The presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahaha, in recognizing and appreciation the importance of debate in a democracy, has called out the president and the flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party to a presidential debate.
Although, the president himself is yet to respond to the challenge, which will go a long way to strengthen our democracy, members of his party, have roundly condemned the call and have stated the president will not debate his main contender.
Over the years, presidential debates have become an integral part of the democratic process all over the world. It is so important that the performance of the candidates at the debates, eventually led to who won and lost out based on the objective discussion of national issues.
As the presidential election draws nearer, the candidates are busy perfecting their winning strategies to enable them occupy the Flagstaff House by next year.
The Ghanaian people, who are their employers, must be given the opportunity to listen and assess the various candidates, especially the two main contenders, i.e. president Nana Akufo-Addo and president John Dramani Mahama, in order to make an informed choice.
The overall interest of Ghanaians, should be paramount at all times, therefore, what should constitute a vital component of the electoral process is a virile presidential debate that would enable eligible voters, have a clearer picture of what the candidates and their parties have to offer them.
This debate has become so imperative gong by the kind of leadership we have in the country today. Due to bad governance, life has been very difficult for the people as basic social necessities are not being provided.
It will be a great disservice if they are still made to suffer in the next dispensation, when denied the type of leadership desired by them.
Addressing residents of the Ketu-South District as part of his four-day tour of the Volta Region, former president Mahama, challenged President Akufo-Addo to a debate on the records of their respective governments in the area of infrastructure.Mr Mahama said: "In 2016, when I was talking about the value of infrastructure, friends on the other side said we don't eat infrastructure, we don't eat roads. That was what they said.
"Today, I can see a scramble to grab even KVIPs and any infrastructure and tout it as an achievement. But it is easy to settle the issue of infrastructure. After all, the President says this election is going to be an election of track records, comparing his track record to my track record.
"We can settle it easily, let's have a debate between two of us, the two Presidents. Let Nana Akufo-Addo come and sit down, let me sit down and let's debate our records. I am willing to present myself for a debate, any day, anytime, anywhere and we will settle the matter once and for all".
John Mahama, has made it easier for Nana Addo, the parameters have been set, he was specific about what he wanted to debate Akufo-Addo, it is about the infrastructure that Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the vice-president at a Town Hall Meeting a fortnight ago, claimed his government, had undertaken more infrastructure development than the eight years of NDC.
One of the basic maxims in law, states that, he who alleges must prove. You don't call for a fight and when the challenge is accepted you run for cover.
The last time the two engaged in a debate was in 2012, when both candidates for the first time were contesting to be president.
The opportunity was not presented to Ghanaians in 2016, president Mahama, who values Ghanaian electorates, has thrown the challenge and it is my fervent hope that, president Akufo-Addo, will accept the challenge and crawl out of the rock he is hiding under.
The imperative of the debate is so crucial that it will allow the electorates not to vote for the wrong candidate, just on sentimental, parochial or mundane basis.
There should be a radical departure from the past as only credible, well-prepared and focused individuals, should get the people's mandate. No doubt, we should ensure that we get certain things right before heading for the polls in December and one is differentiating the wheat from the chaff.
In my opinion and that of other well-meaning Ghanaians, including some Civil Society Originations, notably, IMANI Africa, the need for this debate can never be wished away.
I recall too that during presidential elections in the United States of America – a country where we have chosen to adopt its political system – it is customary for the main candidates to engage in a debate, which is usually held late in the election cycle when the political parties would have nominated their candidates.
The candidates are allowed to interact before an audience by answering serious questions and unfolding their agenda for elections. Such debates are broadcast live on television, radio and the Internet. For instance, the US 1960 election drew over 66 million viewers out of a population of 179 million while, that of 1980 drew 80 million viewers out of a 226 million people.
1992 featured the first debate involving both major-party candidates and a third-party candidate, Ross Perot, running against President George W. Bush Snr. and the Democrat nominee, Governor Bill Clinton.
Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama's final debate of the U.S. presidential in the 2008 race, drew 56.5 million television viewers, falling between the audience tallies of their two previous face-offs.
The debate between President Donald Trump, will have their first debate this month, with the remaining two scheduled for sometime this month.
Ghana, must also find it expedient to institute presidential debate in our electoral calendar.
Nana Addo, must show up or shut up, only a coward runs from a fight.