President John Mahama of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the candidate for the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) Mr Nana Akufo-Addo Tuesday took on each other in the first of their two debates ahead of Ghana's December 7 election.
The two rivals clashed over how best the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), a constitutional office, could be made more effective.
While Mr Akufo-Addo said his party intended to make the vice-president the head of the NDPC once in power, President Mahama described such a move as mere politicisation of the institution.
The two, together with three other candidates whose parties are represented in Parliament, were taking part in the debate in the Northern Regional capital, Tamale.
That was the first time a sitting president participated in such a debate, which was organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs.
Previous presidents declined to take part.
Mr Michael Abu Sakara Forster of the Convention People’s Party and Mr Hassan Ayariga of the People’s National Convention (PNC) also took part in the debate.
Four others, an Independent candidate and those of the Great Consolidated Popular Party, (GCPP), Progressive People’s Party and United Front Party (UFP), could not take part because their parties do not have representatives in Parliament.
Both President Mahama and Mr Akufo-Addo clashed over their visions for the country.
President Mahama said an NDC government would “bring the country together than divide it and make Ghana become a model for democracy and peace”.
Mr Akufo-Addo said his party wanted to see the country’s democracy thrive to become a shinning example for the rest of Africa.
“We want to change the country’s economy from a raw material exporting economy and transform it into that of a value added one. Ghanaian private entrepreneurs would be stimulated to move the country forward,” he said.
Mr Ayariga said a government by his party would change the educational sector for the youth to be properly trained.
“Under our care, we would want to see graduates trained in practical areas where they would come out to be employers and not people roaming round the streets looking for jobs.”
Mr Sakara said he intended to create employment by re-tolling the country’s manpower.
“We would put in place a strong retraining programme at all levels so that school leavers are equipped to earn a living,” he added.