NPP bars NDC sec from CDD debate
Some supporters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) nearly marred the beauty of the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) debate for Parliamentary aspirants for the Okaikoi North seat when they resisted the participation of Mr. Joseph Asamoah Gyamfi, a last minute substitute for the incumbent MP, Mrs. Elizabeth Sackey.
The illuminating event had ran smoothly with the three candidates present, Mr. Augustus Kweku Eshun, NDC; Mr. Mike Hagan Jnr., Convention People´s Party (CPP) and Mr. Noel Jean Kwesi Brahini, Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) providing their solutions to questions from the two moderators, Dr. Bashiru Koray of the Attorney General´s Department and Theodore Dzeble, Public Affairs Officer of CDD. The debate was organized in collaboration with the Ghana Federation of Disabled and was under the theme: “Promoting Issue-based Campaign”.
However, during the closing moments of the debate, one Mr. Gyamfi, the Okaikoi North NPP Constituency Secretary of the NPP emerged and took his seat after explaining a few things to the CDD personnel. But his presence on the stage was greeted with a hostile reaction from a section of the audience whom Public Agenda later learnt were NDC supporters. They began booing and jeering at Mr. Gyamfi with some shouting “no way, no way, where is the MP?”
Despite persistent pleas from the CDD officials the agitators did not budge, and kept on shouting. To ensure that sanity prevailed, Mr. Gyamfi advised himself and left the stage. Subsequently, Mr. Dzeble informed the audience that, Mr. Gyamfi would be allowed to put in a word at the end of the program, a promise which for unexplained reasons was not fulfilled.
After the debate, Mr. Gyamfi told Public Agenda that Mrs. Sackey had to catch a flight from Abuja, Nigeria to attend the ECOWAS Parliament meeting and consequently asked him to stand in for her. On why the last minutes turn up, he said he got the message very late but decided to make it anyhow. He said the behaviour of the NDC supporters smacked of hypocrisy since there have been debates when John Dramani Mahama, the NDC running mate, had deputized for the party´s flagbearer, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills.
One of the CDD officials confirmed to Public Agenda the message of Elizabeth Sackey´s inability to attend the debate but added that it came just moments before the programme begun.
Members of the audience told Public Agenda that although they were impressed with the performance of the three aspirants particularly the courageous demeanour of the young but vibrant Mr. Brahini of the DFP, they believed Mr. Eshuan of the NDC came up tops. They said Mr. Eshun demonstrated a firm gasp of the issues, had a perfect understanding of the problems of the constituency and was clear in his mind as to the way forward.
The Okaikoi North debate on Tuesday was the second in the series of four debates slated for the Greater Accra Region. The first was Tema West on Monday, the third Odododiodoo on Wednesday and the fourth Madina/Abokobi on Thursday. In all 30 debates were expected to be conducted in all the 10 regions by close of yesterday. The debate covered areas such as local government and decentralization, corruption, issues of disability, health, the economy, women in public life, peace and national security.
According to Mr. Dzeble, CDD´s interest in organizing the debate was to help make the 2008 election campaign more issue-based and less personality driven. “We are also interested in reducing … ethnicity in Ghanaian electoral policies. But above all, we want to help the electorate to make informed choices at the polls”. The debates, he said, were designed to provide the opportunity for candidates vying for the seat at stake to “articulate to the electorate policies and programmes they intend to adopt for addressing problems and issues identified”, what would be done to mobilize the requisite political will and resources for addressing those needs, and how such policies and programmes might be mainstreamed into the national and district poverty reduction strategy.
Source: Public Agenda, Friday November 21st 2008, No. 340