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Politics of Tuesday, 23 June 2020


It's 'needless', 'unhealthy' - NPP's Otoo Agorhom condemns vote-buying at primaries

NPP'S Greater Accra Regional Chairman, Divine Otoo Agorhom NPP'S Greater Accra Regional Chairman, Divine Otoo Agorhom

The Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Divine Otoo Agorhom, has described as “unhealthy” and “needless” the vote-buying that characterised his party’s parliamentary primaries on Saturday, 20 June 2020, saying it robs qualified and competent people of the opportunity to serve the nation as legislators.

“I would admit that, that [vote-buying] is the unfortunate part of this whole process”, he told CTV’s Dwabre Mu host Kwame Appiah Kubi on Tuesday, 23 June 2020.

“Look, nobody should deceive you; it happens in NPP, it happens in NDC and the other parties. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. We must all come together and say that this thing is not good, let’s find ways of stopping it”, he noted.

He pointed out that: “You may have a very good material who’s got all that it takes to be able to do parliamentary work and also genuinely serve the constituents very well but would be rejected in the elections just because he/she couldn’t pay money to the delegates”.

When that happens, Mr Agorhom noted, “it means we’re depriving the state of such good materials who could help the country, so, it is not a healthy thing”.

“I won’t go and sit somewhere and say it isn’t true, no; I mean we shouldn’t be deceiving ourselves”, he added.

In his view, the time has come for the party to deal with the issue head-on.

“We live in this country and, so, if there is something wrong, we must condemn it and keep improving on the system bit by bit, so, I believe that with time, we should be able to find solutions to this”.

He noted, however, that: “To say we are entirely eradicating it, that one, well I don’t know”.

“It started from somewhere”, he said, but “it’s needless because the party itself has made provisions for those who are going to vote on that day by way of venue, security, transport, food; it’s already been provided but because there is that history of aspirants giving money to delegates for transport, it influences their decision, so, it’s not a good practice”.

“It’s there to a large extent and we all have the responsibility of ensuring that we get it out of our body politic because, otherwise, we’ll be monetising the system and that won’t help us”, he stressed.

On Monday, 22 June 2020, the losing candidate in the NPP’s Tema East parliamentary race, Mr Benjamin Ashitey Armah, said while he gave each of the 767 delegates that voted in the internal polls GHS550, his main contender, the incumbent MP, Mr Daniel Titus-Glover, gave each delegate a tabletop fridge and GHS1,000.

Mr Titus-Glover polled 522 votes to beat Mr Ashitey Armah, who got 233 votes out of a total ballot of 755.

Mr Armah told Kwame Appiah Kubi on the same show that: “I used the little resources I have to do my politics”, adding: “I was able to give each delegate GHS550”.

“He [Titus-Glover] gave each delegate a tabletop fridge, GHS1000 and even went the extra mile to give some delegates in my stronghold an extra GHS500”, he alleged.

“So, you see the monecracy coming in here, which turned the tides in his favour contrary to the predictions of the office of National Security and other research organisations”, he added.

Asked how he got to raise the money to pay the delegates, Mr Ashitey Armah said: “I have been in the shipping industry for a very long time and by the grace of God, I have my own business in the logistics field, so, I do everything according to my financial might”.

As far as he’s concerned, “It is the delegates' decision that they will go for money instead of competence”, adding: “These are the same delegates that always come to you to complain that things are not going on well with them and, so, they need some financial help”.

“We don’t use the money to entice the delegates”, he denied, explaining: “We just give them transport and compensate them for the opportunities they may have lost as a result of leaving their homes and jobs to come and vote for you”.

“So, it is just something to motivate them. That is the brain behind it. That is why some of us don’t want to go overboard and pay GHS2,000 or GHS1,500”.

“Of course, that person [delegate] would have to forego an opportunity to come and work with you or to come and vote for you and, so, you also have to meet that person halfway because he/she could have, perhaps, made more than that amount if he/she had gone to work that day”, he further noted.

“Nevertheless, the delegates are not taken good care of in the party, so, they also feel that that is the time to exact their pound of flesh, which for me, I don’t think is right because it is important to vote for competence over money”, he emphasised.

Mr Ashitey Armah said although he lost, “I’m still a happy person because it is not easy to come up against whole party machinery in an election”.

“It was clear that the government and party machinery was behind Titus-Glover. Everybody saw it but the elections are over and I have put it behind me. I love the party so much that I don’t want anything to distract the party’s victory in 2020, so, I’ve given it all to God”.

“I’ve congratulated Titus-Glover. I’ve also said that we have a common goal and one common enemy, that is the NDC, and we must all come together to form a very huge alliance and win massively for the NPP”, he added.

On that same day on the same show, Dr Dickson Adomako Kissi, the victor in the Anyaa Sowutuom race revealed that he spent more than GHS1 million in cash on his delegates.

The medical doctor polled 324 votes to beat four contenders including the current Municipal Chief Executive, Dr Emmanuel Lamptey.

There were a total of 835 votes cast.

Dr Kissi contested the incumbent Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey in 2015 and lost with 302 against 341 votes.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, however, decided against running for re-election in this year’s polls.

Dr Kissi told Kwame Appiah Kubi that the first contest against the incumbent “gave me some experience”.

“I started campaigning in 2015 after I lost to Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, so, that helped me because as of that time, my current contenders had not entered the fray”, he told Appiah Kubi, adding: “I’ve been consistent all through. It is the consistency that helped me”.

He said: “Almost every day, I was meeting one delegate to talk about the future and helping in any way I could, to date, and, so, the politics of what happened on Saturday, 20 June 2020, is the result of what started several years back”.

“So, it’s not about coming into the competition in a few months to election day and doling out freebies. No. What stood out strongest in my campaign was my relationship with the delegates and they said it was not always about the ‘toffees’ you shared or the cake you’ll give them on the day of the election but rather, how you relate to them”, he noted.

When asked about how much he spent on the delegates, Dr Kissi said apart from some GHS800,000 spent since 2015 till now, he had to dole out some GHS250,000 for the delegates in the nick of Saturday’s polls.

He also quantified his pro bono medical services to the delegates and constituents as being in excess of GHS200,000.

“In all honesty, what has brought me here cannot be quantified in terms of money because there are some kind gestures you accord people that cannot be quantified because at the time that that person needed that help, it meant everything to them. To even speak from the medical standpoint, the operations I’ve done for patients in terms of free medical services to date, alone, I think have cost my hospital well over GHS200,000. I’ve done several consultations without charging anything”.

“I can cite one example where a patient went to some other hospital and was given a bill of almost GHS2,000. The person came to me and he only spent GHS200 and, so, from just that one example, you can see how much I’ve been of help to people. I offer services to everybody not just delegates”, he said.

Pushed by the host to disclose his budget for the more than 800 delegates, Dr Kissi said: “This is on TV but master, I spent almost close to GHS800,000. That’s what I’ve spent so far on this parliamentary journey from 2015 till now”, adding: “Even this year, a few days before the elections, almost GHS250,000 was gone. I looked into my bank account and I didn’t know where the money went. There are no receipts for these expenditures”.

Explaining his reason for paying the delegates, Dr Kissi said: “What I’ve come to know – and Ghanaians should listen – is that when you want to do something very well, you need money to push it”.

“If you want to pursue a case in court for victory, you need good research and to do good research, you have to pay for it. There’s money involved in anything you want to do very well. I think it’s the first principle”.

“Even if the government is coming out with an initiative and does not do a campaign about it, the citizenry will not take it. So, let’s keep it in mind that good things are also costly. War is expensive, peace is also expensive”, he asserted.

“And, so, at any rate, it is a hidden agenda. If you want to go to a good school, you need money; if you want to eat good food, you need money. In Ghana, for instance, salad costs more than maize but salad is good for us, so, you need money for everything. So, if you don’t understand this, you’ll always be at the bottom toll. So, everything is an investment”, Dr Kissi argued.

Dr Kissi said even though he paid some money to the delegates, one his contenders, the MCE, outdid all of them.

“On day of the elections, I helped the delegates with transportation. I gave them something appreciable. Two of us were at the same level and the government entity, the MCE, went well over the two of us. I had Emmanuel Tobbin, related to the Tobbin family and then I had the MCE, who also, somehow, is close to the incumbent, so, he had access to [resources]”.

“Looking at breakfast, lunch, water and transportation, I spent close to GHS700 per person and some even got double in heat of things due to forgetfulness while others also came back for more after taking the first package and expressing dissatisfaction. So, some of the delegates walked away with double the amount. And, in some places, you had to give a little bit more. And, I also had to organise to pick up some people from home. That is also an additional cost. So, I had about 20 taxis on standby who were picking up some of the delegates. So, I had to pay the full daily sales of all the 20 taxis.

“Also, I had to provide security for 10 polling stations on my own and I must commend them, they helped me a lot to secure the polls”, he noted.

Dr Kissi, however, pointed out that his campaign was largely ideas-based but nonetheless, needed to also cater to certain financial needs of the delegates.

“Most of my campaign was about policies – health, education, scholarships, job creation – so, my campaign was strictly about policies. But at every meeting, you needed to pay the transportation or sitting allowance of the attendees, so, that was consistent throughout”.

According to him, “We have an agenda”, explaining: “If we don’t push to put the right people in government, if bad policies are made, they’ll affect you and me, so, if we need to put in all the money we can to ensure that we get the right people in government so that good policies are made for all of us, then I think it’s a good course”.

Dr Kissi, however, pointed out that: “I don’t think money is the deciding factor. As I’ve said, the MCE paid far more and still he lost. Money plays a role but it isn’t the final thing. Good relations played a bigger role. But if I hadn’t given them any money at all, too, they would’ve said: ‘Too much talk doesn’t pay the bills’, so, when you talk a little, then you also give a little’”.

He advised people who do not have money to never attempt doing politics at all. “If you don’t have money, don’t venture at all into politics”.