To end this, he hinted that if given the mandate in 2013, his government will raise the bar of science and technology by re-tooling Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the Tarkwa School of Mines.
The flagbearer of the Convention People?s Party (CPP), Abu Sakara admitted that no nation can thrive without science and technology. In this regard, the CPP will ensure the teaching and learning of science, mathematics in all levels of education.
Taking his bite on this, Mr Mahama disclosed that the current government was implementing the country?s science and technology policy. This, he said would help boost the development of science and technology in the West African country.
He further disclosed that the government had given scholarships to about 5,000 students to study science and technology at the tertiary level. This Mr Mahama promised to increase to 10,000 by the close of the year.
On corruption, ?Nana Addo argued that though the Kufuor government put in a number of measures to deal with corruption, that gain is being eroded with what he described as ?mega corruption? emanating from the payment of dubious judgment debts to certain individuals and companies.
President Mahama would, however, not accept the position of Nana Addo, contending that the payment of judgement debt itself was not an act of corruption, and that he expected Nana Addo, who is lawyer, to have known better.
According to him, the fact that Nana Addo was desperate for power should not cloud his judgement over the issue.
Mahama further argued that the profile of all the judgement debts indicate that majority of them emanated from frivolous cancellation of contracts by the previous NPP regime, and that for Nana Addo to turn round to accuse NDC of corruption was unfortunate.
Nana Addo came back to remind the President that his own government had taken Mr Woyome to court and charged him with fraud, and also is seeking to retrieve the money that was paid to him. Based on this, he noted that President Mahama cannot accuse him of trying to tag his government with corruption.
The NPP presidential candidate noted that it was during President Kufuor?s regime that the Procurement and Whistle blowers Acts were passed into law to check corruption. He, however, regretted that a civil servant who took advantage of the Whistle Blowers Act to disclose certain information was sacked under the current NDC regime.
In response, President Mahama said the fact that his government had gone to court over the Woyome issue, was an indication that the interest of the state was paramount to his government.
He admitted that the NPP passed both the whistle blowers and the procurement laws, but insisted that his government has also strengthened and made them more effective.
On the issues concerning crime in the Ghanaian society, President John Mahama admitted that the safety of citizens of the state should be among the topmost priorities of any well-meaning government.
He noted that the National Democratic Congress led government has, however, made significant strides in curbing crime, quoting recent statistics from the Ghana police service which collaborate this claim.
He, however, admitted that cases of defilement and rape have and are still on the ascendency. To solve this situation and reduce crime to the barest minimum, however, President Mahama said his government was committed to resourcing the police force with logistics and modern technology to aid crime combat.
He said that so far, his government has improved technology of the police service to deal appropriately with cyber and narcotic related crimes. Mahama also noted that the NDC has recruited 4000 more police personnel to help the fight against crime in the Ghanaian society.
He added that strengthening collaboration with international bodies in the fight against crime is on the top list of the NDC led administration. He also mentioned strengthening of institutions such as the Economic and Organised Crimes Office of the Ghana Police force to fight white colour crimes.
The NPP?s Nana- Adoo on his part expressed concern about the glaring disconnect of figures being touted by the NDC government from the reality on the ground. To him, the suggestion that crime in the Ghanaian society has reduced is far from the reality on the ground.
To him, an NPP administration would expand the police service, equip it with the necessary logistics to help them live up to their mandate. According to Nana Addo, improving the living conditions of the citizenry is a sure way of reducing crime in the society and that his government will pursue it vigorously.
The CPP?s Abu Sakara also said the equipping the police force, EOCO and the other institutions as a way of fighting crime in society. To him, a proper scheme of monitoring crimes will be adopted.
He also advocated a one year compulsory military programme for every Ghanaian at age 18, as part of his crime fighting machinery. He also mentioned mobilizing public crusade against corruption and white colour crime.
The PNC?s Ayariga, however, reiterated that Ghana has enjoyed peace over the years and that consolidating that peace was essential to all governments.
To him, reducing crime forms a basic part of maintaining peace but observed that majority of Ghanaians, especially the wealthy class, still live in a state of fear as high rising walls, electric wires on walls of residents are indicative that crime and fear of crime still abound in the country.
To him, strengthening border security, equipping the police service will be top of the agenda of a PNC government.