What would have passed as a normal intellectual exercise to help Ghanaians elect the right material as president, come the 2012 elections, has suffered a massive blow with the accusation that the Presidential Debates Committee set up by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), is hugely slanted towards the New Patriotic Party (NPP), hence, would not be objective in its work.

According to political watchers, the 11-Member Committee chaired by Reverend Dr. Mensa Otabil, General Overseer of International Central Gospel Church, is made up of people who have either held appointments in the Kufuor administration or have had links, including marriage ties, with diehard supporters of the NPP.

Some political parties including the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), the People’s National Convention (PNC) and elements within the NDC have also openly indicted the IEA for not consulting them on the membership of the committee inaugurated in Accra last Wednesday, and geared towards promoting issue-based and violence-free elections, according to the IEA.

Very interesting issues have been raised against Pastor Otabil to Mrs. Jean Mensa, Executive Director of IEA, Professor Stephen Adei, ex-Rector of Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Mr. Kabral Blay Amihere, Chairman of National Media Commission (NMC), Justice Emile Short, ex-Commissioner of Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAG), Dr. Rose Mensah Kutin, Executive Director of ABANTU and Mr. Kofi Asamoah, General Secretary of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Tony Oteng Gyasi, Managing Director of Tropical Cables.

*Pastor Mensa Otabil *In case of the Chairman of the Committee, Pastor Mensa Otabil faces a charge of being a secret sympathizer of the NPP, and although a minister of the gospel, he had not hidden his disdain for the NDC.

It has been noted that since the advent of the Mills administration, Dr. Otabil has refused to have anything to do with it.

Even a national exercise such as national prayer sessions had been boycotted by the preacher when other charismatic church pastors like Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams, Bishops James Saah, Agyin Asare and other senior pastors have supported the exercise and graced it with their attendance.

He had rather graced NPP platforms such as the William Ofori-Atta (Paa Willie) Memorial Lectures, and has been silent on the Nana Akufo-Addo’s “all die-be-die” violence inspirational mantra as well as the genocidal inflammatory comments against Ewes and Gas by the NPP MP for Assin North, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong.

Prior to the 2008 general elections, the NPP churned out a list of persons supposed to be killed by a Mills-led administration when it comes to power. He never made a statement about that, but allowed it to gain currency, with the NPP enjoying the propaganda bliss it was intended for.

He recently planted a story in the pro-NPP Daily Guide newspaper that Castle had denied him access to the Independent Square in Accra for his annual 31 December watch night service called “Crossover” months after paying for the venue. The government instead decided to give the place to Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams to have a similar programme, dubbed “Passover”. *Mrs. Jean Mensa* of IEA On Mrs. Jean Mensa, Executive Director of IEA, she is accused of pandering to the NPP. They cited, in particular, how she fell flat under pressure from the NPP National Chairman, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, when the IEA issued a report indicting the NPP for abusing incumbency while in office. The IEA denied ever issuing it, only to be exposed later when the report was made public. *Professor Stephen Adei *Another member of the Committee is Professor Stephen Adei, ex-Rector of GIMPA. He is presently said to be writing the education component of the NPP’s Election 2012 Manifesto. Recently on the Accra-based Joy FM radio station, he publicly declared that the widely criticized “Free Senior School” policy by the NPP flag bearer, Nana Addo, was feasible.

Prior to this, when he was asked about his opinion on the violence that had characterized the biometric registration exercise as well as Kennedy Agyapong’s volatile comment, his response was the same as that of Nana Addo’s, virtually blaming President John Mills, and asking him to make a statement. He is also said to have made some statements recently at Valley View University near Dodowa, damning the Mills Administration much to the annoyance of the audience, who graced the ceremony. *Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin *Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin, who is the Executive Director of ABANTU for Development, is said to be the wife of Prof. Kwame Karikari, who had lots of troubles with the Jerry Rawlings regime of the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), leading to him leaving the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) as Director- General.

He was once detained by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) during the PNDC days over subversive activities and has never had any soft spot for the PNDC’s protégé the NDC.

Analysts have suggested that having Dr. Mensah-Kutin on the presidential debate committee is like having Prof. Karikari himself on the committee.

Dr. Mensah-Kutin, a female gender activist, has under the Gender Advocacy group ABANTU for Development been criticizing President Mills for not appointing women into his government and insisted the gender imbalance is an embarrassing trend. Dr. Mensah Kutin recently told Joy FM that “The reshuffle doesn’t give a good signal about women because what it does is to give a signal that women are not part of the Ghanaian society and also that when it comes to public decision-making women are not to be considered. These kinds of actions actually confuse people, especially women and it becomes an embarrassment.” *Mr. Kabral Blay Amihere *Mr. Kabral Blay Amihere, Chairman of National Media Commission (NMC), served in the Kufuor Administration as its ambassador to the Sierra Leone and later to Ivory Coast. The NMC under his leadership refused to specifically condemn Kennedy Agyapong’s comments but chose to issue a vague statement under the guise of “making a general statement”. It took Mr. Akoto Ampaw a member of the NMC to condemn the hate speech from the MP.

*Mr. Oteng Gyasi *Mr. Oteng Gyasi, ex-head of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI). He was onetime chairman of the University of Ghana Council on the appointment of President John Kufuor. Again, under the Kufuor regime, he benefited from looted state lands in Denyame-Kumasi. That plush state land near the residency was shared to party boys from the Kumasi. *Mr. Justice Emile Short *Mr. Justice Emile Short, former Commissioner of CHRAJ. A former discotheque owner in Cape Coast, called “Cupid” in a suburb called Bakaanu. He was once married to the NPP’s MP for Weija, Ms. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey. Although there are reports that Nana Ato Dadzie, Mr. Rawlings Chief of Staff brought him from Cape Coast and singlehandedly appointed him head of CHRAJ, he became more and more NPP than those born into the Danqua-Busia tradition. *Other members of the Committee *No issue has come up against the membership of Prof. Ivan Addae Mensah, Chairman of National Petroleum Commission, a position he held under the Kufuor-led NPP administration, Maulvi Wahab Adam, Ameer of Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, who also was a member of the Kufuor-appointed National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), Professor Esi Sutherland-Addy, of the Institute of African Studies – University of Ghana.

Brigadier-General Francis Agyemfra (rtd), Visiting Senior Fellow, IEA, inaugurating the committee said despite the jolts in the country’s democratic practice, Ghana had since 1993 become one of the rare models of democracy, with a future for stability and development.

He said as part of IEA’s quest to promote peaceful and violence free election, as well as achieve an issue-based campaign, it was organizing three Presidential Debates for the Presidential Candidates of Political Parties with representation in Parliament. Three debates will be organized in Accra, Takoradi and Tamale before the general elections on December 7. The committee will meet monthly, at least six times, before the debates, scheduled for October and November. The committee is an initiative of IEA and sponsored by Star-Ghana and UNICEF.

Source: The Herald

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