DR.RAWLINGS PRESCRIBES AYARICOUGH …AND OTUMFUO SMILES
From Issah Alhassan, Kumasi
Ex-President Rawlings, who says he has taken leave from ‘Boom’ speeches, yesterday threw the packed to capacity Great Hall at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology into laughter, when he mimicked the way Mr. Hassan Ayariga, presidential candidate of the People’s National Convention (PNC), conducted himself during the Presidential Debate, and stated that the man had graduated from ‘Ayariga cough’ to ‘designer cough.’
During the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) sponsored Presidential Debate held in Accra, Mr. Hassan Ayariga was persistently coughing throughout the deliberations.
When he appeared at the auditorium yesterday, the youthful presidential candidate was wearing a beautiful designer cloth, which attracted Mr. Rawlings’ praise, hence his plea to the public to call him ‘Ayariga Designer’ instead of ‘Ayariga Cough.’
When Mr. Hassan Ayariga, who is famously gaining popularity as Ghana’s political comedian, was asked to address the crowd, he resorted to comic comments, throwing the whole hall into laughter.
In his usual characteristic fashion, the PNC presidential hopeful almost succeeded in turning the high level meeting, organised at the behest of His Royal Majesty, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, under the auspices of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), into a comical platform, with his antics which have become commonly known as “Ayariga Cough”.
Even the Asantehene could not help but enjoy the humour and comic relief being displayed on stage by the PNC presidential candidate. Mr. Ayariga, as expected, made fluffy errors, which have characterised his recent public appearances, one of which included referring to His Royal Majesty, the Asantehene, as Otumfuo Osei Kufuor.
The occasion was purposely aimed at getting all the eight presidential candidates, who will be participating in the upcoming elections, to commit themselves in writing to uphold the peace, unity and transparency, before, during, and after the December 7 elections.
The programme, which was under the theme: “Taking a stand against electoral violence, impunity and injustice,’ was initiated by the Asantehene, in collaboration with the National Peace Council, Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), National House of Chiefs, and other stakeholders.
In attendance were all the eight presidential candidates, with the exception of the CPP flagbearer, Dr. Abu Sakara, who was represented by his running mate, Ms. Eva Lokko. All the presidential candidates formally signed a pact, under the supervision of Her Lordship Chief Justice Georgina Theodore Woode, to reaffirm their commitment to peaceful and violence free elections, with just eight days to the polls.
The two former presidents, Mr. Jerry Rawlings and Mr. J.A Kufuor, both addressed the occasion, and shared their experiences and knowledge on how to ensure peaceful and violence free elections.
Mr. Rawlings stressed on the need for the various candidates to demonstrate, by action, their commitment towards peace, and not just by words.
According to him, there was vast difference between what was actually said on platforms, and what actually prevailed on the ground, stressing that in spite of the assurances of the presidential candidates, there were real tensions all over the country, which must be quickly addressed, if the upcoming elections would be peaceful.
“I have travelled across the country, and I have witnessed that there are real tensions which cannot be ignored,” he noted.
He noted that it was important not to underestimate the peace and democracy the country was enjoying, adding that the political atmosphere was engulfed with vitriolic and excessively abusive language, rather than moderate and toned-down logic.
According to him, there cannot be a guarantee of peace with such recklessness, stressing the need for decorum, respect, and decency in campaigning.
He, however, pointed out that being moderate in campaigning did not mean being weak or mild, adding that there was the need for each and everyone to be a responsible vigilante to protect the ballot, and ensure free and fair polls.
He, therefore, urged the candidates to act responsibly, and to advise their supporters to exhibit tolerance for each other.
Former President Kufuor, on his part, touched on the need for the major stakeholders, including the security services, the Electoral Commission and the media, to be circumspect in their duties and act professionally, so that at the end of the day, whoever wins the elections, would preside over a united country.
He said once the country had taken democracy as the path through which power of governance could be granted, there was the need for all of us to respect the rules of the game, and commit ourselves to the guidelines.
According to him, sovereign power lay not in the hands of an individual, but the people, emphasising that the will of the people must be allowed to prevail. According to him, the winner of the upcoming elections must command the support of the entire population, and not just his party, or a particular group of people
Mr. Kufuor, particularly, cautioned the EC, stating that as a referee in a game, the EC must eschew all forms of acts that had the tendency to discredit the elections and tarnish the image of the country.
He further warned the security services not to allow themselves to be manipulated, especially, by the executive arm of government, since that would amount to committing a grievous offence.
“If you allow yourselves to be used, then you are committing a treasonable act. The whole world is looking towards Ghana, and we cannot afford to disappoint,” he noted.
The former President, therefore, described the platform as symbolic and a historic one, which he believed, would provide the needed ingredients towards ensuring peaceful elections.
In separate speeches, all the presidential candidates pledged to ensure peace and violence free elections. They were also unanimous in their call for professionalism from the EC and the security services.
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