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General News of Thursday, 5 July 2018

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Freddie Blay buses 'not a big deal' but timing bad – Prof Gyampo

Profesor of Political Science, Ransford Gyampo, has criticised the timing of a controversial donation by one of the key contenders in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Chairmanship race.

Prof Gyampo says although Freddie Blay’s ongoing process to procure 275 buses for the party is “not a big deal,” the gesture could well be construed as vote-buying because the delivery of the buses has started too close to the party’s conference to elect national officers, scheduled for July 7.

“Ideally if someone means well for their party and decides to procure vehicles to help the party…it shouldn’t be a big deal but the timing is what really would raise qualms and eyebrows.

“This is the time that there is going to be an election and the person who is leading the process is also a key contender looking forward to consolidating his position in the party,” he said Thursday on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show.

One hundred of the 275 Toyota Hiace buses promised by Mr Blay, who is currently acting National Chairman of the party, arrived in the country this week, drawing sharp criticism from Stephen Ntim, Mr Blay’s main challenger for the party's chairmanship slot.

Mr Ntim says if his opponent has the party at heart, as is being suggested, he would not have waited close to the elections to bring in the buses.

"If these buses had come in 2014, 2015, 2016…I would have said this thing was done in good conscience but not when you are asking for votes," Mr Ntim said.

Mr Blay’s camp has also been fighting the claim of vote-buying.

Spokesperson for the acting party chair, Richard Nyamah, told Joy News Wednesday that the candidate must be applauded and not criticised because he is creating jobs.

Wading into the controversy, Prof Gyampo, a Senior Lecturer at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Legon, told Joy FM's Super Morning Show host, Daniel Dadzie, that the controversy about the bus donation may not be necessary, to begin with, because similar grand gestures are characteristic of every election in Ghana.

“Since 1992 our elections, particularly internal party elections and those that happen at the national level, have been saddled with vote-buying in a manner that confers legitimacy on corruption after elections and also undermines the sovereign will of the people and also works against the selection competent people leading political parties,” he said.

He recommended a national campaign to end such ambiguous donations during an election.



Cost and funding of buses

Richard Nyamah has revealed the rest of the 175 buses are due to arrive in Ghana soon, adding that the entire procurement cost over $11 million.

The buses will be given to transport industry giant, STC, to add to its operational fleet as a leader in long-distance transportation.

A bank account is expected to be opened in the name of each constituency so that as the STC works with the buses it pays some monies to the constituencies to be used for running party activities, his campaign has explained.

He said Freddie Blay has made a $3m down-payment and some financial institutions have agreed to finance the rest. The buses will be paid for, fully within two years of its use by STC.



After this, the buses become the property of the constituencies after the state-owned transport company STC operates and transfers them.

STC would be allowed to use the buses and pay even more money to the constituencies after the debt has been defrayed.