Ransford Gyampo Flip Flops On Presidential Debate

A University of Ghana Political Science lecturer, Professor Ransford Yaw Gyampo, has been accused of playing double standards after expressing contrasting views on the relevance of presidential debates in Ghana’s electoral process.

In 2016, Professor Gyampo strongly advocated for a public debate between presidential aspirants, arguing that it was crucial for promoting issues-based politics.

He emphasized the importance of a “healthy contest of ideas” and accountability in the electoral process.

He called for institutionalization of presidential debates in the Ghanaian electoral calendar, explaining that the institutionalization of presidential debates in the electoral calendar would make it mandatory for every presidential contestant including the sitting president to participate in the debate.

He believes institutionalizing debate would ensure that politicians are held accountable to the electorate.

He argued that the contest for the mandate of the people to govern them must be done in a healthy debate of ideas devoid of insults and personal attacks.

“Some Serious Accountability Mechanisms including the conduct of Presidential Debates, have somewhat already evolved and must be institutionalized. Winning elections must not be as a result of insults, mudslinging and vituperations. It must solely be as a result of a healthy contest of ideas in an institutionalized debating culture, in the lead up to elections,” he stated.

Justifying the need for it to be institutionalized, he recounted how former presidents of the country took part in previous presidential debates when they were not presidents but refused to participate in similar debates when they were elected as presidents.

The political science lecturer also questioned why politicians call for debate in opposition but oppose same when they are in government stating that it is imperative to ensure that presidential aspirants, whether in power or not, do not have a choice in participating in a presidential debate.

Prof. Gyampo’s opinion follows former president Mahama’s challenge to president Akufo-Addo for a debate between them on their governments’ achievements on infrastructural development.
Based on his calls for institutionalising the presidential debates, the NPP flagbearer and Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has thrown the gauntlet to his main challenger, former President John Dramani Mahama calling for debate on how to manage the Ghanaian economy and other policy directions.

However, in a recent statement on the debate, Professor Gyampo who appears to be at the corner of Mr Mahama has ruled out debate among the presidential candidates, describing it as disingenuous.
In reversing his stance, he now argues that hosting presidential debates “won’t help” in distinguishing between candidates due to the “current peculiar political condition” of Ghana.
He claims that the public’s focus should be on revitalizing democratic governance rather than engaging in “political grandstanding.”

According to him, a presidential debate won’t be of any use due to the current political conditions in Ghana.

“| have organized Presidential Debates, Evening Encounters and Town Hall Meetings for many years when | worked at the Governance Unit of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), from 2004-2018. As an academic, I have also researched the impact of these engagements on electoral fortunes.

In May 31, 2024 he turned around that given Ghana’s current political and economic circumstances, holding or participating in Presidential debates is not a viable or practical option at this time.

The Political Science lecturer revealed that, during his fourteen-year stint at the Institute of Economic Affairs’ (IEA) Governance Unit (2004-2018), he was instrumental in orchestrating several public forums, including Presidential Debates, Evening Encounters, and Town Hall Meetings.

Furthermore, he stated that as an academic, he has conducted extensive research on the effects of these public engagements on electoral outcomes, further solidifying his expertise in the field.

“But the current peculiar political condition of Ghana makes the call for debate disingenuous. If a comparison of yesterday and today cannot be done to inform rational choice, then presidential debates, I dare say, won’t help either, in distinguishing between a clear day and a dark night”.

This change in opinion has raised questions about Professor Gyampo’s consistency and his motives for opposing a presidential debate.
Critics have accused him of allowing his political affiliations to influence his academic views.

The revelation of Prof. Gyampo’s double standards comes amidst growing calls for a presidential debate between the flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama, and the presidential candidate of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.
Mr Mahama in government and opposition had challenged Nana Akufo-Addo to a debate, but the NPP declined, stating that the move was just “propaganda.”
However, now that his request has been acceded to by Dr Bawumia, the NDC flagbearer is running away from the debate with Gyampo and co. acting as spokespersons.
The issue of political accountability has become a central theme in Ghana’s political discourse.
Many believe that a presidential debate would provide a transparent platform for candidates to articulate their policies, address national issues, and be held accountable for their actions.

Prof. Gyampo’s vacillating stance has sparked debates and raised concerns about the influence of political agendas on academic integrity.
The public has urged stakeholders to maintain a consistent and principled approach to electoral processes to ensure the credibility and integrity of the democratic system.

Gyampo Reaction To Blowing Hot And Cold

Folks,
I knew people would do propaganda and accuse me of being inconsistent because of my current view on the calls for Presidential Debates.

Ideally, I shouldn’t be responding but, I just stepped out for lunch and have some free time. A simple reading of my current view as shared on my Facebook would show how different it is from my previous one.

I like presidential debates and have researched about them.

BUT AT THIS PARTICULAR HISTORICAL EPOCH, it is not needed. This is my view and the reasoning for this current view is clear in my earlier post.

But even if I said debates must not be evaded in time past, can’t I change my mind? It is only a fool who doesn’t change his mind. That’s why I voted for Nana Akufo Addo in the last elections but I won’t vote for him again should he contest any elections again here in earth and in the hereafter.

Just as voting must not be on autopilot, human reasoning must even be more sophisticated and should never be on autopilot.

This is my CURRENT VIEW again:

I have organized Presidential Debates, Evening Encounters and Town Hall Meetings for many years when I worked at the Governance Unit of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), from 2004-2018. As an academic, I have also researched the impact of these engagements on electoral fortunes.

But the current peculiar political condition of Ghana makes the call for debate disingenuous. If a comparison of yesterday and today cannot be done to inform rational choice, then presidential debates, I dare say, won’t help either, in distinguishing between a clear day and a dark night.

The conduct of Presidential Debates have a role to play in our drive towards democratic maturity. But at this particular epoch in our political and governance experience, we must preoccupy ourselves with how to restore the Fourth Republic to its original settings for its sustenance, rather than craving to create a platform for potential political demagoguery that insults the human intelligence of the politically un-inquiring mind.

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