NPP, NDC Lock Horns Today
…After Accusing Each Other Of Vote-buying
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) will lock horns in today’s by-election at the Assin North constituency, in the Central Region, predicted to be a dress rehearsal for the 2024 general elections.
But ahead of the clash today are flying allegations of massive vote-buying all over in both traditional and social media, with their activists at each other’s throat.
The two parties, who are represented in today’s by-election by Charles Opoku of the NPP and James Joe Gyakye Quayson of the NDC, are using every means possible, to woo voters to their side to emerge victorious.
Freebies, including money, sprayers, fertilizers, machetes, Wellington boots, and enema, otherwise called “bentua,” in local parlance, have been distributed to residents who are said to be cashing in on all fronts in a predominantly farming area.
As this constituency seat is considered as very important, and given the numbers on both sides in Parliament, party bigwigs and all who matter in Ghana’s politics, including Members of Parliament (MPs), have thronged the constituency to campaign.
First to level the allegation against the NPP were NDC’s communication team members, led by its national communication officer, Sammy Gyamfi, who is said to be the campaign manager of Mr.Quayson.
Mr.Gyamfi, who is also a lawyer, has been in the area for weeks and has been mostly seen with the party’s candidate, whose election cancellation, has led to this repeated process.
The videos and texts were said to have been shared on various social media platforms by the NDC communications officer.
According to him, “Corrupt NPP government desperately seeking to buy votes in Assin North with state-owned knapsack sprayers and fertilizers. Consignment currently enroute to Ningo, Gangan, Ayittey and other NDC strongholds.
“The team is led by NPP national chairman, Stephen Ntim, general secretary, Justin Kodua, and other bigwigs of the ruling party.
“See the attached videos for hardcore evidence of how taxpayer’s monies are being abused for election purposes by the failed Akufo-Addo/Bawumia/NPP government. #ShamelessGovernment,” he is said to have shared on WhatSapp platforms.
In the 56 seconds and 17 seconds videos, involving the governing party, the consignments were accompanied by former Food and Agriculture Minister and presidential hopeful, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto; the national chairman, Stephen Ayesu Ntim, and the general secretary, Justin Frimpong Kodua, among others.
The sprayers-cum-fertilizers were said to have been sent to the towns of Ningo, Gangan and Ayittey, said to be strongholds of the opposition.
Before this, the NPP had been accused of voting-buying, after various contractors stormed the area to construct roads, which hitherto were abandoned, per accounts of the residents, and other abandoned projects were also resurrected overnight.
An Astro-turf that was constructed by the Ghana Gas Company, for the youth to harness football talent, was over the weekend commissioned by Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia in a much-anticipated ceremony, except that it was marred by a heavy rainfall.
The NDC, on the other hand, though in opposition, is leaving no stone unturned. Earlier, the party was accused of sharing farm implements and other inputs.
Also, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman, the 2020 vice presidential candidate and former education minister, presented some medical supplies to a hospital in the constituency, ahead of the election.
On Saturday June 24,on Citi FM, the communication director of the NPP, Richard Ahiagbah, before laying a charge of vote-buying on their opponents, dismissed the NDC’s claims, stating, “I don’t know how they come to that conclusion but to be honest with you, I think the NDC is struggling.
They don’t have a message in Assin North, so they are looking for a message, their strategy is lies and they major on minor issues. And when there are no issues, they create one.”
“We are interested in developing all of this country, so let’s move on and agree that what has to be done has been done,” he added.
In another interview on TV3’s Keypoints programme, Mr.Ahiagbah did not leave anything to chance, as he openly accused the NDC of vote-buying too.
The director of communications, who backed his claim with video evidence, said the NDC is neck-deep in the act, except that he will not admit to those videos coming from his quarters.
He said that, aside from the opposition party employing naked lies and falsehood against the NPP in today’s election, it is sharing Wellington boots and machetes.
Even though time did not allow Ahiagbah to mention some of the crude moves by the NDC, this paper is aware of claim by some communicators of the governing party, who say their opponents are campaigning.
According to him, the NDC are putting it out that the NPP wants the seat, because they want to increase their number in Parliament so they can reject the anti-gay bill currently in the august House.
He made available a video to the producers of the show on Saturday to prove a point.
The video, which was shown on the programme, hosted by Alfred Ocansey, was condemned outright, together with the NPP’s version, by regular panelists, namely Martin Kpebu, a private legal practitioner, and Prof. Ransford Gyampo, a senior political science lecturer at the University of Ghana.
Mr. Kpebu, in his remarks, said vote-buying is a crime and urged anyone that has received such items to report to the police for perpetrators to face the law.
He said the status quo can only change if the citizens show that they abhor this action by the political parties by reporting them to the authorities for criminal charges.
“The situation will change if the citizens act wisely. What they should do is that those who have received these items in Assin North, some of them, at least even if three, a minimum even if one, should be bold enough to take those items to a police station and to lodge a complaint that ‘look this is what party X has given me whether NDC or NPP,’ that citizen should go make complaint on the basis that I should vote for them then we can trigger criminal prosecution. If we are not willing to report, we won’t get far,” he said.
Professor Gyampo, on his part, said citizens should know that the moment they take these tokens from politicians, it means they have sold their right to demand development from these politicians.
He said, often, these politicians go for loans and other things for these campaign goodies, and so after winning, they try to settle or recoup moneys waste, so until they are done paying these debts, they will not come to their aid.
“Voters must appreciate that they are worth more than the 10 Cedis and five kilograms rice and T-shirt that are distributed to them,” Prof.Gyampo reminded the voters.
Interestingly, neither of the two parties is ready to admit that the items dispatched are from their camp, but, rather, are quick to accuse their opponents of vote-buying.
Aside from the two dominant candidates, there is a candidate from Kofi Akpaloo’s Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG), Bernice Enyonam Sefenu, who is placed 2nd on the ballot paper. Charles Opoku, a mining engineer is No.1, while the former Canadian citizen is in the 3rd position.