A Senior Research Officer at the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Kojo Pumpuni Asante, has decried the lack of internal mechanisms in political parties to check vote-buying, saying the practice threatens the country’s democracy.
This is after Freddie Blay emerged the winner in the national chairmanship race of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) amid allegations of vote buying.
Mr. Blay was widely criticized for personally procuring 275 buses for all NPP constituency offices ahead of the NPP’s National Delegates Conference.
He paid an amount of 3 million dollars which constitutes a 30% of the entire cost of 11.4 million dollars. He later explained that the amount was secured from a bank and that the constituencies will pay for the cars over a two-year period.
He has also rejected accusations of vote-buying, but Mr. Asante said it was clear this was meant to buy votes.
“For me, it is simple vote buying. People were saying that there is no law against it, but if you look at it, the constitution is very clear that all these parties have to organize their internal arrangements that are consistent with a democratic practice that is consistent with the constitution,” he said on the Citi Breakfast Show.
“The constitution clearly abhors vote buying for the simple reason that it completely undermines fair play. If you are going to do that [buy buses for the constituencies], you are making a material inducement ahead of an election so that people can vote. That is vote buying.”
In addition to this, Mr. Asante noted that “the fact that the NPP does not have rules to even check that [vote buying], is for me, worrying.”
275 buses saga
The issue of the constituency buses had generated controversy with Mr. Blay’s his closest contender, Stephen Ntim describing it as vote-buying.
According to reports, Mr. Blay as a guarantor, paid 3 million dollars which constitutes 30% of the total cost of 11.4 million dollars and has taken delivery of the first 100 minibuses.
Freddie Blay’s spokesperson, Richard Nyamah, subsequently explained that Freddie Blay contracted a loan facility from the Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) to procure the 275 buses and that the constituencies will pay for the bus over a two-year period.
Richard Nyamah also revealed that the NPP was behind the acting Chairman’s decision to purchase a bus for each of the party’s 275 constituencies.
Mr. Nyamah said discussions were held with the NPP and that the party “agreed and okayed the deal.”
The Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu is already investigating Mr. Blay over his conduct as a public officer.
The Minority in Parliament has also demanded an immediate forensic audit of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) following what it called the “vulgar opulence” of its board chair, Mr. Blay.
“The Minority in Parliament is in a state of shock after the blatant and unconscionable show of vulgar opulence and vote buying of the most obscene kind by the newly elected Chairman of the ruling New Patriotic Party, Mr. Frederick Worsemao Armah Blay at the just ended National Delegates Congress in Koforidua,” a statement from the Minority said.
The Minority contended that “Mr. Freddie Blay and the NPP in engaging in historic levels of profligacy has not only angered the vast majority of Ghanaians, but it has embarrassingly attracted international condemnation and brought untold shame upon Ghana.”
It added that Mr. Blay was “fueled by his insatiable desire for political power no matter the cost.”