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General News of Monday, 27 January 2014

Source: Graphic Online

I was quoted out of context - Jake

The National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, has strongly protested that he had been quoted out of context when he was responding to allegations of inducement and corruption ahead of the party’s regional elections to select executives.

He explained that what he meant was that it was not wrong for party members to use their resources to support the efforts of the party, but not to induce delegates or, “even more illegally, buy votes’’ through those acts.

A statement signed and issued by Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey stated that Ghanaweb’s headline and story carried by the Daily Graphic “put words in my mouth that I never uttered, words that seek to show that I support illegal and unlawful activity, words that are totally out of character for me".

It said “for the record, I did not finish my original sentence. I did not state how you could use your money to support your election.”

However, the statement said having “seen what mischief makers made of my unfinished statement, I took the trouble to expand and explain my position to those media houses that, unlike the Daily Graphic, cared to ask me what I said and meant,” it stressed.

It wondered why the sentence was not finished with, for example “use the money to purchase or erect more advertising billboards, to recruit hundreds of canvassers or meet the delegates more often.”

“There are so many legal ways that money can be and is used to procure an advantage in a competitive election, all legal and legitimate,’’ the statement stressed.

It noted that “indeed, the importance of money in elections can very clearly be seen in the US presidential elections where the regular reports of money raised by candidates are seen as one way of measuring the popularity of a particular candidate.”

It said the money raised by candidate Obama in the 2012 elections caused candidates all over the world to study his methodology.

The statement said the context in which the national chairman was originally asked to comment was: “Should a candidate use his wealth to endow the party?” and while explaining, it posed another question that “If one were a member of a less endowed community and one had a very rich candidate competing to be the parliamentarian for the community, would one prefer that the candidate smothers the area with billboards or donates to the community a needed clinic?” The country, the statement said, had had multiparty politics since 1992 and opportunities to see more clearly the many roles that money played in our electoral politics, both direct and, more subtly, indirect.

The statement observed the role that support groups of candidates could play, especially in the face of challenges that confronted parties in opposition. It concluded by saying that that could be a “good time for us to engage in a national debate about the rules we would apply locally to money in our politics and free ourselves of hypocrisy and get on with improving our democratic culture.”

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