Some members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament have argued debates organized for parliamentary candidates by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) during elections are unproductive and not educative.
According to the MPs, these debates only set up incumbents as targets for other contestants to attack and do not educate constituents on the role of Members of Parliament (MPs).
They argued such debates are most inappropriate forums for educating the Ghanaian public on the duties of MPs.
The NCCE, they said, should use other platforms to effectively educate constituents rather than debates, which other contestants only use to castigate sitting MPs.
Ranking member of the Committee, Hon. Kofi Okyere-Agyekum who began the charge when the NCCE appeared before the PAC, stressed it is unnecessary because it only sets the stage for misinforming the public.
He said, “A presidential debate, on the other hand, is appropriate because whoever wins the election afterwards will wield executive power and could commandeer road and hospital projects.
“But the debate at the parliamentary level is at the disadvantage of the sitting MP and not necessary.”
He stressed that if the NCCE wishes to educate the citizenry on the roles of MPs, it should not be done through debates and that appropriate forums be organized for that.
Chairman of the Committee, James Klutse Avedze, who shared similar sentiment, argued that MPs are not development agents and yet during debates those contesting sitting MPs vow to provide everything from roads, hospitals to market projects.
“During such debates the participating contestants gang up against the sitting MP and will be accusing him of not doing what is not even his job.”
“They portray themselves as capable of delivering all these because they are looking for votes and the sitting MP who knows it is not his job and therefore cannot be done will be speaking the truth.”
“The constituents who want to hear these sensational claims and sweet talks will be praising those claiming they could perform miracles and cheering them on.”
“So we think parliamentary debates are actually not in the interest of sitting MPs,” he stated.
Chief executive of the NCCE, Josephine Nkrumah, however insisted the debates highlight issues that constituents find necessary to their well being and what they expect from their duty bearers when they come into office.
According to her, the NCCE narrows the scope of campaign to issues relevant to Ghanaians and then gives platform to candidates to explain how the aspirations of voters would be met.
“The debate is a way of assuring constituents our democratic governance is sustained and that their say is taken into account when contestants come to the platform to campaign,” she stated.
By Osumanu Al-Hassanfirstname.lastname@example.org