All Set For Presidential Debate In Tamale

With less than 12 hours to the first Presidential debate in this year’s general elections, residents of Tamale and political actors are gearing themselves up for what they say, would be a contest of ideas from the four political parties that are participating in the debate. The programme would be telecast live by GTV and Metro TV. The Presidential candidate of the NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, was the first to arrive in Tamale on Saturday. Abu Sakara of the Convention People’s Party was the next to arrive. Also expected Monday, is the Presidential hopeful of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Mr Hassan Ayariga. The sitting President, John Mahama, NDC Flag bearer, is expected to touch down Tuesday morning. According to some residents of the Metropolis, the debate provides the right platform for the various candidates to market themselves to the electorate and make known how they intend to achieve their set objectives as outlined in their manifestoes, for Ghana's accelerated development. As part of preparations for the event, the metropolis is decked with various party paraphernalia, with paraphernalia of the two leading parties, NDC and the New Patriotic Party NPP, dominating in the game of sign posts. Traffic has also built up in the run-up to the debate. Four wheel vehicles and pick-ups some with loud speakers and decorated with party insignia are craming the roads. Most of the notable hotels such as Mariam, Gariba, Radach, Modern City are fully booked. Eateries are also receiving high patronage following the influx of the political big wigs, their respective entourage and observers. When visited the Radach Memorial Centre at the Industrial Area, the venue for the event, a number of military and police personnel were seen checking on the facility to ensure security. A soldier who declined to give his name said body scanners would be mounted at the entrance among other stringent security measures. There was a mad rush for accreditation and invitation by media practitioners and the general public. Most of the people were however denied accreditation as the organisers insisted that the number was limited. “I cannot wait for the debate; 'am anxious to see how the candidates, especially those of the two major parties would tackle the issue of education face to face,” said Mr Mohammed Haliq, a teacher. On her part, Ms Mary Owusu, a nurse expressed satisfaction with this year’s campaigns so far, describing them as “more matured and issue based, compared with the anxiety and acrimony that was associated with the past elections.” An official of the IEA, Papa Kow Acquaye said, “everything is set for a successful event as we have done for the past 12 years.” The presidential debate is organised by the IEA in line with the institute’s efforts to consolidate multiparty democracy and promote issue-based elections. Topics to be discussed would include the economy, agriculture, education and health. Meanwhile, preparations are far advanced for the Presidential debate. Speaking to Radio Ghana, the Executive Director of the IEA, Mrs Jean Mensah said over four hundred questions have so far been received by the IEA. In a related development, the Northern Regional Security Council says it has mapped out a comprehensive security strategy for all the Presidential candidates who will take part in the IEA's Presidential Debate scheduled for Tamale on Tuesday. Speaking on the same network, the Northern Regional Minister, Moses Bukari Mabengba said supporters who will be following the candidates will also be protected. The Northern Regional Police Command says it is fully prepared to ensure the safety of all political parties in Tamale for the IEA Presidential debate.