As the November 7 polls fast approach, civil society organisations and some government agencies are gearing up to organise debates and dialogue sessions for presidential and parliamentary aspirants.
Debates for aspirants have characterised the Ghanaian electoral system since 2000 when the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) first started with its presidential debates series.
The IEA and the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) have hinted at organising the debates and dialogue sessions for the candidates ahead of this year’s elections, but arguments are being made that the debates have little or no effects on the outcomes of the elections.
For instance, pollster Ben Ephson has told Class91.3FM’s Emefa Apawu that, in his view, the presidential candidate who performed very well in the 2012 IEA presidential debate performed poorly in that year’s elections, an indication that the debate had little effect on Ghanaians.
Similarly, Kofi Adams, National Organiser of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) also noted that ahead of the 2004 elections, the then president who was seeking a re-election, John Agyekum Kufour, did not participate in that year’s debates but went ahead to win the elections, a further indication that the debate did not have any bearing on Ghanaians.
In view of these observations, a senior lecturer at the University of Education Winneba, Dr Ahmed Jinapor, has said a critical assessment will need to be done on the effects of debates on Ghanaians in order not to waste people’s time.
He told a local television station, TV3, on Saturday May 14 in an interview that when the assessment is done and the country comes to the realisation that it is the best way forward, then a decision will need to be taken as to who should organise such debates.
“When it is factored and we realise that it has a lot of impact then we have to come out and shape how the debate will take place,” he said, adding: “Most importantly we have to make a decision as to who is going to be in charge of the debate.”