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Opinions of Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Columnist: Ghanaian Chronicle

Probe NDC campaign funding, not Kwesi Nduom!

Yesterday, state-run Daily Graphic published what the paper termed an invitation to two leaders of political parties in this country by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), suggesting clearly that this nation is entering a new realm of selective justice in the run-up to the December 7 vote.

According to this nation's leading newspaper, the EOCO is requesting Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, leader of the Progressive People's Party, and Mr. Hassan Ayariga, founder and leader of the All People's Congress, to explain their sources of funding.

The invitations, stated the newspaper, are premised on the fact that the two leaders have made expenditures in respect of the filing fees for their presidential bids and the parliamentary candidates standing on the ticket of their individual political parties.

We are told, for instance, that Papa Kwesi Nduom made a total payment of GH¢1,750,000 for himself as the front-runner for the Presidency on the ticket of the PPP, and all those running for parliamentary seats on the ticket of the party he founded and leads from the front.

In the case of Mr. Ayariga, better known to Ghanaians as Ayaricough, EOCO claims that he has made claims to the effect that he has poured as much as US$6 million into the campaign for the highest office of the land, but has been disqualified under very unsatisfactory circumstances.

The Chronicle finds the EOCO invitations intriguing. Before coming to the real issues at stake, let it be known that The Chronicle has never been so overly enthused about the modus operandi of this particular state security agency.

It emerged not long ago that EOCO was making use of monies seized from some individuals and corporate organisation accounts, which it was supposed to be investigating. When the chips were down, the only explanation top officials of EOCO could offer was that the office was facing funding challenges for its operations, and hit on the brilliant idea of using funds it had seized from the organisations it was investigating.

In the opinion of this paper, an organisation, with this kind of reputation, would struggle to convince Ghanaians that the selective invitation to political leaders to account for their sources of incomes, would inure to the benefit of the state.

We do not believe it is only these two political leaders who have made huge outlays in their political campaigns so far.

As a matter of fact, when it comes to expenditure, it is as clear as today is Tuesday, that the National Democratic Congress has no match.

President John Dramani Mahama, and all his men and women contesting to remain at Government House on the ticket of the NDC, are spending money as if it is something they did not toil for.

The Head of State himself is on record as dishing out outboard motors with his effigy embossed on each one of them to fisher-folks along the coastal belt of Ghana.

One outboard motor cost in excess of GH¢13,000. We are told that not less than 60,000 of them have, either been given away, or are in the process of finding new owners, who, certainly, would not pay the full cost for them.

That is not the only item Mr. Mahama is exchanging for votes. The Head of State is giving away from school sandals to roofing sheets.

Yesterday, a private newspaper published a front page picture of Chief of Staff Julius Debrah giving a bulky-looking polythene bag to a chief, on the campaign trail in the Brong Ahafo Region. The item is, most certainly, cash. From the look on the face of the recipient, Nana certainly looked surprised that he could be the beneficiary of such a handsome donation. We do not believe Mr. Debrah made the donation because he admires the forehead of the chief.

In normal electioneering campaigns, the Chief of Staff has tended to be left at his desk at Government House to cover for the President.

But, when the Presidency is in the process of slipping away, the situation calls for all hands on deck, which explains why Mr. Julius Debrah is down there in the trenches.

The NDC in government obviously believes that the threat posed by the main opposition candidate, and his political outfit, calls for all state office holders owing their positions to the political party Jerry John Rawlings founded, be armed with enough resources to give away.

We regret to state that the propensity for the ruling party to spend its way to power has caught on with First Lady Lordina Mahama. Day in and day out, Mrs. Mahama is giving away very valuable items in aid of her husband's campaign.

There are instances when Mrs. Mahama donated ambulances to various health institutions. The Chronicle does not believe these ambulances, and other items she is giving away, could trace their origin to her personal bank accounts or those of her foundation.

All over on their campaign trail, NDC officials are dispensing money in billions. This is the political party which forms the government, and, therefore, superintending over state resources.

We would like to believe that EOCO, and other state institutions interested in bringing sanity to funding of this nation's electioneering process, would want to know whether state funds are being misapplied to buy the vote, especially, when it turned out that a whopping GH¢8.7 billion of state cash was blown by the NDC administration, over and above what Parliament had approved, in the run-up to the 2012 vote.

The economic mess we are all in now, has its genesis, we dare suggest, to the misuse of state resources in a grand gerrymandering exercise in 2012.

The Chronicle is inviting EOCO to probe into how the NDC is funding its campaign, or forever keep its peace over expenditures by private individuals.

If EOCO, and its officials, lack the balls to tackle the NDC, which, after all, is keeping custody of state funds, the organisation has no business disturbing the peace of Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, Mr. Hassan Ayariga, or any private individual funding any political organisation in this country. Selective justice is dangerous to our political discourse!