A group calling itself Friends of John Dramani Mahama (FOJODRAMA) has accused the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) of giving preferential treatment to the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), by offering him a hidden raised platform at the recently held Presidential Debate at Tamale.
In a statement signed by George Tetteh-Wayoe Esq, Spokesperson of FOJODRAMA, the group said “the IEA provided the NPP candidate with a 1-foot raised platform hidden behind his podium on which he stood to tower over his much taller contestants for an obvious psychological advantage.”
Speaking on Adom FM’s Dwaso Nsem morning show on November 6, 2012 Mr Tetteh-Wayoe insisted that the electorate deserved to know the true height of the persons seeking to lead the nation, and the IEA had not played fair by giving Nana Akufo-Addo a raised platform to hide his true height.
According to Mr Wayoe, the IEA had confirmed the presence of the raised platform.
“It is a known fact that Nana Akufo-Addo is naturally the shortest of all the nine (sic) ceryyified presidential candidates in the 2012 elections. We of FOJODRAMA believe height does not really matter in the race to the presidency. However, we find the attempt to hide the fact of Nana Akufo-Addo’s diminutive structure at such an important function where most Ghanaians were seeing their presidential candidates shoulder to shoulder on the same platform, for the first time, is to say the least, reprehensible.”
Responding to the claim on the Dwaso Nsem show, Communications Director of the NPP, Nana Akomea said the decision to provide some elevation for his candidate was made by the producers of the programme to make filming the event easier.
“If it is offered again we will accept it,” he declared, although he was at pains to stress the party had not the request to the organizers of the debate.
Nana Akomea wondered why an incumbent government would rather focus on the height of their strongest challenger instead of concentrating on designing and implementing policies and programmes to better the lot of the ordinary Ghanaian.
Below is the full FOJODRAMA statement
PROTEST AGAINST IEA’S PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT FOR NANA ADDO IN TAMALE
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,
Ahead of the IEA Vice-Presidential debate, we of FOJODRAMA wish to hereby register our utmost disapproval of a blatant act of favouritism and preferential treatmengt given to the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) during its recent Presidential Debate held at the Radach Hotel in Tamale.
At the said event, the IEA provided the NPP candidate with a 1-foot raised platform hidden behind his podium on which he stood to tower over his much taller contestants for an obvious psychological advantage. None of the other three candidates, namely President John Mahama of the NDC, Dr Abu Sakara of the CPP and Mr Hassan Ayariga of the PNC were given any such raised platforms to stand on.
It is a known fact that Nana Akufo-Addo is naturally the shortest of all the nine certified presidential candidates in the 2012 elections. We of FOJODRAMA believe height does not really matter in the race to the presidency. However, we find the attempt to hide the fact of Nana’s diminutive stature at such an important function where most Ghanaians were seeing their presidential candidates for the first time, is to say the least, reprehensible.
This is even more so, when one considers that this was done in secrecy to the extent that the raised platform behind Nana’s podium had been covered with the same blue woolen carpet that covered the entire conference room and it was hidden behind his podium in such a way that it was imperceptible to anyone inside the hall.
It was only the press corps on the second floor upstairs as well as the three other presidential candidates who could see the raised platform on which Nana Addo stood to deliver his contribution to the debate throughout the entire duration.
If Nana Addo had any genuine reason for requesting that he should be given such a preferential treatment, and if the IEA felt such a request was genuine, they should have informed the public about it, and made everybody aware that they were watching an NPP candidate who was talking down at them from a raised platform.
At such an event as the IEA forum, where Ghanaian voters get to see their candidates shoulder-to-shoulder for the very first time, they deserve to be given the right to choose their leader and president by taking into consideration all the factors that they deem to be important to them.
It is the right of voters, for instance, to choose a president who would represent the nation at the UN General Assembly for instance, and would be able to reach the level of the microphone used by all other speakers without requesting for special raised platforms anywhere.
This right, we believe, is what the IEA took away from the electorate by that reprehensible act of falsifying Nana Akufo-Addo’s height to the millions of Ghanaian voters, and the several hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide.
It is on behalf of this multitude that we call for nothing but an unreserved apology from the IEA, in addition to the other three presidential candidates who mounted the podium that night to present themselves to the people of Ghana without any deception in whatever shape or form, believing in an equal platform and level playing field, which was literally denied them.
A further promise by IEA not to repeat this kind of deception and favouritism in future events, especially those coming up on November 6 and 20, would be most welcome.. Thank you.
GEORGE TETTEH-WAYOE ESQ (Spokesperson, FOJODRAMAMA) Barrister At Law and Solicitor of the Supreme Court, Ghana.