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General News of Thursday, 11 January 2018


Election 2016 was fraught with irregularities - Mahama

Former President John Dramani Mahama has, for the first time, raised issues with the results of the 2016 presidential election.

According to him, the election, which he lost to then candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was marked by irregularities but the National Democratic Congress (NDC) took a decision not to contest the results.

Speaking on GTV’s current affairs programme, Moomen Tonight, last Tuesday night, he explained that the decision not to pursue the matter by going round the country to gather evidence of over-voting and other irregularities was based on the fact that the NDC was bent on strengthening the democratic dispensation.

“It is not that there were no irregularities. I could have gone round and gathered all kinds of examples of over-voting and tie the nation in court again. But I do think that the NDC is playing the game democratically,” he stated.

He said the NDC was not like the NPP that found it difficult to accept defeat in elections.

“The NPP are the ones that often will never accept when they have lost an election. But be that as it may, I say Ghana has earned the accolade of being the beacon of democracy because elections have been largely successful,” he said.

Abandoned projects

Mr Mahama faulted the NPP administration for abandoning projects started by his government.

He said the development was counter-productive and must be shelved if Ghana was to make further progress in its development.

Government vehicles intact

Speaking to allegations in sections of the public space to the effect that his appointees left office with state vehicles, the former President said that was absolutely false.

According to him, his administration left “a sea of vehicles” for the Nana Akufo-Addo government, emphasising that all the vehicles used during his administration were properly accounted for.

Mr Mahama said before he exited office, he took President Akufo-Addo round to show him all assets he was leaving behind, including the fleet of over 400 vehicles.

“An inventory of government assets were taken, including vehicles, and so all those vehicles were parked at the Flagstaff House. I remember when I took Nana Akufo-Addo round and went into the Presidential Villa, you could see into the car park, and there was a sea of vehicles that were associated with the Presidency,” he stated.

He said President Akufo-Addo could not be unaware of those vehicles being handed over to him.

“There were about 430 vehicles back there and so I think that allegation of 300 missing vehicles is false. Where are you going to hide those vehicles in this country?” he asked.

He, however, conceded that one or two vehicles might be misplaced, but to say that 300 vehicles were missing, as claimed by the NPP, was untenable, insisting that by now people should be arrested and prosecuted for the act.

Speak against vigilantism

Former President Mahama said vigilantism perpetrated by groups within the NPP was becoming a blot on the image of the country and, therefore, urged civil society groups to rise and speak up against the practice.

What was even more terrifying, he said, was that some “NPP apparatchiks” were insisting rather irresponsibly that the party’s vigilante groups would not be disbanded, since they would use the groups as guards.

He stated that if the NDC were to form similar vigilante groups in the regions, it would not augur well for the country.

He said the government was unable to find jobs for the vigilantes, as promised, a development that had pushed them to go on rampage with impunity.

Relationship with Rawlings

Mr Mahama said reports about strained relations between him and former President Rawlings were unfounded.

According to him, he had good relations with Mr Rawlings but explained that Mr Rawlings’s “moods” sometimes deceived the public into believing that there was bad blood between the two of them.

“With President Rawlings, we have good relations. Recently, there has been some speculation in the media and all that. But we should understand the kind of person President Rawlings is — sometimes he is in a mood in which he doesn’t want to engage in any conversation,” Mr Mahama stated.

“At the thanksgiving, people were giving all kinds of interpretation to the handshakes. There are some occasions when you don’t know what kind of mood in which he is — he greets military style and he passes.

“But there are some other occasions, such as when I met him in Kpando and we had a very warm handshake and exchanged pleasantries. There are sometimes you sit next to him and he is not in the mood to talk, but other times he is in the mood to talk,” he explained.

What was important, he noted, was to learn the mood in which Mr Rawlings was at any time and adjust accordingly.

He had some kind words for former President Rawlings, saying: “He gave me the opportunities in life.”

TV licence fee

On the controversial TV licence fee, the former President said there was the need for the proper categorisation of the broadcasting service the nation wanted for the state broadcaster.

That, he explained, would help determine how to fund the operations of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC).

Taking a look at best practices, Mr Mahama said in many countries TV licence fee was instituted to provide resources for the public broadcaster.

“I guess there’s a best practice that we can look at. TV licence fee is paid in many countries, even in the advanced ones, in order to provide resources for what they call the public broadcaster to be able to put on the programmes that continue to identify the culture of the people and do the kind of programming that the more razzmatazz TV stations are not interested in doing. And so there are best practices that we can look at and adopt, going forward.

“But what we need to do is categorise GBC properly into what we want it to be. It’s a bit of a hybrid. It seems to be competing a bit with private TV stations and at the same time doing public broadcasting,” he stated.

Posing the question: “ What should GBC be?”, the former President provided an answer: “If we decide what GBC should be, then we can look at best practices across the world and decide how we should fund it.”

He said currently the government was partially funding GBC through the payment of the salaries of all the workers, while the operational goods and services were borne by the corporation.

“So it’s a mix-funding source. We need to be clear about what GBC is and based on that we can tell how we want to fund it, going forward,” he suggested.

NDC flag bearer

On the vexed question of who leads the NDC into the 2020 presidential election, Mr Mahama said he would support any member the NDC who was elected as the candidate if he was not the one.

Before the election of the presidential candidate, he said, he was enjoying a less stressful life and would not want to make a definite pronouncement on his political future, as that could derail the party’s reorganisation.

He stated that the power to choose the presidential candidate lay with delegates of the party.